Since forming in 2018, London-based Murman have wowed crowds at venues such as The Scala, The Windmill and The Old Blue Last, and have now – following the frenzied energy of last year’s ‘Panama’ – shared a brand new single. ‘Achilles’ hits you instantly with its gritty hooks, swooning vocals and immense thrashing beats, as it builds to a riotous slice of garage-rock, oozing a raw, scuzzy energy.
We caught up with drummer Abbi Knell to find out more about Murman and their distinctive sound…
Hi Abbi, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello, and thank you! I’m Abbi and I play the drums in a band called Murman, based in North London. I grew up in Suffolk and have been playing since I was about 10 years old, when I started my first band to play in a school talent competition. Very rock and roll. For a day job I work in communications and campaigns for a global philanthropy, so it’s a very different world to music but I really enjoy flitting between the two, and I picked up cycling during lockdown 1.0 – so that’s a nice new hobby!
How did you and David initially decide to start creating music together as Murman?
So, when I moved to London after university I was desperate to get back into playing live. I started scrolling through a few GumTree ads looking for drummers, and stumbled across an ad from David looking to start a band. We first met back in 2018, and David already had a few songs drafted (‘Christian Boys’, our first single, and ‘Tred Bay’, our second), so we used those as a springboard into other sounds, hooks, and ideas. It really started for us both as a hobby and a passion, I don’t think either of us thought a year later we’d be playing at Scala or hosting our own headline shows at The Shacklewell Arms, but it’s so much fun, and that’s at the heart of the music we want to create too – fun to play and fun to listen to.
You’ve just released your gritty new single ‘Achilles’ – are there any particular themes running throughout it?
We have! Out of all our releases it’s probably the most difficult for us to attribute a singular theme or genre to – it’s an amalgamation of different ideas, but we always play with the notion of masculinity and try to flip it on its head. It ultimately developed into quite a tongue in cheek, playful song you can dance to, but the undertones of real emotion are still there.
We love the dark, thrashing sounds of the single, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
It’s a really tricky question. I’d say lyrically we’re influenced by anything and everything, from the darker styles of Joy Division to much lighter stuff like Devo, but drumming-wise I’ve always been pulled towards The Horrors, Our Girl, Idles… Anything with a heavy floor-tom and splashing cymbals. Growing up I loved watching Anna Prior from Metronomy, or Stella Mozgawa from Warpaint as incredible female drummers. Watching Stella definitely encouraged me to be more experimental in my own drumming, and branch out from letting the hi-hat and snare dictate my own drumming patterns.
How are you connecting with your audience and other musicians during the pandemic?
We (David) have done a few live sessions on Instagram and Facebook, but it’s so far removed from how we sound live that we’ve tried to engage through other means. We were a part of the Stay Home independent artists’ album earlier in 2020, and have done a few Instagram live interviews. But mainly we try to share our friends’ music as much as possible – I think getting support and recognition from other artists has been really important for loads of bands over the past 12 months.
And has there been anything/anyone specific that has been inspiring you, or helping to motivate you, throughout these strange times?
I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts and reading more over lockdown – I’ve just finished ‘Blonde Roots’ by Bernardine Evaristo, which I’d recommend! I think I’ve actually used this unintended break from music as an opportunity to engage more in other interests, rather than trying to force musical creativity. As a drummer living in a flat, it’s a little tricky to keep playing anyway, so I had to form new routines. In terms of motivation though, I’m definitely counting down to when we can play live and go to gigs again, and I think we’ll all value live music so much more after its 18 month absence!
How do you feel the music industry is for new artists at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
It seems like it’s always difficult to get noticed, but particularly at the moment. Social media is so heavily saturated with content it’s really hard to cut through, which is why we prefer to focus on live gigs and put on a real show. I think the key thing is not expecting people will just come to you, but reaching out instead – we’re pretty shameless in tagging and messaging BBC Intro, Steve Lamacq and big bands etc on Instagram, and sometimes it pays off! You just have to be super proactive if you’re trying to get industry recognition, but obviously if you’re just doing it for fun then you can do whatever you like!
As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists that you’d recommend we check out?
It’s pretty bad to think that, over the two years we’ve been gigging, we’ve probably only played with a handful of bands with other women in, but I’m really hoping that will change! I’d definitely recommend listening to Maya Law – she’s an incredibly talented upcoming musician and brilliant lyricist. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Liz Lawrence, she’s such a warm character both on stage and on record, and writes in a really frank and authentic way, which I think often gets taken for granted in the current music landscape. You should definitely check both of them out!
Finally, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for Murman?
That’s a big open question but I can safely say that if gigs are back, we’ll do doing as many as we can! We’re also releasing our music video for ‘Achilles’ in a month or so, so keep an eye out for that. Hopefully we’ll also be able to release another single later in the year, and play a few more gigs outside the M25. Getting into more cities across the UK was our original plan for last summer, so we’ll definitely be making the most out of the freedom we have to play again, to as many people as possible. For now, I’ll have to make do with my podcasts and David’s regular WhatsApp voice notes.
Huge thanks to Abbi for answering our questions!
‘Achilles’, the latest single from Murman, is out now. Listen on Spotify.