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DATE OF INTERVIEW: 3rd April 2018
METAL DISCOVERY: You released a video a few days ago for a cover of Queen’s ‘The Prophet Song’. Certain bands and their music are kind of sacred, so did you have any apprehensions about tackling a song by such an iconic band?
MERLIN: We did for a moment.
(Merlin Sutter on Cellar Darling's cover of Queen's 'The Prophet Song')
"‘A Night at the Opera’ is one of my all-time favourite albums, without question, and this was always my favourite song on it"
Cellar Darling in their dressing room at Rebellion, Manchester, 3rd April 2018
Photograph copyright © 2018 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Official Cellar Darling Website:
Thanks to Megan Elliott for arranging the interview
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ANNA: Yeah, but then we just… I think it was actually good under what circumstances we recorded the song, because we were really behind on the schedule. I was sick with the flu, so it was a matter of, “Okay, fuck it, let’s just do it.” Like, not too much thinking, and that’s always good… if you don’t think too much.
MD: Definitely. And it’s not the most obvious Queen song to cover, so what attracted you to that song, in particular?
IVO: Merlin chose this one.
MERLIN: Well, we decided to do three covers for the extended version, and to just find a meaningful song for each. ‘A Night at the Opera’ is one of my all-time favourite albums, without question, and this was always my favourite song on it, and that was just a natural choice. I always had a special connection to that song.
MD: ‘Death on Two Legs’ has always been one of my favourite Queen songs. Maybe that needs some hurdy-gurdy. That needs the hurdy-gurdy treatment!
MERLIN: We were just asked to put together our top ten for some other interview and ‘Death on Two Legs’ was in there.
MD: A very underrated Queen song, I think. In a 2012 interview, you told me, Anna, in relation to the video for ‘A Rose for Epona’: “…if there's one thing I'm not good at, it's doing anything that's connected with dancing. Except when I'm drunk.”
ANNA: [Laughs]
MD: Now you’re fronting your own band, has moving around on stage become a lot more natural for you, or do you still hate dancing?
ANNA: I just kind of go with the flow. I have come to terms with being a strange person and I think you can use that as an asset. You know, there’s no rules of being a frontwoman. You don’t have to move around if you don’t want to. You know, one of the most famous pop singers in the world, she plays with her back turned to the audience. So you can do anything, as long as you do it well and you can convince people that this is your style. So, what I do is just every evening, I do what I feel like. Sometimes, I move more; sometimes, less. It always depends. Yeah, I still don’t think I’m the ideal front-person, just because I’m a bit awkward but, sometimes, that can also be good.
MD: Yeah, that’s part of the charm of it… because it’s different, and not a stereotypical front-person.
ANNA: Yeah.
MD: I think you said there was a lot of gin involved for ‘A Rose for Epona’… they brought you a lot of gin and tonic…
ANNA: Oh yeah, I don’t even remember shooting the video, I was so… but, then, I was even more shy and self-conscious at the time. That’s gotten better! [Laughs]
MD: Cellar Darling is actually an anagram of “All Girl Dancer”, so maybe it’s prophetic within your band name that you would end up dancing more!
IVO: That’s new!
ANNA: Yeah, that’s new! [Laughs]
MD: Talking of your band name, it came from the title of your 2013 solo album… was this the immediate choice, or were there any other ideas floating around?
IVO: I think it was one of the first ideas we had. And then we had a lot of different ideas with some brainstorming, but we always came back to Cellar Darling.
MERLIN: It felt right and it’s near impossible to choose a band name, nowadays. Everything exists… even the more ridiculous ones.
ANNA: Slayer was taken!
MD: I was reading your piece on “Premenstrual Voice Syndrome” which, from what you were saying, is not widely known within the medical profession. Have you had any feedback from other singers who’ve now been able to understand issues with their own voices?
ANNA: I actually had a few people who wrote to me and said, “Oh, actually, you could be onto something, because I’m experiencing that, as well.” So, I might’ve helped a few people, which was kind of the point of the post… [Laughs]
MD: It must affect so many people…
ANNA: Yeah.
MD: So it’s quite unusual it’s not more widely known.
ANNA: Yeah, I mean, there’s so much stuff and science hasn’t stopped yet, so there’s so much stuff we haven’t discovered yet.
MD: It was announced recently that you’ve been booked for Download over here, in June… that must be pretty exciting to play such an iconic festival?
IVO: Absolutely, yeah.
MD: Did that come as a surprise to get that booking come through?
MERLIN: Well, we kind of forced our booking agent into making it happen. But, yeah, it was a surprise. We wanted to get on that festival for years, with Eluveitie, and it never happened.
MD: You played Bloodstock with Eluveitie a few years ago…
MERLIN: Bloodstock, yeah.
ANNA: Yeah.
MD: Back in 2008, I think it was.
MERLIN: That’s quite a few years ago!
MERLIN: So, yeah, we’re very happy about Download and, overall, we’re very happy about being in the UK so much. We really wanted to. That’s the reason we’re doing this tour. We were hoping to support, but it didn’t happen, so we figured let’s just give it a go and do it ourselves.
MD: The final thing I was going to ask - do any of you actually own a cellar? If so, what do you keep down there? And, if you don’t have a cellar, what would you keep down there if you acquire one at some point?
ANNA: Red wine.
MD: Red wine… that’s a good answer!
ANNA: Not people!
MERLIN: I don’t currently have a cellar. I don’t currently have a home. But, in Switzerland, all houses actually have cellars.
ANNA: That’s a Swiss thing because we’re so rich that we have too many things to have in our apartments!
MERLIN: For those that can afford apartments!
ANNA: Yeah, we’re not rich!
MERLIN: Actually, growing up, I’m a drummer so I was in the cellar most of the time, because that’s where you have to practice your instrument, if you’re a drummer.
MD: Growing up and playing in bands, I’ve been in cellars that’ve been converted into rehearsal spaces… which can be quite deafening because they’re quite enclosed spaces. A two hour band practice and you’re totally deaf… but better as a band!
MD: Right, thank you so much for your time.
[Collective thanks]