Kim Myhr

Kim Myhr

Musician / Composer

Norwegian guitarist and composer Kim Myhr has been touring internationally since the early 2000s and has released several records under his own name. His album You | me (2017) was nominated to Nordic Music Prize, and received wide acclaim internationally. As a composer he has made music for Australian Art Orchestra, Canadian string quartet Quatuor Bozzini, Kitchen Orchestra and Trondheim Jazz Orchestra of Norway, and has collaborated with Jenny Hval (on the 2012 collaborative album “In The End His Voice Will Be The Sound Of Paper”, Tony Buck of The Necks (on the album “You | me”), Lasse Marhaug, Christian Wallumrød, poet Caroline Bergvall and many others. His last record Vesper with Australian Art Orchestra was nominated for a Norwegian Grammy in 2020 in the contemporary category. Hereafter is the ninth album under his own name.“Kim Myhr is a master of slow-morphing rhythms and sun-dappled textures that seem to glow from the inside”. - The Guardian

Digging into the creative process, Byta speaks with artists, musicians, producers, DJs and anyone involved with music creation. A conversation about how they create, collaborate and share music. From studio setups to routines, and the first person to hear about the next 'big' work.

Where are you based?

I’ve been based in Oslo, Norway since 2010. Before then I lived in the US between 2003-2005, then small stints in Cologne, Paris, Sydney and Melbourne before relocating back to Oslo again.

How, when and where did you start making music? Are you primarily a musician or a producer, or do something else?

I got my first guitar when I was six, and got serious about music at around 12. From then on I knew I wanted to be a musician. I’ve been a touring musician and composer since I stopped studying in 2005.

Who would you consider some of your biggest influences when it comes to your “sound”?

I listen to so many different kinds of music all the time, so it’s hard to mention just a few. I draw inspiration from everything from Indian and Brazilian music, English and American folk, electronic music, hip-hop and RnB to American visual art and spoken word. In recent years, the composers Robert Ashley and Luc Ferrari, the Velvet Underground, Milton Nascimento, Solange, Tyler The Creator, and the Indian sarangi player Ram Narayan have been important sources of inspiration.

Explain your creative process. Do you have a routine?

Before I had kids I used to always do 10-6 studio days, which seems like a good amount of time to work without stress. Now that I have two small kids, it’s more like 9-3.30, which makes the days pretty dense and full-on. I need a lot of time in the studio to make the music I do, it has a lot of layering and lots of complexities in the production. Before I start a recording project, I have most of the time just a vague idea where I want to be going. A feeling of how the project should be different to the previous stuff I’ve done. Then I let the sound lead the way. So it takes time to listen, and then build and layer ideas. Typically every recording project I do takes about 6-12 months to finish. 3-4 months of composing and recording, then tracking with other musicians if necessary and then post-production. With my last record Sympathetic Magic, each song consisted of about 200 individual tracks, so it took a long time to balance that in the mix and the master.

What is your “studio” setup?

I have a large sound card which is always hooked up with a Neumann stereo pair + a large diaphragm FLEA 47 microphone, and a Royer 121 set up on my guitar amp. So I can just start recording the minute I arrive at my studio.  In terms of keys, I have a Yamaha YC45-D organ, a Roland Juno-6 plus some other small keyboards and electronics. I have a bunch of guitars, both electric, acoustic, 12- and 6-stringed.

What is your process when working with other people? How is collaboration different in the studio vs working remotely? 

Most of the collaborative work I do is done in-person, so either working together in a rehearsal setting, or working together mixing and composing. I made music with trumpeter Eivind Lønning earlier this year for a dance performance called Fabulation by Bára Sigfusdottir and Orfee Schuijt, and then we just did everything together, which was a nice change from sitting alone in a studio all day long.

At what point(s) are you comfortable letting other people hear what you are working on?

I actually like showing friends and colleagues ideas immediately after they’ve materialised, even in sketch form. It could be the first idea of something. I like the constant exchange of thoughts and ideas with others, I always bring in friends to listen to what I do at various stages of the recording process, to get an outside ear. It proves very helpful, and helps me get a bit more objectivity in the process. And my partner Orfee listens all the time to my in-progress work, both voluntarily and involuntarily. She gives very important feedback, and helps me understand what it is I am doing at any given moment.

Do you share your work in progress (streams or downloads)? Any technical frustrations?

Because of the massive amounts of releases being released all the time, I always wait until the music is finished until I share it publicly. Maybe this will change in the future, but I feel that it is a privilege when people give from their time to listen to my music, so it better be well articulated to make it worth their time.

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How do you know when a track/album is finished?

When you feel that changing it more is destroying the integrity of the work. When it starts becoming something else, then it’s time to stop and work on something else.

How do you listen to the final mixes/mastered work?

I always do preliminary rough mixes myself, and then send the project files to the one mixing. That way it is quite clear where I want to go with the music. I always want to be present in the mixing process, as there are so many important musical decisions I need to be a part of. On my previous record Sympathetic Magic, we worked three days in the studio, and did another 3-4 remote mixing, which worked really well. I like spending some weeks on mixing, to give it a bit of time to let it settle. So mixing digitally is the only way to work for me.

How important is pre-release security when sharing new work?

I haven’t had any problems yet, luckily!

Anything you are working on, anyone you are working with and want to share?

I am currently working on a large piece for the Borealis festival in Bergen in March for fifty 12-string guitars! It’s a mindblowing instrumentation, also for the producer of the festival, hehe. But I’m really excited about working on that, it will be really special.