The Magical Blend of A Murder in Mississippi

Foto (c) Daphne Matthys

Their new album ‘Hurricana’ has been out for a few weeks and received good critical acclaim. However, the official presentation in Scala in Ghent (Belgium) has been postponed by Corona to March 19. A date when everything is hopefully allowed again. Because A Murder in Mississippi doesn’t want half work, half feeling, not half euphoria. “We put the energy of the stage into the record. And we want to give that back in the presentation.” The magical mix of A Murder in Mississippi.

Leander Vandereecken (guitar, vocals) and Stijn Bontinck (bass) know exactly where the power of their music lies: “On ‘Hurricana’ we used a microphone that records 360 degrees, in order to add the live feeling, the room feeling, to the record. to give.” Just like on the opener ‘River Whispers’. “With this song, this energy, we wanted to set the tone right away.” And that has more than succeeded. You are sucked into an album that you may have previously thought would not be your cup of tea. Americana is dusty, isn’t it for us Europeans? Then let yourself be surprised by the six men/women of Ghent’s A Murder in Mississippi.

“We play a mix of all kinds of genres along the Mississippi River, from country, blues, folk especially, but also cajun, rock n’ roll, with jazzy influences.” In addition, the band also reflects another fascinating side: “The Mississippi is a river that meanders through almost the entire US, past several cities. Like us, they have different migration backgrounds and blend different music genres together.” According to Stijn, the music can even be called transatlantic: “We sometimes have a mix between American and Irish folk, with a dash of bluegrass or polka. So it could actually come from anywhere, but it’s still A Murder in Mississippi.

Photo (c) Daphne Matthys

The album title also fits seamlessly into the historical and geographical context. In fact, with ‘Hurricana’ there is a strong link with current events: “For us there is a lot in A Murder in Mississippi, a whirlwind of genres. Added to the stormy things that have now happened due to the pandemic, the immediately catchy title was… “Laughing: “Actually we don’t play Americana, but it’s ‘Hurricana’.”

A Murder in Mississippi is a band that always and everywhere sounds stormy, with various genres, which have a long history. “If you want an umbrella name, you could call it Americana Roots”, according to Stijn. “We all wanted something around the Mississippi theme.” A central theme, approached from very diverse musical backgrounds.

“Leander and Dieter (Vanhede, keys) are very much into metal, hardcore and punk. Me too, but also a bit broader, like rockabilly. Our violinist (Alexandra van Wesemael) has been busy with classical music, Lore (Heyerick) the bajo player, a lot with jazz and Mirthe (Vandereecken), who does the percussion, more with hip-hop and such.” Stijn lets a moment of silence fall to unconsciously emphasize the width of the band. “The great thing is that A Murder in Mississippi is a kind of common ground. Leander usually comes up with the ideas and always manages to find common ground.”

Photo (c) Daphne Matthys

Before Leander sought, and found, the common ground, he was first with his sister two years younger, and A Murder in Mississippi was still a distant future. “Our grandmother was a talented mandolin player and listened to a lot of folk, country and bluegrass. So it was just that the music was on at our house. Of course we went our own way later on, but that music has always stuck with me. Mirthe started playing guitar, singer songwriter songs, and I especially wanted electric guitar. So why wouldn’t it be great to do something together? But what?”

“I had the idea to do something with blues or country, because it was something completely different from what I did. Mirthe agreed and that’s how it started. Lore knew her from school. She joined, first as a singer, later also for the banjo. Dieter is the singer of my metal band Six Days of Justice. He already played the piano and became enthusiastic for us. Finally Alex and Stijn joined them. ” All in Ghent, with the Missy Sippy Blues & Roots Club as ‘place to be’, which is also where blues guitarist Tim De Graeve, aka Tiny Legs Tim, often stays.” And he also helped us a lot with the album, together with his own label, Sing My Title.”

The album ‘Hurricana’ is the successor to the self-titled debut from 2018. According to both gentlemen, there are certainly differences. “With the first record it was more of a mix, now with ‘Hurricana’ it is all more in line, especially the emotions and the stage feeling. We have been able to better convey playing together on stage.” “It’s hard to explain, but we feel perfectly now when we can make a song completely our own, give it our own twist.” Leander is adamant: “We can always hear: That’s a Murderer song, a song of ours…”

But what is typical ‘Murderer’?, to use his own pet name. “The harmonies of the vocals, the violin melody…” Stijn fills in the short silence: “An interaction between something that seems happy but is actually quite sad or sinister… You can also see it in the artwork. Take a look at the album cover: Suddenly metal isn’t far away anymore, I think. Leander is beaming: Did you know that many metal fans are also fans of ours? That, I really like that.” A beautiful grin…

But what’s cool about playing in A Murder in Mississippi yourself, when your roots are miles away? Leander doesn’t have to think twice: “Playing together in the band. We have a very good chemistry. And our love for old time music. We can all play an electric instrument, but no, we choose to go acoustic and get back to the roots. It even has influences from the 1920s…”

Photo (c) Daphne Matthys

“And we want to drag people along. Do we have a big message? No, not necessarily. But it’s about getting people involved by addressing recognizable feelings. Maybe it’s also the nostalgia. The Yin and Yang in our music, in a song, the light and the dark.”

Leander and Stijn sound very satisfied, also on behalf of the entire band. “Yes, it’s very nice right now, especially with the second album.” Leander is already dreaming aloud: “I would really like to go on tour, all in a van together, smelly, old school, haha. Playing European festivals, and maybe America,… yes that would be great of course. Also risky because the music we play was invented there.”

A Murder in Mississippi: Broad genres meander through endless lowlands, inspired by both the Old and New Worlds. So many members, so many influences, so many flavors. It turns out to be impossible to choose one of the ten tracks of ‘Hurricana’ as the ultimate Murderer song. “We have many influences, and they come together in a very natural way. Everyone has their own opinion, and that is what makes us so strong.” The magical mix of A Murder in Mississippi.

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