Phil Elverum releases his fourth LP as Mount Eerie today, titled Clear Moon, the album is one of minimal but far-reaching beauty. We spoke to Phil (who is, as expected, a man of few words) about the new album and his career as a whole.
What inspired your name changes, both personal and musical?
Phil Elverum:No reason for personal. Musically, I had new direction, new ideas.
Was there a conscious effort to change your musical style once you went from Microphones to Mount Eerie?
PE: No. New ideas are constantly happening and I’m always changing.
2008′s Lost Wisdom saw you working with Julie Doiron, an influence on your early music. What was that process like for both of you?
PE: It was easy and fun. She is a natural and I’m a fan.
Do you plan on collaborating with any other artists in the future, including Doiron again?
PE: No plans, but I would be fine with it.
A lot of your early work toyed with different recording experiments, do you feel like the digital age has helped or hindered in that regard?
PE: I still am using analog equipment for recording. It hasn’t changed my life, the digital recording thing. My recording process is still very much about basic raw things.
Your early work also featured artists like Khaela Maricich, Mirah Zeitlyn, Kyle Field, Karl Blau and many others. Are you still tight with them despite their appearing on your records less often?
PE: We all live in different places but we’re still friends. Who doesn’t have friends from the past?
Khaela and The Blow have found some measure of “popular success” with Parentheses off Paper Television, and Mirah was featured on So You Think You Can Dance (!). How do you personally measure success, and does it really matter so long as you hold true to your artistic vision?
PE: Success is just a word. At the moment I am totally satisfied in my life, honestly. I feel lucky to have this feeling. Artistic purity is not that big of a deal necessarily. Fulfillment can come from wherever.
Clear Moon ends with a minimal synth track. Considering how averse you were to using electronic instruments to begin with, do you see yourself working more heavily with them in the future?
PE: Perhaps. I was never averse to working with anything. I just never had those tools around me. Now I do have a few synthesizers, and a computer, so I continue exploring. I try not to get hung up on the instruments.
I once saw you perform in a church in Toronto, is that the type of performance that stands out for you as it does for audience members?
PE: That place was amazing. Of course special feeling room stand out above grimy rock clubs. If I were a grimy rock dude maybe I’d feel differently, but I am trying to create large sounds and have attention to words, so a big stone hall works well.
Your website sells a whole lot more than music. If you didn’t become a musician, what do you think you would have done for the almighty dollar?
PE: I’d probably still be making some kind of trinkets to sell, which is basically what records and shirts are. I’d have some kind of art project that was about mass production. Maybe letterpress posters. I wouldn’t have very much money.