The Shadows' Madame: A conversation with CADAVERIA
An interview by Rich Leggatt
Since the early 1990s, when she was the vocalist for the symphonic black metal band Opera IX, Cadaveria (Raffaella Rivarolo) has been evolving as a musician and a songwriter – and shaping the landscape of the underground metal scene in the process.
Cadaveria's talent is undeniable. You can hear the incredible range of her vocal prowess progressing throughout each of CADAVERIA's albums, not to mention the musical style development of the band as well. In the truest spirit of both horror and heavy metal, we were honored to be able to speak to Cadaveria herself about CADAVERIA's music, videos and the ever-changing European underground scene. Please click on the photos to visit CADAVERIA's website, Facebook, and YouTube pages.
HMS: Thank you for speaking with HMS Cadaveria. You've been in the business of making music for a long time now, and you were the vocalist for Opera IX for several years before you formed CADAVERIA. What prompted you to leave Opera IX?
Cadaveria: Thanks a lot for your interest. Well, summarizing I was growing up and I was opening my horizons, reading new books, meeting new people, travelling, listening to new music tunes. I felt the need to put all of this into music and I realized this could be possible only outside Opera IX, in a more open-minded artistic environment, not specifically devoted only to Pagan/Black Metal. CADAVERIA band gives me the opportunity to continue to develop new ideas, to experiment and to improve myself as an artist and as a human being, in total freedom.
HMS: I think it's fair to say that you were one of the pioneer female vocalists of Black Metal, and definitely Horror Metal. You also have an incredible range in your vocal ability. When you first started developing your vocal style were there any singers that inspired and influenced you?
Cadaveria: Well, first of all you have to know that I started by joke, just to spend some Saturday's night in a different way, that is in a cellar-rehearsal-room instead of in a pub. This is how I started with my very first band, called Marciume, that existed just for few months until I entered Opera IX. By chance I discovered I could sing in growl, and in the beginning I was a little bit ashamed of this strange voice coming out of me. I was young and my metal culture was limited to Black Sabbath, Kiss and few others. Only in a second time I discovered bands like Napalm Death, that were already using growling so much, and when I heard "Nothing for my Mom" by Holy Moses I realized I was not alone. So I can say Sabina Classen helped me to be more self confident. From that point on I started my own path and I never looked back.
HMS: One of the many things that I really enjoy about your music is that each CADAVERIA album has a different flavor from one another. As an example, I found that The Shadows' Madame is very progressive and experimental – while In Your Blood is very melodic (vocally) and some of the songs are less intricate (instrumentally) than they were on the previous albums. Does CADAVERIA experiment with different styles or genres of music during the songwriting process for each album?
Cadaveria: Our writing style has always been very free and natural. The songwriting involves all the band members: different minds working on the same project can lead to something unexpected. I can say every album we released mirrors a specific period of our life and every one of them was necessary to become what CADAVERIA are today. Different styles merged together also reflect my variegated personality. I'm curious, I always want to see what there is behind the corner and to see if I can overtake my limits. In this last period my mood is a lot into Black Metal with Seventies influences and I would say next CADAVERIA album will take this direction, but probably the result will be different from the original intentions, since the tracks can evolve during the composing process and take new shapes.
HMS: All the lyrics for CADAVERIA's music are very beautiful, visual and very sophisticatedly poetic, even just to read on their own. Where do draw your inspiration from when you write? Have you, or would you ever consider publishing a collection of your writing – perhaps as a book of poetry?
Cadaveria: Thank you. I like writing. It helps me to better know myself as I mostly write about myself, what I feel, my experiences, my thoughts about what surrounds me. A book or a movie can inspire me too. It happened I used words I read in a poem or in a philosophy text. I prefer to write about abstracted things, emotions, instead of telling stories. Probably I haven't much imagination to invent stories so I prefer to look into my dreams and nightmares and see what they have to tell me.
No, I never considered to publish my writings, but one day, if and when I will stop singing, I will write a book about the scene, the underground, the music business, based on the experiences I lived in this environment. I would have a lot to say.
"Our writing style has always been very free and natural. The songwriting involves all the band members."
HMS: Making a living as a heavy metal musician certainly has its' challenges no matter where you are, but what is the metal music scene like in Italy? Has it changed a lot over the years that you've been in it?
Cadaveria: The Italian problem is that fans have a passion for foreign acts and currently they don't support the local scene as they did twenty years ago. In addition there is not much cohesiveness among bands and this doesn't allow us to build a proper "Italian movement" recognized abroad. Playing heavy metal to live is almost impossible here: art is not supported by institutions and you must work hard for about two years to pay your bills and finally buy your first professional instrument (unless you are not sponsored by your parents). I know that in North Europe the situation is totally different: you can nurture your artistic passions since you are a child, 'cause there is a national culture conscious of how much art is important in life. I would love to know what the situation in the US is like.
HMS: I noticed from the credits that both you and Marcelo Santos (Alberto Gaggiotti) have a very active (hands on) role in the production of your music videos. Is filmmaking also a passion of yours? Do you have a visual idea in mind while you are composing your music?
Cadaveria: The video making is my "official" job, since I cannot live on my music income alone. Marcelo has been doing videos for over twenty five years and has been my mentor. I have a degree in history and criticism of cinema and I learnt how to use professional cameras. But I especially enjoy working on the video editing, while Marcelo is very good at shooting film and photography. That's why we create music videos by ourselves, together. We also take care of all the other graphical aspects like the band image, pictures and CD layouts. We like to work at 360 degrees. Usually music and lyrics come alone, without a visual concept, rather they carry a feeling. The challenge is to develop images from my conceptual lyrics, to make a music video for a song that talks about soul, energy or a state of mind.
HMS: Do you have a favourite horror film?
Cadaveria: I am fond of Dario Argento's movies, those he directed in the Seventies. Profondo Rosso (Deep Red) is probably my fave, along with Suspiria.
HMS: Will there be any opportunities for CADAVERIA to tour North America in the future?
Cadaveria: We would love to! I understand we would not fill a stadium, but I know we have devoted fans there who have often been asking us to come over the years. Make your voice be heard by local promoters, ask them to invite us and we will rock! I promise you will not be disappointed (neither will the promoter).
HMS: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions!
Cadaveria: It was a pleasure. Thank you.
Rich Leggatt, HMS