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Interview: La Muerte discuss their newest LP, ‘Sortilegia’

13 December 2022

Photo Credit: Lightbox Revelation

Formed in the 80’s, LA MUERTE became one of the apologists of Belgium music in the 80’s. Long before Al Jourgensen and Ministry has started sound-experiments, LA MUERTE had already been edgy and aggressive, inventively pushing the boundaries. Over the course of their career, LA MUERTE didn’t lose this quality. The band’s newest LP, ‘Sortilegia’ came out this November via Consouling Sounds. The Big Takeover sat down with Didier Moens aka Dee-J, the founding member and guitarist of LA MUERTE.

‘Edgy’ has been the main descriptive for your records starting with your first releases and finishing with the recently released ‘Sortilegia’. At the same time, while you mix various styles, tendencies and approaches, your ability to keep everything together in the organic way becomes principal task. What allows you to do this?

It’s part of the band’s DNA. Back in the days, at the beginning of LA MUERTE, we were seen as a UFO in the Belgian rock scene. Our vision, our way of working, our attitude, our looks, our vision, our music… Everything made us different from what was around us. That’s one of the reasons probably why we got more response from abroad in the early days. Belgium followed afterwards. I have the impression that we are still that UFO today. We have kept the same line of conduct, the same ethics.

And how much your meaning what is organic evolved?
I’m talking about the fact that quite often, artists who tend to explore some new sounds and forms of expression need to get outside of their comfort zone.

We are like a dirty, greasy, heavy and unrefined oil slick that moves slowly and destroys everything in its path, even our past. But this slick is also a source of energy that allows creation.

What is certain is that we are attracted to all forms of art and music, from the most extreme to the most classical. Radicality is a fertilizer that is necessary for us even if we get lost on the way and put ourselves in danger outside our comfort zone.

Our open-mindedness allows us to do many things at the risk of going off course.

We are in spontaneity where calculation has no place.

Another artist as edgy as LA MUERTE that comes to my mind is Public Image Ltd, of the early era. Before our interview, you’ve mentioned that you got the chance to see their first ever show…

I actually had the chance to see Public Image’s very first try out in Brussels.

What impression did they create ?

I think I saw a concert that sums up what rock’n‘roll should be for me: unpredictable, edgy, disturbing, inventive. The concert itself, pure chaos. Lydon singing with his back to the audience, Keith Levene grandiose in his aggressiveness and arrogance. Wobble nonchalantly in his chair. I knew I was watching a major landmark in music.

The advent of punk made many people realise that a guitar and a few chords were enough to be a musician and form a band. But that wasn’t enough for me. I’ve always had an attraction to guitarists who step outside the lines, or create their own style without being virtuosic. Keith Levene, but also Geordie Walker, Daniel Ash, Rowland S Howard… And especially Andy Gill. I saw Gang of Four in 79, I think, in England. It was when I saw Gill on stage that I said to myself, if one day I’m going to play, it’s going to be like him. The attitude, the coolness, the style… It was very natural for me to build up my own style throughout the years…

Alongside with Marc du Marais you agreed on the fact that ‘Sortilegia’ is quite a surreal record. What affected the nature of this release?

Our major influence is to always push our sonic and technical limits further.

Radicality is our favourite playground that pushes us forward, this choice is not always easy in the world of the rather conventional rock-and-roll that loves putting bands in boxes. We lack boxes.

As for surrealism, it’s in our veins, we are Belgian, it’s cultural and it’s part of our daily life, our spirit and our way of being and thinking, and we don’t realize it anymore.

After the pandemic a lot of artists felt the necessity of a self-search. How much the whole situation of being isolated affected you on a personal and creative levels?

The pandemic has not changed our way of working and seeing things. Isolation has always been our bread and butter, we have always been alone and apart. We don’t need an exceptional external event to make us aware of things, problems, to reflect or to have a self-reflection.

How can you describe the process of work ? Especially, getting back to the writing part 5 years after your last release.
Our process is really peculiar. We work in total chaos and anarchy, often on our own, it’s electric, tense and sometimes complicated but it works!

I never understand how we manage to tune our violins to give life to our songs and give birth to an album. It’s the mystery and the magic of creation, it always fascinates me the moments of floating and then bang we have the thing in front of our nose. We don’t have any set rules or schemas already written down, that’s how we work, by wild instinct.

At the present moment, we’re waiting to see you live in Brussels, in January 2023 performing ‘Sortilegia’ entirely. Anything to share with your fans?

There will be probably at least 6 new songs from the new album with another part composed of the previous album and EP, as it’s been a long time since we played in Brussels, since the last album, it is important to let them discover the new stuff, and not forget the past too.