To listen to MorMor’s unique brand of psychedelic pop is to escape into a trippy world filled with soothing synths and delicate introspection. Yet just when you get comfortable enough to relax, the 27-year-old singer’s music brings you crashing back to reality. It’s no coincidence that on his on his brilliant new EP ‘Some Place Else’, the otherworldly glow of ‘Pass The Hours’ is immediately followed by the darker “Make Believe” and the sobering lyric “I can’t escape”. It’s sobering and hard to recover from.
“I am always drifting in-between worlds,” MorMor, real name Seth Nyquist, tells NME. “I guess I like making music that’s dream-like but also melancholic. ‘Get Away’ was definitely inspired by a David Lynch [Twin Peaks creator] world as there’s this innocence and openness to it, but it can still be haunting too.”
MorMor writes, plays and produces all of his songs. It’s a skill he learned from a young age, having picked the piano and guitar from an early age. His mother raised him on a strict diet of Motown, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, and working out chord progressions from those songs became a passionate hobby that enabled him to feel calm as a child. He sung in his high school choir and played trumpet in the school band before studying sociology at Toronto’s Ryerson University. He dropped out pretty quickly, choosing instead to put all of his energy into music.
“I grew up with a single mum and I was later adopted into a family. It wasn’t always easy. Toronto is diverse city to grow up in and I had cousins who had been in jail so seeing so many different walks of life is one thing I want to channel into my music,” he says.
“My Aunt came to visit my a year ago and told me whenever music was played, I would be fixated on it and try to find the source of the sound. I remember going to a piano and instinctively wanting to play it, but once it became too formal, I ended up rejecting music in a lot of ways. I didn’t like the formal aspect of playing piano, I preferred the escapism of playing it alone. It is like drawing as a kid. We all love to draw cartoons, but when they suddenly get shown to other people, all of the fun goes out of it.”
This reluctance around showing his art to other people is something MorMor still struggles with. His music is intensely personal and he says playing some of these songs in a live setting can feel weird. The potential bright lights of fame likely won’t be something that comes naturally to a singer who likes to get lost in his thoughts.
“It is nice performing live at festivals but my instinct is still to pull back a little,” he admits. “I have songs that are more wider-reaching that I haven’t yet put out. I just need to chill for a second. I am trying to learn how to unwind and turn my brain off. At the moment, I am just in writing mode.”
“MorMor sounds like a House of Balloons’-era The Weeknd, had his drug of choice been mushrooms instead of cocaine”
MorMor is currently working on his debut album which is due for release next year. He’s been listening to a lot of Queen recently, a band he references on ‘Heaven’s Only Wishful’ with the bar “I’m just a poor boy”, which doubles up as ode to Oliver Twist, a character he feels an affinity with. His already released EPs – ‘Some Place Else’ and 2018’s ‘Heaven’s Only Wishful’ – are filled with invention, with tracks like ‘Whatever Comes to Mind’ and ‘Outside’ sounding like a ‘House of Balloons’-era The Weeknd, had his drug of choice been mushrooms instead of cocaine.
The singer’s piercing falsetto and reliance on unconventional sonic transitions make him sound completely unique, and he says he wants to stand out from his peers by not sounding overproduced. “I made the ‘Some Place Else EP’ in two months. It is painfully sparse in places, but looking back I was processing a really painful situation and the music was my escapism, hence the title. It captured the pain I felt that Winter. I wanted a level of honesty, pain and truth in the music, so it isn’t overproduced or too groovy.”
He explains further: “With a lot of other musicians, they create worlds that are so full that you lose the actual song. I don’t want to be washed out by too many layers.” MorMor is good at creating new worlds and dream-like states, but when you hear his music, he wants it to feel like he’s right there in the room with you.
MorMor’s ‘Some Place Else’ EP is out now