I am Phil Elverum. Here is my brief autobiography for journalists and fact seekers:
I was born in 1978. I come from the town of Anacortes, Washington. Since 1997 my primary life’s work has been making studio-based music, first under the name “the Microphones” (1997 – 2002) and then “Mount Eerie” (2003 – present). In addition to this I have played in other bands (D+, Old Time Relijun), produced other peoples’ recordings and dabbled in painting, writing, and photography.
Aside from 5 years in Olympia, Wash. and a long winter in northern Norway (2002/2003), I have lived most of my life in Anacortes and much of the content of my music and other art is tied to the place. My music project Mount Eerie is named after the actual mountain, Mt. Erie, that lies just south of town. I try to make music that feels associated with this particular place in some way, whether it’s literally described in words or just an ambiguous feeling.
The “Microphones era” in Olympia (1997-2002) was very prolific, with 5 major albums (and many smaller things) being released by the K label. The most critically acclaimed was “the Glow pt. 2” (2001). Following that was an album called “Mount Eerie” by the Microphones.
I did not feel totally satisfied artistically with my exploration of the “Mount Eerie” idea on the album of that name so in 2003 I changed the name of my whole project to Mount Eerie. I did this partly to explore the idea more deeply and partly because the name had become more relevant to my songs than “the Microphones”, not to mention the appeal of being conceptually rooted to an actual place.
In 2004 I started releasing my own projects via the “P.W. Elverum & Sun, ltd.” company in an attempt to become even more self-sufficient and also to be able to explore unusual packaging ideas. The first major release was “No Flashlight” by Mount Eerie (2005) which came wrapped in a gargantuan poster. Since then I have released many fancy LPs and an extravagant art book of photography. I continue to explore new ideas for mass producing art and music in a homemade style. P.W. Elverum & Sun remains primarily a vehicle for my own projects only, not a real record label. Deeper simple self-sufficiency seems to be a good way to weather the tumultuous times we live in.
Here’s what the journalist Brandon Stosuy said to describe what my stuff is actually about (in the Believer):
“Regardless of the moniker, the various collections include interlocking themes, references to earlier works, and are marked by Elverum’s distinctive naturalist self-recorded lo-fi analog sound that mixes a whispered, gentle voice, which can also yell and bellow, with various strains of sound: His work can be delicately spare or booming and ambitiously layered and noisy, often in the same song. Lyrically, he focuses on memory, first-person storytelling, myth, naturalism, the everyday as sacred, and a sense of place (in and out of Washington State), among other related things.”
Here’s another nice blurb (from Jeff Manson writing in the Bolinas Hearsay News):
“Mt. Eerie is the current incarnation of enigmatic sound wizard, nature philosopher, neo-beat, radical feminist, Pacific Northwest Shredder/legend Phil Elverum. I first became aware of his music in the late 90s in Santa Cruz when he came through town regularly performing in basements and on the beach in/as his old band name “the Microphones”. For the past 10 plus years I’ve witnessed Phil crank out an amazing body of work, from self-recorded albums, to photo-books, to goofy comics. He makes consistently mesmerizing bold work outside any particular genre and does so with an unaffected sense of humor that is rare in most artists.”
Here’s what the Primavera Sound festival said to describe me:
“Since Phil Elverum war changed its name and changed by Mount Eerie The Microphones, his music has more to gain nuance, depth and, above all, very dark. Always moving around the folk most enigmatic, American is looking for a unique sound, something like the soundtrack of a tragedy, on albums like “Lost Wisdowm” and “Wind’s Poem”, jobs that added this year sinister ambient double effort and naturalist: the dark and dreamlike “Clear Moon” and “Ocean Roar”.