With Dememur Morti a French label focusing on unique sound bands like Blut aus Nord, October Falls and Krohm. Label boss Philippe was so kind to introduce us to his label!
Please tell us first, how Debemur Morti came to life? When did you first think about founding a label? What's you philosophy?
In 2003, my own experience with underground labels and that feeling of 'something missing' ignited the idea. The ubiquitous lack of seriousness and amateurism are totally unacceptable for me; 'underground' does not mean 'mediocrity'. It is the will to found a structure advocating 'Black Metal' as an Artistic approach that drove me to materialize the initial idea. There was no particular album I wanted to release nor any special aim besides offering Artists something better than what I had experienced myself as a musician.
I think 'morti' is pretty obvious, but is 'debemur' a kind of modification of the Latin word 'debemus'? What does the label name stands for?
'Debemur Morti' means 'Doomed to die'. I picked it up from Horace's writing (Ars Poetica, 63). The full phrase is "Debemur morti nos nostraque" and it means "We are doomed to die, we and all our belongings".
This being said, I chose it because I wanted a hopeless name with a strong emphasis which suits my way of being. Do not mistake me though, hopeless doesn't mean I spend my time lamenting. It is mankind that is hopeless and constructing its destruction.
These days it seems many label are more into quantity then quality, especially when it comes to extreme music. You choose your bands for quality reasons. How do you find these bands? Are you actively look for new servants?
DMP' desire is not to release only (good) music, but to offer works with a deep content. That is the very essence of this Black Art. Enough of imagery without content, Art is to stimulate the human mind and senses in order to bring thought and action!
Therefore, it is elemental that the Art of bands affiliated to DMP is authentic, deep and pure – in other words, 'True' Art (true, in its 'non artificial' meaning)– but it also needs to carry a spiritual dimension. The goal is to offer an opus that can transcend the listener.
A band which does not manage to install a deeply mystical atmosphere in its music has very little chance of signing with DMP. Mysticism can take many shapes - thus the rather eclectic panel of bands I work with.
Lately I've been more busy reorganizing my label (and therefore parting ways with some of my bands) than working on new signings.
I guess you get tons of emails or press kits... What make you pick one of the amount you get?
I do. I try to listen most of them, but sometimes I just need to look at the CD to know it won't go any further ! And when I play the music I always get confirmation my first feeling was right.
What would you tell a young band to focus on, if they one day want to be a Debemur Morti act?
Be sincere and make sure what you have to offer is unique and outstanding. There are already too much standard bands around. Another advice would be to do things step by step and no want it all at once!
In a throw-away society it seems that art has no value to many and so they take it for free as an illegal download, but you have latest releases as streams. What's the idea behind that?
I agree with you, Art, in general, is loosing its value for many. People prefer to sit in front of their TV better than visit a museum. They prefer to party better than read books etc etc... and with the internet, everyone thinks that everything should be available straight away AND for free ! Few are the people that still value the work behind a piece of Art!
Anyway, streaming my releases had its purpose! I wanted to offer the possibility for the people to listen the album and make sure they like it before they purchase it. There are so much crappy releases around that the fans are lost and they don't know anymore what is worth to invest their hard earned cash on. It was, for me, a way to say 'see, this is worth buying'.
Do you think that nowadays the package is more important again? That a cool digi-pack or special packaging will help to sell CDs?
As a listener, I always enjoyed the efforts a label/band put into giving the right shape to a release. It is an extra which will enlighten the piece of Art it contains, immortalizes it. I definitively take pride in offering the Artist a 'final product' worthy of his creation and the listener something worth his money. I strive to reach a perfect synthesis of the arts in order to offer releases which are characterized by their symbolic, philosophical and/or metaphysical dimensions.
With illegal downloads the touring is more important again, but also it's quite expensive. Are their any plans to bring one of your bands on tour soon? Or have you thought about some festival activity?
Lots of my bands are one-man bands and even when they are not, most of them are not interested in playing live. But when they are interested, I do help them. I even organized some tours myself already!
I did think about setting up a festival once, but it never happened. It's not 'my job' and there are worthy people doing such kind of things.
At the moment your are re-organizing the label... So what's changing?
New and improved distribution network, new and improved promotion are the biggest changes.
I also decided to reduce the amount of bands I work with in order to keep offering them the best!
I'm alone handling the label and too many bands is impossible for me to handle properly.
So better than decrease the quality of my services, I preferred to decrease the quantity of Artists I work with. Quality over quantity, always!
One of your distribution partners is Soulfood Music and you cooperate with Moribund Records. Any other cooperation in sight?
From now on I'm distributed worldwide through Season Of Mist and their partners (so SoulFood in Germany and lots of others around the world).
In the 80's split-EPs been in fashion and it seems they are back... Do you plan some more split-releases?
I already released a bunch of split EPs and there will certainly be more in the future!
It's a nice way to get introduced to bands or for already established band to offer something 'different' than what they do on their albums.
What's next on the Debemur Morti schedule?
You can expect, among others, new material from Blut aus Nord, October Falls, Hell Militia, Spektr, a split gathering Krohm and Tenebrae in Perpetum, one gathering Blut aus Nord, Animus Mortis and Lorn.
Looks like Philippe is into supporting art for the art itself, even if a label has to financially be able to survive, but Debemur Morti won't be another company who puts quantity over quality! So visit the label website, check out the bands and buy the music! Support the ones who have a real interest in the music, and who aren't just trying to make money big time!
Here you'll find some reviews of Debemur Morti releases: