Honesty is preferred, it's necessary, and as 26-year-old Toronto-born and based singer MorMor will tell you, it's very difficult to achieve. But that’s half the fun.
“I try to be as honest as possible to my feelings at the moment,” MorMor tells me over the phone, and it shows in the music. His singles, particularly “Heaven’s Only Wishful,” have a delicate and precious air about them, as if he is trusting the listener with something invaluable.
MorMor, born Seth Nyquist, is a lifelong creative with a decorated upbringing as a multi-instrumentalist. He attests that he became obsessed with music and writing from an early age, so much so that by 18 he dropped out of school to pursue music. There was simply no other choice. “It was the first time I had owned my own laptop, so I just became obsessed with writing and making music,” he explained. “I was doing so in class, and I was just infatuated by it.”
MorMor took his penchant for melody and unorthodox song structures and combined it with his decade-long history of journaling to craft some of the most evocative singles 2018 has heard. With his debut EP Heaven's Only Wishful finally out, MorMor does not necessarily need fans to learn something new about him, but rather use his music as a vehicle to find themselves. In that way, as an artist, he is noble.
DJBooth’s full interview with MorMor, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
DJBooth: Do you remember the moment you realized music was more than a source of entertainment?
MorMor: I feel like, yes. From my earliest memories, it’s always been something more than entertainment. On the commercial side of things, probably when I decided to drop out of school. I was 18, something like that.
What drove you to drop out?
It was the first time I had owned my own laptop, so I just became obsessed with writing and making music. I was doing so in class, and I was just infatuated by it.
How did your family take that?
My mom had always been really supportive of me pursuing music and was very accepting of me making that decision.
What role did she play in shaping your relationship to music?
Early on, she recognized that it was something that I naturally gravitated towards and became obsessed with very early. She went as far as pushing me into some sort of formal training, but I always rejected that. Music has always been delicate to me and I just always had my own way of connecting and interacting with it.
That makes sense since your music has a very tender and intimate touch. Could you walk me through your ideation process?
Honestly, I just put myself into it and that’s ultimately what transpires. I try to be as honest as possible to my feelings at the moment. That can sometimes be very difficult. I would say that’s usually where a lot of that comes from, it’s just the way I feel and capturing it.
Do you remember the first big event in your life that drove you to start writing?
I was definitely into writing journals and lyrics in fifth or sixth grade. Those are my earliest memories of writing. Before that, I was much more into the music side of things and melody and knowing the different instruments and stuff like that.
Do you carry anything over from when you first began writing?
That’s a hard question, probably that would be more subconscious. I think it’s hard to pinpoint something that I’ve actively tried to maintain, I think it’s just the honesty thing and sometimes it can be very uncomfortable?
Do you still feel that discomfort?
I definitely feel that discomfort, and I think honestly it’s exciting sometimes when things flow, but it can be very difficult as well, to fight through that discomfort.
Did you have to train yourself to be vulnerable?
I’m really figuring that out because things are taking off in a way that they haven’t before. I find that also I occupy the same spaces as before. I can kinda shut everything out.
Is isolation essential?
Does it make you crazy?
Yes, [laughs], one-hundred percent. But it’s something that I’ve always needed. I need a lot of time alone.
You mention being obsessed often. How does obsession feed or hurt your artistry?
I don’t know if it ever hurts it. I think it hurts more in personal life than it does in music because you become very fixated on certain things. If I’m into something, I really wanna know a lot about it. That’s also difficult to answer.
Looking at the tracklist for the EP, I get a sense that there’s a searching quality to the project. Where were you at mentally when you put this work together?
I was definitely going through a difficult time. I was trying to be as honest with myself as possible while keeping the music… I just wanted to be true to myself, and as far as the title track, I felt like a lot of people struggle because we strive for this perfection that is unattainable. I was just trying to navigate through life.
What’s the most difficult part about being honest?
Probably that I can hurt someone else, unintentionally.
Is that something you think about often?
Honestly, not too much. I try to really just feel what feels good to me first. I think that’s also a part of honesty.
Being from Toronto, which summons a very distinct sound, do you feel like that’s helped or hurt you creatively?
When I was a little bit younger it was hurtful, but at this point, I realize it doesn’t affect me at all. I think I’m more supportive of everyone because everyone walks a different path.
With such an array of influences and so many layers in your music, how do you go about fusing them together and parsing your own voice?
As a kid, too, I just always had a hard time… I think part of that honesty is being true to myself and trying to replicate someone else that I appreciate was never really something that made me feel good. I’ve always just had a tendency… It has to be mine, in my words, and feel authentic to me. That’s the most important thing. I’ve never been able to uh…
What’s more important: authenticity or perfection?
I think they’re one in the same, almost. I think something being perfect, is something that I feel I’m connected to authentically. Or being able to feel something from someone else in a way that I feel is authentic.
Can you hear that authenticity while you’re recording?
Yeah. Sometimes it takes a while to find because I feel like naturally, I can come up with chords or melody really quickly, but it takes a while for me to find something that I connect to emotionally.
If you had to describe a model for something that sounds authentic…
I think they’re all different. I’m still searching for that. I find that I could play the same chords today and tomorrow, and for some reason, I connect to them tomorrow, you know?
Your song structures are unorthodox, where does that desire to push boundaries come from?
[Laughs], I’ve always as a person been someone who pushes boundaries, so I think it just comes across in the music.
Has that ever gotten you in trouble?
Yeah, when I was younger. I’m smarter about it now, for sure. Definitely, in my early years, I was getting in trouble.
Did that influence your decision to drop out?
Like in high school? I definitely didn’t really enjoy it, but I wanted to get through it. I feel like I kind of shut out my musical ability in high school.
A lot of people were pushing me into it, and I just needed to find something that I could do alone, that no one would try to force my hand in.
How did you make music your own?
Music had always been my own, and over time I definitely didn’t make music. I listened to a lot of music and was just kinda writing, and I think in that isolation I was able to find something I connected to that is personal.
How ceremonial is the act of releasing a debut for you?
It’s pretty incredible, actually. I just got the vinyl and seeing it in the physical form is a feeling I can’t even really describe. I’m excited to be able to share this project with people.
Is there anything that you’re scared for people to hear?
Not at this point, because I feel like I’ve released… I think initially the first song was scary, but after it’s rolled out… It’s been wild, but at this point, I’m okay with it being out there.
With your debut EP out, what do you hope fans will learn about you after listening?
It’s not so much about me, it’s more about them. I hope that they learn something about themselves from my words.