Merganzer is a band known for its atmospheres, for the ambient textures that the songs create. With Mika Posen, formerly of Timer Timbre, at the helm Merganzer is quickly becoming known for its ability to enchant audiences.
I sat down with Mika to ask her about how she constructed these textures and her current music project.
Creator’s Commune: Thank you very much for agreeing to meet with me.
Mika Posen (Vocals, keyboards, violin, viola): It’s a pleasure.
CC: My first question is, what does you name mean?
Mika: Merganzer. Well, it could be a few different things. It’s the name of a bird that I see around my family’s cottage. And I kind of started this solo project when I was living in Europe and it’s a combination of a lot of words that I heard from different languages, so German, Danish and French.
CC: That’s very cool. You’ve been with a lot of bands in the past, Timber Timbre, and you’ve also done some stuff with The Wooden Sky.
Mika: A long time ago.
CC: How is Merganzer different? And what do you hope to accomplish with it?
Mika: I mean, it’s really different having my own project rather than playing with other people’s bands. That’s something that totally new for me. So that’s mainly how it’s different. Musically it’s a combination of all of my musical experiences, I think, playing with all of these bands over the past eight years. And to accomplish, I don’t really know. It just started out as… I thought it would be fun to make music of my own. And I was just really inspired from all the people I play with and all of the music that I had been listening to. But you have to make the record and you have to do all of these other things after that and, it’s a lot. So I’m still not really sure what I want to do now, but I want to play really nice shows, make really nice atmospheres and then record more music. That’s all right now.
CC: I was going to ask if that was deliberate, how you create these environments with your music.
Mika: Yeah. I’d say it’s deliberate. And that was my roll in a lot of bands also, was to sort of create textures and atmosphere. Like in Timber Timbre that’s what I did a lot, was making these spooky violin textures and making these loops and transitions between songs. And I played with another artist named Agnes Obel and that’s what I did a lot of with that band as well. And it’s just natural that in my own music I just want it to be a big, sort of, soundscape, or songs but punctuated by soundscapes.
CC: Well you’ve certainly accomplished that.
Mika: Cool. Thank you
CC: You come to these soundscapes – I’d almost call it ambient music – from a classical background. Is that right?
CC: How has that influenced your composition?
Mika: Well I think that I’m really influenced by classical music in terms of counterpoint, the use of melodies and counter melodies and the way they sort of have conversations with each other, and the way in which they’re sort of carpeted with these textures. And, I don’t know, I guess the make up of classical music influences the make up of my music. In terms of soundscapes, I guess a lot of classical music really creates an atmosphere as well, and the compositions are just so vast. And I think as a string player playing in an orchestra, which I have done a lot of, you get really inside the music. And you see how those textures and soundscapes are made because you’re a part of it, and you get to see which instruments are doing what and how they’re made. And I guess, I don’t think it was really conscious but I’m just so used to playing music like that I guess it’s just what I instinctively incorporated into my own music.
CC: Who are you listening to now? And who are your influences?
Mika: Right now… I’ve been listening to a lot of ambient and instrumental music recently. In the fall I did a residency on Toronto Island and every night before I went to bed I listened to Brian Eno’s Thursday Afternoon every day. And I really also like the Max Richter album that came out, Sleep. I haven’t listened to the full eight hours but I’ve been listening to the shorter version. And what else have I been listening to these days?… I have a friend who plays with A Winged Victory For The Sullen, someone I worked with in Europe. I really love their new record. So that’s the kind of thing I’m listening to now and that’s the kind of thing I’m aspiring towards creating with my future endeavors.
CC: Thank you very much.
Mika: Thank you.