Singled Out: Cellar Darling – Challenge


It was perhaps a shock when the announcement that three members of Eluveitie would be leaving, but the blow was certainly cushioned with the news that they would be forming a new band. Called Cellar Darling, the band consists of Anna Murphy, Ivo Henzi, Merlin Sutter – and we caught up with them for an insight into the song. Check it out below, along with our review of the song!

You recently released your new song Challenge. What’s the story behind the song?
Anna: Challenge came to me as a combination of images and music, almost all at once. It was very representative for what I was feeling like at the time. We were still touring with Eluveitie, but knew that we would be leaving in a couple of months. I felt a lot of things, often even feelings that completely negated each other. I felt strong and proud for not betraying my principles, but also weak because I was unsure if I had it in me to continue without everything I was used to. In general I have a different frame of mind daily, resulting in constant alternations of surrender and fight. It’s confusing and interesting, mainly inspiring though. Challenge merges the personal victories and downfall pretty well, musically it’s a symbiosis of dance and battle.

The challenge the song is talking about is a challenge brought upon you by yourself, it is not a fight against a certain entity. Symbolism is very important to me, I don’t want to tell a story as it is, but in an abstract form. I want people to listen to the song and think of their own challenge as well.

Can you describe the writing and recording process for it?
Ivo: Challenge was the first song we worked on together during the songwriting camp in the studio. Anna came up with the idea for the song, she recorded a basic version with most of the harmonies and vocals. As soon as we started together jamming to it, we quickly managed to add ideas for drums and guitars. However, as simple as the song might sound, the finetuning of the rhythm section took awhile to get right. And finding the right balance of every note of the guitar and drums took quite some time too. In the end went through different versions of the pre-productions until we got the right “flow” of all the parts.

Merlin: I for my part was stunned at how smooth the writing went – not that I didn’t have the highest expectations, I knew that the three of us had something really special. Yet as soon as we started, creativity just flowed, which is the best-case scenario as a musicians in a new scenario. As for the recording, I think we were able to rely on our many years of experience together. I’ve always loved working with Ivo and Anna, and I think the three of us are a great team in the studio. Ivo had recorded all guitars and bass in Eluveitie for years, so he and I were used to creating a kick-ass rhythm section together. What is of course a bit special in our case is that Anna is working as a studio engineer and producer as well, and has been co-producing this single. Which is an incredibly awesome thing to have. She’s done an outstanding job on the recent singles of both her solo project and Ivo’s solo project Forest Of Fog… Well worth a listen!

What made you decide to release this song as your first single?
Ivo: We all felt very attached to Challenge from very early on (me personally for the lyrics and the strong melodies), so it became quickly clear to us to release this one first.

Would you say it’s representative for what fans can expect from your debut album, or would you call it more of a stand-alone piece?
Anna: That’s hard to say at this point, I think we’ve already found our style in which you can hear the influence of each of the three individuals very well. You can expect similar songs, but also much heavier songs. We will also go as far as including acoustic pieces, so there will definitely be a lot of variety.

Merlin: I’d say it is representative in that this is 100% the three of us – we didn’t aim for a particular style (and didn’t try to stay away from anything either), we just did what felt right. But as Anna said, there’s much more versatility where these two songs came from!

And what’s in store for the rest of the year for Cellar Darling?
Anna: A lot of songwriting and rehearsing. Our first show is in December in Amsterdam and shortly after we will already hit the studio to record our first EP.

Challenge Review

cellar-darling-challengeThere’s always a lot riding on the debut single from a new project, as it’s the first thing that people will hear, so it’s important to make a good impression – and Cellar Darling have done exactly that with Challenge, which is an excellent track and great insight into what we can perhaps expect to come from this band in the up and coming months.

Challenge is a big-sounding track with a vocal line that is surely destined to get stuck in your head for days on end (I know it’s certainly been stuck in my head for a while…!) and what’s particularly good is the fact it brings in a few different styles to the mix, showcasing exactly what these musicians have got to offer. There’s heavier approaches juxtaposing against gentler approaches, topped off with a good folky edge and everything works so well – it’s clear that the three-piece has a fantastic chemistry and it’s reflected in how ‘together’ the song sounds.

This is the start of something special. Make sure you keep a close eye on this band because I have a strong feeling that their EP is going to blow us all away.

About Natalie Humphries 1857 Articles
Soundscape's editor, who is particularly fond of doom, black metal and folk (but will give anything a chance). Likes to travel to see bands abroad when she can. Contact: or @acidnat on twitter.

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