by David Necro
Photos by: Ken 9
Mortiis, on first glance, may seem to be a joke. With his demonic elf character, 1 might think that this man is desperately trying to get a part in the next ‘Lord of The Rings’ installment. Yes, this is an alter-ego of sorts, but when viewed as part of his performance, this is something to be in awe of as well as something very grim and sinister. Disturbing, even. It’s far from a joke, or a cartoon, it is a reflection of true horrific imagery and 1 that fits perfectly with the music at hand. Speaking of which, this is some of the darkest stuff you can get your claws on. It is tangible dark emotion and it suggests another dimension that may be in the past or perhaps in the future, 1 of pure fantasy and eroticism. Also, it could be taken as what happens after death as it is very funereal in tone. By doing this, Mortiis allows the listener to use his or her own imagination and go along for the ride. It was at first, a big risk after what he accomplished in the seminal black metal band Emperor, but playing it safe is not on his agenda. This music is in it’s own way, the equal of his past work, and could possibly be where black metal will eventually end up in a thematic if not in a compositional sense. That remains to be seen, however. Until then, I urge you to read the twisted thoughts of this madman who inhabits another world.
David Necro: How does your music differ from what you did in Emperor?
Mortiis: At this point, what I do is that I use a lot of choirs. It’s very soundtrackish. That’s what people tell me anyway. As far as I’m concerned, it’s still very heavy. We have all of these visuals, very bizarre twists and props. There’s fire-breathing, there’s blood. All the ingredients for a very controversial show. It’s not like it’s a fucking Depeche Mode thing we’re doing.
DN: So it has that edge to it, it’s still aggressive.
Mortiis: Yeah, it’s aggressive. In it’s own fucked up way, yes it does have attitude.
DN: So, it’s not totally ethereal.
Mortiis: No, it used to be really ambient…(turns and looks) A rat…we’re in Detroit, man.
DN: Maybe you can eat it for dinner later.
Mortiis: Yes, why not, if we can catch it…rat salad.
DN: Of course.
Mortiis: There’s really no parallel to Emperor other than the fact that I played with them like 16 years ago. Which is totally irrelavent at this point in time.
DN: Where do you draw from in your lyrics?
Mortiis: I get these weird ideas sometimes, like I’ll be in the shower and get some of these crazy ideas. I’ll base tons of stuff on that, and it’ll just evolve and expand. In the end, you have this whole big world of fucked-up stuff. I usually draw an expression from that.
DN Are there any literary people that you are fond of that inspire you?
Mortiis: Not really. Not that I can really think of. I mean, I’ve read a few books and I’ve forgotten the authors names even. But, they had concepts and maybe certain literary styles that may have inspired me.
DN: So, you take from it and you don’t necessarily use it as a crutch.
Mortiis: Right. I use it as a reference thing. Maybe I’ll be inspired by the way he or she did it, but then form it into something that’s coming from me. With my own soul and heart into that.
DN: I’ve always wondered why all of these Black Metal bands formed in your region of the world (Scandinavia)
Mortiis: I dunno. Probably, it might be the Black Metal that happened in Norway in the beginning of the 90s. That happened, and I was part of that. That was just a group of people like that, and I think it inspired a lot of people all over Europe to start. It’s just never stopped, it’s like a mushroom thing.
DN: You know there’s some Black Metal fans…I think maybe they’re too obsessed with being “the only true.” You’ve heard of this?
DN: They say Norwegian bands are false.
Mortiis: They do?
DN: Yes, they do.
Mortiis: Are they in Detroit?
DN: Maybe there are some. . . It’s possible.
Mortiis: Oh, I’m interested to see that.
DN: For instance, they say Japanese black metal is true.
Mortiis: Well, what do they know? The meaning of true is being true to yourself, not true to other people. Other people can fuck off. As long as you’re happy with what you do, that’s the way it is. I don’t think even we, when we started this black metal thing, realized that. Because true black metal to us, back then, was being the most inconsiderate asshole you could possibly be. And we were bad, basically. We were like gangbangers going around, killing a lot of people. I mean, some people got killed, and shit happened.
DN: Yeah, that’s been well documented.
Mortiis: Yeah, it has been. If this is not “true” enough for these kids, well, fuck ‘em. Fuck ‘em to Hell, they can kiss my ass. I don’t give a shit. There’s that damn rat again. . .
DN: Are you the Pied Piper?
Mortiis: I guess I must be. I attract rats & vermin. Every city, when I leave, will be rat free.
DN: What are you gonna do with the rats?
Mortiis: I don’t know. . . Maybe I’ll feed them to those black metal kids.
DN: Yeah, they’ll go for that. Oh, you know what you could do? You could sell them at your merch booth and carve your logo…
Mortiis: Into the bodies of the rats?
DN: Yes, of course.
Mortiis: That’s a pretty good idea. Get a signature, and a disease… Black Death included.
DN: Do you practice the black arts? Are you into the occult?
Mortiis: No, I’m into things that are beyond our comprehension. But I don’t see any need for full rituals. Séances, and stuff like that. I live in a forest and do my thing. I have all these ideas and I want to express myself. I don’t necessarily go sitting in a circle drawn in goat’s blood. I mean, I have a great deal of respect for witches and for occultists. I don’t think they’re tacky at all; a lot of these people know exactly what they’re doing… I just don’t do it myself.
DN: What does your character represent? Do you go through a transformation losing conciousness onstage?
Mortiis: Physically I change, obviously. Not mentally or anything. Mortiis is obviously me, and I look upon it as an alter-ego, basically. I don’t change attitude or the way that I am towards myself or other people, when I get into that thing. Sometimes it comes out into flesh.
DN: It reminds me of somebody like King Diamond. Are you coming from the same vibe as him?
Mortiis: I don’t know… King Diamond’s been mentioned before in other interviews, but I don’t really know the guy. So, I don’t know where he’s coming from. But, I am coming from inside myself.
DN: Are you into concepts like he (King Diamond) is? Such as the dark imagery and different horror themes?
Mortiis: Oh yeah, definitely.
DN: Regarding your stage show, did that take long to develop, or was that something that you had inside of you for a while?
Mortiis: Kind of. I always wanted to do strange things onstage, which I do now. It’s not all show; we do play. We’re kind of strange live, I guess. We have all of these props and stuff, and these big drum presentations. It’s pretty much like a wall of sound, really.
DN: Would you describe it (the show) as performance art?
Mortiis: Well, it’s not like we’re miming on stage, or performing acrobatic circus stuff. We’re a musical performing act. But I wouldn’t deny a statement such as performance art. It sounds very, very true.
DN: You mentioned fire-breathing in your act. Are you worried about comparisons to KISS?
Mortiis: Well, you know, Gene Simmons wasn’t the first guy to do that. Fire-breathing has been done for ages. Circus acts do that as far as I know. You have fakirs, who breathe fire and swallow swords; they’ve been around for who knows how long? If KISS never made it big, another band would have done it. Someone would have done that and made it big. KISS would have been around, and Gene Simmons would have been compared to that person, whoever that big guy was. I doesn’t matter, you know. . . whoever makes it on top first and whoever gets the most exposure and does that. They’re (in people’s eyes) the originals, which is never really true.
DN: What are the themes in your music? What themes are you trying to project?
Mortiis: I try not to push impressions onto people. As far as I’m concerned, art should be open to interpretation by the individual. It shouldn’t be pushed into people’s faces. I mean, that’s not art – That’s propaganda.
DN: Are there any songwriters that you hold in high regard, that you look to for inspiration?
Mortiis: There’s a few that I really like these days, but I haven’t really been inspired by them. Maybe I will in the future. I really like a lot of David Bowie’s stuff. I think it’s fucking great.
DN: David Bowie. Really…
DN: Which period?
Mortiis: I really like the Ziggy Stardust shit, and ‘Scary Monsters’, ‘Low’… I like someof the stuff that Iggy Pop’s done.
DN: Which Iggy Pop stuff?
Mortiis: You know, ‘The Passenger’. I like all of the old Stooges stuff.
DN: Very interesting. ‘Raw Power’ and all of that?
Mortiis: Oh yeah, ‘Raw Power’, man. “Search and Destroy”. I haven’t listened to that album for a long time. I always used to put that album on when I came back from the drunken parties downtown, or whatever. Always came back after these afterparties…
DN: It’s best on heroin…
DN: Of course.
Mortiis: I wouldn’t know… I don’t do heroin. There are two types of drugs I stay away from; I stay away from smack, and I stay away from crack. Basically, to me, they represent personal destruction and shit like that.
DN: I agree.
Mortiis: Ok, good. Well, that’s all up to you. If you do heroin, you do all you want. It’s really not my problem.
DN: You don’t preach to people, of course.
Mortiis: No. I don’t want to be preached to, so I don’t preach to other people myself. I don’t respond to authority that well.
DN: Are you fascinated by death?
Mortiss: Yeah, of course. I think that everybody has a fascination with it. It’s the end of a biological function, to the very technical with you. But as far as what lies beyond that, I mean, who knows?
DN: Right. No one really knows. You can’t really explain it.
Mortiis: And you have all of these after-death experiences… “I saw this light, and I was floating up & saw my own body.” All that shit.
DN: Have you ever experienced something like that?
Mortiis: I’ve had incidents, but I think that’s just delirium after too much drugs & alcohol. But I’ve had stuff happen where I’ve basically gone out of my body; everything turns black, but I didn’t exactly see any light. I saw a lot of fucking black mess. I saw dead babies in the air; that was not a good experience… that was not cool.
DN: A typical Mortiis moment.
Mortiis: It was so fucked up, because right after that happened… Have you ever heard of the “Lady in Red”? ( Yes, she’s actually a good friend of mine. –Ed. )
DN: Bloody Mary.
Mortiis: Something like that… not the drink… But when you see the Lady in Red, it’s apparently a sign of something happening. I don’t think it was an after-death experience, but I fought my way back to my body. I couldn’t even see, it was all blackness and shit. Because I kept floating up in the air, and nothing was fucking happening. It was just dead babies everywhere, and I was like, “This is not good… I need to get back, I need to get out of this place.” When I came back, my eyes were paralyzed and, in the doorway, I see this lady in red. She was scary, and I couldn’t move; she floated… She didn’t touch the floor… She just kept on floating toward my bed, and she changed. At the end, she was this big, huge demon floating over my body, and I was like, “Jesus fucking Christ, this is not happening…”
DN: This did not seem to be a dream for you. This was more than that.
Mortiis: It was very real. I wasn’t weak, man. It was just my brain fucking me around. When I finally managed to move my mouth it was like a half-silent scream, and then everything just went away.
DN: Sounds like a good song. Would you like to write a song about this?
Mortiis: Maybe… I don’t know. It was a fucked up experience, man. I’ve had similar things happen, but that was the worst one.
DN: Are you trying to create your own mythology?
Mortiis: I’ve done that.
DN: Then one day we’ll see “Mortiis: The Movie”?
Mortiis: That would be good… that could make me rich. Yeah, I wouldn’t mind that.
DN: You could have Rob Zombie direct it.
Mortiis: Yeah, that would be pretty cool. You’d have this big Rob Zombie vs. Mortiis fight at the end of it… Evil against evil.
DN: So there are no limits to what you can create, true?
Mortiis: There are no limits to what the human mind can create once you get started. I’m not saying I’m a fucking genius. I’m trying to open some new channels in your mind. I know they can be opened, you just need to find them. That’s what it’s all about…
For more on Mortiis, go to: http://www.mortiis.com
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