"Music allows the mind to access a bridge that is otherwise closed off." (an interview with Adam Huttunen of Mountains of the Moon)
Here at Half Mystic, we've always had a soft spot for music that finds strength in both the extraordinary and the ordinary, the grand and the small, the musician and the listener. Today, we're delighted to spotlight a musician whose work and spirit embody that idea. Please welcome Adam Huttunen of indie-folk band Mountains of the Moon.
HM: If you had ten minutes to introduce Mountains of the Moon to someone completely new to your music, how would you go about doing it?
AH: Well for me, discovering music is about listening to it, not being talked into liking it, so I’d probably just press play and hope those ten minutes are less non-negotiable by the end. There are enough sales reps around as it is anyway.
We at Half Mystic are in love with the titles of your songs (especially "How I Leapt From the Stratosphere"). What is your titling process like?
Thank you! I think of titling a song in the same way as I imagine filmmakers title their movies. It’s a good opportunity to set the scene for the listener before the song even starts. That specific title was funny; I was on YouTube watching a TED Talk by a guy who had actually leapt from the actual stratosphere, and it was just a beautiful metaphor of daring to fall in love, I thought. So from that inspiration came the song, and then I ended up never actually using the line in the lyrics at all.
What's one thing you wish people knew about you before they listened to your music?
Hmm. Tough one. Maybe that Martin has such luscious hair. No, but I guess I’d rather allow for the listener to discover it all along the journey.
Do you believe the act of making music is based more inside or outside of the self? In what ways is music a connection or a disconnection?
You know what, I’ve actually thought a lot about this recently. In my writing, I find that I’m not very conscious at all. Chris Martin explained it in an interview like the words and melodies just came to him like a gift from above. Well, I don’t believe in gods, so I figured there must be a natural explanation. I think I’ve arrived at the conclusion that writing music allows the mind to access a bridge that is otherwise closed off, to reach into and make tangible your deepest emotions. The sub-conscious, if you will. I’ll sit and write a song and the words just fall into place on their own, and in the end it all makes sense to me and I can deeply relate to what I’ve just written. That can’t just be random chance. I realize now that I probably sound like I’ve been teleported from Woodstock ‘69, but it really is like putting yourself in a hypnotic state. So to answer your question, I suppose it’s both inside and outside of the self in a way. You disconnect yourself to be able to connect to your innermost.
To jump off of our last question: how does the dynamic of making music as a band differ from making music individually?
The way we’ve done it so far is, I write the songs like I always have, alone with my guitar, and then I show them to Martin. After that, he takes the skeleton I’ve given him and completes the body. Our sonic visions gel very well so having each other to bounce off of elevates the songs massively. Also, I’m completely useless at actually producing, so working with him truly makes all the difference.
Many of your lyrics contain nature-based imagery. How are humans shaping and shaped by their environments in your music?
I’ve always been a sucker for forces of nature and epic imagery. I think it’s the grandness and perpetuity of it. It makes for good metaphors.
How would you trace the 'musical lineage,' so to speak, of Mountains of the Moon?
I grew up in a home with no instruments and a pretty nonexistent interest in music from my parents, so I had to find my own way here. I think because of that, almost all my musical inspiration comes from contemporary music, like Ben Howard, Daughter, Sharon Van Etten, The Barr Brothers, Kurt Vile, The War On Drugs, Ry X, Bon Iver, Marika Hackman, Bombay Bicycle Club, José González… and so on.
Your songs often seem to revolve around the idea of "us against the world". Is that a conscious choice? If so, what draws you to this dynamic?
I wouldn’t say that any of the lyrics are by choice. I wish I could write songs about a perfect life, trust me! It’s all real. As for themes, I’d say it goes in phases. If you hacked my voice memo folder and went through the last few months you’d probably get an entirely different picture. But of course there are some recurring themes that come with who I am and what I carry with me. I’m not sure that I like to get too articulate with what the songs are about, though; I’m leaning towards them being best left to the listener's interpretation.
What kind of change—of any scale and any nature—would you like your music to make in the world?
Actually, I’ve sometimes wrestled a bit with why we share our songs with the world at all. In a way it’s like letting people eavesdrop on conversations with your therapist. But if our music can make the listener feel something, or just make their day the slightest bit better, then I’m perfectly happy with that. We get messages from people who reach out to say that our music means a lot to them or even helped them through tough times, and it really makes it all worth it.
What's around the corner for Mountains of the Moon? Where are you headed?
We’re recording an EP right now that should be released before too long. We have so many songs clogging up the pipeline, so I imagine 2017 will be quite busy on the release front!
Bio: Mountains of the Moon is an indie-folk band based out of Stockholm, Sweden, founded by singer-songwriter Adam Huttunen and producer Martin Zaar. The two met while studying music, and soon realized they shared much of the same sonic visions. Just over a year ago, they started to release songs independently, and have slowly started to garner some attention within the indie music community, much thanks to being featured in music blogs and on popular youtube channels. A debut EP is in the works, and if you're a fan, 2017 promises to be an exciting year!