Not many new artists enjoy the immediate success that M.Byrd has experienced since releasing his first solo record last September. That single, “Mountain“, has racked up almost 3 and a half million streams on Spotify since it debuted a year ago, and launched the 25-year-old German indie pop rocker onto a European tour with Roosevelt, and stages at major German festivals.

As M.Byrd explains, “Mountain” is a song about keeping small victories in perspective. Even as he marvels at his early successes, he attempts to build on them with Orion – a project displaying every bit of the potential introduced to us by “Mountain”, the EP’s first single.

I had the opportunity to ask M.Byrd about Orion, turtles, his early success, and future plans. Shoutout to him for his participation and for blessing us with some great new music!

Read the full interview below

Photo Credit: Constantin Timm

You just released a new EP titled Orion, and there are turtles on the cover, in your Instagram bio, everywhere – what’s the connection between this EP and turtles? How does the name Orion relate to all of this?

Last year, just before the pandemic started, I was visiting my parents and they have three turtles, and one of them, the smallest one, had never gotten a name. One night my girlfriend and I were sitting outside in one of those quiet pandemic nights, talking about star constellations and the mythologies behind them, when we realized that the Orion constellation was right above us. We thought it would be a great fit for the smallest one to be named Orion – who is a sort of giant hunting figure in Greek mythology.

Just after we left, Orion unfortunately stopped eating and eventually fell asleep and never woke up again. A few months later, as I was listening through my voice memos in the studio, I realized that this exact word was missing in a chorus that I had the melody for and the song fell in place.

“Mountain” was the first single from this EP, and you wrote on Instagram that it’s a song about putting things in perspective. Can you speak more on where that theme came from, and how it inspired this song?

When I was traveling through Denmark we visited the highest mountain in Denmark, which is called Himmelsbjerget, which roughly translates to “Sky Mountain”. Now take a guess how high that mountain is. Exactly – a whopping 147 meters (482 feet).

That sounds ironic at first, and it is, but there’s a twist. If you climb on that mountain, and look over the Danish landscape, it almost feels like you are on top of the world because everything else is so flat. And that’s where the notion of putting things into perspective comes from. Anything you do can be a big achievement if you take a look around. It’s like a saying at the end of a Bleachers song I heard the other day – “Comparison is the thief of joy.“ 

Did you tap into any personal experiences when writing “Mountain”, or Orion as a whole?

It’s hard to say because I think even if you are not writing about yourself, personal experiences will always influence you. The stories I’m telling on Orion are some that I found to be beautiful, and I felt like they needed to be written down.

I feel like I’m taking the position of a medium for these stories, but they are not necessarily about myself. For example, people can interpret the title track as a mythological story, but maybe also as a story of a friend that had never been seen for who they truly were.

What do you hope someone listening to Orion for the first time will take away from the experience?

Pretty much what I said at the end of last question! I hope people find their own spaces in these songs.

Photo Credit: Niklas Zeiner

So you’re originally from Germany. How has the German indie music community impacted your music and this EP?

I’m pretty new to that scene, but (German musician and friend) Ilgen-Nur gave me so much energy to finish this project.

But apart from her, I don’t feel like the scene itself played such a huge part in this EP. I like when people support each other and bring the best out of each other, and that is especially the case with the people playing on (this) record and in the band. 

You have big tour plans – playing at some German festivals, touring Europe with Roosevelt is achieving this level of success surprising to you considering your (currently) small catalog of music?

It’s SO surprising to me but I am enjoying every second of it!

Should we expect a full album in the near future?

You can expect an album – but not in the near future.

Are you planning on touring in America? Is that a goal of yours?

I would LOVE to tour America. I have friends all over the States, and even if they were the only people to come to the shows I think I’d have the time of my life.

What are your ultimate goals in music?

There is no ultimate goal in music for me. I just want to keep doing this for a long time and be able to enjoy it with my friends, which would be the biggest achievement I can actually think of!

If you could have dinner with four people living or dead, who would they be?

  1. My grandpa because he got me into music and I’d love to show him my music.
  2. Albert Einstein because I would love to get to know his philosophical side over a glass of wine.
  3. George Harrison because he was sort of a teacher to me at times.
  4. Just to have one living person, maybe Neil Young. I’d be down for a jam afterwards.