Interview with Cadaveria
By Chris Galea
Throughout the 1990’s Cadaveria (real name Raffaella Rivarolo) fronted the Italian Dark Metal band Opera IX but then decided to forge ahead with a band directly suited to her musical ideas. Thus, under the Cadaveria moniker, she released a number of albums that tended, in varying degrees, to fuse dark gothic moods with aggressive Metal sonorities. The band’s music style is quite peculiar and has certainly pioneered the use of harsh vocals from female Metal singers.
About 3 years ago, Cadaveria was diagnosed with breast cancer and the operation that she had to submit to might have left some fans concerned about the future of the band. But wonder no more because now she’s back.
In this candid interview, Cadaveria shares her experiences of combating cancer and talks about the musical path she intends to take from this juncture onwards.
A few days before she replied to my questions, the band had released a brand new single and related video: ‘Matryoshcada’. So I start off by enquiring about this…
Congratulations for the new video. Could you please describe the thematic aspect of the song ‘Matryoshcada’?
The treatments I received to recover from cancer threw me into a surreal and even mystical dimension. My body was falling apart: hair, eyelashes, eyebrows. The skin was thinning and part of me was taken away by the surgery. Emotionally it was like being on a roller coaster for a year and more and never getting off. In this delirium I found a new me, which was probably hidden inside the “previous me”. I really felt like a Matryoshka doll that can be opened many times until she reaches the indivisible core, my soul.
When I no longer recognized myself in the mirror, I looked straight into my eyes, the only thing that hadn’t changed about me, and there I found myself again, and the pulsing energy of life. The song is about all this and the video visually tells these concepts. I wore my old and new clothes to show this transformation and had two Matryoshka dolls created, representing the past and the present. The song title plays with the fact that in the metal scene friends call me Cada (diminutive of Cadaveria), so it’s entitled MatryoshCADA instead of Matryoshka.
Shortly before ‘Matryoshcada’, you released two other videos, ‘Return’ and ‘100.000 Faces’. What were the challenges of writing and recording those two songs?
‘100.000 Faces’ comes from the album “In Your Blood” (2007) and the video for this song we released in May 2020 was a quarantine version [quarantine due to the Coronavirus pandemic], to show we were back to music. A way to break the silence.
On October the 2nd 2020 we officially came back to the scene with the digital release of the 1st new single ‘Return’, followed by the music video. In 2015 we had played at a dark metal festival in Germany and knew this song by Deine Lakaien for the first time. We’ve been wanting to cover it for a while. When I recovered and we decided to go back to making music, given the title, it seemed like the right song to record.
CADAVERIA ‘Return’ (Official Video):
Where was the video of ‘Return’ filmed? Was this location chosen for a particular reason?
It was filmed in Luguria, a maritime region of northern Italy. We have chosen it as a location ’cause we like it and for logistical tasks. We wanted the video to contain the water element like the first video we ever made, that is ‘Spell’ which dates back to 2002. There are a number of self-references in Return that refer to Spell, for example the dress worn by the actress entering the sea is the same one I wore in Spell when I’m in the pond.
On ‘Return’ Pier Gonella [Labyrinth, Mastercastle, Necrodeath] played some guitar parts…how did that come about? What is the likelihood of him recording again with the band?
Pier is helping us as a producer for this series of singles we are gonna to release, and since he is an excellent guitarist, he sometimes also records parts, mostly solos or harmonizations. It works and will probably happen again in the future.
What were your feelings when you first started singing after the operation and therapy?
Do you want the truth? I thought I was no longer able to sing in growl. Actually, it was just a psychological block that I had at home and when I went to the studio everything was fine. It’s like riding a bicycle: you can’t forget it…it’s part of me. Our body has unexpected resources. The feeling I have now is of great freedom and joy. In the clean parts I am reaching higher levels than in the past.
In 2019 you had shared your recovery’s progress through posts on your Facebook page. How did you feel about the reaction of fans and friends to those posts?
I am a sincere person and I have never hidden myself. I don’t think there is anything to be ashamed of in the disease, although cancer is still a taboo for many. Sincerity has repaid me for so much affection. I got a lot of love from my fans. This has given even more sense to all the commitment I have put in music all these years. ‘Matryoshcada’ is dedicated to all the metalheads who have shown me love during the illness. At the end of the video there is an explicit thanks to all of them.
Following your recent health issues how has your relationship with music changed (if at all)?
I can tell you that during my illness I have listened to nothing but silence. I devoted myself to meditation, walking and yoga. It was an introspective journey, because I am convinced that if I got sick there is a cause that I had to correct, so I worked hard to improve myself. Now my approach to music and life has changed. I live in the here and now. And I live more lightly, marvelling every day at how beautiful life is. I am grateful for all that I have.
When ‘Return’ was released, your website stated that: “All CADAVERIA’s new songs will be released, on a quite regular basis, in the form of singles, as they are recorded and mixed.” Does this mean fans will have to wait a long time for a new album?
Yes, exactly. I’m not sure we’ll make an album. We have some songs ready and they will all come out as digital singles and then the music videos will follow. The rest will be seen gradually.
What are your plans for the immediate future? Especially considering the ongoing pandemic it’s probably too early to speak about touring but do you look forward to hitting the stage again at some point?
Actually, at the moment I’m not particularly eager to get back on stage because I have a lot of fun making these singles, recording, editing the covers, helping with the video production and doing the promotion. It is already a huge job that we do independently and in complete autonomy. I don’t want to get too tired. We’ll play live when we get an offer we can’t refuse. With all due respect I have no desire to set up the whole live stuff to go and play in the same small clubs where I have already been many times. It must be worth it.
Drawing from your own experience, is there anything you’d like to say to musicians and fans whose careers are affected by illness?
I would like to say that statistics exist, it is true, but it is also true that we are variance. There is no case of illness […that is…] the same as another so even if you are given up for dead, don’t believe it, just believe in yourself and in the strength of your fragility.
CADAVERIA ‘‘Matryoshcada’ (Official Video):
Cadaveria – Vocals
Peter Dayton – Bass
Marçelo Santos – Drums
Horror Metal (2012)
In Your Blood (2007)
Far Away from Conformity (2004)
The Shadows’ Madame (2002)
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