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Liam Mour: Bauhaus Beats

Meeting Brad Pitt while on tour with Nils Frahm, becoming a resident at Berlin’s legendary architectural landmark Funkhaus Studios, and releasing his second EP; it’s been an eventful few years for Liam Mour, who is a very exciting addition to the electronic music scene. Headliner caught up with the Berlin-based producer and composer about life in the German capital, the incredible community at Funkhaus, and his gorgeous new collection of songs, Dreaming Of A Better Place.

“I was born in Asia in Kyrgyzstan,” Mour says. “It has the Tian Shan mountain range and it’s just next to China. Then my family came to Germany when I was six to a city near Cologne. Then I moved to Berlin about 11 years ago.”

His German accent evidences his many years in the country, and his analogue-based electronic music with its subdued beats fits the Berlin aesthetic wonderfully — although one could perhaps argue it’s still lovely and melodic despite coming out of the city of techno. His songs range from beguiling ambience to very danceable and uplifting.

Plus the odd curveball, such as the title-track of Dreaming Of A Better Place – a trip-hop masterpiece with live drums, strings and vocals.

“I’ve been making music since I was a kid,” Mour says. “And I really got into electronic music when I was 16. I was listening to some music from Warp Records; we would play them when we were skating. When I moved to Berlin, it was quite easy to get into the electronic music scene, because Berlin is – I think – one of the most exciting cities for the scene worldwide.”

Mour has been a resident at Funkhaus for many years now. The GDR built Funkhaus in 1951 after they lost access to radios in West Germany. Its jaw-dropping design is by the famed Bauhaus architect Franz Ehrilich, and it’s been known for its excellent acoustics ever since.

“It's a stunning place,” Mour says. “It has a lot of studios; many of them have been refurbished during the last couple of years. I’m really happy to own one of them. I first came here to record nine years ago. It became really famous worldwide because of all the artists who are working there.

"And because of the concerts, we had the album release of Depeche Mode, and there have been many big concerts like Aphex Twin. So I would definitely recommend everyone visiting when they’re in Berlin – there’s a tour, and you can grab a coffee or lunch.”

Berlin is – I think – one of the most exciting cities for the [electronic music] scene worldwide.

Through his residency at Funkhaus, Mour has struck up a friendship with luminary composer and artist Nils Frahm, with some even describing Mour as a protégé of Frahm’s.

The Saal 3 studio can be seen in the cover art for Frahm’s album All Melody, the space he currently owns. He gave us a lockdown treat recently: the live concert film Tripping With Nils Frahm, produced by one Brad Pitt. Perhaps you’re wondering how this involves Mour...

“Nils asked me to join that tour as a friend and as a merch guy. So I was selling merch, and made drinks for everyone, making everyone happy. It was super exciting because I don't know how many months we were away for. I got to say hello to Brad Pitt! He won't remember me. We were sitting in the same row and I had my fan moment. It was at a church in L.A where Sister Act was filmed, and James Blake had played the night before.”

Mour’s second EP – which landed this year – Dreaming Of A Better Place, has such a cinematic scope to it. There’s the ambient soundscapes of opener When I Look Into Your Eyes, the head-nodding, uplifting dance of Nineteen Ninety, ranging all the way to the epic and orchestral title track which closes the collection.

I mention that the title track, which with its strings, live drums and vocal samples gives off very strong Massive Attack vibes.

“I was listening to them when I was younger, also Boards of Canada,” he points out. “I just started with a guitar riff last year and wanted to end the EP with an ambient track. I had in mind putting live drums on it, and the string quartet and vocals. I also asked some really talented people to help me with that because I did the whole string section with the Spitfire BBC library but I wanted to record real strings.

"So I asked Funkhaus if I could have Saal 1 to record in. Jonathan Dreyfuss, who is a really nice composer from Australia, helped me arrange the string quartet, and Antonio Pulli was the engineer. He works with many artists like Nils, with Ólafur (Arnalds), Hauschka. He was the main engineer on the Joker soundtrack too.”