Interview: Cellar Darling

On March the 22nd Cellar Darling released their new album, titled The Spell. On April the 2nd they played a show in De Helling in Utrecht, The Netherlands in support of The Spell. You can read our live review about that show here. Before that show DutchMetalManiac’s Tim van Velthuysen spoke with Anna Murphy, Ivo Henzi and Merlin Sutter, the trio that forms Cellar Darling. 

Hey, how are you?

All: Very good, thanks.

You just released The Spell, it is a great album!

All: Thanks.

You just returned from a UK tour, I guess you already played some of the new songs live? How were the reactions so far?

All: Good so far.

Merlin: We are very happy with how people are reacting to the album and the shows.

Anna: The songs are very different compared to the old songs, so we can see some difference there. The audience is maybe more reserved, but that’s because the songs are new and not exactly party-material.

It’s a bit more complex.

Ivo: Yeah, but they really seem to enjoy it. I hope today as well.

I will do. Can you tell something more about the concept of the album?

Anna: Yeah, it’s based on an old motif called Death and the Maiden, which comes from the Renaissance times and it was depicted in various forms of art. I wanted to take this motif and create my own personal story out of it. Like an author would, but I would never call myself an author per se. We had the track list and everything before writing the songs, so we wrote the music according to this concept of a girl who falls in love with the personification of Death. We follow her on her long, painful journey.

You also included an audio book in the digipack edition of the album. Are there any other differences between that edition and the normal one?

Anna: The whole layout is a bit different. You have the separate artworks.

Merlin: It’s just a little more space to showcase the visual side as well and in terms of what’s on the album, the CD is the same but there is a separate audio book.

Are the lyrics the same?

Merlin: Yeah, the lyrics are the same. The audio book tells the same story, but not in the form of lyrics but in the way of a story.

You also mentioned the artwork already. It’s made by Costin Chioreanu. What made him the best person for this job?

Anna: Well, we’ve known him for a lot of years. I’ve been a huge fan of him since almost ten years now. I have some of his work tattooed. He is just the type of artist that doesn’t need a lot of guidelines. You can provide him with the music and the lyrics and he is just going to deliver something really beautiful. He was just the perfect man for it, we didn’t have to talk long about that.

Merlin: We knew we wanted some artist to do his own thing, his own interpretation. We all know Costin’s work, so it was a very clear choice.

Of course you already had some experience with Eluveitie. Three years ago you (Anna) started Cellar Darling from scratch, right?

Anna: Well, it’s a bit confusing. I released an solo-album called Cellar Darling, but that’s Anna Murphy. It has nothing to do with this band, that is just my own thing. Of course our band name was inspired by the album title.

And three years ago Cellar Darling became a band, right?

Anna: Three years ago we formed Cellar Darling, yeah.

How do you look back at those three years?

Anna: I don’t, because I live in the present very much. So I don’t really think about the past or the future, but that’s just me.

Merlin: I haven’t really had time to look back yet, but I think it’s been great. It’s a real privilege to get another chance to make music. To record and release albums and go on tour. It was difficult to do it once with Eluveitie and we didn’t know if we could do that again. I think the most important thing about those years is that this is happening and it’s amazing.

I’ve already seen you perform back in 2017, also in Utrecht, when you were opening for Delain. Back then you just released This is the Sound and you were the opening band. Now you’re back with a headliner show. Looking forward to tonight’s show?

Anna: Yeah, very much. I still need to kind of arrive and meditate about this day, but I am really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a bit different since we only been in the UK after The Spell‘s release date.

Ivo: It’s a different audience. It’s the first time we are headlining here. We have good experiences with Holland with our previous band.

Merlin: Yeah, but it’s all still very new.

Ivo: We like the people here, but we have no idea how they will react on a headline show. As a support band it’s always different. You will catch different people then.

I listened to your album once before that show in 2017, but indeed, I went to see Delain. However, you definitely surprised.

Merlin: A good surprise I hope.

Yeah, in a good way of course. Anna, your vocals are quite unique. What are your vocal influences?

Anna: I don’t really have that many, because I’ve always seen singing as a form of portraying emotions and not technique. I am not a trained singer, that’s maybe also why I sound a bit different to others. I’ve always liked very distinct voices, very emotional singing like Jeff Buckley or Björk for instance. That has definitely influenced me.

I saw some Youtube-comments and it is also mentioned on the website of today’s venue that some people compare your voice-sound to Anneke van Giersbergen.

Anna: That’s a compliment of course!

What do you think about that yourself?

Anna: I think it’s because my technique has developed. People didn’t use to compare me to her and I think the only thing that changed from a few years ago is that I have a better singing technique. It has developed because of becoming a lead singer, singing more and trying out different things with resonance and everything. I think the emotional part was always there, now I’ve added being able to sing in a healthy way. She always had both. Yeah, it definitely is a compliment to be compared.

Do you know her new band, Vuur?

Anna: Yeah, very cool.

Merlin: We actually played with them once in Mexico.

Okay, I knew you played with The Gentle Storm, but didn’t know that.

You (Anna) already mentioned that you’re not looking to the future of Cellar Darling that much. Ivo and Merlin, how is that for you?

Ivo: Of course, we are always planning ahead. We are planning tours for this year, we’re definitely looking to the future.

Merlin: Yeah, that’s the next thing. We aren’t thinking about the next album yet. Right now it’s about touring and we are hoping to play many more shows in support of The Spell.

You don’t think about a new album yet, but will there be one at some moment?

Anna: Let’s hope so, you never know.

Merlin: Probably.

The Spell almost a masterpiece.

All: Thank you!

How are you going to surpass that on a possible new album?

Merlin: I think with a little bit of luck.

Anna: Maybe we won’t, maybe we will. Maybe it will be something very different.

Merlin: I think part of the reason that it sounds how it sounds, both The Spell and our first album, is that we don’t really worry too much about surpassing the previous album or sounding a specific way. We just write the music that should be written for us. Then with a little bit of luck people will like it.

Thanks for your answers. I am really looking forward to the show tonight.

Anna: Thank you.

Merlin: So are we, thank you very much.

Is there something else you want to say to our readers?

Anna: The usual I guess, thank you.

Merlin: Thank you for listening, for spending time with our music, we appreciate that very much. We hope to come back to Holland many times.

Would be nice!

Ivo: That would be great, yeah. Besides that you guys make the best guitars in the world.

Merlin: Yeah, Ivo plays Dutch guitars, there is an connection right there.

Which guitars are that?

Ivo: Aristides, it’s from Haarlem.

What do you like about those guitars?

Ivo: They are not made out of wood, but they are made of carbon. I like the way they play and how they look.

Here you can read another live review we wrote about Cellar Darling, when they played as support act of Serenity and Delain.

Cellar Darling Official Website
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