Interview mit Malo Civelli von Cân Bardd

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Malo Civelli a.k.a. CÂN BARDD released a musically quite promissing epic black metal album called „Nature Stays Silent“, which unfortunately suffered from its lackluster production value. In this extensive interview with the Swiss multi-instrumentalist and almost-solo-artist you can learn more about his inspirations for his first record, why it was initially titled „When The Spirit Finally Opens“ as well as why it would be advisable to keep an eye on the project despite its clumsy beginning.

CÂN BARDD is your rather young epic black metal project. What were the trigger as well as the intention of you starting it?
I really enjoy writing music, this is something that gives me mental strength and I can express feelings that I can’t express without it. When I discovered atmospheric black metal, I instantly knew that I wanted to create some music as epic, emotive and beautiful as this. The band Saor gave me the final motivation to start writing black metal. The first music I wrote was the song „My Ancestors“ and to me, it was a really good way to start the project. It was really the kind of atmospheric epicness that I wanted for CÂN BARDD. This is how it began. It is something I’m doing for myself more than for other people.

Even though you seem to be the driving force behind the project, you also got a drummer named Dylan Watson. What’s the reason for that?
Yeah! Dylan is the drummer of my band Kaatarakt and he is really, I mean REALLY talented. We get along very well and he is a fantastic person. When I started CÂN BARDD, I wanted to be alone, or at least to involve the fewer person possible to be totally free in my project. When I wrote the first demos of the songs, the drums were virtual and it didn’t sound as powerful as a real drummer would be. This is why I asked Dylan to play the drums for the project and he immediately accepted. We had a really good time recording the album together and he did an incredible job. I’m more than satisfied with this decision and I will keep on asking Dylan to play for the next releases!

Do you also consider gathering more musicians and making a full band out of CÂN BARDD?
I don’t think so. As I told you, CÂN BARDD is a project where I want to be free. A full band would take too much time and this is something that I don’t want. For the first album, everything was done in less that a year because I’m working alone (except the contribution of Mike Lamb for the mastering) so I can do everything really fast, I don’t have to motivate someone to work. I’m really happy with the situation and Dylan isn’t a time eater.

Being mostly a solo musician, what is the biggest difficulty that you are confronted with?
The most difficult thing is mostly everything that doesn’t concern the musical part, like the promotion, managing the socials networks etc… I’m really bad at those things and I’m really happy that the label manage a part of these difficult things. Without it I would be lost for a while! Secondly, it is difficult to make some good decisions when I have a hard choice to make. Sometime I have to chose something for a song and I have 2, 3, or 4 different solutions. Being alone means that I have to make the decision between those solutions, and it’s not alway easy. I can spend weeks on a single detail because I don’t know if what I’m doing is the right thing to do. Taking a step back can also be difficult!

I suppose Summoning and Caladan Brood are among your biggest musical role models, aren’t they? What other bands and things in general inspire you?
I discovered atmospheric and epic black metal with Summoning (thanks brother!) but I have to say that it is not a band that I listen to a lot, unlike Caladan Brood. Of course they have some influence on CÂN BARDD’s music, but not as much as some people like to say! If I had to name a few bands that influence CÂN BARDD a lot more, I would say Saor, Elderwind and Gallowbraid. These 3 bands are surely the atmospheric black metal bands that I have been listening to the most for these 3 last years. But those 3 bands are not the only ones to influence my music. I alway listen to new bands or artists, not only in the metal scene (I really like video game’s OST like Trine or Dark Souls), and there is often something, as little as it might be, that gives me inspiration. It can be the sound of a synth, a melody, or an ambience. And of course, some band’s music are really inspiring. To name a few, Sojourner, Unreqvited, Coldworld, Mirrorthrone and Zuriaake. Anyway, I can find inspiration almost in any music.

You founded CÂN BARDD in 2016 and already released a debut full-length titled „Nature Stays Silent“ in 2018. Why did you think it unnecessary to release a demo or an EP before that?
When I started writing music for CÂN BARDD, releasing an album, or a demo wasn’t planned. When I started thinking about releasing something, I already had enough songs to release an album, so the idea of an EP or a demo did not even came to my mind to be honest!

The album was initially meant to be called „When The Spirit Finally Opens“. What drove you to switch the title to „Nature Stays Silent“?
I hoped that nobody noticed the first album’s name! (laughs) I wanted to call the album like that because when I wrote the lyrics of 2 or 3 songs of the album, I discovered some things about myself that I never thought were there. So yeah, for me it was a great title, but after thinking about it, it was not so great for the album because it wasn’t in the general mood and theme. So I changed for something more in the topic.

What is the album’s lyrical content about?
There are two main subjects in the album: the first one is my vision of nature. I speak about the landscapes I see here in Switzerland, about the feelings that I have when I see those beautiful landscapes, or stories about them. The second one is more like my deep feelings. These are really personal lyrics and at first, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to publish it in the booklet of the album. After a while, I decided that I had to assume what I wrote and to publish it.

Contrary to other bands of the genre, the metal parts are just as present in your music as the keyboards. Do you think that other musicians don’t have enough balance in these two stylistic sides?
I think that everyone has his own view of the music. If someone mixes his keys in the background, it is his artistic choice, as well as if he mixes them in the foreground. Personally I never heard a band that shocked me with this. From what I’ve heard, everyone is doing very well with their balances! But it is true that I love to put the orchestral side of my music really forward.

The keyboards on „Nature Stays Silent“ often seem to sound like folk instruments. If you had the opportunity, would you rather use real instruments or are you content with using keyboards instead?
Of course I’d love to record real instruments. On the first album, I wanted to record a violin (especially on the intro of „An Evolving Painting“) but it didn’t happen. If it can give an other dimension to the music, it would be a good thing for CÂN BARDD. In the future I’ll try to add some real instruments to give more emotions to some parts, but I’m also happy with keyboards, so it isn’t a priority!

Which one of the songs on your debut is the most precious to you and why?
Musically, the music that I like the most is clearly „A Gift For Nature“. I really love the epicness of the intro riff, the emotional parts and all the song. The lyric theme is also a plus. I was really happy with this one and I still enjoy listening to it from time to time. Emotionally, „My Ancestors“ is the one I like the most. It is the first one that I wrote and this gave me the motivation to continue this project, so I really like this one too!

The production of the album is rather unusual, the guitars are rough and deep. Is that on purpose or do you yourself think that it could be improved?
I did the mix by myself and I’m not a great sound engineer, so I did my best and we had zero budget, so it was impossible for us to hire someone to help us. It could be way better if a professional did it, and I know it. We learn from our mistakes and the next albums will be recorded in studio.

How did you perceive the general feedback on „Nature Stays Silent“? Can you also understand criticism that might be directed toward the album?
With Dylan, we were dazed by the amazing feedback when „A Gift for Nature“ was posted on Atmospheric Black Metal Album (RIP). Everyone was so kind and we received a lot of positive messages. That was really awesome. When the album went out, some people were happy with it, and some didn’t like it because of its sound. I totally understand this opinion and I agree with this criticism. I did my best, but it’s not enough. We’d love to re-record it in a studio, but for the moment, we are preparing something bigger than a re-edition, so it will be for later! But we’ll do it one day because we really like this album and we want it to have its full potential!

You chose the painting „La Route Du Grimsel“ by Alexandre Calame to be the artwork of your album. Why exactly this picture and how did you stumble across it?
I searched for a long time for a painting that would fit with our music. I visited the Geneva Art Museum a while ago and I fell in love with Alexandre Calame’s paintings and I thought that it would be a great idea to have a Swiss painter for this album, because we are Swiss too, so it would make sense. After some research, I found out about this painting and I instantly knew that this was the one I wanted for the album. I think that it transmits exactly the same energy as CÂN BARDD’s music. It is colored, wild and energetic. I really love this painting.

The record was released on Northern Silence. How did it come to you getting signed to a label so quickly and why this particular label?
Since I started listening to atmospheric black metal, I alway respected Northern Silence’s roaster. They have some amazing bands like Gallowbraid, Woods Of Desolation, Eldamar etc… When I released „A Gift for Nature“, Mike and Emilio from Sojourner helped me a lot to reach a lot of people, including Northern Silence. The day after the release, some labels contacted me to release the album and NSP was part of it. I didn’t hesitate a minute and signed with them. I think that I have my place in their roaster and I hope that I will honor the name of the label with my music! And of course, I’ll be eternally grateful to Mike and Emilio who helped me to reach so much amazing people.

Do you already have plans for the further future of CÂN BARDD? I guess live shows are out of the question right now, aren’t they?
Actually, we are discussing about live shows with Dylan. This is something that we have been thinking about for a while, but we don’t want to hurry. So we’ll take the time to think about it, and if we are ready, we’ll start live shows! Alternatively, we are working hard on the new album. The first one was a test shot if we can say. The new one is way more mature and coherent. I can already tell you that people who were disappointed with the sound of the first one will be happy. We are collaborating with the awesome Vladimir Cochet (Mirrorthrone, Unholy Matrimony, Weeping Birth) and I promise that it will be really epic!

Let’s continue with a small tradition of – a short brainstorming at the end of our interview. What do the following terms bring to your mind?
Neutrality: Switzerland (okay, it’s not totally neutral, but…)
Lo-fi: 90’s Norwegian Black Metal
Drum computer: Summoning
Swiss metal scene: Variety. We have some really varied kind of bands and that’s cool!
Celtic FrostTriptykon: Evolution. Not necessarily in the good sense.
Spirituality: Difference. I think that everyone has his own vision of spirituality. For me it is more something that you can find when you’re doing what you love.

We have reached the end of our interview. Would you like to say a few final words?
Thank you very much for this interview! I hope that people will have some good time reading it. Thanks everyone who is supporting the band by buying our music, or just following us on Facebook, you guys are awesome! Have a wonderful day!

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