Mortiis. I bet you all know this name. And even at least once you have tried to scare your girlfriends with his photo. Haven’t you? Hey, even twice?! An elf-looking beast with huge nose, ears and long sharp claws plays music for the kings. This music is as well recognized as its creator. Monotonous epic tales with catchy touch of medieval melodies of unknown dimensions are known equally among metal fans and among people who listen to a more intelligent music like ambient or gothic. You didn’t know that? So, I stop bullshiting and go straight to the business. Here are some facts about musical career of Mortiis, and after them you’ll find fresh fat juicy interview with this really cool guy who has a good sense of humor. The year of 1992 brought us the brilliant first album of EMPEROR. Mortiis appeared on this album as a bass player as well. He even did some lyrics (the best among all EMPEROR’s in my opinion. "I’m the Black Wizards" rulez!). Euronimous’ death brought a lot of mess in life of Norway; many Black Metal musicians got their prison sentences; count is still there as you all remember. Mortiis moved from his home country and appeared in Sweden. There he began his solo career. In late 1992 - beginning of ‘93 Mortiis recorded his first demo "The Song Of a Long Forgotten Ghost". Polish fans can buy this demo from Pagan Records that re-released it not long ago. December 1993, "Fodt Til A Herske" was recorded. Finally, in the summer of 1994 great Scandinavian label Cold Meat Industry decided to sign this lonely soul and the ice seemed to break altogether. Mortiis became very well-known musician and CMI’s best selling act. Till this year he released a whole bunch of albums under name Mortiis, but he also has a couple of projects such as VOND, FATA MORGANA, and CINTECELE DIAVOLUI. Right after this interview you’ll find his full discography. Well, what can I add? He just recorded his new album "The Stargate"(very very long-waited), he will also release his own book "Secrets of My Kingdom" and he has his web page in Internet. All computer users may check out this cool site at www. Mortiis.com. So, let’s talk with this outstanding musician!
First of all, please tell me about yourself (age, Home City, education)...
I don’t really feel that would be essential to the interview, as it is definitely not essential to the music and the general presentation of my project(s). But, I can tell you that I am currently 23 years old, my home city used to be a small place called Notodden, I have no education.
You were a bass player in the cult Norwegian band EMPEROR. Actually, I believe the album you took part in, is the best album of the band. Is it true that Norwegian government gave some money/grant for the band in the beginning of your musical career? Is it pretty common in Norway to help the starting bands?
Well, it is true that the government gave money to a band that Samoth and Insahn used to play in before EMPEROR was formed. EMPEROR never received any money when I played with them. I don’t really know if it is common for bands to receive money… I think you need to win contests and stuff to receive money…
How did it happen that such a different people like you, Samoth, Insahn and Faust got together and created the band? Could you tell me about those old days when EMPEROR was born? Why did you decide to play Black Metal?
When we started, and for the entire period that I was in the band, we didn’t call it black metal… I didn’t want to, because I didn’t want us to be classified as a trendy band, even though there were only us and maybe five other bands playing "black metal" in Norway then… Originally Samoth and Insahn formed a black metal project and made me join about a month later, we used lyrics that I had used in a previous band, and we started making songs… Faust joined a year later… Samoth was playing the drums for the first year of the band’s existence…
Well, the last question about EMPEROR. What do you think about the new album of the band? And could we expect that somewhere in the future EMPEROR will appear in it’s «golden» line-up on stage and we’ll hear "I’m The Black Wizards" with Mortiis on the bass?
I don’t think there’s any chance of me playing live with them again… We have gone in such different directions since ’92; I no longer play bass… I only played when I was in the band, for one year, that was all I did… As far as their new album goes, I’m sure it’s a good album, but I have grown tired and bored with that sort of music, so I cannot really tell you what I think. All I know, is that they are very good musicians, and I’m not, I never was…
Well, you have just released the album of CINTECELE DIAVOULI. This is your new project. Could you tell me about the album and ideology behind this creation? What kind of music people are doomed to hear this time? (Sorry, but I still haven’t got a chance to listen to it so the question is to general).
It is just a We just don’t have the album in the country so far. side project… I guess the general concept of that album is vampirism and old classic horror stuff… He he! The music is a bit strange, and I don’t know what people will think about it. I’d say the music is old yet modern horror stuff, with some catchy kinda feel to it… the bonus songs are from a different session, though, and they’re more experimental, pretty much based on analogue tape loops, actually.
Mortiis’ latest album is "Crypt of Wizard". Are you satisfied with the achieved result? What about sales?
That is the latest album that has been released, yes. The sales are OK for an album that the world was never really told existed. Mortiis has probably had the worst advertisement and promotion in history of recorded music… Hopefully this will change very soon. As for the music on it… I have noticed that after I did "The Stargate" (out soon) everything else sounds very poor compared to it… But I still like "Crypt…» no doubt about that, but the new one is just so much better… Twice as good as everything I’ve done before it, actually.
As an owner of a record label, you probably made some marketing research about your typical customers. So, who is the typical listener of the "music for kings"?
No, I never really did that. Dark Dungeon Music was created primarily because I saw most record labels I was involved with at the time (around 1993-95), fuck things up and never practice what they were preaching so to speak, and so I decided to do things myself, and I did, and now I have done all that stuff I decided I was going to do, and I’m putting it down… The mailorder still exists, so people can ask for lists. But it’s no longer active as a label. In other words, Dark Dungeon Music was created as an outlet for ideas I had to release a lot of different kinds of vinyl records. A few CDs were made as well. But it was never a typical record label doing marketing researches and stuff like that.
Yes, yes. When will you finish your upcoming album "The Stargate"? Are there any changes in music?
Okay, it was finished in May this year. And right now I’m kind of in the middle of negotiations with a couple of labels. The plan is to get all the stuff I never had before, such as proper promotion, proper advertising, proper merchandise deals, and so on. The music in its essence has probably not changed extremely much, except for a notably stronger structure and arrangement in the songs. The Mortiis mood and feeling are definitely still there, stronger than ever. What HAS changed, however, are the small things surrounding the music. I bought a lot of new equipment a while back, and that has helped me a lot. It helped me write better songs, and add a lot of details and work more in detail with the music as well. Besides, what made a huge difference in the music is that I brought in other people to help out on the songs. There are male/female voices in the music; there is even some acoustic guitar in the music. And for the first time in three years I went to a real studio to record the album. So, this album is definitely the strongest Mortiis album ever.
Your book "Secrets of My Kingdom"... Is it released already? What kinds of writings it includes?
It includes all the lyrics and writings that, compiled, make the world of Mortiis. Unfortunately it has not been released yet. Right now I want to try to release it together with CD. It would be the perfect time to do it.
I got a chance to watch one of your videos, "En Mork Horisont" I believe. Do you have any other videos? Do you want to tell us about making this video and about those great landscapes and castle you showed in there?
There’s not too much to tell. Basically, I just went up there and did some filming for a few hours, all those landscape pictures were shot by the camera guy when he was at some other job. Truth to be told, I’m not very happy with it. It was originally supposed to be a backdrop video only, but CMI decided to release it as a video as well. It’s super low budget things, and I know that if I did a video tomorrow it would look ten times better than that.
I know you do some live shows sometimes. I also saw a review of one of your shows in the States. As far as I understood, the show wasn’t just good, it was outstanding. Could you tell our readers about a "typical" live show of Mortiis?
I think that review you read was made by the promoter/ organizer of another US show, so obviously they made a big deal out of it just to sell more tickets. Honestly, I feel that my shows have improved tenfold since the US shows. I don’t really want to get any deeper into what my shows are like. In a nutshell I try to keep people interested in seeing the whole show. It’s not easy, but I like to think that it’s getting better. There’s the smoke, the firebreathing, and the half-naked virgin on the sacrificial altar, there is a couple of monks and some blood, and so on.
Let’s imagine you have got everything you need to do one final live show of Mortiis. You can choose any place in the Universe, and any time (past/future). What would you show people on this show?
I’m not sure. Obviously I’d make it more spectaculous than any show ever been done before. I’d probably love doing a show on some distant planet if it was possible. Or preferably on some huge asteroid on collusion course with planet Earth. Harrr! Harr!
What is the goal of life for human being Mortiis and musician/ artist Mortiis?
The human being Mortiis plans to climb the mountain of spiritual hierarchy, the Musician/ Artist Mortiis wants to see how far he can take his project.
Well, what are your plans for the second half of the year? Albums, etc.
... To release and promote "The Stargate" and the book, the way it looks right now. Hopefully be able to start working on the next album as well, at some point.
This question I like to ask the most, cos this is a very original one (I bet no one asked you this question before). Your message/ hail to people who read this interview...
Very original indeed. And here’s the original answer: check out "The Stargate" when it’s out.