Talk Show Host: 030: This Morn’ Omina

Here at I’ve come to appreciate over the years that interviewing bands – I prefer e-mail than to be transcribing Skype interviews, partly as trying to schedule them is very difficult indeed too! – can often tell me (and of course my readers) so much more than just a review. After all, I’m only interpreting what I hear in reviews. Talking to artists themselves gives me far more of an insight, at least in some cases, into their thoughts and processes when it comes to producing music.

Saying that, though, I much prefer to be talking to bands or artists that firstly have something to say, and secondly, that I have something to ask them about. I’ve grown tired of reading template interviews elsewhere – those where any artist they interview gets exactly the same questions. If I’m going to interview someone, there must be something worth talking about.

Which brings me to this. I’ve followed This Morn’ Omina for a long time now, probably since One eYed Man was destroying industrial dancefloors the best part of fourteen years ago, and with the release just recently of their first album since L’Unification Des Forces Opposantes in 2011, I thought it a good time to catch up with both Mika and Karolus from the band and talk a bit more about This Morn’ Omina now, their inspirations and their sound – thanks to both of them for their time. The live photos are my own work from Resistanz 2014. The new album Kundalini Rising is your first in six years, and also the first on a new label (Dependent) after around a decade on Ant-Zen. Why the change?

This Morn’ Omina (Karolus): Dependent Records offered a great work ethic – that of trying to reconnect bands with the listener, something that seems to have fallen away in the digital age. Incredibly the distance had grown from the era of vinyl and tapes despite the internet. When you download an album now, you get a thumbnail with it, giving you very little information about the makers or intention behind it. Dependent wants to bridge that gap and one way to help to that was the coming about of the book in the limited edition. The extra work involved is the reason it has taken so long to release. The music has been ready for two years. Kundalini Rising is at least partially explained on your Bandcamp page as being concerned with “thoughts on apocalypse and its harbingers, but at the same time with possibilities of escaping or counteracting it by the activation of individual resilience or the use of reason.”

Certainly, it’s a considerably darker-edged album than previous material. Was this a reaction to the world and events around you, or am I barking up the wrong tree?

Resistanz 2014: Sheffield: 20-Apr 2014

This Morn’ Omina (Karolus): The music is a reflection of perception it’s true, and these are very challenging times. Certainly, something must hit you deeply to inspire you to make music about it, and during the making of Kundalini Rising Mika and I were both pushed through some very hard events. But we learned and grew, so personally, I can’t separate dark from light as far as that goes. I would also add that the journey through the shadows was more an inner journey than about the outside world at the time, but when the album was finished you can look around and see it mirrored everywhere.

This Morn’ Omina (Mika): Just before and during Kundalini Rising we both had to cross some deserts. But thanks to it we were able to do so. It did have an effect on the overall absence of light on the album. That said, there is also a feeling of escapism in certain moments. Opener Ayahuasca you’ve likened to the cleansing rituals that the titular “brew” is used for in South America – and your music to me often brings up the parallels between the ritualistic nature of music and religion. Where does your interest in such religious rituals come from?

This Morn’ Omina (Karolus): Human beings are of a spiritual nature, whether they are actively engaged with it or not. In the western world, there is an increasing dissatisfaction with the goals of society, the hopes are diminished, and the answers to the biggest questions are often idiotic. Meanwhile, the remaining tribal cultures have preserved that connection to nature, that we as organic beings have a core need to maintain just to keep balanced. I grew up in Mexico and South America, so was lucky to be able to share in the diversity of viewpoints and have great respect for it. I was listening to some of your older stuff recently, and the comparing Totemism (Modern) with the new material, for example, is eye-opening, as you’ve advanced so much. Is it simply a matter of better technology now, or do you feel you’ve got better at integrating the themes you choose into your music?

This Morn’ Omina (Karolus): This is a Mika question, I wasn’t around during Totemism. On a side note though I prefer the older technology. True a lot of things are technically easier now, but it seems harder to get a sound I like out of the newer equipment. I suppose a lot of people will be horrified, but for example, we both still use Windows XP, lol.

This Morn’ Omina (Mika): That track was written in 1996. I was still a kid 🙂 I probably would tackle that subject differently now because we all evolved and learned over the years.

Better technology is definitely an influence on how to taking steps forward with how you elaborate on a concept (especially if you know how to work it out, instead of collecting the newest and the latest), but more reading and taking an active interest makes you grow as a person. I’ve commented before that This Morn’ Omina barely sound like anyone else. Where do your musical inspirations come from, and what kind of music do you listen to for pleasure?

This Morn’ Omina (Karolus): For me, much of this album was reaching back to early influences from the hard trance/techno rave scene. I literally lived for the edgier stuff that was doing the rounds back then, things like the label Lunatec. But around ’97, it just “poof!” – sadly disappeared. Mika’s influence is all from the early psytrance scene, so somehow the two combine in TMO somewhere. As for what I listen to, at the moment I’m in some sort of retro/nostalgia phase listening to stuff I was into as a 16 year old – Rudimentary Peni, Lard, and Southern Death Cult, but the more goth stuff is never far down on the playlist. More modern than that, I’m really digging that Wardruna guy as well.

This Morn’ Omina (Mika): I listen to a variety of genres (80s, 90s, experimental) mostly non-related to the scenes we play in. I know what is around, but they don’t show up in my collection.

Resistanz 2014: Sheffield: 20-Apr 2014 What’s your method for writing material, anyway? Do you come up with the concepts and samples first, and build the music around them?

This Morn’ Omina (Karolus): I can’t proceed without having a theme or inspiration first, and this comes from a real life experience. Once the initial spark is set off, it really then becomes a matter of translating that feeling into the music. With the samples, it becomes a matter of searching for something that fits, and more often than not at this point, the music starts carrying me along, almost like channeling it, rather than having much control or will over it. It takes its own direction, and often enough when it’s done I can hear it like it’s a new track for me as much as it is for someone else hearing it for the first time too. Live TMO come across like you’re inciting a quasi-religious fervour in the audience. How does it feel for you when performing – do you need to lose yourself in the sound and feel of things?

This Morn’ Omina (Karolus): Being onstage is pure adrenalin. An hour long show seems like 5 minutes, doesn’t matter if it’s 1000’s of people at a festival or a tiny club. The excitement of the crowd surely takes us higher, and then we, in turn, can give that back too. It’s a mutual thing. Yes, we are performing, but the crowd is a pool of pure energy, and we are creating together. When they go nuts so do we. At our last show, one of our drummers started spraying blood all over the place from going to wild on the cymbals. A couple of years ago we were playing in an amphitheater and on the last track a huge thunderstorm erupted. It was great that all these hardcore dancers stayed in the rain not scared of running makeup or flopping hair. At some point, I just jumped into the crowd to dance with them. They were awesome and contagious. Where next for TMO? Presumably more live shows?

This Morn’ Omina (Karolus): Yes, as many as we can get, and anywhere. We’ll be at WGT, Noize of Life, and a new festival in France called Gothic Dark Wave (which we are excited about) in August. Meanwhile also working on the next album.

Kundalini Rising is out now on Dependent, and is also available on Bandcamp

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