Interview with Elvellon – “We try to give the little and big things in life a bit of magic back”

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We chatted with the members of ELVELLON about their new album, “Ascending in Synergy,” finding their place on the German metal scene, and their partnership with Napalm Records. Read the full interview below…

Hello and thank you for doing this interview with Tuonela Magazine! How are you doing?

Gilbert: Thank you for having us. I guess we’re all doing fine at the moment though it’s getting a bit stressful just before the release.

Let’s start with a little presentation. Who is ELVELLON and how was the band formed?

Maddin: ELVELLON was founded in 2010 by Pascal and me. We had the privilege of jamming in a beautifully equipped rehearsal room in our hometown. So, after a while, we thought about really starting a band and writing our songs. So I asked Nele at a mutual friend’s birthday if she would be interested in joining a band. After some meetings, she agreed. Gilbert had been helping us with demo recordings since mid-2012 and also recorded a few things on guitar and bass. We noticed that we all had a great creative chemistry. 2013 was the year, Gilbert joined the band. After Phil, our old bass player left the band, Gilbert told us that he knew a bass player who might be able to support us temporarily. And then, after some awesome shows with Jan, he also joined the group as a permanent band member.

How did you come up with the name and what does it reference?

Maddin: “Elvellon” means elf friend. Back then we wanted to find a name that didn’t sound too common. Also, the name should summarize something. A little bit of what we want from our music. And as a fan of The Lord of the Rings, for me back then, the elves were the embodiment of strength and grace. Qualities that I wanted for our music. So, we came up with the idea of making the elvish word for “elf friend” our name.

What kind of band are you, in terms of songwriters? Are you storytellers? Do you write music to change the world or spread a message? Or do you simply do it for the sake of creating music?

Gilbert: We are aware that we are not going to change the world with our songs and that is not our ambition. I would say that our music is above all a refuge for all those who can lose themselves in music and find something healing there. We try to give the little and big things in life a bit of magic back, the way you hopefully felt it as a child. A sense of wonder and awe. And also in negative emotions such as despair and anger. This may not bring about change in the world, but I can imagine that we can give many people a feeling of home and comfort. Maybe that can help some people, at least on a mental level.

How hard is it in such a competitive music market like the German metal scene to find your place as a band and to build up a fanbase?

Gilbert: The symphonic metal scene in Germany is very limited and small. We hardly notice what happens outside our bubble in the music scene. We try to keep in touch with the last remaining bands and for the most part we get on very well with them and we like and support each other. It hasn’t been particularly hard for us so far. Our very first release, the EP “Spellbound,” already got us a lot of attention back then, which I think is because the scene is so relatively small. Our place was assigned to us and we were already very happy with it back then.

You’ve recently signed with Napalm Records, so congratulations on that. How did this collaboration come about?

Nele: Thank you. Since 2019 was a very successful year for us we also had the chance to go on tour with VISIONS OF ATLANTIS. We had a great time and sat down for a little chat after the last show. Thomas Caser came up to us and asked us if we were interested in getting signed. This came truly unexpected for us and we looked each other in the eyes – every one of us equally surprised. But we said yes and the rest is history. We soon after got the contract and we couldn’t be happier with our decision.

You released your debut album “Until Dawn” in 2018 and now you are back with your second album, “Ascending in Synergy.” What caused this hiatus between albums?

Nele: First and foremost, like everybody globally, we had to deal with the restrictions Covid brought us. This was a major setback. Since we are a band that writes songs together in the rehearsal room, we simply weren’t able to meet regularly and were apart for a long time again and again. We also decide democratically, which takes a lot of time. Especially on top of the whole Covid issue. However, we also worked on our writing process. A lot has changed compared to “Until Dawn.” Musical development should not be underestimated here as well. We especially worked on integrating everyone and giving every member the room to explore and evolve their creativity. What comes with that is personal change and as a family, we had to put in a lot of effort to make this work for us. Which thankfully did. In cooperation with Napalm Records, we decided to better take the time we all needed and make a fresh start for the best possible outcome. And here we are 6 years later ready to keep going, stronger than before!

How would you describe the new album, comparing it to the previous ones? Would you say that it is different from the previous one or did you follow the same tactics? What did the debut album teach you that became helpful when putting this record together?

Pascal: We still write our songs the way we did with “Until Dawn” but throughout the whole process we gained much more experience. So the new record sounds more sophisticated. We always liked to experiment with harmonies and in “Ascending in Synergy” we went the extra mile and got in touch and worked with someone who studied orchestrations. So the orchestra sounds more real and more dynamic. So basically we wanted to add a new layer without losing our essence.

Was there a song that gave you a bit of trouble while working on it? Either in the sense that the instrumentals don’t match the lyrics or the cadence, or maybe you had a hard time recording something.

Pascal: Well, some songs seem to write themselves and others try to fight you like a brat. “The Aeon Tree” was one of those! The fact that it’s almost a 10-minute song with so many different parts, was quite a challenge. We approached this song in many different ways which never really fit. So we had to think of another way to make this song whole. It took us quite some time to figure out what this song needed. But as we found out what it was, it got easier.

What can you tell us about “Ascending Synergy” in terms of lyrical content? Is there an overarching theme to the album?

Nele: It was clear very early on in the process that we didn’t aim for a concept album like “Until Dawn” was. Which was convenient regarding the changes in our songwriting process. So without really knowing it at the time we uncovered step by step that this album is about personal growth.

During Covid and still today I noticed how out of touch people are with themselves – including myself. And I noticed the devastating consequences. We sometimes lose ourselves so much in the distracting outside world that we miss out on who we are, what we want, and how to accommodate everything. How do we integrate each part of ourselves without suppressing those we decide are too childish, too much, or too uncomfortable? And how lonely does it make us honestly? I view this album as a collection of stories the listener can take out of their shelf to feel seen and heard, to drift away to different perspectives, to reflect, or to get advice. I do like to give the listener the opportunity to bring in their own interpretations to make our songs their own. And I hope “Ascending in Synergy” will give people something to hold on to.

While working on the album, do you limit your songwriting to certain themes and topics you find appropriate for the particular release?

Nele: Of course, there are themes that simply don’t fit. I believe our music is connected with so many dreamy, passionate, and personal adjectives that it feels most fitting to write it like this. Although, I view it as taking topics out of real life and bringing them into the world of ELVELLON. And so, limitations don’t make much sense for that matter. I feel blocked when I do this. Especially because writing lyrics feels more like “channeling” rather than focusing on a certain topic. I start writing and uncovering step by step what my subconscious wants to bring to the table.

“The Aeon Tree” is the longest track on the album and features a spoken-word passage halfway through. Why did you decide to insert that spoken-word passage? 

Maddin: This song deals with such an intense and broad topic. A standard song structure could capture the essence of the whole thing, but it wasn’t enough. The instrumental part of the speaker’s part is something that touched us all deeply. We wanted to give this sequence time to develop. Finally, it was important to me that this time it also contains words that give the song a kind of climax (lyrically speaking). So we looked for a narrator who had the right vocal character.

As for the length of the song… We wanted the song to take the time it needed. Both the tempo and the individual instruments felt so natural and obvious that we ourselves were a little surprised to say “oh wow, we’re already at nine minutes!”.

So far you’ve released two singles off the album – “A Vagabond’s Heart” and “My Forever Endeavour.” How do you feel the reception and response have been to these singles?

Jan: We’ve been receiving amazing feedback for both singles. The YouTube comments have been overly positive and we’ve also got many private messages and emails. Hence, we can’t wait to see how people will like the third single/video and of course the full album!

What do you hope fans will take away from the album?

Jan: For the most part, it is a very positive and uplifting album. The new songs are quite diverse and I hope that many people will find in them whatever they need. For people who care more about music itself than about lyrical content, there are lots of musical details to discover and different emotions to find in the songs. Those who love to get into the details of the lyrics are most welcome to find their own meaning in every song. Many will interpret them differently from what we “intended,” but that’s part of the magic of art.

Are there any touring plans in the works?

Gilbert: No, unfortunately not. We lost our booking agency during COVID-19 and have been struggling since then to get a new one. To produce the album and plan a tour by ourselves parallel to that was just too much of a workload. But we’re still waiting and hoping for a nice tour offer to play some shows as the supporting act. Maybe it will work out this year.

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Gilbert: If you’re a fan of the early symphonic metal from the late ‘90s to the early 2000s I can almost guarantee you, that you will find something appealing in our music. Feel free to check it out! We would really appreciate it!

Interview by Andrea Crow