My Heart Belongs To Cecilia Winter hits me in that way. It is extremely contemporary but it has this medieval feel to it (melodically and also visually speaking).
Of course, the idea of death permeating the album also gives an extra help to create this sort of bond with once-upon-a-time-being-and-feelings…
This trio from Switzerland released their first album ‘Our Love Will Cut Through Everything’ a few months ago. A beautiful, strong and deeply evocative collection of songs that surely stands out as one of the most creative things of the year.
I talked with Thom (vocals and guitar) about who’s Cecilia Winter, influences, death, the album, comparisons with Arcade Fire and the indie scene in Switzerland. Check his (beautiful) words…
01. Tell us a bit about the history of the band and how did you get to the name? Who’s Cecilia Winter?
We know each other for a long time- Betty and Thom are teenage friends, Kusi and Thom met in drama school. This band formed itself, we don't really remember the day we said: "lets form a band", it just happened by itself.
The name too, it came to us in a dream.
02. If your music were a planet or landscape or if it had to be materialized on something, what would it look like?
I always think of it as tall building rooftop music.
If materialized I think our music would be a mountain in the fog- but it might be something different for someone else. That's why it's music. It's the nature of music that it cannot be materialized.
03. Name a few influences (music, film, comic book, historic figures… anything).
Nineties indie bands are a source of inspiration.
We're no comic book experts, but I do read Alan Moore's graphic novels to train my English.
04. Your debut album is powerful and heartfelt. Even on the calmer songs, there’s still a visceral mood combined with extreme delicacy and sensibility. Songs like ‘Guide Me to the Starts’, ‘Skeleton Bride’, ‘My Heart My Heart’ and ‘When the Devil Speaks’ are the best examples of it (and the best moments of the 13 tracks). Could you talk about the creation and expectations while making it?
The songs were with us for a long time. We played a lot of gigs with these songs before they were recorded.
We were pregnant with this album for more than two years. So, recording was a beautiful but painful process.
We rented a small castle in France, in a very lonely deserted village close to Dijon and brought a lot of mobile recording gear. We worked a lot with the different acoustic circumstances in the various rooms of that castle, we moved from room to room.
We had high expectations. We worked hard, recorded many many different versions. We wanted these songs recorded in the best way we could, so we just did not stop until we were satisfied. It was the best time of our lives.
05. There’s a lot of flirtations with death in your songs: there’s the skeleton bride, songs mentioning graves, heaven, hell, the amazing verse ‘darling I will die soon but you’ll be forever young’… it seems the theme - or the tension between life and death – is recurrent and part of the band’s DNA (at least on the album).
Most of our time we spend dead or not yet born. Death is the only thing that’s forever. I guess it's our way of dealing with it. It’s also a romantic thing. It’s the same like when you have two lovers, one is your boyfriend and the other is your affair. You are married to life, but secretly, you flirt with death. Death is this handsome stranger.
This particular line with "…darling I will die soon" deals with the fact that people you once were in love with stay young in your memory. You will always remember them the way they looked when you loved them, while you get old.
06. And what about the comparisons with artists like Arcade Fire? How do you feel about that?
We don't think we sound like them. We're not trying to. We are flattered of course, we like Arcade Fire a lot.
It's just passionate music. 20 years ago, people would have compared us to The Smiths, ten years ago it would have been Bright Eyes.
07. What is a perfect pop song for you?
"Hallucinations" by The Raveonettes.
08. Give us a perspective on the independent music scene in Switzerland. Any bands the world should know?
Well, you should know Sophie Hunger, you probably do already.
You should get to know Evelinn Trouble. Yakari are cool, Disco Doom as well.
Check out Fai Baba while you're at it. He is amazing. He sounds like a woman. If Thom Yorke was a woman, he'd sound like Fai Baba.
09. Do you get to live of your music?
No. Nobody buys music anymore, we get to feel it.
It's not just Metallica who can't afford to buy a new Mercedes, it's small bands not being able to pay their bills. People should know that. Paying for Music you like is a way of supporting the Artist.
10. Any song(s) you’d like to cover?
Disorder by Joy Division. But it's a tricky beat. And a tricky bass line.
11. Name the perfect place and time to hear your music.
The perfect way to listen to music is vinyl. So anywhere near a record player is the perfect place.
Perfect time? I think when you're drunk is the perfect time.
12. Recommend something you've been listening lately.
I listened a Lot to Eno's film scores. I also love Heartland by Owen Pallett. And I love the album "Mothertongue" by composer Nico Muhly.
13. Anything else you feel like saying?
There are so many reasons to be sad, you might as well be happy.