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Interview

Amilie Bruun of Myrkur Talks Online Harassment And Death Threats

I first heard of Myrkur after hearing that sole recording member Amalie Bruun was sent death threats over Facebook for often petty reasons. What I always like about metal was that it was a brotherhood. If you were into the right kinds of metal, you were one of us. So of course I was really taken aback by the sheer level of misogynistic double standards applied to Bruun because she dared to make pop music despite nobody going after Greg Puciato for Spylacopa or Chino Moreno for Team Sleep.

Since online harassment is an incredibly topical issue today, I decided that the time was right to get the perspective of somebody who's actually been harassed and have her talk openly and honestly about the experience. It also doesn't hurt that Myrkur remind me of Windir and with Valfar dead, Myrkur is the best substitute there is today.

Matt Dasher: I'm here with Amalie of Myrkur, opening for Behemoth. I figured that Nergal's the kind of guy to do it since he's also had some similar experiences with people silencing his free speech in Poland after he tore up a Bible on stage.

Amalie Bruun: Yeah. It looks like it.

Matt: The thing I was going to say is that double standards have always been a pet peeve of mine. I don't think that anyone's sent the sheer level of vitriol that you've received, much less death threats to Bill Steer of Carcass for playing the blues or Mike Smith of Suffocation for doing hip-hop. But the second a girl does pop music on the side she's a, “poser.” I wasn't even aware that shit like that happened. It was mind-blowing to hear and you were very brave for coming forward with it. When you did come forward, how did people react to that?

Amalie: I didn't expect anything in particular because I haven't done anything like this before. My record label had no recipe for how to do this and what was going to happen. I mean, the reactions to me were really shocking. There was extreme love and extreme hate. It seemed that there nothing in between. People didn't really know how to feel about me. If they liked me until they found out who I was and then they stopped liking me, I think that raises a question to themselves, almost like a challenge which I think is what artists do. I'm quite content with the responses, I would say. There are downsides too. It is a pretty oppressive environment even thought all of it's online. Behemoth are just cool guys who don't really give a fuck. I think they see a woman as someone they want to protect and not attack and that's the same with my band. The men who see women as threats the way they see me online, they don't really move around in 3D so much. They don't really spend time with people like me so they don't really exist, you see.

Matt: I think that they exist but they just hide behind a computer screen and think that they're invincible as long as they're half a world away.

Amalie: I don't think they care as much as they say they do online, I think they just do it since it doesn't have any consequences. I think people have finally gotten used to what the internet is and that's why they stopped caring. I think when there was something badly written about you was a big disaster, people actually cared, now people actually don't care. We're moving away from that a little bit since there's bigger fish to fry in the world and not what people are writing in their own little bubble on the computer.

Matt: At the same time, with the whole death threats thing, your record label had to do a background check on me to get me back here. Have you encountered any scary specific threats or anything?

Amalie: No. Only what you call, “obsessive fan behavior.” Not the people who want to kill me. Something that comes with being me now means that people who work with me have to be more protective. There's nothing I can do about that. But I think that it's okay as long as you surround yourself with good people.

Matt: With, “obsessive fans,” do you have any horror stories?

Amalie: No. I have have some great fans who are very creative and make a lot of fan art and tattoos and things like that. Some pieces that I've been given or sent to my record label are maybe a little bit more extreme. But no actual horror stories. No stalkers or anything. I don't think metal fans are like that so much.

Matt: Better than Beatles fans in that sense.

Amalie: That would be scary.

Matt: Backtracking to the death threats. There's a lot of that going around on Twitter. Especially Twitter. It's worse than Facebook or Reddit since on those sites you're accountable for what you say and have a reputation to protect. On Twitter, you can't really deconstruct somebody's argument if somebody takes offense due to the character limit. I think that that the medium itself lends itself to harassment. I'm not entirely sure if Twitter should go away or make it so you need a blue check mark to tweet or something?

Amalie: Right. I actually don't have a Twitter so I don't see it on there. I don't have an opinion on it, per se. To me, the solution is for people to maybe move a little bit away from their entire life being online. Then it kind of stops mattering to you. When you're out in nature and spend time with people, real people then what goes on in there doesn't really matter so much.

Matt: I'd actually agree to that. There are so many people who do kind of live online and I can tell you that I was one of them for a few years. It's mostly just the economy. We had that big recession that lasted for around seven years.

Amalie: People aren't necessarily encouraged to not live online. They're very lulled into staying on their computers and reading about this all day. You don't necessarily choose what you read anymore. People think they choose but really they don't. It's very force fed and you need to deconstruct your reality all the time. The only way to avoid it is to avoid it.

Matt: I've noticed that American media in the last few years has just gotten so much more extreme. Society's gotten so much more polarized. It's why if I want to find out what's going on in the world, I usually stick to British sources.

Amalie: That's going downhill too.

Matt: I know what you mean. What's the British paper that's even further to the right than the Daily Mail? I think it was The Sun?

Amalie: Yeah.

Matt: I'm like, “This counts as news?” I was thinking more like The Economist, The Guardian, The Telegraph. That kind of stuff is usually what I've been reading.

Amalie: It's probably better to a certain extent, at least.

Matt: You're originally from Denmark, right?

Amalie: Yes.

Matt: You're probably realizing that we're having the same sort of moral panics right now that we have now and again. We just go crazy about the smallest little things where everything's offensive. Everything starts bothering people. Currently the washroom non-issue is being signed into law because, “they” are scary to some people.

Amalie: Who?

Matt: Trans people and washrooms. It's never been an issue. If you look at actual statistics, most times when people are assaulted, it's by somebody they know. It's a non-issue and they're making it an issue just to discriminate against people and I think it's lame.

Amalie: Yeah well there's people who always want to make a big fuss and constantly be offended on behalf of everybody. Being from Denmark, I feel like we have a more free attitude toward things like gays. We're not bothered by things that much. In America, people have always got to be bothered by something. There needs to be a law or something. In Denmark we say, “You can do that. It's fine. Don't fuck with me but be yourself. It's fine. You're allowed to be that.” There's certain things that I've never even thought about. I come to America and see people caring about things that I took for granted because back home, nobody gives a fuck. I think that's the problem here. Everybody cares too much about everybody's business, you know? That's one way of looking at it.

Matt: I think it's crazy and quite frankly what's funny is that somebody on my Facebook friends is probably going to befriend me because I saw his Facebook status and he said he was booing you on stage a few nights ago or something.

Amalie: He booed me?

Matt: He posted that he wasn't a fan.

Amalie: I heard somebody scream, “Freebird” and I told him, “suck my dick.”

Matt: Nice. The only time I've ever heckled a band was because I didn't like them until they won me over on stage.

Amalie: Nice.

Matt: That was Job for a Cowboy on Gigantour because I heard Doom but I didn't hear Genesis and then they started playing some of the Genesis songs and Johnny Davy's just got a good stage presence.

Amalie: That's good.

Matt I think that was 2007 or 2008. You're relatively new to the metal scene, right?

Amalie: To being in it.

Matt: I picked up on the fact that some of your guitar playing reminds me of early Enslaved and a lot of your vocals remind me of Maniac back when he was in Mayhem. Is it accurate to count those as your influences?

Amalie: Yeah. That's not wrong. I love most of those Norwegian bands from back then. I like Mayhem and Enslaved a lot.

Matt: With newer black metal, did you ever hear hear the new Cobalt album because they're pretty good.

Amalie: No, I did not.

Matt: They got a new vocalist because – this backtracks to the beginning here – he trashed another band for having a gay bandmate so they kicked him out and got a new guy. I was wondering how the new guy sounds and it's actually pretty great.

Amalie: That's boring now. The whole homophobia. I don't care.

Matt: I don't think that most people care and need something better to do with their lives.

Amalie: I think that people need to stop caring so much. Just focus more of the solution instead of the problem all the time.

Matt: I feel like a lot of people who try to complain about things that they see as problems, they don't have a way to fix it. When you call out their argument, they don't have any way to defend it.

Amalie: That's the so called, “art” of trolling. I love that people try to make trolling an art for now. I understand since I'm good at it myself when I bother but it's just something that I choose not to do as much as I did in the beginning. Now I'm too busy with too much stuff. At the end of the day, trolling is sad. Even if you're doing it on purpose. Even if you don't mean one word you're saying. Even if you're just doing it to stir up shit. It's just a sad existence and you know it. That's how I feel.

Matt: It was good meeting you.

Amalie: Nice to meet you.

Matt: Thanks. I liked your new album. See you.

Dasher10's avatar

Matt is a freelance writer living in Chicago, Illinois and a metalhead since 1999.

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