My friend James Wiseman has been talking about Mortiis for years now but I have so many new bands mentioned to me that I never seem to check them all out. Recently I saw that Mortiis was re-releasing Perfectly Defect and that piqued my curiosity enough that I finally gave him/them a listen. What I heard was dark, industrial music (my opinion, yours is equally valid) that immediately grabbed me. Not knowing much about the man or the band called Mortiis I decided to delve into things by interviewing Mortiis himself. What follows is what I learned. Enjoy!
Interview by Jim Dodge
Photo by Mariusz Kobaru Kowal
MM: When did you first start making music?
Mortiis: I started making music when I started Mortiis in late 1992. Prior to that I had been in several bands, making, contributing lyrics, and vocal lines, but never actually created any music from scratch. I didn´t know anything about making music, so in the early years there were some pretty heavy learning curves.
MM: Who were your early influences?
Mortiis: That depends, when I was in metal bands, and mainly contributing lyrics, it was death metal band I was into, like CARCASS, FUNEBRE, ABHORRENCE, and that sort of gore and violence based lyric writing I was inspired by. Once we started Emperor, I had become more interested in writing lyrics in the vein of old CELTIC FROST, VENOM, DESTRUCTION, and stuff like that. When I started Mortiis, and was making music myself, I had decided that I wanted to create dark music, but not necessarily metal, so my main inspirations at that point were early German electronic pioneers like TANGERINE DREAM and KLAUS SCHULZE.
MM: When you began Era 1 did you have any idea that your sound would change so much over the years?
Mortiis: No, not at all. Then again I never really made much of an effort to see into the future anyway, in terms of longevity or the meaning it might have for people, and also including myself. I didn´t know that I´d eventually tire of the Era 1 stuff and utterly change everything I had created up until that point.
MM: Were you ever concerned that your musical evolution would alienate fans? Have you ever decided not to pursue an idea due to that concern?
Mortiis: I can´t recall not having pursued something if it felt right to me personally. I´m not that cynical, perhaps I should have been more cynical through the years, but I´m just not. I think when I started writing The Smell of Rain, which was the first album that stepped away from the Era 1 sound, I did think about it to some extent, but the change in sound was so important to me personally, that I never considered not doing it.
MM: What led to the decision to re-release Perfectly Defect?
Mortiis: It´s pretty simple. Perfectly Defect was released mainly as a free download back in 2010 as a big fuck you to the record industry or at least to the part of the record industry that we had had some pretty abysmal experiences with. We decided that instead of giving it away to some record label that would insist on owning it forever, and making up all kinds of excuses to avoid paying royalties, we´d cut the middle man and give it away for free to the fans, directly from us. The only physical release was a limited edition CD run that was strictly sold on tour, and a few copies on mail order. With the new distribution deal I have with Plastic Head in the UK, it seemed to make sense to finally get Perfectly Defect released as a proper album on LP/CD and digital.
MM: Many artists are releasing albums on vinyl these days. In your experience is it worth it to do so or do you expect to take a loss?
Mortiis: I haven´t taken a lot of losses on my vinyl releases yet. The one LP I´m not earning much on is The Great Deceiver, simply because I went a little crazy. It´s a double album with a triple gatefold sleeve and a 12 page 12” sized booklet. It´s also on several vinyl colors, all rather limited, so that makes it more expensive to press as well. I probably did earn on it, though, because a lot of those copies sold on retail mail order or at shows, directly from me. If they had all been distributed copies I probably would have taken a loss.
MM: During your time as a touring musician you have played shows all across the world. Which places would you definitely revisit? Are there areas you will never return to?
Mortiis: As far as I can remember, there´s no place I wouldn´t return to…It just always varies, but I usually enjoy playing the UK, and places like Finland, The Netherlands, Belgium and parts of the US are always cool.
MM: Which of your musical eras is your personal favorite? Which do you think your fans prefer?
Mortiis: I think it varies. I get people that prefer all kinds of periods, so I can´t really answer this one accurately. The media currently seems to be more interested in the Era 1 stuff, which probably can be chalked down to the fact that it´s visually original, and musically fairly indefinable, so that probably makes it “interesting” to the media. It´s something that isn´t part of the mold. For me personally, I get a lot more of my personality vested into the rock/industrial crossover stuff, but I also get to be as weird as I want doing the Era 1 stuff, so there´s some pretty heavy pros to both styles.
MM: Are there any new influences that you will incorporate into your future releases?
Mortiis: I´m sure there will be, but I can´t put my finger on anything right now.
MM: If you hadn’t fallen in love with music, what do you think you would be doing as a career?
Mortiis: Hopefully something equally creative, maybe film work or graphics. I have no clue about how to do any of those in a great way, but it looks like a cool way to make a living.