Here are some frequently asked questions that hopefully clear up some of the mystery surrounding Murmur Of Monks. All questions are answered by Humwawa himself.
Why did you choose the name
murmur of monks?
I was reading a lot of books about priories back in the nineties. The secrecy of those covenants fascinated me, as well as the religious symbolism most of them held. So for my own project I was looking for a name that would fit such alliance. The monks in the title obviously gave it the religious connotation and the murmuring made it sound somewhat
secretive too, so I was instantly convinced that was the name to go for. And above all, I like symmetry. That represents trust and power to me. If you abbreviate Murmur Of Monks you get MOM. A solid word, that also refers to the origins of our existence, because we all own our lives to our moms, not?
No, it’s not. Humwawa represents the artistic side of me because that’s what Murmur Of Monks is all about: music and art. So by using an alias I try to keep my personal life separate from my artistic expressions. The name Humwawa has been with me ever since 1996, as we all worked under pseudonyms in an art collective under the same banner of Murmur Of Monks.
Is your real name humwawa?
What is the meaning of the mom symbol?
There is a whole topic on this website, called ‘Symbolism’. There you will find the explanations in detail. The MOM-logo gets a different meaning everytime you turn it around. So for those interested, please check it out.
Have you had any musical education?
No, I’m a self-taught composer. I play a little bit of guitar, that’s all. The rest is all done by ear and heart. And patience, of course. But my work flow can be really fast, thanks to today’s computer technology. Some songs take me less than one full day to compose, others take me months alas...
What religion do you practice or believe in?
This may surprise some of you, but none really. I would define myself an atheist nowadays, although I was raised as a Catholic. But ever since adolescence I have opened up my views on all religions worldwide and I can see some good and bad in all of them. I don’t think there’s any religion that holds the absolute truth, although many of them claim to do. And on top of that, I’ve never been a follower, which I think many religions want you to be. I sometimes compare it to politics. If you’re a member of a certain political party, you ought to have the same opinion on the same matters as the other members of that
group. Which is totally ridiculous because we’re all different and we all have our own individual backgrounds and ideas. But most people want to belong to a bigger entity which gives them comfort, I guess. But I’m more of a loner really. I have my own ideas and beliefs in life and I try to stick with them. The main one is trying to do good for anyone that respects me too. But I’m quite aware that beliefs and religions are strong tools for a lot of people in this world and give them hope, comfort and power. So who am I to judge that?
What music inspires you personally?
As with religion I try to keep an open mind on anything that passes my ears. So the genre of music doesn’t really matter to me. I guess an artist has to move me in a certain way, because I have a slight preference for darker and moodier music. And I am quite a devotee of extreme metal music too. I’m really passionate about that stuff and a fanatic collector. Some of you may be surprised to hear that, but metal music definitely inspires my songwriting, even if it comes out sounding totally different in
my own project. But then again, I have so many other artists and bands that influence me. From Goldfrapp to Pink Floyd to Depeche Mode to Tales Of Us to Georges Bizet to Prokofiev to John Barry to Sonic Youth to Napalm Death to Gesaffelstein to Thin Lizzy to Ennio Morricone and so on and so on… the list is endless and so varied. But my three all-time favourites are undoubtedly Dead Can Dance, Morbid Angel and Laibach. Those three bands were pioneers throughout their whole careers, whilst maintaining a very high standard of songwriting and reinventing themselves with each new album they’d made. And without ever thinking too much about commercial success. So I try to keep that same ideology with Murmur Of Monks. Instead of copying other bands or the latest trends, I try to create something deep from within myself, that hopefully appeals to others.
Why aren't there any live performances scheduled for murmur of monks?
Murmur Of Monks is first and foremost a studio project. It would cost an enormous amount of money to perform this music with live artists, as I use a lot of different instruments and choirs. And to be fairly honest, I’m not interested in standing there behind a massive DJ-table too, jumping around and twisting a few knobs. I think those performances are quite dull and it wouldn’t suit my music either. If I had the opportunity I would rather present it in some dark setting. Like a séance with actors, dancers, costumes, stuff like that. But that’s not within my reach for the moment. Nevertheless my music will be used in some local dance choreography performances in the near futur, which is a very nice way to present it to a new and wider audience.
The songs that contain male vocals, grunts or narration are indeed all done by myself, except for the choirs and the female vocals of course. Those are samples from my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) that I arrange. The many deformations of my vocals are actually a
Are all vocals done by you, as they tend to sound different on each song?
Is there other stuff that inspires you, besides music?
A lot of things! In the first place life itself. The psychology of man and beast is an endless source of inspiration to me. The love and the pain we unleash upon this world and to each other. And I like art too. Mainly paintings, movies and architecture. I can still be in awe of what some individuals have achieved during their lives. Therefore I like watching documentaries about people that have created something valuable and shared it with the rest of the world. That definitely inspires me. And so does the beauty of nature. Landscapes and all the living creatures that walk the face of the Earth. How can you not get excited and inspired by that?
part of my sound, so it is intentional. I like to have things sounding a little twisted, I guess. And it’s an extra reason for you to read my lyrics, as I put a lot of effort in them too. But in the end, the effects on my vocals could just be an excuse for the fact that I’m not a real singer. Believe me, my dog knows I’m not.
Why do you work by yourself?
I guess I want to do things my own way. This project is very dear to me, so I’m afraid I would have to compromise too much if other musicians or composers got involved. So on the first record I decided to do most of it myself: the music, the production, the lyrics, the vocals, the symbols, the layout concept, the website, etc. Only some of the artwork was done by Lindeah Delah, who was another member of our former art collective. But that doesn’t rule out the possibility of other people getting involved in the futur. I would actually really love to have some guest vocalists to keep it interesting. And I would definitely love to have a professional producer mixing my music too, because I think he or she would do a much better job than me! So there are financial reasons too, to do it all by yourself.