Heathen Harvest: Can you begin by explaining when and how This Morn Omina formed into a band? And the active members of the band are?
Mika Goedrijk: This Morn Omina began as a solo project in 1997. So that is also what the name of the band means. I woke up.
HH: So this Morn Omina means the "I woke up?"
MG: It means the omen of the morning. That morning I woke up and I knew I had to start a new project. Ten years later I met him and we became a live band. And he came along and that's how it all began.
HH: And around what album did all of this happened?
MG: 7 Years Of Famine. We did two shows. I did two shows with another one. He was involved only for the live performances; it really sucked, so I shut down for a while. I did not perform any concerts for about seven years and then Seven Years of Famine came. I was looking for a drummer and I wanted to do a show again and that's when I met him through a mutual friend. I mean Nicholas. Sorry for not mentioning his name for a moment I forgot we were doing the interview on tape not video. And I know Thomas from the university, from college.
HH: So Thomas and Nicholas are also considered full-time members?
MG: Yes. They are both full-time members. This Morn Omina does not exist without live performances now. In the studio they are co contributing directly or indirectly and now for the new album Nicholas will be playing all the live drums. All the rhythmic sections are to be recorded live without any samples anymore.
HH: What musical training did the founding members have before beginning This Morn Omina?
Nicolas Meirhaeghe: I did some musical training, just the classical music training. Like, um… music theory and some piano stuff. I do not really think it has influenced me for playing drums with This Morn Omina though.
HH: This Morn Omina is a native band from Belgium . Can you explain your rising international appeal and how you successfully broke through into the international electronic music scene?
MG: No. (Laughter) I don't really know, suddenly our music hit the charts and it seemed like everybody liked us.
HH: So it's been a ten-year journey to reach the success you now enjoy?
MG: Yes, but that's never been the intention for making our music. I just wanted to do my thing and that's it. You can never really predict a hit single. I mean on Ten Years of Famine it's just the shortest track on that CD. And it's not even the best track on that CD.
HH: The band seems to appear on a new label with every album released. Is this non-affiliation with a single label intentional?
MG: I think if you look at what Nicholas is doing with his own project Empusae he is mainly doing what always the Belgians do really. We tend to release on different labels because we don't really want to be dependent on one label. We like a variety I guess.
HH: Are there politics around control issues and the fear of any one label getting too much control of your music and creative process?
MG: It's never been that way. Or at least I can only speak for myself. And Nicholas can say for himself the same thing. I think nobody controls what we do but some stuff is better suited for a label like Spectre Records and some stuff is better suited for a label like Ant-Zen. I took the trilogy that This Morn Omina is currently working on to Ant-Zen because we chose to make the trilogy just on one label rather than on multiple labels as before. If I want to do something else with Ant-Zen then I will take it to them and see if they say OK. If he says no, same thing, I will look somewhere else. That's how it works.
HH: This Morn Omina has a signature sound within the post industrial music genre. The band creates a style of electronic music that embraces Eastern influenced rhythms, instruments, and samples. What brought about the Eastern influence in This Morn Omina's music?
MG: It is mainly theoretical I think. Because the themes need this type of instrumentation. You see that during a live concert what Nicholas is drumming I would not call this particularly Eastern since he is playing all African drums.
HH: The last album by This Morn Omina was Le Serpent Blanc - Le Serpent Rouge. Can you explain the title of the album and its meaning for the band?
MG: The title is very simple he's got a white snake and we needed an opposite or a red snake.
HH: So the album is based on actual animals that you own?
MG: Well Nicholas has a white snake that dances to his music and my music and everybody else's. Even music he plays in his cellar (laughter). So that's where the idea came from to name it. But it's about the split tongue of the snake and is the beginning of the trilogy. So we start with something simple, something people recognize. People recognize snakes and the split tongue represents good and evil or elements in opposition. The second part is going to be about regeneration and going beyond that duality because that's how mankind is going to survive. Forget about that he's the black guy or he's a white guy. I mean in that positive and negative context. There's really only one race and that's the human race.
HH: The most recent album Le Serpent Blanc - Le Serpent Rouge seems to embrace two worlds as the title implies. Half the music is danceable and uplifting and the other half is darker and more ambient in nature. Can you explain these two coinciding currents in the music?
MG: I think that my comrade's will assert that I think our music puts you in trance, it doesn't always have to be with a four four beat, you can explore any kind of rhythms within it. Also Le Serpent Rouge / Le Serpent Blanc was based on a French medieval poem where the need for non speed tracks was greater than for speed tracks. I really just wanted to use that phrase "need for speed.” I have six hours of jetlag so you're going to have to cut me some slack.
HH: Le Serpent Blanc - Le Serpent Rouge seemed like a plateau for the band in terms of sound production and song writing. Do you also see the album as a peek or culmination of your musical career?
MG: Indirectly. Now that I working on the new album it's like, oh my God I couldn't do that again. But it's not intentional, as a musician or a creator whether you do music or write a text you always have to surpass yourself otherwise you're dead at thirty two. Just I mean creatively dead.
HH: The music of TMO could be described as ethnic industrial music. Personally I often feel spiritually inspired by the music. Is it the bands intentions to impregnate the music with a sense of spirituality?
MG: It is definitely a spiritual music and is definitely not religious music. Because religion just rots out the brain. Am I right? Or am I right? Religion makes a two eyed man into a one eyed man. Also any type of indoctrination does that. Man is capable of doing a lot more with his brain that he is doing. And everything they can't some clever people put it into the religious box. Then there is again, you can always say, this is a turnabout phrase. There is only one religion and that is the religion of man kind. It is a snake biting his own tale.
HH: The music also feels esoteric in nature. The identity of these esoteric influences is very open to definition. Is it the bands intention to create music that can be personally interpreted?
MG: I just said that any doctrine blinds the minds and eye. I don't tell Nicolas or Thomas what to do live. They just interpret it themselves and whatever they do it is okay for me. I am not a leader of the band I am just part of it.
NM: You bring us together.
Thomas: The spiritual side of it that you are talking about. If we didn't have for each listener and for us participating with him an opportunity to open our consciousness and be aware of the total influence and experience possible. We are very grateful for the freedom that he allows us during the creative process and that is very unique.
MG: I would not use the word allowed. If I were to tell them something it's more like be free and whatever you do.
HH: The use of lyrics in the music is very minimal. Can you explain the choice to not make lyrics a prominent element of the music?
MG: I think the music is already thick enough. And have stories enough to tell. I was never part of the postmodern movement that said there are no great stories to tell any more. They said you have to shut up because there are no great stories to tell any more. My view is okay I'll shut up, I don't jabber on for hours and hours but I tell you a story without saying anything.
TH: Yes lyrics only limit the imagination of the listener.
HH: There is a lot of acoustic percussion in This Morn Omina. Do you play the acoustic instrumentation yourselves or do you rely on sampling acoustic elements?
MG: Up until now most of the things have been samples. Sometimes played live by me. But now for the new album all the percussion will be live. That is of course Nicholas's work. When do you start working by the way? (Laughter).
HH: Members of TMO are also oriented with a number of side projects. Can you tell us what other projects each member is associated with?
NM: Yes I'm also involved in Empusae but it is not a side project. It is a project I have been working on since before it met Mika. It's really different music; it's not really that ritual. My intention when making that music is to create a certain atmosphere but it is also industrial melodic ambient stuff.
TH: My new project I will be called Arctic and it will be inspired by the feeling we have all gotten from playing live together. We got to thinking and we thought it would be great to get us five together and do totally different kinds of music. Something much more ambient or soundscapes. So we went into the studio one day and jammed and it was really great sounding. So from that came the new project Arctic . This will also be released by the Spectre label.
HH: Are TMO's live performances fairly formatted or do you rely on improvisation?
MG: I think that everything that is on the mini disk is formatted and everything else is improvisation. Apart from Nicholas's tempo, Nicholas's tempo is straight off the mini disk.
NM: I think every concert is different.
TH: Yeah the only thing I have prepared is a bunch of different sounds. The ones I play and the way I play them is all determined live.
HH: I just want to thank you for giving Heathen Harvest the opportunity to interview you and thank you for coming all the way out here from Belgium . I can share in the jetlag since I flew out from California though I know yours was the ten times worse. Thanks again and good luck with the show tonight.