Eluveitie, for a long time I thought you pronounced it like E-LU-VEI-TI but recently I discovered that it should be pronounced like EL-VEY-TI. The band has a long history in making metal which includes the sound of a hurdy-gurdy and since 2016 Michalina Malisz has become a permanent member of Eluveitie, playing the hurdy-gurdy.
When you first started playing the hurdy-gurdy, what did you find to be the most difficult aspect of the instrument?
I remember the first time I had my new and shiny hurdy-gurdy in my hands back in 2014 very well. I started cranking, expecting to be a master at first sight, but nothing happened, it was silent. I could not produce any sound. I just didn’t know that you actually have to put the string on the wheel. Well. In the beginning, I was struggling with applying the right pressure on the key, so instead of playing beautiful, even sound – I did screech a lot. Cottoning was also troublesome. But this stuff is easy after a bit of practice. Currently, I’m struggling with coups – playing the trompette string. This one is a beast.
What would you say is your worst hurdy gurdy experience in front of an audience?
Every time when it gets out of tune. Tuning could be difficult to manage due to things like temperature, so it’s tricky, but I try to minimize the horror of hurdy out of tune.
Let’s go the other way, what’s your best hurdy-gurdy performance experience?
When I play the solo part of “Inception” (I’ve even made a video about it!) and my latest favorite – “Rebirth” of course.
What are your practice habits? How much time per day, or per week do you spend rehearsing? Can you describe your regime to me?
I used to practice every day for as much as I possibly could. Now it changed a little, but I’m slowly coming back to regular practicing. I believe that the practicing plan is universal: warming up, then starting the metronome and repeating the part in slow tempo consciously. When it’s satisfying, turning the tempo up a little bit. It’s a monotonous task, but there’s nothing better.
What I find super helpful as well is recording myself while practicing – I can hear immediately, what I need to improve.
Are folk instruments more difficult to play than the modern instruments? I’m guessing that old instrument don’t have the technology to make it sound right every day?
Folk instruments do have modern versions. For example, the hurdy-gurdy I play on stage with Eluveitie is an electric one and works like an electric guitar with a simple jack cable. The materials, technology, and ideas used nowadays to build a hurdy-gurdy make them the best possible versions at this point of history. I think being able to use it is pretty amazing.
At the same time older and less advanced instruments – if I understood you correctly – may not give us the sound we want, so playing them is not harder in terms of technique, but effects.
Besides playing the hurdy-gurdy, you also have a blog called Ancient Made Present. What is it about?
It’s about ancient ideas that survived until our times. People who made them were like us, we did not change that much since the last couple thousands of years and I find it very inspirational. Recently I started writing personal posts as well. I listen to what people tell me about my blog and I believe topics like being in a band, touring, playing an instrument, musicianship and also my story about taking a rocket ride from Youtube to the biggest stages is interesting for them.
Where does your interest for Ancient Spirits come from?
They are still amongst us – I mean this more in a metaphorical than literal sense. Understanding them helps to understand the world and the people. I’m very passionate about learning this. Getting to know the world. Understanding people. Understanding myself and working towards becoming the best human I could be. And killing it on the hurdy. That’s what I’m interested in.
Eluveitie, you were a fan once and now you’re in the band, how does it change your life to become a well know artist suddenly?
I’m not well known yet, but I’m working on it every day! But seriously now. The exposure level goes up, the amount of traveling grows drastically, the time speeds up like crazy because tours last a couple of months and summer festivals take up most of the summer weekends. Right now I spend a lot of time outside Poland and I haven’t even experienced the Eluveitie’s busy year yet!
Now I can see “how it’s done” from the other side, which is interesting as well. I meet so much more people and so much more people want to actually talk with me. It is a great experience.
Thanks for taking the time to answer this interview. One last question, what’s the best metal band you listened to in high school?
Children of Bodom.
Thank you for being interested and investing your time as well! It was a pleasure!