Interview: Cân Bardd

We have already written about the wonderful Atmospheric Arts festival in Mannheim in the context of our interview with Eïs. Today we dedicate ourselves to the headliner of this evening: Cân Bardd. The Swiss around bandleader Malo Civelli, who answered our questions, were the main reason for us to travel 600 kilometres through the republic. Looking back, we can only say: it was worth it! We hope you enjoy reading. If you don’t know Cân Bardd yet, you should definitely listen to their amazing third studio album Devoured by the Oak – you won’t regret it…

André: Hi Malo, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. My colleague Aidan and I visited the first edition of the Atmospheric Arts festival in Mannheim on 14 January. Have you ever played in Mannheim or the surrounding area before? And were you able to see a bit of the city and its surroundings?

Malo: Hello! Thank you for your interest in the band! It was our third time in Germany, we played Dark Troll Festival and Berlin, so I think it’s pretty much at the other end of the country! I guess the closest place we played would be the Forest Fest back in 2021, but that was in Switzerland. We were not able to visit the city or the area unfortunately! Usually we cannot take the time to explore the area when we play as we arrive on the day of the gig and go back to Switzerland the day after because we all work and cannot take an extra day off, but we’re always a bit disappointed when we cannot visit the places we’d like to see near the venues we play in!

André: What did you think of the festival? We were very excited – 5 great bands, on top of that a pretty full house…

Malo: It was amazing for a first edition! It was one of the first times that all our requests were respected, so we really enjoyed playing here as everything went very smooth and clean! The people were amazing, as always when we play in Germany. We were very happy to be there!

Malo Civelli (live at Atmospheric Arts, 14/01/2023).

André: Aidan and I had the feeling that there is an exceptionally good atmosphere in your live line-up, which is also transferred to the audience. I assume you enjoy being on stage together…

Malo: We love being on stage, of course! This concert was a bit special for us because I was sick for 2 weeks and barely recovered from my voice, and Matt was starting to get a bit sick as well, but we always give our best to share an experience that, we hope, will please the people who came to the show. We fit really well together and I’m more than happy with the current line-up, thanks to the guys, it’s always a cool experience to go on the road and play because I know that they will do their job well and this allows everyone to enjoy being on stage and to share our feelings and our music with the people in the best conditions. 

[At this point I would like to point out Dylan Watson, who has drummed on all the Cân Bardd releases, initially as a session musician. Aidan and I really enjoyed watching him play, as he laughed consistently for 75 minutes and clearly enjoyed the gig. By the way, he can also be heard on the latest Saor album, Origins (2022)…]

André: Aidan and I already noticed in December at the Wintermelodei in Münster that the audience at black metal festivals is much younger than at many events in the classic metal area. That was also the case at Atmospheric Arts. Is it the same in Switzerland? And what do you think is the reason for that?

Malo: I have to say that we don’t play a lot in Switzerland and I’m not the one who goes to many shows, so it’s pretty hard to compare. I feel like it’s easier to get into black metal nowadays, there are so many subgenres that almost everyone can find something that appeals to them, younger people included.

André: Is there actually a vivid metal scene in Geneva?

Malo: There is a metal scene, I started playing metal in 2015 and since then I have played with and heard from a lot of bands from Geneva and the surrounding area. We have some pretty “big“ names like Nostromo and Promethée, but we also have a lot of growing bands that play a lot in the area and even tour with great bands, like the other band of Dylan, our drummer, Kassogtha!

André: At which festivals can you actually be found as a fan, in front of the stage? And where did you particularly like to perform with your band?

Malo: I used to go to really big festivals like Hellfest, Metalday or Summer Breeze, but now I think I’m more a fan of smaller and more specific ones, like Ragnarök in Germany or Meh Suff in Switzerland. Dark Troll was also amazing! I love a lot of bands on the bill of big festivals and it’s cool to see different styles on the same day, but I don’t like gigantic crowds anymore and I try to avoid them if I can. There is no particular place where I prefer to play. I think it’s more the general atmosphere that decides if the gig will be good. If the conditions are good, the stage has good gear, the venue receives us well, the audience is present and motivated, then we know it will be a good concert.

André: How would you actually classify Cân Bardd stylistically? I don’t find that easy at all, but the label “atmospheric”, which was in the focus at the festival in Mannheim mentioned earlier, certainly fits quite well as a starting point, doesn’t it? You create a very intense atmosphere and evoke very strong emotions in the listener who immerses themselves in your art.

Malo: Yeah, it’s always difficult to classify, that’s why I tend to say atmospheric black metal is something that fits well with our style. Of course it’s more complex than that, we have A LOT of influences, folk, symphonic, medieval, ambient, dsbm [depressive suicidal black metal, André] etc… but it’s easier to leave it at atmospheric black metal, so people can make up their own minds after listening to our music!

André: In November 2021 you released your last album Devoured by the Oak, with which you enchanted a lot of people, including Aidan and me. How has the feedback been in general?

Malo: We had so much incredible feedback coming from so many people. The response has been absolutely mind-blowing. I think a lot of people discovered Cân Bardd thanks to this album, and I’m so happy they were able to find us through this album, as I think it’s our best work until now. We got a lot of messages from people who don’t necessarily listen to black metal but still enjoy Devoured by the Oak. Surprisingly. We’ve also gotten some messages from other musicians, but not just from the black metal community, some deathcore/modern metal musicians, including people from Lorna Shore and Cabal, shared our music and sent us some messages of support, and it’s both amazing and surprising to see that, as I love their work too. Overall, there’s been nothing but positive feedback and reviews and we’re incredibly happy to see what’s happening with this album!

André: Are you already working on new Cân Bardd songs?

Malo: Unfortunately, I don’t earn money from my music, everything that I gain from Cân Bardd goes to Cân Bardd, so I work as a tattoo artist, and that takes a lot of time and creativity. I don’t force writing, so I only have 2 minutes of music for the next album. I guess we’ll have to wait a bit before a new album arrives!

André: What events or experiences inspire you in your songwriting? I strongly suspect that it is mainly nature that serves as inspiration for your songwriting…

Malo: Yes, of course nature! But I’m really inspired by art in general. I love romantics, Pre-Raphaelites or medieval paintings. Sometimes a word gives me inspiration, or an atmosphere. A lot of things can hint at an idea, which then becomes a full song!

André: Which records have influenced you the most as an artist?

Malo: That’s difficult to say, as a lot of albums influenced me. If I had to choose only a few ones, I’d say Sonata ArcticaSilence because they gave me the inspiration to really work on my instruments as a teenager, EluveitieSlania, as they really revealed my love for folk and medieval atmosphere/instruments (+ they are Swiss!), Saor Roots and ElderwindThe Magic of Nature, because these two albums are jaw-dropping and made me discover the intense feelings of listening to atmospheric black metal. I loved it so much that I wanted to be able to share the emotions that I felt when listening to it, that’s how Cân Bardd was born! I could name other albums for different reasons, but those 4 are the most important, I guess, for Cân Bardd’s history.

André: Which album released last year did you particularly like?

Malo: I absolutely loved OfdrykkjaAfter The Storm. I’m a huge fan of the band’s other albums and I wasn’t disappointed at all, even if I was really waiting for this one. The only point of criticism I could make is that it’s way too short [running time: 31:14, André]!

André: Which younger black metal bands do you find particularly exciting at the moment?

Malo: I recently discovered the work of Wormwitch and I love Heaven That Dwells Within, it’s so catchy and good! I also loved Ungfell’s discography, I really like their way of transcribing Swiss folklore into their music! Stormkeep are also incredible! So many young projects that are very inspiring!

André: Malo, thank you for the interview and I wish you and your band all the best for 2023!

Malo: Thanks a lot for your time and your questions!

Cân Bardd on Bandcamp.

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