*originally written by Rachel Remsburg*
Photography by Kim Jay
What do the simplistic peaceful sounds of nature have in common with the thump and energy of a club scene? The answer: The Murge-ment. Murge is a “merging" multitude of sounds focusing on keeping people moving on the dancefloor and outdoors. At the start, Josh Haase, as he is formally known, began with turntablism, hip-hop, and collaborating vocalists, thus creating the merging stage name. Today his inspirations stem from travel, global music, and a passion for instrumentalism.
In light of the pandemic, motivation for artists has altered; yet, Haase starts with meaningful discussions and time with loved ones. The quieting of life has allowed him to dig deeper into sound with field recordings from outdoor adventures and expand synths and studio gear. He uses Ableton Live as the main platform for writing, along with synths and hardware.
“I've found that adding some key pieces of outboard hardware effect processing into the studio has opened up a lot more creative options that allow me to jam a bit and figure out new parts to my tracks." Haase adds to his response that he finds influence by other artists, providing an opportunity to create collaborations. Moreover the collaborations give him enjoyment and “opens up a track when someone adds their instrumentation to it."
Most recently emerging from a combined passion of DJ/Dance culture, with his label mate Framework for the singles “Cusp" and “Journals." The singles culminate many late-night conversations and shared studio sessions between the musical engineers.
“[These tracks are] a tribute to the dance clubs and venues that influenced and shaped our careers and sound," Haase shares. “[They] were written and produced as a direct response to last year's lockdowns which serves as a reminder to all of how important venues are to our culture and growth." Moreover, his colleague has expressed that they “wanted to create something at that moment that would serve as a reminder of how fortunate we are to have these spaces to both perform and enjoy."
Another collaboration featured is Sierra Lundy's vocals on “Can't Hurt Me Now" from the Murge debut EP with Loci Records. Sharing the emotional toll of the pandemic and wanting to create a snapshot of that time in life, Haase and Lundy merged their sentiment into the track “Alone Together."
“This was the result of Sierra and I trying to create a song that captured the feelings we both had while having to remain at home during one of the first lockdowns of the pandemic." Their professional “chemistry" was already in place because of her assistance with “Can't Hurt Me Now."
“Alone Together” took several forms before becoming what ended up as the final released version. I like to think that my music is a snapshot of where I’m at in life. The pandemic has taken a toll on my emotional well-being." In addition, “the immediate strain on finances as a result of our inability to travel and perform forced me to reevaluate many aspects of my life." Turning to Lundy's voice and lyrics, Haase was able to create “the most direct way to communicate how it had been affecting" his environment.
When Haase is not writing, recording, or performing, he is “submerged" in nature. “Canada has quite a vast amount of outdoor areas to explore. Out here on the west coast of British Columbia, it’s an amazing landscape full of oceans, lakes, and mountains. I spend as much time as I can surfing, paddle boarding, and hiking." He comments that “nature has certainly inspired my music; I often include little bits of field recordings that I’ve captured along my travels. It’s quite amazing how much atmosphere that natural sounds from field recordings can add to a track." Although once the pandemic restrictions lift, his top priority is to travel throughout North America and return to Europe and Southeast Asia. “A return to Spain would be lovely; there is so much amazing food there!"
You can vibe with Murge on YouTube and Spotify; however, you can find him on Bloop London Radio with his rad radio show titled Murge’s Magic Hour via SoundCloud.
“My radio show residency on Bloop London came about as a result of my label Loci Records connecting me with them. Loci had suggested that I do an exclusive DJ mix to promote the release of my single ‘Alone Together.’ With this suggestion, Haase decided to create “a blend of original productions" with tracks that had made their way into his sets. “Bloop London loved it, and the response was really good from their listeners. They asked if I’d consider a monthly residency show. It is an excellent outlet that would keep me up on my DJ game and also give me a platform to play my own tracks and tracks of fellow label mates and producers.”
The success of Murge’s Magic Hour created an opportunity for Haase to have an online archive of DJ mixes that friends and fans can access anytime. There they can connect and stay engaged until he is back on stage. “I truly really miss creating an immersive experience for my fans and friends on a dance floor," he mentions. “I miss being able to test out new ideas I’m working on mixed into my DJ sets alongside tracks I love.”
Although being away from the venues has given him a chance to reflect and spend more time with loved ones engaging in “deep, meaningful conversations." Haase expresses that “having time away from playing shows and club nights has certainly opened up the pathways to allow me to dig a little deeper into sounds." This quiet reflection has given him “a more open" outlet for himself and his musical expressions.
As an ’emerging’ artist, he shares some lessons learned along the way. “One thing is to always create from the soul and heart while remaining open to new concepts. Like everything in life, the only constant thing is change, and there are always new ways to achieve progress with songs within your methods.” Adding, “Lately, I’ve learned when creativity may not be hitting as much as I’d like it to be, that exploring new concepts and approaches and methods to song creation keeps me inspired. Whether digging into a new piece of gear or different ways to approach song arrangements, inspiration comes from old records or fellow producers or friends who share their techniques."
“Long-term goals are to continue releasing a bunch more music and also sound design and audio engineering for documentaries.” For aspiring artists out there, Haase encourages the continuation of creativity and physical activity. “I find that whenever I’m feeling a bit low or if creativity isn’t flowing as much I’d like it to, getting some fresh air and getting the body moving helps me. Also, an important thing for me is always to explore new music. I try not to listen to too much music that I feel is similar in style to what I do, and instead, I find inspiration from various other types of sounds. Jazz, disco, psychedelic rock, ambient, African and Latin music are some of the biggest influences for me.”
If you cannot get enough of Murge’s work, have no fear, more is on the way! 2022 will birth a new album and a new single on Loci Records, with singer and pianist Ashleigh Eymann. He continues to share work with Framework as they stay inspired by one another. Moreover, Haase will be on remixing duties for Tor, and an exciting collab with Emancipator is in store. He notes that Spotify followers are “a helpful thing as an artist right now. It allows my music to hit the release radars of followers." Release Radar is a weekly set of newly released albums and songs based on a subscriber’s artists and musical styles. “It’s the best way to keep the momentum going :)”
Join the “cosmic and eclectic" Murgement here.