Hey Mayhem peeps, we are back with another interview. This time featuring Mortiis, who chatted with us about everything from the band to the new re-release of his 2010 limited download release of Perfectly Defect. We have a ton of ground to cover with this interview so let’s jump right in.
If you would, please introduce yourself to those who may not know who Mortiis is.
I spent some time in the Norwegian black metal band Emperor from the start in 1991, to right after recording the mini-LP in December of 1992. I started Mortiis as a solo project right after leaving Emperor, where my main inspirations were electronic pioneers like Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze. I wanted to create dark music that wasn´t actually metal. TD and KS aren´t “dark” as such, but there were several elements in there I found very inspiring, like their long and somewhat drone-ish songs (their early 70´ies output).
Eventually, I tired and started creating electronic/industrial crossover type music, with a band, for a long time. Which I enjoyed doing immensely. Currently, I´ve re-interpreted some of my earlier material, and plan to do an album, and I´m playing shows pretty much all over the world as a solo entity this year.
Back in 2010, when you initially released Perfectly Defect you not only released the album as a free-internet download-only album but you stated, “The new model of the music business is important to keep in mind; there’s a new mentality out there in terms of how people acquire their music now.” Do you almost feel like you predicted what the music market has turned into?
Haha, I don´t know. I mean it´s not like I was saying that in 2003 or anything, where it would have been a pretty heavy and insightful thing to say. I guess I said it around 2010 or something, when the signs were very clear that people were more than happy to download illegally, or stream music more or less for free. When you enter into a world as a young teen all keyed up on discovering music, and it doesn´t really cost you anything (as opposed to my teen years, where I had to clean the gutters in order to get some extra cash so I could bike down to the local record store and take a risk on some album that had a cool cover, in order to hear something new, nothing was free), you´re pretty likely not going to be very keen on paying for music, ever…I´m not saying that applies to everyone, but I think it´s a valid assessment in regards to the generic music consumer, that isn’t a super fan or a collector, or simply realizes that by buying physical, you´re probably supporting the band or artist more effectively, as opposed to streaming, which pays less than peanuts, as we all know by now.
At the time I didn´t realize vinyl was going to become this huge hyped up thing, or that cassettes were going to go back into fashion (albeit at a much lower level than vinyl, but still)… I´m just sitting around hoping for the CD to stop dying now, haha!
How do you feel about the evolution of how things are doing in today’s industry vs how it was with you first branched out on your own?
Well when I branched out on my own in 1993, I was 17 years old, so the “industry” and “sales” weren´t really on my mind as much as just getting from A to B, you know, getting my demo made and then getting the flyer made, then getting the flyer out there and hoping people would want copies of the demo…I never thought about sales and numbers and money or anything like that.
Looking back, of course everyone were still paying for their vinyl, their magazines and eventually their CDs, so I think from a business perspective, I think for an artist like me, even to this day, perhaps those were better times, and I missed out, because I didn´t think in business terms for a long time, and I still don´t really feel right doing that, because the whole punk, DIY, love-of-the-music gene is still so deeply ingrained in me. I still see some bands charging a fortune for a hoodie, for example, and I´m thinking this is fucking robbery…But hey, if their fans wants to pay that, then I guess that´s OK, but I would feel pretty bad charging that kind of money…
I´d be lying if I said the idea of having a million streams on Spotify a month doesn´t sound appealing though…I mean if you can do that, you´ve saved yourself a massive headache in terms of worrying about storage space for the equivalent in CD and LP…Just the logistics of that shit, that you don´t have to worry about thanks to services like Spotify… But, that luxury is only reserved for the really big artists, and they´re probably so deep in bed their record label they don´t even know what their own contracts look like.
Now back to Perfectly Defect, you are releasing/released a reissue of the album calling with an 11 track remix album called The Perfect Reject all of this with a limited edition 3 option vinyl run. What made you pick this particular album to bring back? Why not all new material?
Well because I´ve been busy reinterpreting my 1994 album for a ton of live shows this year, as a solo artist, and that in itself was almost like writing a new album. I added a ton of material to it, redid a ton of it, and extended the thing by 15 minutes or so, so it´s gone from its original 38 minutes or so to over 55 minutes. That´s been eating up some time.
Also, originally, PD was only put out there as a free download, and a very limited tour-only CD. So, I thought it deserved a proper release at last. I also at last included 4 rare songs from the same session. 2 of which have previously been released, but for a very limited time only, as a Free download, the other 2 have remained unreleased, so the CD version is the complete 12 song Perfectly Defect sessions, so to speak.
With this reissue, you are doing so with your own label Omnipresence Records. What made you decide to support your project with your own label?
I used to release a lot of my own stuff back in the 90´ies, under Dark Dungeon Music, which, I suppose, is where I started appreciating the control and ownership I was able to retain, as opposed to signing it all away to another record label. Which is what I ended up doing afterward anyway. There are pros and cons to being signed, and I´m not opposed to being signed to a label at this point, as long as the deal is fair. So there´s that element mostly, at this point, the fact that it´s simply been difficult to find a label that is willing to offer a fair deal. I´ll walk away from any deal that isn´t fair, and I have no problem being outspoken and honest about that. As it stands, doing it on my own has been the best solution, and I did that with “The Great Deceiver”, “The Great Corrupter” and “The Unraveling Mind” so far…
Any plans for new material in the near future or additional international tour dates? I am sure your US fans would love to have you pay a visit.
We are actually in the process of trying to book shows in the US for 2019, so time will tell there, and we´re hoping for the best. I´ve got shows going on in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Russia, Romania, Italy, Lithuania, Ukraine, Poland, several South American countries, and so on as we speak. i´ve been doing shows in a bunch of European countries already this year, and sort of entering into festival season now. Just did Steelfest in Finland a couple of days ago. As for new material, there´s a lot of directions things could go right now, but I´d really like to turn the current Era 1 show into a proper album and get that out there for people to hear.