Mortiis is a band from Notodden, Norway fronted by Håvard Ellefsen, who is also known as the namesake of the band. The name is a misspelling of the word 'mortis', which is the pronunciation used by the band. However, Mortiis started as the solo project of Ellefsen as a means to convey a story. This aspect was lost over time and Mortiis slowly formed into a band.
Håvard Ellefsen, often referred to as Mortiis, is the only constant band member. He was born in Skien, Telemark. Mortiis began his musical career playing bass for the black metal act Emperor. He stayed with the band just over one year before going on to create his own solo project, though unlike his previous band the music would be dark ambient oriented. Ellefsen was experimenting greatly with music during his early solo career. He started four separate projects, though the focus was always on Mortiis.
Ellefsen wrapped up work on the soundtrack to the movie Broken and The Devil's Chair (Renegade Films) in 2007. Both films were directed by Adam Mason who first worked with him on the Mortiis video for Decadent & Desperate. Having completed an album's worth of songs, Ellefsen commented at how they were "atmospheric and eerie" and also "very dark" while "some of it actually is semi-song structured, with some melody and sense to it." They were done under the Mortiis name. The collected music will eventually be released as a Mortiis album.
Mortiis as a band was formed shortly after the release of The Smell of Rain.
Dark Dungeon Music was the personal record label of Mortiis. It operated between 1995 and 1999 while Mortiis resided in Halmstad, Sweden, and released mostly limited-edition vinyl. It was dissolved as Mortiis moved back to Norway in late 1999.
Mortiis (Håvard Ellefsen) - lead vocals, programming, mixing,
Levi Gawron (Levi Gawrock Trøite) - lead guitar, programming, mixing, bass,
Sarah Jezebel Deva - female vocals (soprano),
Leo Troy (Svein Tråserud) - drums (2001-2007),
Åsmund Sveinnungard - guitar (2001-2005),
Endre Tonnesen - session/studio bass for The Grudge album,
Magnus Abelsen - session bass for The Grudge album,
Mortal (Anund Grini) - guitar (2001-2002),
Joe Letz - drums (2008-2010),
Tim Van Horn - live drums,(2011),
Åge Trøite - live guitar, 2005-2011,
Chris Kling - live drums 2009-2011,
The title of Era I was never intentional. It came about in 2001 when Mortiis was set to release The Smell of Rain, which was such a departure from his earlier records that he wanted to brand it in a way to signify this. All works previous to The Smell of Rain were thereafter referred to as Era I as consequence. All of the Era I albums were composed entirely on synthesizers, creating a sound that Mortiis described as "dark dungeon music". The last album of this era, The Stargate, went a step further by introducing a wider range of instruments including acoustic guitars, flutes and dark vocals; mainly provided by Sarah Jezebel Deva.
The Smell of Rain created a divide among fans; the songs this time had an electropop feel to them, and frontman Ellefsen took to lead vocals for the first time. This would be the only release under the title of Era II. It was during this era that Ellefsen decided he needed to seek members to perform in a live setting, which later helped change how Mortiis as a band sounded.
With Era III came The Grudge, which took an even more drastic turn from previous eras and is said to have made the biggest impression of any of his albums. The Grudge took on a heavy industrial rock emphasis, combining grinding guitars and industrial programming. Some of the longtime fans were again not too happy with this turn, but it helped gain Mortiis more new fans. In 2005, the Norwegian Culture Council selected The Grudge to be freely available for listening to the public in libraries across the country.
On April 16, 2007 Mortiis released a remix album titled Some Kind of Heroin, reworking material from The Grudge, via Earache Records. "Some Kind of Heroin" offers diverse remix material including interpretations by a wide range of contemporaries, such as Zombie Girl, Gothminister, Implant, XP8, PIG, The Kovenant, Velvet Acid Christ, Girls Under Glass, David Wallace, Kubrick, Flesh Field, Dope Stars Inc, In the Nursery among others.
The Great Deceiver was originally finished in 2008, and includes mixes by Chris Vrenna (NIN, Manson). Additional material has also been finished. In fact, enough material for another album was finished during 2009. Late 2009 and early 2010 earlier music has been partly reprogrammed and re-arranged for future live use.
For nearly the entirety of the bands existence, frontman Ellefsen has altered his facial appearance using several alternatives before using a prosthetic mask and ear set. The studio who made Mortiis' mask asked for a character reference for the moulding. The mask was always coupled with ears. During Era I the mask covered his whole face, though by Era III it had an appearance whereby it seemed to be falling off and was stitched in place. The mask was dropped after the release of Some Kind of Heroin. Having stated in an interview that the mask has been shelved "for better or worse", as part of the significance of Some Kind of Heroin.
Ellefsen's choice of dreadlocks (sometime after Era I), and various outfits helped produce the "Mortiis image". When asked as to what the mask represents he has answered, "I do not look upon myself as a goblin, or troll, or elf, or medieval. I am merely Mortiis." Mortiis has been known to repair his live clothes by using black tape to seal holes and tears. They often cover themselves in corn flour before going on stage.
When talking about the influence for the imagery that his band uses, Ellefsen has commented, "A lot of people do not get that you can do more than just look like you're waiting for a bus. I mean how dull is that? I grew up with Kiss, W.A.S.P. and Alice Cooper."
Mortiis was credited for a number of remixes, though most are produced solely by Ellefsen. Most notable for the Alfa Matrix signed bands, Zombie Girl (on the album Blood, Brains and Rock 'N' Roll) and also for another female fronted industrial metal act I:Scintilla who released their album "Optics" on the Belgian industrial label Alfa Matrix holding a bonus disc with a remix by Mortiis beside others by Combichrist, Clan Of Xymox. Mortiis provided remixes also for Italian Industrial Rock/Metal bands like Dope Stars Inc., T3CHN0PH0B1A, as well as American Ethereal/Neoclassical act Melankolia.