Can you tell us a bit about the new album, The Spell? I only just got a copy today, so I just finished listening to it about 10 minutes ago. Can you tell us about the recording process?
Anna: Well, The Spell is a concept album. I'm not sure if you could realize that just from listening? It's a concept album, so we actually wrote the music according to a lyrical guideline. The track list was also already there before writing the music. And that's something we've never done before, so that was a really special process.
As far as the recording process goes, a lot of the songs were recorded, and actually written, in the studio. For some songs, we'd only have rough sketches that we then finished writing at the studio with our producer, Tommy Vetterli. So that was a really rewarding and highly creative process.
As far as the concept goes, it is a story that is based on a very old motive, and that is of death and the maiden, which you might know from Renaissance art and it's also been depicted in classical music and poetry. And basically, I wanted to take this motive and create my own story out of it and that is a girl that falls in love with death, but then is condemned to eternal life. Yeah, that's the basic outline of the story.
Very interesting. Now when you write an album, it's you, Ivo (Henzi), and Merlin (Sutter). Do you all equally contribute to the songs?
Anna: I wouldn't say equally, but a song is either written by myself or Ivo and always come together and finish working on the song as a band. So it is a very collaborative process in the end.
With the live shows, you've got some session musicians as well. I was just wondering why you decided not to include them in the core band? You're just using them for the live shows?
Anna: Because we function very well just the three of us and we don't feel that there's something missing, because we work with the pianist, with Fredy Schnyder, we work with him very closely at the studio but, I mean, I write a lot of the piano parts and so we don't feel that it needs more people to be at the core of the band. Because we do collaborate with other people.
Fredy as well as Tommy, our producer, they had a lot of impact on the song writing, but it doesn't really necessarily mean that we need more people to be in the band. It works really well like we have it.
That makes sense. Just wondering, are you planning on coming back to Australia any time soon? Because you're doing very well. I think you'd pull a big crowd. Cellar Darling's, some of the songs have millions of views on YouTube and Spotify's got hundreds of thousands of plays. Do you think you got enough fan base here to come down to Australia?
Anna: We would absolutely love to, because as you know, we already know the Australian crowds and we know that you guys are just great. We also love it there. We spent a couple of days there where we didn't have a show and had a look around.
We definitely want to, but unfortunately, getting a tour and getting shows is not a matter of wanting to. There's a lot of things involved. You need to find people to book you and the financial stuff, all the boring things, but we really, really hope that we're gonna make it soon.
Yeah, I'd definitely love to see you come back. Now, when you left Eluveitie, were you worried at all? Because Eluveitie's a big named band. You played big festivals and you're starting a new project, were you ever worried that maybe you wouldn't be getting paid as much or you wouldn't get a big record deal? And now you're on Nuclear Blast, so you're obviously doing great.
Anna: Well, we're not getting paid as much, so that's definitely one of the things that is hard, because when we were with Eluveitie, we had an income and we could afford food and apartments and all that kind of stuff.
And now, it's kind of like we're starting from scratch, but that is normal. With Eluveitie, it took years until we could live from playing music. And that's why it doesn't feel bad, because that's just the way it is. And it's not about that in the end, it's really about our creativity, which has really bloomed with this new band and I really wouldn't ...Even though a lot of things are really difficult and harder, I really wouldn't want to change anything.
For sure. Were you surprised that you got signed to Nuclear Blast so fast? Was that a big turning point for your new project?
Anna: Yeah. I mean, that was amazing for us. I mean, we obviously didn't know that that would happen, but it's so cool that they put so much trust in us. I mean, they only heard two songs that we self-released and ... Yeah, they basically just signed us according to these two songs.
I really love working with that label, because they're just passionate and they give the artist the freedom that he needs. It's not about just making money.
That's great. What would you say are some of the career highlights you've had with Cellar Darling's so far? Has there been any particular concerts or festivals that have been something special?
Anna: Well, I mean, every gig in itself is kind of special and unique, even the shitty ones. But something that really, that has special place in my heart, is ProgPower USA just because I felt so incredibly comfortable on that stage, which was due to multiple factors. The audience, the crew, the people who promoted it. Everything just felt so right.
And the thing is that I usually don't feel very comfortable on festivals. I'm rather a person to play these really intimate club shows, but it felt like that even though it was a festival. That was really, really cool.
That's awesome. And as I mentioned earlier, I saw you on the very, very last Eluveitie tour in Australia. I was just wondering, was there a weird feeling for you doing that last tour? Were you still enthusiastic about playing the shows or was there a weird feeling between the band members at the time?
Anna: Well, I'm just gonna be honest here, the atmosphere obviously wasn't great, but we could work with it. I mean, it was the three of us, had just spent a lot of time together and I don't think the shows suffered. Because we are professional enough that we can really focus on the fans and focus on the show.
Just out of curiosity, Eluveitie has released two new albums since you left the band, one that you sort of worked on some of the songs. Just wondering, did you like the albums? Did you listen to them at all?
Anna: Well actually, they just released one, I think. They-
Okay. Yeah. There's another one set for release in April it says.
Anna: Yeah, exactly. I thought the acoustic albums was pretty nice sounding and as far as the new ... I mean, I haven't heard a lot of the new album. We actually crossed paths in the studio and saw each other again. I heard some of the stuff there and I thought it sounded pretty cool, actually. I think the new members do an amazing job and they bring a lot of cool things to the band and add a lot of great things to the sound.
The funny thing is, is that it's also not that different, I think. I mean, Chrigel always was the main songwriter, which ... So it's great to see that the music functions even if a lot of members have parted from the band. I think as long as he's there, it's always going to work.
For sure. Would you say you had a lot of creative control when you were in the band?
Anna: I did have a creative outlet. I did write some things, but that was very limited, just because ... Not because somebody would restrain me, but just because I felt there wasn't that much space for me. That's why I've always had so many side projects, because I just need a lot of outlets for different types of styles.
Also at Cellar Darling, not everything is covered. I'll always need my solo project, I'll always need bands like to do other things. But for me, actually enjoyed playing in Eluveitie a lot, but now is a new chapter and it's also great to move on from great things.
Listen to the full interview
CELLAR DARLING's sophomore album, The Spell, will be released on March 22, 2019 via Nuclear Blast Records.
CELLAR DARLING - The Spell (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
CELLAR DARLING - Death (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
CELLAR DARLING - Insomnia (OFFICIAL VIDEO)