With so many cool bands out there to check out I offer you some minor guidance to CELLAR DARLING. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
A band name says more than thousand words, or does it? How important is a band name to get people interested in your music?
Anna: Extremely important I would say. For us, it represents what the music sounds like. “Cellar” being the darkness and “Darling” the light.
When you finish a recording and then sit back and relax, what kind of feelings do you get? Are you glad it is finished? Does the anxiety grow, not knowing if everybody will like it?
Anna: First off I’m just completely exhausted because of putting my heart and soul into an album. So for a few weeks I’m a human burrito and only go out if it’s an emergency. I know that not everybody will like the record, if that would be the case I probably wouldn’t like it myself. So no anxiety there.
What is it like to be in a studio recording your music? What kind of feelings and thoughts race through your heads?
Anna: It’s all just an accumulation of emotions, a shitstorm of feelings. I never experience anything as intense as studio sessions, especially when also writing in the studio which is what we do. There are bouts of pure exhilaration, when the band has a bond and energy and creates (what you in that moment perceive as) pure magic. But there are also tears and fights involved, insecurities and disagreements that fuel other things, not necessarily bad ones.
Today I get a feeling that the promotion of a band lands a lot on the bands themselves so how does one promote oneself the best possible way in order to reach as many as possible?
Anna: I wonder if that’s a question that one can truly answer. Apparently social media is one of the most important tools these days, and while I do believe that this is true and wouldn’t dare to fight the thought or present something different, I wonder how important it really is in the end. It’s probably impossible to measure all the factors involved and come up with a recipe. With us a lot is done the “old fashioned” way, through a label and a management.
In the end being successful is a combination of talent, hard work, being in the right place at the right time, the team surrounding you, money and especially luck. You used to measure success with record sales and how many people show up at your gig, that was it. Now there’s numbers everywhere – Spotify streams, Youtube vies, Facebook likes, Instagram followers… and we’re so consumed by them, we give an insane amount of importance to them. And success isn’t necessarily measurable by these numbers; a band that has millions of YouTube views can have no label and no streams and then another band can have millions of streams and lots of gigs, but almost no Facebook likes. What matters in the end? I think it’s impossible to tell where all this is going, but I’m also curious. I think what matters more than reaching a lot of people is reaching the right people. You can be proud of all your likes and internet followers, what matters most though in the end are the people coming to your shows and supporting your art, forming a loyal fanbase.
Today we have all these different sub-genres in metal. How important is that you can be tagged in one of these? Why isn’t metal enough as a tag?
Anna: I don’t really care about genres, for me everything is just music. We get tagged in all sorts of genres, from folk metal to progressive rock.
What importance is there in being part of local/national/international scene? Does playing in a band make you feel like you are a part of something bigger? I know it does to me knowing that in some slight way I was a part of the Swedish death metal scene in the 90s.
Anna: Honestly I don’t really think about that. I just accidentally catapulted myself into a touring musicians life when I was sixteen and since have just been doing the survival artist thing, seeking new opportunities and taking risks. I don’t think too much, I just do. That’s the main point I’m trying to make, whether what I do is important or big is not something I actively think about. But I feel really lucky and astonished that what I create speaks to people, there is no better feeling than that.
Ever since I first got into metal the art work has been a main motivator in buying a record. What part does art work for album covers play in the world of the band?
Anna: It’s extremely important for us. We are all from the generation where we’d still go into a record store and buy CDs and LPs, looking at the booklet which was at that time the only source for the lyrics. But that’s not the only reason. We see ourselves as storytellers, we want to portray images with our music and take the listener into another world – we urge people to dream and use their imagination. Having a visual representation of what is happening within the music is something that really helps fuel that. On “The Spell” it was even more important it being a concept album. It would be really hard to imagine having this really vivid story full of different emotions and colours, but without seeing something to go with that. We knew that Costin Chioreanu would be the perfect artist to give “The Spell” the visual representation it deserves and we are more than happy with the result. He created not only the artwork, but the animated videos for the songs (there will be a video for each song in the end). And this without having too many guidelines, I simply sent him the songs and the lyrics and he created something so close to what I was seeing when writing the story and music. His style and interpretation still leaves enough room for the listener to have his or her own images, which I think is really important too.
How important is having a label to back you up today when you can just release your music on any sort of platform online? With the ability to upload your music as soon as you’ve written it the freedom to create has become greater but are there any negative consequences to music being too readily available to fans now that every Tom, John and Harry can upload their stuff?
Anna: For a lot of bands it doesn’t make sense to have a label these days. I’m going to put this very “bluntly”, but if you have the financial means to print your own CDs and pay a promo company, then why sign with a label? But there are a lot of bands that simply don’t have enough money to even record an album. This is where the label comes in – they give you a loan which you pay back by selling CDs and they do all the promotional work for you. Of course there’s more involved than that, but it’s the main outline of how things work. And if you’re lucky and sign with a label like Nuclear Blast you have a really strong team working for you, exposing you to all sorts of music fans, but still leaving you all the artistic freedom.
About the topic of everybody having the opportunity to upload their music, I think there are negative and positive consequences. On one hand there is just an overflow of musicians, there are so many acts that the listeners attention spans have deteriorated. The way music is listened to has changed greatly too, some bands only release singles and not albums anymore, adjusting to the modern way of indulging in music. Luckily we’ve reached a lot of people that still enjoy a good old concept album, so it’s not like everything is changing so drastically, there are just many ways to enjoy music these days and all of them have their justification.
On the other hand, so many talented musicians get a chance to be heard. This would be impossible if the music industry would decide who is good enough and who isn’t – now this decision is made by music fans and righteously so! I really enjoy having Spotify and discovering new and obscure bands I’ve never heard of, they often end up being amongst my favourite bands.
What is a gig with you like? What kind of shows do you prefer to play?
Anna: I have no idea, I’m not in the audience I guess it’s a very intimate experience because we like to just be ourselves on stage – without masks or personas. But we also focus very much on the music, it speaks more than we ever could. I personally love small, intimate shows because I feel that our music is transported best like that. But the energy you get from playing big stages with lots of people feels good too, so you wouldn’t want to miss that either.
What lies in the future?
Anna: I have no idea and I love it. My life has been so chaotic and unpredictable that I just take whatever comes my way. What we will be doing for sure until the end of the year (unless of course something terrible happens) is touring a lot and promoting our new album. We want to play in as many places as somehow possible.