Interview: Five Minutes with Das Mörtal
Halloween came earlier this year, as music producer Das Mörtal has released his new single ‘It Comes’ via Libson Lux Records. Featuring heavy synth and bass notes throughout the single, ‘It Comes’ will enchant you, and compel the listener to escape reality and wander in the night. The single falls directly off of his forthcoming album Miami Beach Witches, which will be available for streaming and enjoyment on Halloween night.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Das Mörtal Cristobal Cortes) a second time ahead of his forthcoming album release.
The releases of both your latest single and your upcoming album have been planned around the Pagan calendar. What is the relevance of this calendar to you?
The whole album was inspired by witchcraft themes. And I thought that we could take that idea further by incorporating actual witchcraft elements to it. That’s how the pagan calendar came about.
‘It Comes’ takes this one step further, acting as a Wiccan lullaby for lost souls. How much of the rest of the album is influenced by the Wiccan belief?
Every song has a reference to witchcraft which is a part but not everything that is the Wiccan belief. I wanted the songs to sound comforting to people that often feel misunderstood and often found refuge in subcultures or other beliefs like Wicca.
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
As far as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed listening to music. At one point I realized that I could make something similar to what I enjoyed listening to. That’s when it all began.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
I think the idea comes first. I don’t necessarily have an idea of the sound but more a concept of an imaginary film or story where the music would fit in.
Does your material feature any collaborations?
Not for this coming album, but it will feature myself on the vocals more than it did in the past.
What’s on your current playlist?
Charli XCX, The Prodigy, Lorn, David Holmes.
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
That’s something that really hard to explain. But one thing that’s for sure is that when I feel the crowd getting pumped, I usually get the speed of my music going up so we can all exorcise the negative feelings together and feel better after the show.
The last time we spoke, you mentioned that your favourite live show you had performed was the Transmusicales 2016 in Rennes, France. Have any of the shows you’ve played since then taken first place?
It’s gonna be hard to out rank Transmusicales since it was a different context, It being a festival rather than a touring show. But I recently played at CCO in Lyon, France where the public was lit. So even if it was with a way smaller audience, it still was incredible in terms of energy coming from the public.
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
I like to pass everything through sample reducing effects and slightly modulate the pitch of everything at different speeds. It adds something similar to noise and imperfections to everything to give a less sterile sound.
Take us through a day in the recording studio.
I don’t have a studio. I work on a desk at my house with a laptop. It gives me the ease to work on music whenever I can or want to.
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
No, and even today I don’t see it as a job title but more of a “game”. In the sense that I like to do skateboard and I like to do music for fun and nothing else. Not trying to be a professional skateboarder, just trying to have fun.
What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?
Water, because water is life.
Any emerging artists on your radar?
Lil Nas X, I just like that he’s doing music for fun and hope that his talent will grow from that raw “fun” factor rather than the “try hard” factor.
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Watching movies, reading comics, and listening to random music.
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
I do everything in FL Studio on my laptop. I also have a condenser mic with a basic Scarlett sound card. I recently got a Volca Modular and a Skulpt synth which I mostly use for playing around. But in the end, everything is produced by the computer.
Any side projects you’re working on?
フライドポテト、チーズ、ソース (FriteFromageSauce) which is a vapowave project I got with friends, where we just have fun.
You recently participated in the composition of the soundtrack for the next Street Of Rage 4 (SEGA). How does creating music for games differ from writing your own album?
I make music for myself, so there’s no one else to please other than me. Having people appreciate it is an added bonus but mainly I make it to feel better and challenge myself. When working on a soundtrack and, in this case, Streets Of Rage, it comes with expectations. Because people that aren’t my fans are going to listen to it. And even if they hate my music, I gotta make sure that it’s pleasing in the context of the game for the people that play it. So I have to juggle with what’s expected to sound like and what I want it to sound like. For Streets Of Rage 4, it was a blast because I was a fan of the games, to begin with.
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
Mostly just bringing tracks to completion. It sounds dumb but the reality was that I use to make tons of demos that were just “loops”. Sometimes great loops but not stuff that felt like actual tracks that take you from point a to b.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
A second album titled MIAMI BEACH BEACHES in which I tried many new things that I never did before, and I hope the fans will understand it’s direction. There might shows on the way as well but it’s hard to tell with the COVID situation.
Famous last words?
Music is organized noise.
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Image credit: Adrien Villagomez