Barbara “Babs” Brawand – Caladmor

Interview by Laura Medina

Caladmor is an Epic Folk female-fronted Metal band from Switzerland, who has just released their sophomore album, “Of Stones and Stars” in which is currently out now. Caladmor is not only making a name for their band with a “more mature sound” that you can be heard in their current release but also they are proving to their fans that they do belong and are here to stay! What I liked most about Caladmor is not only are they are a female fronted band but they sing about topics that brings fans from all over the world together like wisdom, truth and enlightenment. I had the absolute and complete honor and pleasure to chat with Babs Brawand of Caladmor to discuss Caladmor’s current release, her favorite hobbies like sewing and much more.
 
Hi Babs and welcome to Femme Metal Webzine! Thank you so much for allowing us to interview you today!

Thank you Laura! It’s an honor for me.

Would you mind telling our readers a little about yourself and Caladmor?

Well, as you may know I am the lead singer of the band but I also compose songs and write most of the lyrics. Actually we started off “back in the days” in 2001 so we’ve been doing this for a couple of years now – which also proofs that the chemistry among us is unique. The guys from the band are like family to me. Our music is quite diverse so we really had difficulties to find a “brand” for it. We finally decided to call it Epic Folk Metal, though you shouldn’t expect much pipes or flutes or violins in it. The Folk refers more to the way the melodies do sound. – “Epic” is one of the most abused word in our time I guess 😉 We chose it because our lyrics are strongly related to antique and medieval epic poems, but also because of the choirs in the songs giving the songs a kind of “epic wideness”.

“Of Stones and Stars” is your titled sophomore album and follow-up to 2010’s “Midwinter” album. How did you plan to follow up to the success of “Midwinter” & what can we expect to hear in “Of Stones and Stars”?

We have some really appreciated help by Markus Eck from Metalmessage in all promotional issues, which makes our lives much easier. Compared to “Midwinter” we had to do the release of “Of Stones and Stars” all by ourselves as our former label Twilight went bankrupt. Talking about the content of “Of Stones and Stars” I think the main difference to “Midwinter” lies in the improvement – of every single musician in the band but also of our songwriting skills. In my opinion “Of Stones and Stars” is more mature than “Midwinter” was, also a bit more consistent.

What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your band’s sound?

As Maede wrote the most of the songs, I think it’s definitely his influences that can be heard the most in our songs: Ensiferum, Wintersun, Amon Amarth, and other Viking/Pagan stuff. But still Nick’s riffing often brings a glimpse of Black Metal in the songs. Me for my part I love to use different styles of singing – I’d find it boring to only use my “opera” voice (if there is any ;)) or to just sing in my breast voice. Every song has its special needs and using different styles of singing allows me to choose the one fitting the best for the song.

What kind of music are you currently listening to at the moment?

In my hot rotation at the moment are bands like Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum, Helrunar or Agalloch but I also have other “phases”, for example the Amorphis phases, the Gathering phases, the Grunge phases or the Celtic Music phases or even the French Chanson phases… It really depends on my mood or also the weather outside.

Caladmor’s lyrics are written and sung in English, German, Middle High German and Old Norse. Do you find it more or less challenging to write and sing in different languages?

It depends if I know the language or not. For the Old Norse for example we got some help from friends who are studying it in order to explain how the words should be pronounced. But basically Maede as well as I are true language junkies, so we will explore even more different lyrics in different languages for the future I guess 😉

I love all your stage outfits, especially your current promotional photographs. Did you sew all your stage outfits yourself and how long does each outfit take you to complete?

Thank you! Interesting question I have never been asked so far. I indeed sewed the most of them by myself. But to be honest, I am not a too patient person, so the most important conditions for my designs are: They need to be done within one day otherwise they’ll remain unfinished because I am too lazy to work several days on them… But the advantage is that they often do not consist of too much material, so I manage to finish them within one day.

Aside from sewing your stage outfits and being a musician in a metal band, what are some of your other hobbies or interests that you like to do in your free time?

As my studies of German literature & linguistics, History and Philosophy at the University are really time consuming I don’t really have time for anything else, but IF I have, I like to compose some music of course or play the piano. I also like to paint. My latest discovery is a graphic tablet for my computer which really makes Babs happy!

You and fellow band mate Martin Baumann wrote the lyrics to “Of Stones and Stars” except “Alvissmal”, “Laudine’s Lament” and “Mimirs Born”. How many songs were potential candidates for “Of Stones and Stars” and how did you decide which songs would made the cut?

When we started off with writing a new album (which later became “Of Stones and Stars”) we had worked out a couple of songs, but they somehow didn’t really fit to our idea how we wanted to sound and most of them simply were crappy. Within the “Midwinter” writing process we already had learned that you need to deal with such songs in a kind of radical manner – it’s better to forget about them right away in order to give way for other ideas instead of losing too much time and energy with them. After a few months Maede found himself in a phase where he wrote one “hit” after the other and so it suddenly was easy to complete “Of Stones and Stars”. So from then on we didn’t really need to make a cut…

Can you explain to us about the lyrical themes/subjects or topics that are present in “Of Stones and Stars”?

The “overall” subjects are the Enlightenment and wisdom. Therefore we wrote a lot of lyrics or also chose different epic poems and legends that are dealing with finding something – the truth, knowledge, wisdom, freedom, home or inner peace. In some songs we tell the story of one single person as for example in “A Nymph’s Lure”, “Laudine’s Lament” or “The Raid”. We often weave philosophical thoughts in our lyrics, as for example in the title track which was inspired by Thales who fell into a well because of observing the stars instead of regarding what is lying in front of him. This lead us to question human’s existence and importance, same as in “Helios Sky”, telling about Prometheus having given fire (enlightenment) to mankind although they sometimes don’t seem to know how to make appropriate use of it… So let’s say every song on “Of Stones and Stars” tells a story which is reflected by us.

“Of Stones and Stars” features two special guests: Chrigel Glanzmann (Eluveitie) & Joel Gilardini (The Land of the Snow, Lunatic Fringe, Mulo Muto). How did you approach Chrigel & Joel about being guest musicians on your new album?

When Maede had written the flute part for “Dawn of the Deceiver” he instantly knew that there could only be one playing this part: Chrigel! As Maede has already known Chrigel for several years he just asked him and so Chrigel did it. Joel’s appearance was very important to us because shortly before starting the recordings for “Of Stones and Stars” we were left by our second guitar player Plaeschy. He had written a lot guitar soli and after his leave we had to find someone being able to play and record them. As we already knew Joel for being a very virtuoso guitarist we asked him and within just a short time he was ready to record the solo. We were quite happy with this decision as his guitar play just fits in the songs very well while still giving them a special touch. Joel is truly a great musician!

“Alvíssmál” is your newest single that is taken from your “Of Stones and Stars” album. Can you talk us through the concept behind the song as well as the official video that is out now via YouTube?

The lyrics of “Alvíssmál” are taken from the 13th century Poetic Edda. They tell the story of the dwarf Alvíss wanting to marry Thor’s daughter. Thor isn’t quite amused by this idea and so they both agree to solve the problem with fighting a rhetorical contest – Alvíss has to prove his knowledge about all different names of things, their synonyms and how they are called within the different mythological entities among the Nordic Mythology. Alvíss succeeds in answering all sorts of Thor‘s questions correctly and Thor is really paying respect to the dwarf’s knowledge, but what Alvíss does not know yet: Thor is deliberately taking his time as he knows, as soon as the first sunbeam hits the dwarf, Alvíss will be turned to stone… In the video we also wanted to focus on the feast that is taking place at Thor’s home when Alvíss comes around. We are very happy having found the Viking re-enactment group Blackmoore (www.blackmoore.ch) for acting – they just fitted in perfectly. For the outside scenes we were freezing our asses off at minus two degrees. But it was worth it. The filming team – Andi and Martin from Antagonist Pictures – definitely did an amazing job with the clip!

What are some of your favorite things about being in a metal band?

Definitely the concerts! We are lucky to always have amazing crowds on our concerts, loving our music as much as we do. The chemistry growing out of this is just overwhelming.

If you could choose one meal as your last. What would it be and why?

Aaaaah that’s a hard one! I LOVE to eat. I think it would be “Zuger Kirschtorte” which isn’t really a meal but a special cherry pie from the city of Zug in Switzerland (with lots of alcohol in it…)

What has been the overall, worldwide fan feedback been like since releasing your debut album “Midwinter”?

There were and are so much lovely and honest comments on our music. Thank you all for them! We really worship the feedback from our fans as it not only shows us being on the right way with what we’re doing but also what we could improve. This is very important to us as a band because we cannot listen to our own music the same way like an “outside” listener can, and we cannot watch our live performance the same way as the audience does. Therefore a big part of our work really depends on this “fan mirror”.

Do you have any special live festivals, special performances or concerts planned to promote “Of Stones and Stars”?

We are about to make plans. We really would love to tour outside Switzerland, at least in our neighbor countries. But this of course is a question of money which we do not have, so first we need to get some 😉

Any final words you would like to say to our fellow readers, your loyal fans and everyone else reading along? Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us at Femme Metal Webzine today! It was a pleasure once again to speak to you and wishing you all the best of luck and more!

Thank YOU very much Laura and Femme Metal Webzine! It really was a pleasure to me, too. To all you dear readers out there: We’re looking forward to meeting you one day in your town! Until then, please feel free to visit us in our virtual homes on Facebook, Twitter and all that stuff. And of course we hope you enjoy our second album “Of Stones and Stars”!

 

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