Interview with Cuélebre

It was their turn. After let you know about the adventures of the valencian group Cuélebre, it was about time themselves told us about their origin, the anecdotes of their performances, and above all their present and the coming of their second album on the horizon… Yhandros, the band’s main composer and universal hug donor, bring us up to date about his Medieval/Pagan Folk project.

Foto del grupo Cuélebre en blanco y negro

Cuélebre is a well familiar line-up to our readers, but it intrigues me to know what was haunting you when you created it. Which is the band’s spirit? What do you believe that provides it with personality and makes it one-of-a kind?

Greetings, truth is that first question is quite complicated to answer, since I didn’t have planned anything, it was all quite instinctive. I wanted to make songs which were based in roots, nature… In the beginning I didn’t even knew if I was going go find people to play these musical themes to live. Once there was a line-up, the objective turned to play them live. Truth is that we always have planned only the next step, and step by step, we’re in this point of the path. And I believe this is what defines the spirit and personality of the band, the ability to work, the need to learn and to immerse ourselves into these sounds, and of course the attitude to spread and to live this music.

María Cobos is the current singer, and she has joined the band since beginning of 2015. Her temperament is very cheerful and extroverted, do you think she’s left her stamp in the group yet? What was the process in order to choose her? Did you have any ideas in mind? Which have the reasons been of having so many singers, and of having trouble in finding a steady one?

Maria surprised us from the beginning because of her ability to work and her happiness. When Marta left the band to fully dedicate to what she most likes, I was sure we needed someone who gave more priority to Cuélebre, considering that, because of our nature, we need very committed people who we connect with at a personal level.

About the fact of having so many singers in the past, there’ve been sincerely many reasons. This is quite hard, a lot of rehearsals, many kilometres and lots of work. While tipping the scales at a personal level, all this has to balance out and make up with the fact of living these experiences, this music, if not it collapses under its own weight.

Alberto Andrade, valencian music with an academic training, has also begun to cooperate with the band. Which is his role in Cuélebre?

We are all fully convinced that Alberto’s going to contribute with another dimension to the band, at many levels and details. He perfectly understands the project’s personality and he has a lot to provide with. About his role in the group, as everyone inside it, he’s gonna be quite moonlighter. He has abilities in many things, and of course we’re going to take advantage of them.

Miembros del grupo Cuélebre haciendo una broma

You have composed new musical themes, which will become part of your second album. What stage of the process are you at? Do you already have any recorded song? Is there any novelty in a musical point of view? (style, instruments, techniques, etc.)

The album is practically entirely composed, and we’re already in the recording process. About the novelties or changes, I think it’s a work for the audience to opine about. For me, it’s gonna be a disc with a very clearer and better crafted idea, but without doubt it’s going to respect our sound and our way of approach our music.

What’s the title of the new album? Will it follow any clear topic?

The creature has already a name, which as in the former disc, we believe it properly defines what’s gonna be in the inside. It’s called Anamann, which is a proto-celtic term for “Soul”, something that all of us are going to infuse in the new songs. Musically, we’ll continue offering our musical vision, and it’ll be more lyrically varied.

Relating the publication and dissemination process, you don’t rely on your former record label. Will you turn to a new label, or do you opt for self publishing? Are you going to keep the CD as the only format?

This is a matter we have talked very much about in the last months, and it’s clear that it’s going to be a self published disc, in all senses, as much in recording and mastering as in visual design, it will be our effort what people will see and listen to. CD and digital downloading format are the chosen formats, and if any day we publish anything in vinyl it would be something very special and totally recorded in an analogue way, so that the sound would join the format.

What opinion deserves to you the albums finance by crowdfunding? As you’d know, the valencian group Pronoise managed to finance their second album with this method. Do you believe that spanish public is already aware enough in order to became a viable alternative?

Personally, I think that it’s a great pre-sale system, and it gives a very necessary independence to the bands, and yes, I think that public is ready if and when they’re offered a good product which they can bet on. The bands’ task is to know what product to offer and what to ask for in retribution. I’ve seen bands to start a crowdfunding for a few thousand of euros video clip, without nothing more than pics and some published song, and of course, they didn’t thrive. I think that if you want the audience to bet with confidence on your product, you have to offer that confidence, and of course to make use of it with moderation, in order to roll out your work, not for something like a caprice.

Let’s move on to other topics… Please, tell us the anecdote of the bar Cuélebre. It’s too good to be missed!

The bar Cuélebre, all in all, an anecdote kind of it’s better to laugh than to cry, it defines very well some of the things that happen over here. A good day a friend of mine sent me a picture of a logo from a bar/restaurant called “El Cuélebre” in Benidorm (Spain). Up to there is all ordinary, you can’t get used to the idea of how many shops or businesses are called Cuélebre in Asturias (Spain). In fact, this is one of the reasons of the band’s name, it recalls me of those lands. The problem came from the fact that this specific bar was using our logo, that in adittion was a work from Victoria Francés for us, so I called the owner to ask him if he knows that he was using someone else’s logo and that it didn’t seemed very appropiate to me. The owner got a bit nasty answering the phone, insinuating that he was going to call his lawyers and that he had found that logo on the internet and it wasn’t compulsory to give any reason.

After that, I published it on my Facebook profile, and hardly two hours later his virtual space was full of criticisms, complaints and in short, bad publicising. A short time later I received a phone call from the owner apologizing and offering to come to terms, and asking please to stop receiving negative comments from “strange” people ha ha ha ha. Sincerely, almost everyone advised me to choose denunciation, but I prefered to change things up and to get something good from it. So, in short we’ll visit the bar Cuélebre, and instead of asking him to change the logos or quarreling with him, we’ll leave discs and merchandising for sale there, and well, we hope to have a few ciders too ha ha ha ha.

You’ve been recently playing with Dagda (from Celtibeerian) at different locations of the spanish geography, in the street with a hurdy-gurdy and harp duo. How’s been the people’s reaction? Are they receptive to such uncommon instruments playing in the street? Relating the city halls, did you find any interest or incentive?

People reacted wonderfully, and not just the passers: one morning a juice worker brought us some juices in gratitude for “making her workday more pleasant”. We were also asked if we were going to return the next day so people could see us again. Unfortunately from the city halls we’ve found indifference at most, but they didn’t give us any serious problems. Personally, even if I wouldn’t be a musician I still would not understand all these prohibitions toward the street musicians, I’m convinced that the first builded city had a musician included: it’s something inherent and natural.

Foto de Cuélebre actuando en el festival Trolls & Légendes 2015

This year you’ve been very busy with gigs in different cities and festivals (Trolls & Légendes in Belgium, La Noche de los Candiles in Almócita, Raíz Ibérica in Madrid, etc.). How’s been the experience, what would you highlight about any of them? It gives the impression that each festival has a different ambient and approach, aren’t they? Any anecdote?

We are lucky to have been involved in such special events, and also to have been treated in a very special way in all of them. Belgium was a wonderful experience for us, since the reception of the public which I have no words, to the treatment of the organisation, and specially for the bands we were able to meet, talk, share beers… an experience with no possible complain, trully.

La Noche de los Candiles (The Candle’s Night) is the perfect example of “where there’s will there’s a way”. It’s incredible how such a little town can make such a special event. And Raíz Ibérica (Iberian Root) was the first stone of something that will get growing, an event that includes not just music but also conferences and an important cultural shade.

Regarding anecdotes, I can only say that end at Edwin’s (Prima Nocta bagpiper) caravan is synonym of great laughs, good beer and a very hungover day after ha ha ha.

The various editions of the Tormenta Celtibérica (Celtiberian Storm), along with Àrnica and Kéltica Hispanna marked a break for you that have led you to different parts of the Iberian Peninsula, including the town of Aveiro (Portugal). What is its state of health? Is there storm still to go? Do you plan to extend it to other parts of the Spanish geography?

Tormenta Celtibérica is something very special in every way, and will remain as it is, there’s no doubt. We are always ready to play in new places and of course we will continue doing so. We have in mind to make more concerts, but in a more special way so we don’t trivialize the idea.

Ahead of you is acting in the Festival-Mediaval in Germany, with enshrined bands as Corvus Corax and Omnia. I imagine that you will be completely in your element. What do you hope to find there? Are joke and fun inevitable in such a festival so related to you , beyond the responsibility of playing?

Festival Mediaval is one of the most important festivals that exist in this style, for us it is an honor to be part of it, and certainly what we have more in mind is to give the best possible concert, have fun and learn from other bands and, at least in my case, enjoy a few beers there is something that has to happen, too.

With the festivals outside Spain mentioned above, the appearance on specialized online radios (Celtcast, Wyldwood Radio), compilations (Wild Pagan Folk Vol III), webzines (Peek-a-boo) and even in the German magazine Zillo Medieval (compilation September 2014) what do you think is the level of impact you have achieved so far?

I do not know, I know Cuélebre is a name that is playing little by little, but for me the challenge it is at every concert, which is where one can really appreciate the work as band, and also where we can better know first hand impressions of the public. The truth is that we have no complaints with the achievements so far, from the beginning I knew that luck comes with hard work and humility, and it is the way we will continue to carry.

Well, the thing has come to an end. Did you leave something that you want to tell? We are proud to count as friends such creative and original people like you, so go ahead! A hug to all the family of Cuélebre.

f we have left something in the pipeline later will show its head ha ha ha ha.There will be surprises and wonderful events that are yet to occur, and we are thankful to you for being ready and always around for the action and have this great space dedicated to these music styles that deserve more attention than they sometimes get. A hug for you, and above all to all the people that will accompany us in one way or another in this adventure.

Note: thanks a lot to Margaret Seidler for her help in the translation to English.

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