26 Oct 2020
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Murmur Tooth - Interview: Leah Hinton from Murmur Tooth

25 Mar 2020 // An interview by Steve Shyu

Kiwi musician and producer Leah Hinton, AKA Murmur Tooth, has self-released her debut album A Fault in This Machine on 19 March, which is now available through Bandcamp, Spotify and all the usual music streaming and download sites. Formerly of the bands El Schlong and Kobosh, Leah wrote, recorded, produced and mixed the album herself, which she loosely describes as doom-pop.

Leah was generous enough to take some time out of her work-week to have a chat to Steve from Muzic.net.nz about her new LP, life in Berlin versus Dunedin, and what her quarantine-projects are!

First round’s on me - What’ll you be having?

Gin and tonic please. I’ve only just discovered them! I thought they were an old lady drink because of Coronation Street so I’ve never tried them ‘til recently. The old ladies know their shit.

Could you give us insight behind the name 'Murmur Tooth'? Is there a hidden meaning behind those words?

No hidden meaning, I just like the sound of the words. I tend to be irreverent with band names; I played in a band called El Schlong, so Murmur Tooth is at least a step up in the maturity department.

Having grown up in Dunedin and spending time in Berlin, have there been any surprising similarities between the two cities?

There are some surface level things I could point out, but overall, they are very different. I actually like the Dunedin music scene more than the Berlin music scene. I don’t like techno, so this city isn’t really for me musically, and people don’t form close-knit underground music communities here, because of the transience. Luckily it’s an amazing city on most other fronts! It’s overwhelmingly creative, really international and crazy; there are so many opportunities around the arts. I miss the authenticity of Dunedinites, and New Zealanders in general, plus the chilled lifestyle.

I’m personally a fan of the song Knees Are Clean - What were the inspirations behind the song?

That song is from the first Murmur Tooth EP when I was still writing for a rock band format. Lyrically, I guess it’s about the barreling-on of time. How it chases down the days, and sometimes leaves you standing there, wondering what happened, and all you can do is have a drink and just try and make it through with clean hands - and clean knees. We’re constantly rushing forward, but always looking back to try and understand it all. Musically, the song tries to relay the same feeling. The constant offbeat rhythm always driving forward, the swirling confusion of the guitar interlude. In two words, it’s about time and dislocation.

What song is your personal favourite from your new album A Fault In This Machine and why?

I like Slip Away. It’s the first song I wrote that explored the full scope of composing on the computer. It can be really hard combining MIDI instruments with real instruments without it sounding disjointed, or just plain crap, but I think it works on Slip Away. I really like the journey it takes you on, how it starts with a kind of trip-hop vibe and somehow ends up in an apocalyptic end of world, dissonant, guitar-filled insanity. It was also the most challenging song to mix because of all the layers and different instruments. It literally took me months to mix and I had to start from scratch a couple of times, so I’m quite proud of how it turned out.

The DIY approach to Murmur Tooth music and videos is evident; what made you choose this style and sound?

I just love making stuff. I enjoy the whole creative process, so I actually just want to do it all myself. I love writing, playing, producing and mixing, but they are all “alone” things and get a bit anti-social, so I also love running around with my mates making music videos. The DIY thing is really just because it’s fun and fulfilling, and I’d rather make stuff than watch TV. Also, I think mainstream music is getting a bit too polished; it’s shifting too far from art into the realm of product. Don’t get me wrong, I like a well-composed, well-mixed song, but it’s starting to wander a bit far off the human expression path for my personal tastes.

What Kiwi musicians/bands have you been listening to lots of recently?

I love Wellington’s HEX, but I think they changed their name recently? Their The Hill Temple album has been on high rotation for the last few months. Auckland’s Thousand Limbs are awesome. I played with the bass player in El Schlong for years, and the drummer actually taught me how to groove in odd time signatures WAY back in the day when I first started on guitar. I still have Cripple Mr Onion’s Sleep of the Dead on a couple of playlists - love that song so much! And I listen to it at least once a week. And I listen to Freddy Fudd Pucker at least once a week. His Open Doors album is my favourite. I highly recommend.

Now that the new album is done, what plans do you have for the next six months?

I was going to get a band together to play some live shows, but that’s obviously on hold. I guess I’ll be putting in some quality time with my new loop pedal. Making a music video in my apartment with only the resources I have here could also be an interesting challenge! And I’ve bookmarked a bunch of online Coursera courses that look awesome, mostly science-related. Apart from that, I’ll probably be eating canned beans, doing Skype hangs, and doing star jumps in the bathroom so I don’t annoy the downstairs neighbours with the banging.

Read the full interview here

A Fault In This Machine Album Review

Website Links

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Independent Kiwi singer songwriter Georgia Lines (formerly known as George) has recently released a perfect slice of summer pop, with her brand new single, Same Things. This followed the January issue of Georgia’s emotive EP cut, My Love, which was released through UK label, FrtyFve, in a one-off single distribution deal. My Love has appeared on no less than four major Spotify playlists and tipped the 150k stream mark in only a handful of weeks.

Georgia Line’s self-titled, five-track EP will release on 27 March.

Erica from Muzic.net.nz spoke to Georgia about winning Smokefree Rockquest, non-musical influences and her upcoming EP. Here's what was said:

Many fans will know you as the winner of Smokefree Rockquest 2014. How has that shaped your music career so far? 

SFRQ was definitely such an incredible opportunity to grow as a young musician and emerging artist within NZ. The people I met and connections I made throughout the process of SFRQ have been ones that I still have now, and they have played a huge part in shaping my career. I met my manager through SFRQ who at the time was a part of the film crew.

How has your music evolved to where it is now?

Hmm… I think as I have grown up, and experienced life over the past few years my music has grown up and evolved with me. My creativity and ability to trust my gut has been something I’ve noticed that has changed over the past few years. When I first left school.. I felt this pressure (no one had put that on me, other than myself) to have to have everything perfect. I felt pressure to release music that was 100% my sound, that was 100% something I was certain would do well. Obviously that was an unrealistic expectation and one that created such a huge barrier to actually release anything. Throughout the process of creating this EP, so much of it was about me writing, recording and releasing a project that I was deeply proud of. Something that represents me with where I am at currently… not the version of me in 5 years.  Having to rewire the thought patterns that it had to be perfect.. and just release something that I was proud of has been the biggest evolution for me. Just trusting the process of creativity, trusting that I have the ability to create, and that people are with me for the journey… not just for the end result. 

What other musicians are you excited about at the moment? 

Hmmm… I’m really loving the new tunes by Antony Jeffares… good friend of mine and fellow NZ artist. He has been creating some rad tunes lately. Misery Under The Sun is such a fun track which is his latest release and well worth the listen. Outside of NZ, Jungle, Yebba, Maggie Rogers, Emily King, Lianne La Havas.

What do you think are the barriers to young people wanting to get into music?

I think knowing what to do, where the pathways are and knowing how to move forward as an emerging artist is a huge barrier. One of the hardest things I found was that there was no set path with how to succeed in the industry. Unlike choosing any other career where you can go and study, get a degree and hope to get your dream job… music doesn’t have that set path. But if you can continue to keep going, keep pushing on doors and opportunities, keep choosing to carry on regardless of the disappointments … the pathway to success (whatever that looks like for you) and the journey of becoming an artist is so rewarding.

Who did you record/produce your EP with and where?

I recorded the EP over in Houston TX in June 2019 with Abel Orta Jr, who recorded and produced 4 of the 5 tracks on the EP. Never Had Love was the only tack which I had written and recorded back in NZ with Mark Perkins (Merk) and Shannon Fowler (Tom Lark).

And who have you worked with for your visual identity?

I am an independent artist, however; I have created a small team of people who help me with my visual identity and the branding side of things. I am super fortunate to be surrounded by incredibly creative people who have been with me from the beginning of this music journey and who know me really well… many of those people are just great friends of mine. One of those people is Lizzie Turner, she is in fashion and also has many other creative ventures, so has a real depth of knowledge when it comes to branding and visual identity. It also helps having someone on your team who knows you super well and can say something on your behalf if it is ever needed. 

Do you have a favourite song to perform live? 

At the moment we are in the middle of rehearsals for the EP release and all of the songs feel fresh and exciting…. but BY FAR… My Love is my favourite to play. 

After a strong start to the year, what else can we expect from Georgia Lines in 2020? 

As of the EP launch… the whole process starts again, which is something that I am ready to do. Will definitely be working towards an album.

Read the full interview here

Same Things Single Review

Website Links


 

About Murmur Tooth

Murmur Tooth is the songs of musician and producer Leah Hinton - dark and cinematic, not for elevators, not for dancing. She loosely describes her genre as “doompop”.

Leah grew up in rural New Zealand playing classical piano and wanting to be a doctor. At 15 she heard Nirvana’s Bleach album and everything changed. She began teaching herself guitar and decided to study music instead of medicine. At university she formed avant-metal band El Schlong, then spent the next 10 years touring around Australasia and Europe.

Leah eventually settled in Berlin, Germany, where she became fascinated by the possibilities of the recording, producing and mixing process as an extension of the creative songwriting process. She built herself a home studio and started making music. She also makes her own music videos and imagery.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Murmur Tooth

Releases

A Fault in This Machine
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Dropping Like Flies
Year: 2017
Type: EP
The Room EP
Year: 2016
Type: EP

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