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Music Is: An Interview with MYRNE on new single ‘Circles’

With millions of streams on Spotify, high profile collaborations and remixes, and gigs at acclaimed international festivals such as Tomorrowland, local producer and DJ MYRNE is fast becoming one of Singapore’s hottest rising stars in the music scene. Having recently signed with American electronic music label Astralwerks, the 26-year old is set for even greater success to come, with a new EP on its way due April, and the pandemic finally giving way to live gigs again.

In the lead-up to this EP’s launch, MYRNE has just released brand new single ‘Circles’, the title track to the EP and follow up to previous release ‘What Can I Do’. The track is an upbeat, euphoric number celebrating the wonders of everyday life, and as its name suggests, has a degree of repetition, not just in its lyrics (‘It’s like we’re going in circles’), but also in its melody, designed to hook you from first listen.

“Over the pandemic, I’ve gone in the opposite direction from my peers, most of whom have gone very downtempo, and mostly made streaming friendly songs or lo-fi music,” says MYRNE. “But for me, I really wanted to have more energetic music to dance to, and I just got lost in the process of making music intuitively, not worrying too much about what they were gonna be used for.” 

“With ‘Circles’, I really wanted to explore repetition and loop-based sampling in a song; I wanted to pay homage to old rave tools while adding a touch of modern-day songwriting,” he adds. “To any dance music fan or producer, you’ll remember the 909 kick drum, known for popularising house music in Chicago, and they use all these synthesisers and drum sequencers. So I put in the 909 kick, the hi-hat, all these super iconic sounds of the time, to take this track back and make it a record you could dance to.”

‘Circles’ was created out of restlessness while MYRNE was stuck in lockdown, where he reflected and explored the feeling of stagnation, and how it can take a toll on your physical and mental health. But rather than choosing to see the circles and repetition as a prison, MYRNE instead finds a way to draw out the power from the humdrum rhythms of day-to-day life, meditative before emerging from lockdown completely revitalised. 

As more people around the world continue to adjust their lives around an ever-shifting environment, MYRNE meditated on the meaning of co-existing with the present. That is, finding stillness within yourself while learning to connect with your surroundings. “It’s like we are going in circles,” one of the few sung lyrics in ‘Circles’, becomes less like a frustrating thought than a refreshing mantra. “The repetition in the song is a play on how dance music used to be, with 6-7 minute tracks, and I wanted to play on that and bring that idea back in this song,” he says.

As the title track of his upcoming EP, ‘Circles’ encapsulates the release’s main themes and ideas in its production. “This whole collection of songs was written over a 4-month period during the lockdown,” says MYRNE. “And over that period, I was really trying to keep myself inspired and to stay interested in the act of making music. I wanted to do more collaborations, but when I tried some virtual sessions, they all went horribly. So it ended up being a lot of independent production on my own, and ‘Circles’ is the song that makes me feel like I’ve come full circle with my music, where I’ve gone back and revisited my old influences and inspirations.”

Even right down to the aesthetics, MYRNE was keenly involved in the design and decision-making process, and you’ll find both the cover art and music video treading the line between the irreal and a digital future, representing ‘Circles’ aim to bridge the gap between reality and hyperreality. “I like to explore different facets of my creativity beyond my music, such as through the cover art and visual direction,” says MYRNE. “My Instagram explore page was full of these glitchy, interesting pictures from artists with maybe just 1,000 followers, and I got inspired by that, and walked around with this glass bottle from IKEA. I filled it with water, pointed it at the sun, and you end up with these interesting warped textures, perfect for experimenting in alongside the electronic music medium. Throw them into Photoshop and do some gradient mapping, add some textures, and you get some really cool effects.”

For MYRNE, what a musician is then, is an artist who produces a curated collection of sounds and music-making habits, taking inspiration from life itself to inform his art. “Other people’s music inspires me a lot, and if I’m not making music, I’m listening or exploring new sounds,” he explains. “Regarding the idea of habits, I’ve been trying to be more consistent in building healthy habits when I make music, which after a while translates into a more recognizable sound.”

“For some time now, I’ve felt like I was a bit of a fraud, because at the beginning, I’d just sample other people’s work. But today I can say that the music I make is clearly mine, and close to my heart,” says MYRNE. “Life inspires art and vice versa, so I try to have a regular normal life, writing music about my life and relationships, and it helps me not worry too much about it. I don’t like to go into a studio and say oh I need this song for this album in this specific direction. A lot of music is really writing about daily life and enjoying the process, and that keeps me going.”

On getting signed to Astralwerks, MYRNE is thankful for the opportunity and sees it as an indicator that he’s doing well as an artist. “Astralwerks is one of those labels that’s a bucket list label, so acts like Slumberjack and Porter Robinson, cool kids back in the day but now titans in their own right,” says MYRNE. “A lot of labels have a specific sound or direction, but you don’t see that with Astralwerks. The music they put out is so varied and interesting, and I’m still a fan of their weekly releases. It’s a nice nod that maybe I’m doing something right in this next stage of my career.”

Besides finalising the last few tracks before the release of his EP, MYRNE is keeping his career goals and next steps humble for now, focusing on the self instead of a specific gig or stage to play. “I think the next big aim is to put out an album I really enjoy making, maybe work with a bunch of cool artists and musicians; I just really love getting into rooms with people and bouncing off each other’s energy,” says MYRNE. “I’m not going to make any big promises because I’m afraid I’ll jinx it, so I won’t mention any dream gigs, but the next goal for me is to be able to ask a listener to describe my music. If I agree with what they’re saying, then it shows that I’ve managed to produce a consistent body of work, and would be a step up from my more frenetic style from the past that’s all over the place.”

As 2022 opens up for new possibilities for live performance, MYRNE holds hope that he’ll be able to perform at a gig again before long. “It was fun writing this in lockdown and I can’t wait to see how it works on a stage,” he says. “I’m hoping we can launch the EP with a little listening party, where people can actually get out there sweating and dancing, if the authorities okay it.”

And as for whether these circles we’ve found ourselves in for the past two years are a good thing, MYRNE is positive, and sees that the pandemic has allowed us all to become more aware of who we are and what we want. “Sometimes it’s as mundane as enjoying working from home, or seeking an improvement to your quality of life. Or another level, maybe as humans we shouldn’t travel so much, for sustainability,” says MYRNE. “And even when things go back to normal, when we leave these circles, I hope we don’t fully go back to old ways of doing things, and hold on to some of these habits and lessons we’ve learnt from this time.”

Listen to Circles on Spotify. Follow MYRNE on Instagram @myrnemusic, Twitter, Facebook and his website.

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