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Fireworks Magazine Online 81: Interview with Cellar Darling

CELLAR DARLING

Interview by Paul Woodward

Following the split of Switzerland's successful Metal act Eluveitie, three former members formed Cellar Darling and set their sights on spearheading the 'New Wave of Folk Rock' scene. Fireworks spoke to vocalist and hurdy-gurdy wielding frontwoman Anna Murphy about Cellar Darling's impressive debut album, 'This Is The Sound'.


Cellar-Darling

Following the success of your previous band, Eluveitie, did you find it daunting starting from scratch with Cellar Darling?

It was chaotic for sure, but the chaos resulted in an immense creative drive that enabled us to write an entire album in just one year. For a moment, it seemed like we were left with nothing ̶ which maybe sounds a tad too dramatic ̶ but things just fell into place naturally.

Do you feel expectations or pressure from fans and critics to emulate the success of Eluveitie with Cellar Darling?

Not really. We're impulsive people, driven by our gut feeling. Emulating Eluveitie would have been unnatural and in my opinion, also unnecessary. Everything in our band developed organically and worrying about what people think would have hindered creativity.

I find the name Cellar Darling intriguing. Is there a reason or story behind the band's name?

On one hand, it symbolises what our music sounds like. We want to tell stories and paint pictures with our music and the combination of the two words is like a portal into our world, "cellar" being the darkness and "darling" being the light. On the other hand, it's metaphorical for the creativity and the ideas that were kept hidden away during the past few years because we had no space and time to realise them. The music that is now free to see the light is our "cellar darling".

You play one of the most unusual and unique instruments – the hurdy-gurdy. Did you find it hard incorporating this instrument into your song writing?

Not at all! It's mostly connected to Folk and Medieval music, but the amazing thing about the hurdy-gurdy is that you can do just about anything with it and it can blend extremely well into different soundscapes.

It's a very unusual instrument. How and why did you pick it up and choose to learn to play it? As a multi-instrumentalist, are there any other unique instruments you also play?

I saw it live for the first time when I was sixteen at a medieval concert ̶ the band that played it is called Faun ̶ and I immediately fell in love with it. I convinced my parents that I absolutely had to learn this and so I rented an instrument at a college for old music. Three months later Eluveitie were looking for a new hurdy-gurdy player and that's how it became my main instrument, basically!
Another instrument I play fairly well is the traverse flute, although that's a bit less unique I would say. Apart from that I'm rather mediocre at the piano and bass; I use those mainly for song writing.

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Lyrically you pride yourself on being storytellers. Can you tell us about a couple of intriguing stories behind some of the songs on 'This Is The Sound'?

The stories, like our music, are very eclectic. They are created by impulses that I get while hearing or writing the music. When I heard the guitars for 'Hullaballoo' I thought of rain and this first impulse created a story of the day when it never stopped raining and everything that was once stone turned into sand. Metaphorical for a stoic crumbling beneath emotions, it kind of works like a mind map.
'Six Days' is about the last man left on earth, holding on even though the universe has swallowed everything he once loved. He holds on for six days during which various entities like the sun, the moon, the devil and the gods punish him because they want him to be gone.
A bit of a more upbeat story is told by 'Starcrusher' which is about a fat, hairy fairy that is pissed off at the world and wants everything to be eternally dark by destroying all the stars. It's going to take quite a while because she can't fly very well due to being overweight.

'This Is The Sound' is the first album from Cellar Darling, from the formation of the band to the song-writing to recording, has the album turned out as you originally envisioned?

That's a good question! Honestly, this past year has been so intense and filled with creativity that I didn't really have time to envision anything. We just dove straight in and we like how it turned out. We'll continue just living in the moment and see where it takes us.

Have you been pleased with the reactions to the album since its release?

Yes, very pleased. I especially love that a lot of people react with very elaborate messages. Our fans really seem to understand the music and it means a lot to them. For me that is already all I could wish for.

On the surface, many may say your brand of Celtic/Folk blended Metal may be an acquired taste, but I found the album as a whole easily accessible and surprisingly catchy and commercial. It will definitely appeal to a wider range of music fans. Was making the songs more accessible to a wide range of fans intentional during the song writing process?

Not really, the song writing process was impulsive and organic. We basically just write the music that is playing in our heads, it's not calculated in any way. And it's interesting to see how people react differently to the music as well. Some songs may very well be more commercial compared to what we did before, but some are also more artistic and complex, not following the typical structures that we worked with before.

Do you have any plans to play live in the UK? Is playing live important to yourself and your fellow band mates?

Yes, we're playing in London on the 1st of November and can't wait! Playing live is the most important thing for us apart from writing music. Basically we want to rotate between studios and stages, which is good and hopefully will happen because currently we don't even have apartments. So, we're ready world, if you will have us.

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