Debemur Morti Productions is one of the harder working labels in extreme metal. While maintaining day jobs, the people behind the label manage to put out a remarkable amount of music from hard-to-find bands and underground acts from around the globe. Since they might be some of the only people in the music industry working as hard as us (and maybe for the same amount of no money) we figured it was high time we sat down and had a chat. So follow the jump for some words from Phil!
How did you first get into being so involved in the music industry and have you achieved all your wildest dreams that you set out to achieve? How meteoric was your rise to the top?
When I was younger, not that I am an old fossil now, I used to play in bands and my experience with underground labels sucked. Most of them were ranging from unserious to mediocre. Furthermore, I’m part of those who think that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself! Thus the idea to create DMP emerged in my head and I offered my friend Haemoth (from the band HAEMOTH) to release their “Satanik Terrorism” on vinyl. This was DMP0001. 2003. Damn, it’s been a while now! Nostalgia!
I think the rise has been natural. I worked my ass off to build a strong label, a proper seal of quality. I’m pleased with the history of the label because it all came with hard work, strong will and devotion!
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get a site to review or interview a band on your label that you really cared about?
I guess this could be a question addressed to Cedric who’s running the PR side of things at DMP. I, for myself, don’t have any cool memory to share about this.
You have a pretty stellar reputation, especially among the newer wave of black metal fans, for putting out quality music. What’s your selection process for discovering and signing bands?
Stellar reputation? Really? No later than yesterday I read a comment on the new BEHEXEN video that my label is “terrible”. I hope you’re right and he is wrong heh…
Anyway, my motto, since day one, is quality over quantity. Yes, the “music market” is not what it used to be (or so it seems, as I was not here in the “golden age”), yet I prefer to have fewer releases out there but quality ones. True Art requires dedication from the person who wants to embrace it fully.
Back to your question, there is no specific modus operandi as to how I discover bands. Often it’s a friend who will recommend a band and if I’m totally into it I’ll contact them and try sign them.
I get, daily, band submissions but most of them are not interesting. The more time goes the more I’m picky it seems, especially when it comes to Black Metal.
If I have some time to kill I go to Bandcamp and listen to some random bands and sometimes you get cool surprises.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your work at the label?
I tend to totally separate my social/political views from the label. Metal heads, and certainly even more Black Metal people, have very narrow-minded minds. It was OK a few years ago but nowadays I tend to distance myself from “this”. I prefer the unorthodox way, so to speak.
Let’s say I consider the label to be some kind of multi-facial Beast with, each Artist, representating a different way. Or better said, a different path. Each path being, somehow, a piece of myself. It’s hard to explain. I’m sorry but I won’t go much further here. I’d love to discuss some things more in depth but nowadays, in this “digital world”, people will just take your words, turn them into something you didn’t mean to say, judge you like if they knew you etc. and this really makes me sick.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
A friend of mine when I was at secondary school (?) was into Metallica, Guns N’Roses, Iron Maiden and stuff like that. He introduced me and then it slowly evolved to “harder” stuff. Once I got myself a magazine with a CD compilation which contained Black/Death Metal bands and I got totally into some of the bands which led me to dig further. My parents didn’t enjoy it AT ALL haha I remember when I started to wear jackets with patches or Cannibal Corpse t-shirts… they never understood. They always tried to have me back “in the right path” but they failed. I remember my father was always threatening to cut my hair while I was sleeping haha… until I eventually cut it myself because it was bothering me. Ah! Good old time!
What’s the stickiest you have ever been?
Was it the day I swallowed a box of Viagra? Oh, wait, no! The day Vindsval (BAN) told me he was signing on DMP? No, seriously, I’m impotent!
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a label owner?
My one and only advice would be: TAKE YOUR TIME! Listen multiple times to an album before writing about it. Most pieces of Art require time and dedication. When I released my 100th release, I wrote a statement where I recommended people to “ritualize” their listening sessions and I still recommend doing so. It always cracks me up to see a review popping up few hours/days after we sent it to Medias. I mean, come on, it often takes weeks/months of hard work to create it and people think they can “instantly” grasp its whole essence and judge it? I hate that! Take your time! Sometimes, depending on your mood, an album will not have the same impact on you. Most stellar albums unfold with multiple listening sessions.
Do you have a day job and how much time and effort are you able to pour into your label on a daily basis? Any hobbies you’d like to share with us?
Indeed, I do. The label activity is not steady enough for me to risk quitting it all for it so I do it aside from my main work as IT engineer. The label takes a whole lot of time and most of my evenings are filled with label work… Fortunately though, I have two employees now who are helping with the label activities otherwise it would be impossible to run things properly. Gersende packing/shipping orders and doing most of the accounting and Cedric who is running the whole PR side of things.
As for hobbies, yeah, I still manage to have some. Main one being sport. I used to run a lot. Then I moved to bodyweight workout and, more recently to weight lifting. It helps to be fit mentally and physically. Otherwise I also enjoy reading and watching series/movies.
Finally, what are some of your favorite albums that you’re currently spinning? What’s on your turntable right now? (Feel free to include non-metal)?
Right now I’m listening to THROANE, a project from Dehn Sora which I’m putting out in May. Otherwise, stuff which is not from my label and which I’m playing a lot lately, in no specific preference order : SKILLED MECHANICS, DANCE WITH THE DEAD, ABYSSAL, FRANCESCA BELMONTE, GY!BE, CULT OF LUNA, WARPAINT, SACRAMENTUM, BURZUM (old), UFOMAMMUT…
Thanks to Phil for his time and all the terrific music!