Johan Levin is the man behind Desiderii Marginis, one of the most known dark ambient projects. Levin started back in 1993 and developed his own style of dreamy and melancholic dark ambient which combines electric and acoustic sounds. A perfect soundtrack for That Which Is Tragic And Timeless, either in dreams or in real life.
It’s been almost 20 years you’ve been active with Desiderri Marginis project. Which have the milestones in your career been so far? What does the name mean?
I began recording as Desiderii Marginis in 1993 so it’s been actually 23 years of activity by now. I can’t really think in terms of milestones in my career, but every album that is finished becomes a paving stone in the path I’m constructing for myself. The name means something like ‘the edge of dreams’.
Your last double album is named after a Greek word ‘Hypnosis‘. In addition, one of the most outstanding tracks is named ‘Paralysis’. Are you familiar with Greek words or is it just a coincidence?
Well, I’m interested in etymology so I know that the words are of Greek origin of course, as is the word ‘etymology’ itself. The theme of the album happens to be dreams, and it was while doing the research and first material collection for the album that I came across these words and decided to include them. As you know Hypnos (Sleep) was also the brother of Thanatos (Death) in ancient Greek mythology, and I like the semblance of sleep and death in relation to this album.
Your latest two albums were released through Cyclic Law. Are you satisfied with the promotion and collaboration so far?
Yes, for the most part I think it’s working out very well.
As far as we are aware of, you currently live in London. Why did you decide to leave Sweden and live in the U.K.?
My reasons for moving are personal, but sometimes one needs a change of scenery and a different set of impressions to find one’s self.
Are you connected in religion in any way? What do you have to say about ‘The Monkey God’?
No I’m not affiliated with any religion, although I’m interested in some of it from a cultural and historical point of view. The title and theme of the track ‘The Monkey God‘ comes from a person’s dream, or rather nightmare, which was sent to me for inclusion in the album. This person dreamed that he was brought before a terrifying, monkey-like creature sitting on a throne located in a deep, dark jungle. I chose to let most tracks retain the title each contributor had used to describe their own dream.
Which artists have influenced you most for your unique Desiderii Marginis project?
I listen to a wide variety of music and can find inspiration and influence from just about anything I hear, see or otherwise experience. It was the very first releases of Morthound and Raison d’être (‘Death Time‘, ‘This Crying Age‘ and ‘Prospectus I‘) however that opened my eyes to the fact that there were other people doing this kind of music, and that there was actually an audience for it as well.
What would you say to the ones that show disregard to the live performance via a laptop or even a tablet?
If they don’t like it, they can stay at home.
Another music project that you have been involved for the last 20 years or so is Galtagaldr, a totally different sound from the Desiderii Marginis one. Give us some information regarding this project.
It was an eight-member medieval band I was a member of that performed at historical festivals and fairs around Scandinavia, playing only medieval instruments and music. I haven’t been involved in this project for the last six years. It was fun but it took a lot of time during the summer season, plus it was starting to feel a bit too repetitive.
What are you planning to present during your performance at ETOR Fest in Athens?
The live set will consist of mainly new tracks and a few really old ones if time allows.
Any plans for the near future?
Firstly there is the imminent reissue of my entire Cold Meat Industry back catalogue on both CD and coloured vinyl. I’m really excited about that since most old albums have been out of print for many years now. Secondly, I’m currently collecting sounds, concepts and raw material for the next album which will bear the name ‘Babylon’, for rather obvious reasons I think—a sort of “impressions from exile”. It will be some time before it is finished though.
Last words belong to you…
I’m really looking forward to performing in Athens again, along with all the other great bands and people — it will be a complete blast!
Photo credit: Timo Raab
Anastasia Andreadou – Christos Doukakis