ELUVEITIE is a small orchestra. The cult band is formed of professional musicians who cast a very special musical spell with their unusual instruments. Everything from teary hurdy-gurdies, to fiddles, bagpipes and mandolas can be heard in their songs.
And all of this on a heavy-duty, raw, and freakin’ awesome background, made out of metal’s best „stuffing”: killer riffs, killer drums and courageous vocals.
Generally labeled „folk-metal”, the unique Swiss orchestra-band Eluveitie has managed to earn the love and admiration of millions, while singing about long-lost stories, in a long-lost language: Gaulish.
Maximum Rock Magazine had the opportunity of talking to Anna Murphy, singer and hurdy-gurdist, who was kind enough to disclose some of her opinions regarding the new album „Helvetios”, metal music and…the future of humanity.
She also told us a secret. The band will perform in Romania soon! But it’s still a secret so…shhhh!
Your voice appears more on your new album, „Helvetios”, and you’ve also done more writing work for the songs. Do you feel that your deeper involvement in these two areas has changed the music? If so, how?
You’re right. I have become more involved in singing and songwriting. I wouldn’t say that this changed the music fundamentally, though. Chrigel is still the main songwriter and his ideas are the things that define the sound of Eluveitie. We have similar tastes regarding harmonies and melodies so it’s very easy to work together and come up with ideas.
Why do you think metal sounds so good combined with unlikely genres like folk music, symphonic music and even Church choirs? Is there a musical genre than cannot be translated into metal?
I have no idea, to be honest. I think it surprises a lot of people that metal can be combined with so many different things. Metal, in itself, is so diverse that you can easily fit it around something else, for instance folk melodies. Something that cannot be translated into metal? Personally, I can’t stand the opera-style singing in metal…I guess that would be Gothic Metal, or whatever it’s called? I love opera, I love metal. But combined? It’s just wrong.
Would you say that this tendency to use the past as a source of inspiration makes you Romantic performers (in the sense of Romanticism as a cultural movement)?
Not really. We just have an authentic concept for our band, lyrically and musically. We’re interested in history and we take a lot of time to do research on Celtic stuff. We also do this in order to write good lyrics, but that’s about it.
Your latest album talks about the Gallic Wars, a very important event in the history of the Helvetii, the ancestors of the Swiss. Do you think that people can still relate to these events, even after hundreds of years after they happened?
I actually don’t think that many people can relate to these events. If it weren’t for Eluveitie, I wouldn’t even know about the Gaulish wars, because you don’t really come across any information. We didn’t even learn about them in school…But apart from that, I think people are just generally moved by events that happened in the past. It’s interesting, it’s where we come from and we can also see today reflected in the past, since history tends to repeat itself.
The Daci, our ancestors, share a similar history. They too were conquered by the Romans, who almost erased them culturally. How important is it for people not to forget the story of their formation? Do you think blood, understood as roots and ancestors, can actually tell stories and determine the character of a people?
I don’t know, I’m not a historian or a psychologist. But I think someone’s character is formed by his current surroundings and circumstances, thus not so much by those of his ancestors.
Many of your songs are sung in Gaulish, an extinct language, yet the lyrical expressiveness is alive and well. How come you manage to make these dead, unknown words sound so alive and intelligible? Is it magic, is it art?
It’s science! Well, we still can’t pronounce the words 100% correctly since Gaulish is, like you said, a dead language. Even experts in Celtic culture and Linguists can’t be completely sure, but they know enough stuff to be able to answer our questions and allow us to get as close as possible to a realistic result.
Many bands nowadays sing about the sex-drugs-and-rock-n-roll, Hollywood, Internet, Postmodern hype. You, however, sing about culture, history, spirituality, ethnic survival. Would you say that these are mutually-exclussive trends, or is there room for everyone?
I don’t really think about that. A musician or an artist should write about what he sincerely feels like writing about. A song about Hollywood can be as honest and as deep as one about the Gaulish war, if you ask me. As long as you can hear that there’s something “real” behind it, I respect it.
You said that „history repeats itself” referring to the fact that contemporary conflicts are not so different from those that took place in days of yore. Do you think that the world could ever end up being dominated by a super-power like the Roman empire in the future?
Well, you never know. I’m a pretty sure the evil government is going to brainwash all of us and that there’s going to be public mind control, propaganda of the worst kind, book burning and all sorts of terrible shit going on.
Related to this: does your music have any sort of ethnic agenda? Seeing as most people nowadays talk about multiculturalism and other such phenomena?
No, not at all. Our music is just about music, and nothing else.
We’ve heard that you’ll perform in Romania soon. Any special expectations/surprises from/for the gig? Do you know anything about Romanian folklore?
I don’t know anything about Romanian folklore, but I’m interested in hearing something about it! I’m really looking forward to performing in Romania. Our last gigs there were fantastic and I really liked the audience.
A final message for the fans that are expecting you here!
Heeeellloooooooo!! See you soon! You’re cool! Bye bye 🙂