Get Some Magazine was able to track down the elusive Das Mortal and steal a little time for a few questions. His sensual synth sound has bodies grinding all over the globe. We wanted to cover as much ground as possible, everything from his latest album Always Loved to his place in the synthwave movement and of course, what he has coming next. Prepare to be seduced if you read on.
Adam Barker: Your videos have a great narrative flair, “Midnight Rendez-vous” with its doomed love affair and “Falsche Daten” has an almost Aphex Twin feel. How much input do you have in them? Do you come up with ideas and concepts or do you leave that completely up to the director?
Das Mortal: I always have a movie of the sort in my head when I compose my tracks. But I leave the narrative of the video clips to the directors because I feel that everyone always makes their own sort of movie while listening to a track. It’s very subjective and it’s always interesting to see what other people see and feel when they listen to one of my compositions. Once they tell me their idea, I usually give my input on it to make sure it stays in the overall universe that is the Das Mörtal project.
AB: The cover of Always Loved is amazing. Where did you find the artwork? Did you have any input in its design?
DM: It’s a piece I commissioned to The Zonders’ Falk Klemm, which is known for doing artworks for the Valerie Collective’S Anoraak, College, Minitel Rose and others, which were at the forefront of the whole 80’s aesthetic and sound revival of the late 2000’s that gave birth to the synthwave scene we know now.
AB: You are part of a giant synth movement in both the UK and America. How influential are other artists on your work and do other artists in your genre affect your music?
DM: I think I pick more influences from what I used to listen to when I was younger, like Depeche Mode and Skinny Puppy or early EBM, more than what is released as synthwave nowadays. Even though I still enjoy the likes of College, Perturbator and such. They do influence me when we speak of techniques or just what we enjoy doing in our everyday life.
AB: Where do you see yourself within the synth community? How do you endeavor to stay relevant in a genre that is both retro (backward looking) and cutting edge in its reliance on technology (forward looking)?
DM: I don’t feel like I’m strictly synthwave, mainly because I don’t try to make the sound of yesterday and remain authentic to that retro sound. I take inspiration from the 80’s and integrate it into what I do, which could be techno, disco or electro. I think it helps me going forward in the what I compose rather than staying stationary.
AB: When you write a song, how do you decide if it is released as a Das Mortal track or a Buttonsinker track?
DM: It’s all about my mind set. Das Mörtal is more of a fictional narrative. Buttonsinker is a personal project. In other words, Buttonsinker would be an autobiographical movie, while Das Mörtal would be a work of fiction. Once that is thought of, classifying it in either project is easy, and stylistically speaking, they are very different projects as well in their sound texture.
AB: Your music is very cinematic, and you composed an evocative score for the film Naissance d’un Zombie. How was your experience on the film? Do you see yourself transitioning into film scores in the future?
DM: Naissance d’un Zombie was a movie that I was the DOP for, so I knew very well the content and director. I loved working on its music because I had to work differently than I usually do. I had to make music that wouldn’t over power the visuals but rather help express what was on screen. I would definitely work on more if the opportunity arises in the future, since I am a huge fan of soundtracks for movies and video games from the 8-bit/16-bit era, and I take inspiration from them.
AB: Always Loved is a lot lighter than some of your previous work like “Minimal Chainsaw.” Is this a natural evolution of your sound, or are you consciously trying to move past the retrowave sound?
DM: It’s more of a thematic approach. The album tells a story of the sort, for which heavier stuff wouldn’t have conveyed the story I wanted to tell. And of course, my music is in constant evolution in its technicality and inspiration, so I never really know what I will do next. It could be disco, techno, electro, synthwave or whatever.
AB: I have to ask this question, what are your musical influences and what is the single influence that fans would find most surprising?
DM: As said before, Depeche Mode, Skinny Puppy, as well as John Carpenter, Com Truise, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada. I think the most far fetched inspiration I can think of is maybe the Chemical Brothers. I was I a huge fan of their first two albums growing up. But even that is not very surprising actually.
AB: What music is currently on your personal playlist? Is there a band or musician you are personally obsessed by right now?
DM: I recently had the time to sit and listen the soundtrack of Stranger Things and Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse by Mondo, that I had bought a few months ago on vinyl, and I love them. They keep me company on my way to work everyday.
AB: You are a big fan of movies. What are your comfort films? The ones you return to over and over? Is there a movie that you are particularly obsessed with right now?
DM: I am a huge fan of Lamberto Bava’s Demons series of movies. I often watch the original Robocop and as of new things, I really enjoyed Brigsby Bear and the new live action Japanese Death Note.
AB: Have you met all of your musical heroes? If not, who would you most like to discuss music with in a bar over drinks? Live or dead?
DM: Probably the early 90’s Warp Records crew, like Autechre, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada and others.
AB: Do you enjoy performing live or are you more comfortable in your studio?
DM: I enjoy both. They are totally different vibes. When composing, I can concentrate and take my time to take things to the level I want. Live is a different beast, I have to think fast and can’t be over controlling things. The crowd is there as a plus and real-time support, which I can’t have on my own.
AB: What is next for Das Mortal? When do we get to see you live here in Los Angeles?
DM: Promoting the Always Loved album is a priority right now with shows a bit all over the place, as well as maybe a video around the corner. So far it’s going great and never felt so overwhelmed by the fans, who are amazing by the way. As for Los Angeles, only time will tell, but it’s definitely on my radar.
Pick up your copy of Always Loved by Das Mortal on Limited Edition blue vinyl here.
If you want to read more about Synthwave, don’t forget to check out the Carpenter Brut interview here.