MORTIIS It Was Just a Myth

Mr. Haavard Elefson, also known worldwide as Mortiis, indeed was a surreal figure inside Scandinavian metal circles. In fact, he has started his unpredictable career as a bass-player of Emperor. Later on, he founded the one-man-forest-troll-keyboard-band named just like himself, Mortiis, and also some side keyboard projects like Vond, Morgana Lefay¦ Nowadays, he is more into industrial metal stuff and the year 2000 was a border for the changing of his primal ideas. All in all, perhaps one can say that he is a total freak, but we need to admit that Mortiis has broken all barriers of creativity and musical standards.
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Hello Mortiis! Well, you’ve just released your new material. ‘Some Kind of Heroin™ is a collection of your previous tracks now (re)mixed by other people or bands. How did you get in contact with such different persons and how did you get the idea to do such a compilation album?
Well the idea is pretty old, I wanted to do it with the Smell of Rain album, but certain business people made that project very difficult to pull off, so it ended up as a very small version of the original idea. I like the idea of going back to songs and pulling them apart and making new versions and mixes of them, itвs just really creative and free. So I decided to get in touch with other artists that I knew and/or liked and see if they wanted to be part of this remix album. It was easy, just a matter of calling or mailing if I knew them already, or getting in touch with their record label or management if I didn’t know them already.

It seems that you are very popular in Germany and UK amongst the people who listen to Gothic (Metal). Are you sharing my opinion?
We’re doing ok in the UK, in Germany we’ve always had a real hard time. Germany seems to want their bands cut and dry: meaning it has to be one or the other¦ we’re a very crossover based band, we use or abuse elements from metal and industrial and even stuff like big beats and shit like that, so it seems a little too experimental to Germans… Haha, but we’ll get them eventually. At least the remix album has been in the alternative DJ charts for like 4 weeks now¦

Your latest tour with Deathstars has been just finished. So, are there any interesting things that happened? Where did you have the best show?
Well it was kinda funny, I don’t use the mask anymore, but I brought it along anyway, and Skinny from Deathstars used it on the last show, we both have very long dreads so sure some people were quite confused. Our best show? Hard to tell, London was pretty good, most of the UK shows were great, I remember Slovakia being a great show actually.

Track he Grudge was (re)mixed by different people 4 times. So, it seems that The Grudge is a very popular song.
Well I think it’s pretty popular, I also think that of the remixes that were returned to me, that one was returned by most bands, so¦

The Smell of Rain was so important for you. But, why and how did you change your mind and started to create such different kinds of music and art compared to your previous works?

It was just time. I didn’t feel passionate about what I used to do so something had to happen. I sat down and figured out what I really wanted to do, and started doing it. That work eventually became the smell of rain, and it sort of set the path for what I have been doing musically ever since.

I’ve heard that you have recorded your video Parasite God in a desert and that you have a problem with snakes, scorpions and other strange and dangerous insects. Well, it must be a very interesting experience…
Oh that’s just a myth¦ Yeah it was filmed in death Valley and I was advised against certain weird flesh-eating bugs that they have in the desert, so naturally I was a bit wary and nervous when we were filming because I was walking all over the place barefoot… It was weird because every time I stepped on a sharp stone or twig I would examine my feet to make sure it wasn’t an insect sting 🙂

Which is your favorite band or person that had a lot influence on you?
Musically I have always been deeply inspired by bands like NIN, Ministry, Rob Zombie, Charlie Clouser, Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim and The Prodigy.

There are some of your previous works re-released in nice digi-packs or wrapped in slip-cases. Could you give us some more useful info about these new arrivals?
Well Earache wanted to reissue some of the old material that they had the rights to, and I decided to do it if we did it in a cool way, so we remastered all of it, got permissions to use some of the old artwork we hadn’t used for a long time, and so on so that was pretty cool, but those reissues havenв’t been promoted very well so I don’t know about sales…We also reissued another couple of old albums in the US on cool looking digipaks, some new artwork and some original artwork was used for those. They’re all in our web store at mortiis.com

It is obvious that still a lot of people like your previous period when you’ve created more ambient/dark music. Many of those people even don’t listen to metal or rock. I think that it will be very interesting if you could to make one more album that is going to be similar as Crypts of the Wizards or Stargate an make maybe one high-budget video-clip in that way. Is there any possibility to make such a thing one day?
Possibly, might be fun. I did a soundtrack for a horror film earlier this year, and almost all that music is really dark and ambient soundscape stuff, hopefully I get to release that music as an album one day.

There were some bizarre rumours during your first creative period about your face and mask. Some even made rumours that you’ve done some plastic surgery on your face. Although nowadays it sounds pretty silly, these rumours have made your name.
How do you look now on your past days?

It was what it was. I think I did a lot of really creative stuff, and I think a lot of it was unfairly ridiculed by lots of media and people. Some of it was quite cheesy but some of it was really cool as well. My only regret is that I should have spent more time learning to create music and do better productions on the albums¦ the way it’s performed etc is sometimes not that great. But I guess it adds to the charm somehow.

How did you get the idea to make your strange image long time ago? Well, surely it must be connected with Tolkien and other fantasy authors. Now, I think that you are more into something else. Also, it’s obvious that you have some Kiss and Alice Cooper influences.
I grew up on Kiss and Alice Cooper, so image has always been a big thing to me. I got into Tolkien later on, and at the time the black metal extremist attitude was also big to me, so all that stuff had an effect when I came up with the Mortiis image.

Aside from your most occupied project, now full-member band Mortiis, you had also many other projects like Cintecele Diavolui, Fata Morgana, Vond… Which one was the best for you?
I think in terms of longevity, Vond was the best because Vond back then was what Mortiis eventually became and is now¦ The frustration with life and the world, the bleak view, the hatred and self loathing, all that stuff was what Vond was about, when Vond was put to rest, Mortiis became the same thing… It was like a morphing thing. Musically I think Fata Morgana was interesting, though.

Thanks a lot for your answers and time. Have you any message left for your fans here in Serbia (btw, do you remember your show here 2 and a half years ago)?
Yeah I remember our show there man, I also remember our bus broke down outside of the city earlier that morning and we spent like 6 hours there fixing it 🙂 So thanks so everyone for reading and check out our website and myspace and hopefully we’ll see you again on tour some day.

  • Interview by Marko Miranović