When Norway’s Mortiis initially put out ‘Perfectly Defect,’ he was ‘super pissed off with previous negative experiences in the record industry’ and decided to give the album away to fans during his 2010 tour. Long unavailable, the album now has a proper release on Mortiis’ own Omnipresence Records. While the original edition consisted eight songs on CD and ten on the download version, the current release expands it to twelve.
Mortiis was started in 2001 by former Emperor member Håvard Ellefsen, who has been the only consistent member. Always dark, Mortiis’ music has varied quite a bit over the years, encompassing ambient soundscapes, vocal-driven electronic and more guitar-oriented styles.
Mortiis has revisited another of his past works, actively touring with a live reinterpretation of his classic 1994 album “Ånden Som Gjorde Opprør.” In an email interview, he discussed his career and recent work.
Was ‘Perfectly Defect’ conceived as a special limited release for fans, or did you originally make the album with the intention of releasing through a label?
Mortiis: The songs on Perfectly Defect were originally created, most of them, while I was writing music for The Great Deceiver. The original idea was to put these clues all over the album, which would lead to a secret website, where people could unlock a set of strange music, that didn´t really fit on the album itself.
However, as time progressed, I realized that we weren´t going to get any kind of fair treatment by the record industry (we were looking for a record deal at the time), so that added onto my already abysmal previous experiences, lead me to decide that Perfectly Defect should be its own album, and we´re going to hand this out for free. At that point I started to realize that a lot of the people I was surrounded by, were pretty much not worth the shoes they loitered around in, so I think that was the time were I almost felt like I was at war with everyone, and instead of surrendering anything of value, I´d rather burn it, give it away for free, as opposed to caving in and handing rights over as part of some poor record deal.
Are the additional tracks on this version songs that you didn’t finish the first time around, or material that at the time you just wanted to hold on to?
Mortiis: They were all finished then, and to be quite honest I can´t recall why they weren´t included the first time around, but logically I most likely held on to them, so we´d have something cool to offer for future versions. Remember when we put this out, we didn´t necessarily consider it “our new album”, but more as a set of songs for our fans to remind them we weren´t dead yet. We sure felt dead, though, haha!
You’ve also put out a remix album, ‘The Perfect Reject.’ Were those done specifically to coincide with this re-release? Or had they been done over the years since the original release?
Mortiis: They were done as part of a remix website a few years ago, and I had set the best ones aside in the hopes that I could do something more with them, than just upload them to a playlist. I had to wait a good amount of time for that, but the moment finally came, which felt really good.
Having released many other remixes in the past, what do you look for in a potential remixer and do you any criteria for the remixes? Have any particularly surprised or impressed you?
Mortiis: My only criteria is that they don´t suck or completely misrepresent what Mortiis is about. I don´t have a set of strict rules or anything, remixers are free to do whatever, but by that token, I am also free to respectfully decline a remix. I have had to do it a few times, and it´s never really a pleasant moment, but it comes with the territory I guess. Most of the mixes that came in for “The Great Corrupter” were really good, which I´m not sure if I was surprised, or just really glad to see that my theory was correct: the source material was really strong. Haha!
Could you discuss your current approach to live performances? (with the “Ånden Som Gjorde Opprør” performances). And what was your inspiration for performing that material?
Mortiis: It´s a reinterpretation of my 1994 album. I just didn´t want to rehash material note by note, that a lot of people already heard. Just the idea of that bores me to death. I re-recorded all of it, and as I was doing that, I started coming up with a lot of additional melodies, rhythms and even entire sections of music, so it ended up being this extended, updated and “pimped” up version of the 1994 album. As far as inspiration goes, to be honest, I don´t know, I just reached a point in my life where some mental issues, as well as real-life situations aligned, and the time seemed right.
Do you have any plans for another band tour?
Mortiis: Would love to, but I think we need to put some new material together first. I have some stuff here I have been working on, but it´s a matter of finding the time, that´s pretty much it.
In terms of the electronic aspect of your music, what are your primary tools these days? We’d previously discussed musical technology when I interviewed you around ‘The Grudge’ but I’m wondering if any new gear/software released since then has had a major impact on your creative process?
Mortiis: I doubt it. I lost interest in gear a long time ago. It´s just kind of a stupid guilt-trip about not having that piece of gear or that piece of gear. I feel like I have what I need to make music, and then maybe take the final result somewhere else to mix and master. I still have and use pretty much the same stuff I was using 15 years ago. I might have added some weird pedals and hardware processors like the Metasonix Assblaster (yes, Assblaster) and some other things, but nothing major.
You have your own label now, Omnipresence Records. What impact has that had on tour career and working process?
Mortiis: To be honest it’s just a logo I use for my various license deals etc. It’s a two-edged sword, the more control you retain, the more work you create for yourself. The payoff might be a bit better + no one owns your soul… I´ve just kind of gotten allergic to handing over any kind of rights to anyone, as they rarely have your best intentions in mind. It doesn´t matter how many free beers the label A&R guy hands you, they still don´t give two flying fucks about you. Been there done that, if I may use an old cliché.
I think the fact that I took control, where I was still able to take control, has resulted in an upswing for me, at least for certain parts of my history, so that´s a good thing, across the board.
Do you have anything else coming up that you’d like to mention?
Mortiis: Well, check out www.mortiiswebstore.com for all kinds of merch sold directly by the band/artist. Thanks!