Noktu is known as the lead singer & founder of Mortifera, Celestia and mastermind of Drakkar Productions. He has agreed to introduce Mortifera, share some wisdom and life experience with us.
Hi Noktu. First of all thank you for finding time to answer my questions. I know you are very busy with the band and label activities. Could you briefly introduce your band Mortifera?
MORTIFERA is a project I created in 2000/2001. At that time, I needed to do something different from my other band CELESTIA and I started to compose new songs for another band. Shortly after the creation of the band, Neige who lived close to me at that time joined me since I needed a drummer and we started to rehearse as a two piece band. Two first releases came out and I decided to stop the band since Neige wanted to do something different, something more “urban”. This was far beyond what I wanted to express and we took two different paths. Our first album “Vastiia Tenebrd Mortifera” left a certain impact on the scene and I was on my side working on new Mortifera songs but for some reason, I was not ready to release anything.
Years passed and I decided to release the “Maledictiih” album and this was finaly done, quite spontaneous release; I wanted to do something raw and direct, just as my first Black Metal influences. Some people were upset since they were expecting a “Vastiia” part II but it was just fine since I really wanted to return to the creative core of this project. The band started to play live and I started to face the first line-up issues with this band. Bad pretentious musicians led to giving mediocre live performances. But we all learn from our mistakes and we now have a fully stable line-up with constant rehearsals. In 2013, we released the “Bleüu De Morte album”; a record I have done with Nigl, so this album is different from what has been done before. I would say this album has a “rock” touch. Of course, it’s still Mortifera. Now, there is one new album ready to be unleashed, release date is fixed for the end of Octobre 2014.
How did you come up with the name “Mortifera”? What’s the story behind it?
There is no real interesting story behind it. Sorry! I just chose a band name that was able to illustrate the concept of the written lyrics and Mortifera just turned out to be good enough to me.
The nature of Mortifera is certainly not satanic; that can be depicted from the lyrics and even the atmospheric soundscapes that portray melancholy and despair. Where do you draw inspiration from? Do you get inspired by other bands music-wise and if yes, could you name some of them?
Satanism and all other religions were never an influence for me. Satan comes from the Holy Bible and I wonder why all these bands are still inspired by that nowadays. Maybe just because it is an image that sells well, so they force themselves to worship an empty nonsence in order to sell records and play at big festivals? I have noticed that the more “Satanic” they pretend to be, the lesser interesting things they have to say. Most of the time, they hide themselves behind things they have read. I understand it is easier for them to be accepted by the metal fans and have a strong image is really easy. They don’t have to think, they follow what other bands have created before them and some brainless metal fans like that.
I play music for myself and I talk about personnal subjects, reflections and my own experiences. My life was not something really pleasant and easy so far and this is something that can be felt within my music and texts. I need to create negativity, riffs need to recall me something; some emotions and images. Everyone is free to see whatever they want while they listen to Mortifera but for me, everything has a certain meaning and I feel comfortable listening what we compose. Negative is changed into positive.
I will not be able to name any bands who could have been an influence for me. When I started to play music, I composed immediately riffs for Celestia and for years I never was able to play a song or a riff from another band. Nowadays, it is still moreless the same. I compose only my own music and I have really no interest to replay what others did. There is already enough clones of already existing bands. Enough for those who need to have a collection of clones records with the same logos and Christophe Moyen covers. I have always created the music I wanted to listen and I could only listen to my own bands and this could be fine enough for me. Of course, I like to listen other bands.
As a fan and follower of your work, I’ve been tracking Mortifera’s development throughout the years and if I’m to describe it with a handful of words, I’d say “perseverance”, “versatile” and “consistent”. What makes you push the limits and keep the band going/developing?
Thanks for your pertinent appreciation. There is no real definition for me. We play music because we like to play it and I am not able to see in the future for us. We’ll take what we’ll get in the present and we’ll just follow our path. We prefer to not ask too many questions to ourselves. We really enjoy what we are doing and that’s the most essential point. We are honest with ourselves and we play/compose music for pleasure and because we feel to need to do it. If people like it, that’s fine. If not, that’s fine too.
I’ve seen some live performances of Mortifera on the internet and I’ve concluded that there is no big emphasis on the visual part (no spikes, fire, blood, chains, inverted crosses etc) rather than the quality of the sonic experience. What’s the reason for that?
We don’t like too much the disco effects, lights and other spectacular things that could improve things. If we could, we’ll just play with candle lights. We just play our music and for us it’s the most essential fact, we are able to play in small bars and on big festivals stage but I tend to prefer to play in small intimate places.
The latest release “Bleuu de morte” has received very positive feedback. I even stumbled upon an article on deadpress.co.uk where it is featured as one of the top albums of 2013. Are you personally satisfied with it?
The best feedback came in terms of sales since Bleuu de Morte was a real success, commercially speaking. I don’t want to pay in order to make the cover of these metal magazines with plastic gay metal bands. So almost no promotion was done for this album, we haven’t sent any promo stuff to anyone and it will be the same for the next album. We just want to play music for people who enjoy what we are doing. Of course, we are open to answer interviews and if someone is willing to write reviews of our albums, they can do it. But I think that our best promotion is our music. Of course, it could take years before people will discover us, but a good album can be still listened 20 years after it was recorded and it’s still good.
I’d like to go deeper into the essence of “Bleuu de morte”. What’s the concept of it? Do you convey any message towards the listener?
Songs on this album have a certain color, a dark pale blue that smells of Death. This could define the album’s essence I think. The music is doing the rest…
The new album will be out at the end of October 2014, everything is ready to be sent to the press, just a few details to take care of. The few people who listened this album liked it very much. So, people who like the band should expect a solid album with catchy songs. Maybe the best album to date, sorry if this sound cliche but this is what I think.
Alright, lets take another direction, which is not related to Mortifera. What bands are you currently listening to? Maybe you can even recommend some of your favorites.
I am currently listening to the first album of Iron Maiden… But I listen to many kinds of things. There is really too much to even recall. But here is a list of good and honest bands I like: ARCANUS TENEBRAE, ARGHOSLENT, ARKHA SVA, AUTARCIE, BELKETRE, BLESSED IN SIN (their new album is a masterpiece!), CENDRES, GRAND BELIAL’S KEY, HAKUJA, INTHYFLESH, MALCUIDANT, MOEVOT, NAHASH, NUIT NOIRE, POCCOLUS, TOTALSELFHATRED and VLAD TEPES.
As a follow-up of the previous question, I am curious of what you think of the current development of black metal. Do you like the so-called “new wave”, which embodies elements from various (none-metal) styles? Also how do you find the combination black metal + clean singing?
There are good and bad things and it has always been the same with music. I remember that 20 years ago, there were already good and shitty bands. This hasn’t changed. Black Metal used to be a sub-genre of Metal and now there are so many different sub-genres of Black Metal. I usually don’t like clean vocals in Black Metal. I don’t know, this doesn’t work, in my opinion.
As a person who is in the music industry for many years, I have got a question whose answer might be useful to black metal freshmen. Can you make a living by only producing extreme underground music? What does it cost to be a full-time musician/producer?
Yes, I am able to make a living from my activities but I never counted working hours and the devotion I have given for over more than 20 years of activity.
Lets put a stop on the music-related topics and talk about life and existence. Could you describe your perception of happiness? Do you consider yourself a happy man?
I consider myself as a happy man now, but a few years back, my life wasn’t really easy. I’ve managed to put some order in my life and I’ve defined what my priorities are. I think that I’ve now found a certain equilibrium, still I think it’s fragile and everything could be destroyed in a few minutes. So, I try to enjoy life as much as possible. I tend to think that for being happy, you need to be far away from everything. I am living a bit isolated from human beings and it is just fine.
What are you proud of the most? Are you satisfied with the way things are happening in your life so far?
I’m 40 years old. I’ve released about 10 studio albums with my bands so far, given about 200 shows around the globe. I’ve travelled a lot. I think I should not complain. Especially when I see what is happening in countries like Ukraine, I should consider myself satisfied, but everything has an end. Even the most satisfying existence. Our country, France is experiencing a bad economic crisis and one day or another, we will have to pay the bills of the mistakes these stupid politicians have done.
How would you conclude this: The world nowadays is….?
COLLAPSING. This is how I see the actual world. We are on the way to a war that will be terrible. The real “Satan” has took a huge place and influence on this planet. There are many conflicts because of religions and differences, USA is willing to control the petrol industry by creating military conflicts. This really smells bad!
What are your thoughts on religion and politics?
I am a free happy atheist and I have no real interest in religions. The world of politics is more interesting, mind manipulation, lies etc. I follow what is going on but I have distanced myself from all political identities. I don’t believe that anyone could change the fate of the world. We are going to pay for our mistakes and the price will be heavy to carry. I am against Europe and against the politic of my own country. I hate the French republic since they don’t represent anything I value. I am still happy to be able to think by myself but sometimes it’s a bit frustrating to not be able to express yourself. If you do it, you’ll have people against you. There are always people who are willing to be against something on this world since most of the time they have nothing constructive to do with their own lives. They just live and exist because of others but they are against them. I am against the ones who are opposite of me but I am not trying to fight them anymore since they are too afraid of me anyway.
Once again thanks for answers! I leave the end of this interview to you.
Thanks for the uncommon and interestings questions. I really hate to conclude interviews so I really don’t know what I could add. Sorry.