An Interview with Mortal Loom - October, 2002
Location: Hotel de l'Europe, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Interviewer: Jeremy Morgan (UIP)
From Mortal Loom: F. Troy, L.F. Gray and Adrian Quay
JM: Thank you for taking time out of a very pressing schedule to meet with me today. And congratulations on the success of your new album! As I understand it, you are leaving for the States tomorrow?
AQ: Actually, F. Troy is leaving this evening! I'm off tomorrow. L.F. is staying in Amsterdam for a while. Time off and all that.
JM: I'd imagine you all could use some time off! It has been quite a time since the album came out last week, hasn't it?
FT: That's putting it mildly! We had no idea this album would be climbing the US charts even before the official radio date.
AQ: Well, one can hope for such an achievement, but it's really up to the fans who listen to the music. So far, the feedback has been incredibly positive.
JM: Could you talk about the title of the album, ADDICTED TO THE TRAGEDY? How did that come about?
LF: Contrary to rumour, it has nothing to do with the events of September 11th in the USA. The title was actually in place months before that. When we got together three years ago to talk about what had been going on in everyone's life, a common theme came quickly to the front: watching the world become addicted to tragedy, suffering, and a sense of desperation.
AQ: When I got to that first meeting, I had just returned from a trip that took me to three continents in three weeks. What I found shocked me. In every culture, that same sense of despair seemed to be increasing. Didn't matter if it was an industrialized nation or one without central services, it was the same.
JM: Yet the album is quite upbeat and even startlingly anti-tragedy….
LF: Exactly so: most of Mortal Loom has gotten over their addictions long ago, so we felt it would be a good idea to help others do the same. It seems silly to some, but music can change your life and change the world. It always has had that power and always will.
AQ: Yeah, and even when you get something that seems more on the darker side, it's only dark because it is filtering the light. Presentation means a lot. We'd shudder to think our label would have wanted us to call it something like "Addicted to Shiny Things!" or something like that!
JM: Somehow I can't imagine that happening! Your label, Delvian Records, is well known internationally for not imposing some overarching corporate will on its artists.
AQ: That's exactly why we chose to work with them in the States. Mortal Loom had a lot of requirements and needed someone who could handle them. You should have seen one executive from Universal stare at us! They didn't even have a handle on the concept of Mortal Loom.
FT: It was actually shocking to see the level of incompetence at some companies that claim to help the "independents." Apparently a lot of those companies are just mini versions of the way things used to be 20 years ago at the majors. We're very happy Delvian is not only with the times but also genuinely for the independents.
JM: Mortal Loom is rather unusual. On this album you're working with Chris & Cosey and several others in ML that do not want to be named?
LF: Fame is a burden and an outrage more than anything else. I've had enough of that. Quiet living while creating loudly is more of what I want.
JM: Is that one of the reasons we weren't allowed to bring a photographer and we're meeting in a softly-lit room?
AQ: (laughing) Exactly! If folks new more about us, it would cease to be about the music. It's always been about the music for us, none of the other things.
FT: For years, bands like Dead Can Dance, The Art of Noise, Yello, Soft Cell, David Bowie and Bryan Ferry created an image, or many images, but it came down to the music. Immense talent made immensely enjoyable music. The music came first. Nowadays, it seems to be the boy/girl-band syndrome spreading like a boring plague. Get an image first, then come up with some music to go with it. Sort of like how TV is now about the commercials with some deathly dreary programming thrown in for filler.
LF: We also know it's strange to younger people, not having a web-cam in our bathroom, so to speak, but it's an older way of doing things in a new time. Sort of like older movies where there were only a few credits, instead of listing everyone involved with the project right down to things like "Man who waved to the caterer one day."
JM: Sort of anti-celebrity?
AQ: Not really, just making it about the music again, taking the personalities (of which we've got a lot!) out of the equation. Listen to the music. If you like it and it moves you, great. If not, there is a lot out there for you.
LF: We didn't want people to think because of who is in Mortal Loom, they would therefore like the music. Certainly having Chris & Cosey on the album does add some public celebrity to the project, but they also have wonderfully public lives. So it's appropriate.
JM: So why is Mortal Loom so mysterious, besides wanting to avoid the pitfalls of fame?
LF: It's all in the music. (smiles)
AQ: Yes, in the music. All you kneed to know is in there.
FT: It really is as obvious as that. Life is fairly simple and it's people that get in the middle of it and complicate it to the point of melodrama. The mystery of Mortal Loom is, of course, that some of us don't want publicity except for the music. But the true mystery is that there really isn't any. Mortal Loom is here to weave a web of sonic patterns with different artists. It's the music that matters, not the weavers.
JM: It sounds like a perfectly splendid way to go about things, although very unusual these days. As LF mentioned, no bathroom web cams or blogs detailing your shopping trips….
LF: And hence mystery! Ooh, splendid mysteries! (laughs)
JM: (laughs) You almost sound conspiratorial! Which is fitting, I guess, for the "New Conspiracy in Electronic Music" as the media is calling you. Is that how it became a conspiracy, this mysterious lack of a desire for fame again?
FT: The conspiracy part came into play somewhat due to the current climate of conspiracy in the world today. There really does seem to be some huge giant like a General Electric running the world today, with all the seemingly planned wars, riots, famines – you name it, somewhere there is disaster brewing today. But it's really no different than back in say, Buddha's time. Buddha elaborated on the truth of suffering and how you can become addicted to it. Today, though, there seems to be a conspiracy to addict people to the tragedy!
JM: So you're an anti-conspiracy in music?
AQ: Something like that, but rather a conspiracy to get people to notice what is really going on in their own lives. Tune into your own feelings and put down the newspapers for a while. See if the headlines have anything to do with your neighbors.
JM: Keep the home-fires well watched, one might say.
LF: Not a bad way to put it these days! That is, if you can afford to have a fire.
JM: Well, considering how Addicted to the Tragedy is rocketing up the charts, I think you'll be able to afford a few fires!
FT: We don't want to be rich. Shocking, isn't it? (laughs) I think if Mortal Loom became a supergroup we'd spend most of our time giving things away. Helping new musicians to make it and make it well. Alchemy of ideas and thought is also something we're interested in.
JM: Any plans for touring?
AQ: (mock horror expression...laughs) That would be so hard, to tour anonymously! All those wigs and big sunglasses would get too hot!
LF: (also laughing) Well, no plans, but you never really know, despite Adrian's theatrics at the mention of it.
FT: If Mortal Loom were to go on the road, it would be an event, not a show. Along the lines of Jean Michelle Jarre and others. A 'happening' as they say. Something where it is about a total experience of music and sight and feeling.
JM: So it would be a production more like theater?
FT: Something like that. Marilyn Manson does a pretty good show like that, as have others. However, we'd prefer to be a bit more elaborate than Manson.
AQ: It will be interesting to see what becomes of all this. Who knows? You might see us again on some kind of stage yet!
JM: I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that would be a wonderful thing! Thank you all so much for your time today and again, congratulations on your achievements with this new album!
EDITOR'S NOTE: As this article was going to press, Mortal Loom, in the space of one week, went from being the #4 Most Added album on the CMJ charts to debuting at #38, a Top-40 Debut!
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