By Joey Lopez
MorMor, real name Seth Nyquist, practically came out of nowhere. Coalescing onto the alt pop mainstage with a fresh and familiar sound, his 2018 single, “Heaven’s Only Wishful,” racked up millions of streams within days. Nyquist’s bouncing falsetto backed by emotionally evocative synth and simple guitar riffs lends itself perfectly to any coming of age drama. His vocals are controlled and almost sheepish, as if he were avoiding eye contact. Nyquist practically grabs you by the face, as he stares into your eyes and shouts exactly how he feels, pushing his voice to its limits.
Nyquist channeled the energy of his hometown of Toronto into the song about how the city made him feel. The popularity of the song came from a string of lucky coincidences, getting into the right hands and being passed around and played at Toronto parties, eventually getting into the hands of the label, Don’t Guess, who gave MorMor his start. He even landed Adele’s manager within his first year of releasing music.
Since then, life has quickly changed for Nyquist, releasing his first EP, Heaven’s Only Wishful, shortly after the release of the titular single, winning acclaim from fans and critics alike.
“It’s been special and surreal. I’ve definitely been on more planes,” Nyquist laughs. “It’s just been really surreal.”
His latest single “Outside” is a powerful demonstration of the kind of artist MorMor is becoming. In only a year, his arrangements have become more complex, and nuanced. He sounds like he’s caught in a rushing current, face turned up for air, seeing the sky for the last time, content with what’s about to come. MorMor has a mature understanding of his own fear and accepts that there’s no point in turning away. His songs have always been personal and “Outside” takes on the subject of mental health.
“I was trying to talk about the anxiety of going outside and dealing with depression. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily any more personal than my other songs but I think this one is definitely special to me. I think at first it was subconscious. I think maybe now I’m more expressive, but it goes way back. When I was a kid I would hum melodies when I was nervous and I would drum on my desk. My teachers would always get mad and tell me to stop banging on the desk. Something in that energy calms me. I’m kind of defining that inner child in my music.”
Nyquist still lives in his Toronto, where he’s been playing music since before he can remember. Although his music can be an expression of his city he doesn’t necessarily feel like he needs to express love for it, just explore his experience of it. His songs are not love letters, but more an explorer’s notes on a journey through the diverse and fast paced environment. His methods of pulling inspiration are unique; instead of looking to other musicians he looks to artists of other disciplines and how they expressed themselves through their individual crafts.
“I’m sort of inspired by what I’m feeling or what’s around me, what a day feels like and I like to interpret those feelings. I wouldn’t say I’m like Basquiat but there was so much information in his paintings and feelings expressed through the way he painted and what his collages represented compared to his actual paintings. The way I like to do things is to not think about it too much and let the feelings come and let the music come from that. I just let happen as it happens. In “Heaven’s Only Wishful” the entire end of that song is freestyled. All the little inflections and everything I didn’t even think about them, I just let it happen naturally.”
MorMor is a stand out because he acts on instinct. Allowing the music to flow from him the way a paintbrush moves across a canvas and building on improvisation to create a natural and honest sound. MorMor has crafted a musical identity unlike anyone else. It might prove difficult not to disappear into the wash of Canadian talent erupting from the East and taking over the mainstream, but MorMor is proving that completely being yourself is the best way to go.
MorMor performs April 30 at the Biltmore CabaretMorMor, The Biltmore Cabaret