Interview by Miriam C.

UK’s atmospheric doom metal quartet Cold in Berlin is back after some recent line-up changes and I got the chance to interview the mastermind Adam Richardson and the singer Maya Berlin during the promotion of their new album “Rituals of Surrender” released back in October via New Heavy Sounds. Read more with us!

So, Maya, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine. How are you and how life is treating you today?

Maya: It’s good, thank you. (Laughs) Nice meeting you and life are pretty good at the moment.

Well, I know that on the 11th of October Cold in Berlin has released via New Heavy Sounds their fourth album “Ritual of Surrender”. What you can share about the overall process? 

Maya: In terms of this album, it was very similar to the other albums. We all write different bits and then put them all together, it was an organic process. We started with more songs that during the rehearsal space grew. We like to rehearse quite a lot as we play they come out quite differently from how we start…

Adam: It was a long process. This is our fourth album but also this is the longest gap between albums so, our preview album “The Comfort of Loss and Dust” came out in 2015, and that was on Candlelight Records. Then, we took a year out, Lawrence went traveling and we consequently regrouped with a new drummer called Alex and we started writing this fourth album with him. With the addition of Alex in the band ranks, we had a fresh new start. We are all very proud of this album and we put a lot of effort and time writing the best songs we possibly could, I think you can hear that are arrangements and melodies that we actually took a long time…

Maya: Especially, when you do something a little bit different, in the sense that we gave a little bit room to grow like we weren’t playing live so much. Although the pressure is always emotive for me, we felt we had to be quick, out, done and released like emotionally in that way, instead we took some time, I think.

Adam: We were patient and we decided to play fewer live shows and concentrate more on writing because we didn’t want to get distracted by them.

Maya: Really, the process is always the same: we write a bit, we come together and we rehearse in the room and over time, it may change, grow or leaves us. Then, maybe comes back or not and finally, hopefully, we come up with at least 10 good songs or 9 [laughs]. This definitely works for us and it’s the stuff that we’re happy with it. 

So, earlier, Adam has referred to the last previous album “The Comfort of Loss and Dust” which was released 5 years ago. Now, that this new album has been released, what difference can you denote between these two albums?

Maya: Well, this is weird because the albums are different. When people listen to all our albums tell me this but for me, due to the fact it’s part of what we always do, I don’t feel them differently, they just sound slightly different. Of course, there’s progression among the records but for me, because it’s just the songs on the album come together in the way you are, personally I’m. So, they don’t feel so different owing to the fact that there is just part of me and the band. However, the album per se is a little bit heavier than the previous one. 

I can totally agree with Maya‘s words and even though, I didn’t have the possibility to listen to in its entirety your upcoming album instead I had the time to listen to the previous album “The Comfort of Loss and Dust” and if compared to this one I found it much darker and heavier in away…

Maya: I think the music, the sentiment, the emotions have always been there maybe musically speaking this new album tends to be a bit punkier.

Adam: On a more practical side, if we compare the difference between this album and the previous one, it’s mostly related to the who and how we have recorded it. So, “The Comfort of Loss and Dust” was recorded in a small studio with a producer that was rather inexperienced however he did a great job while “Ritual of Surrender” was recorded together with our producer Wayne Adams which owns his studios called Bear Bite Horse and they are located in Islington. He’s a really good producer and he understood what we’re trying to do and he helped to capture our sound that we had in our heads. It was really good timing to work with him because a lot of bands just start work with him and after all, they get a really good press only for the fact that he was involved in a particular band’s production. He was really good timing, he’s a really in-demand producer now and he’s really good at capturing heavy music in an authentic way thanks to his backline which involves a lot of microphones and amps. And with his great set, we’re capable of recording quickly and then focus a little bit on the sound by laying up all the instruments and Maya‘s vocals. For us, it was a really professional recording experience and you totally hear it on our new album which is a really well-produced full-length. 

I can totally get it while listening to the first single “Power” which was released back in September. And you told me, it’s really a well-produced album and the single only hints that there is a lot of quality behind it. So, connecting myself to this, I’m asking you what lead you to choose “Power” as an introductory single for “Ritual of Surrender” and also, do you have something, in particular, to share about this song? 

Maya: Yeah, for me the whole album is about different stories. The first one, “Power”, is sort of a creative mix. You know, there is this ball and this woman crawls out of the ocean a bit like she was in a fairytale. I like linking all these overriding images of creation and mixing with stories. [Laughs] It just seems to work.

“Power” is part of your new album “Rituals of Surrender” and I was literally impressed by the title album and the personal interpretation I give it, it’s like ‘I’m preparing to give up something or someone’ or in some circumstances, you feel ready to give up but it’s your brain tricking you. However, in all this, I was wondering to learn what does the title album specifically refers to. 

Maya: I’m very glad that you took all that away from me because it was really what I wanted to sum up with the title and on the inside of the album there’s a really short poem aligned/linked with each title of the songs. There are stories with a loose end and it’s exactly, what you said, I’m kinda fascinated with loss, in some ways. Please don’t misunderstand me because it’s not in a morbid way and it runs in all the albums but they are like little acts of what we do or actions as we surrender, give up daily, as to lose things, as we decide to make choices that take us down. You know, we all experienced dark paths in all the different ways and then, we react all in a different way too.

When I read this title, the personal interpretation that I attribute to it is something related to depression because “Rituals of Surrenders” sounds like the brain tricks you and it does in a bad way. Once again, I underline the fact that it’s just a personal interpretation and everybody is entitled to have a say…

Maya: No, no I think it’s right and it does sum up all those things. On top of all, it sums up the daily act of living with something like depression. It might encompass that but also an end of a relationship, the choice you maybe take in certain situations while you are losing whatever sense of yourself. Every day you gave up a small fraction of yourself and you edge yourself towards death. It sounds really morbid but I don’t really mean it at all. 

Do you know why I said to you that I agree? Because I find bits of myself in everything I read…

Maya: That’s good, I like this. The other way of looking at it, from a female point of view, the things that we were expected to do as women to be in this world and we just completely surrender ourselves to it. Life, relationship, babies, bodies, everything and we are ritualistic in that sense by giving up ourselves and even if we consider ourselves feminists, strong woman or whatever, we still do that, we still give up those bits of us. I’m realistic on this because it’s almost impossible to unpick from your sense of self on your body and your skin, also I think it works on lots of levels. Whenever you speak about this, people could say it’s really morbid, it’s not because despite that there’s the noise, the life, the music and you know…

I think that everybody is entitled to express their opinion but affirming that’s morbid, I won’t say so because it looks like daily life to me, in a… so, yeah. Well, I’ve also recently learned that you have collaborated with punk icons Lydia Lynch for the concept album “The Strange World of Suzie Palets”, beside the honor to be involved in such a project, which are the memories that you cherish the most about this experience?

I loved the whole thing to be honest [laughs] it was so great. It was a privilege to be asked, it was just fun. We did also the video and the photoshoot and recording the whole thing was great at the same time personally, it was a real challenge for me and I’ve been a member of Cold in Berlin for so long and I met Adam when we are young and over the years, we played also together, for this reason, I’m really comfortable in that creative space and consequently, it was a different creative process. Consider also that most of the lyrics were already composed, and everything was mostly based on the book which is a sci-fi themed one. However, the best thing for me was it put in a different creative space which of course, was challenging but good. In truth, I would never put myself through anyway it was brilliant. Sincerely, I don’t know if Cold in Berlin fans will necessarily love the album due to its diverse sound but I will definitely recommend if you like eclectic music. 

For what I’ve learned to you had already played a couple of dates in the UK, considering this there were any plans for an extended tour in Europe? 

Maya: We’d love to and we get a lot of big offers so, that’s quite a lot of stuff coming in but I don’t know all the details because those are being handled by our tour agent. However, in terms of live shows, I’m sure that there will be plenty next year.

Adam: I think we’re in the middle of booking the UK tour in April 2020 and we always love to play some European dates. Up to this moment, we haven’t anything confirmed yet but hopefully, we’ll see soon.

Well, this was my last question, I really thank you for being available with us. This is your space, please feel free to say hi to your fans and our readers. Thank you once again for this interview. 

Maya: Thank you so much for having us, it was really nice to meet you.