It was May 2016, when she joined one of the most renowned folk metal bands in the world. It all started with Youtube covers and playing her favourite songs on one of the most unique instruments in metal. It took one message from the frontman of her favourite band to turn her world upside-down. After a month of constant e-mails and phone calls, she flew from Poland to Switzerland for a band rehearsal. Things worked perfectly, and she’s been with them ever since. Yes, the word is about the super-talented Eluveitie hurdy gurdy player Michalina Malisz. Besides playing with Eluveitie on her precious hurdy gurdy, Michalina spends her time writing Ancient Made Present blog, recording videos for her Youtube channel Helvetion and connecting with fans on social media. It’s not a secret that I’m intrigued by Michalina’s kindness, inspiring personality and endless creativity. Naturally, I wanted to discover more about all of the mentioned aspects of her life and present her crazy multi-talent to you, our readers. Luckily, Michalina agreed and kindly answered all of my nosy questions. So, enjoy!
MG: Hello, Michalina. First of all, let me thank you for this interview. It means a lot to us. How’s been your summer so far?
Michalina: Thank you for having me, it’s a pleasure! This summer has been really good and busy. I played a lot of summer festivals with Eluveitie, I brought back my Youtube channel, I practised a lot and I enjoyed every second of it!
MG: You’ve been with Eluveitie for over two years now. You live in Poland while the main Eluveitie camp is in Switzerland. How do you manage the distance? Is it hard for you to travel all the time?
Michalina: For me, almost every show is a fly-in show, besides touring of course. I must say that I got used to it, I established a “flight routine”. Travelling life includes lots of waiting, so I make sure that none of that time is wasted. And to be fair: I travel by flying. It’s the most convenient way. I treat it as the luxury it is.
MG: The band has recently announced that you are working on a new album. It’s your first full metal album with Eluveitie. Are you excited? What can we expect?
Michalina: I’m freaking out! 😀 Right now we’re in the middle of songwriting, planning and preparing for everything, that this premiere will bring. I’m looking forward impatiently to the studio time, I can’t wait to bite into these epic metal hurdy gurdy parts! Expect something big. 😉
MG: How are you involved in a songwriting process? Are you focused only on your precious instrument or do you take part in songwriting as a whole? You also play the flute and piano which can come in handy in a band like Eluveitie.
Michalina: For Eluveitie, I only play the hurdy gurdy for now. Songwriting is being done by Chrigel and Jonas mainly, but everyone can contribute with ideas. When it comes to composing, we trust Chrigel 100%. Therefore I mostly wait for the basic idea of the song, on his vision and then go in with my invention, if needed.
MG: Besides English, Eluveitie lyrics are in Gaulish. I remember Chrigel saying that Fabienne’s been a very fast learner from the beginning. Do you, as a non-singer, also learn to speak the language? Is it important for you to understand the lyrics and the message of the song or do you focus mainly on the music?
Michalina: Fabienne is brilliant, if I didn’t know Gaulish is no longer in use, I’d think she speaks this language fluently!
It is really important for me to understand the concept behind the song, the better I feel it, the better I work with the piece. I myself don’t speak Gaulish, but Chrigel is always there for us to provide a translation. I will tell you a little fun fact though: do you know this whispering voice from the beginning of Belenos from Evocation II? It’s me speaking Gaulish. 😉 We recorded it right after I joined the band.
MG: You’re three women in the band now. Can you imagine being an only female member, especially when there are 9 people in the band?
Michalina: That would be tough. I feel really comfortable now in the band with Fabienne and Nicole on board and I wish for it to last! 😀 We can have our girl talks (for me and Fabienne it’s actually one, huge, never-ending talk), do make-up together, it’s much merrier with the other girls!
MG: Before you joined Eluveitie, did you have a backup plan in case the things didn’t work the way you dreamt of? I’ve read that you have a Bachelor’s degree in editorial studies and were considering a career in publishing. Have you started working on your Master’s degree already?
Michalina: I had no plan, at that point, I actually had no idea who do I want to become. Now it is clear to me: I’m a metal hurdy gurdy player, I’m a musician, this is my way I choose now and forever. I’m one year into my Master’s degree, the plan is to finish it in 2019.
MG: Your YouTube channel Helvetion is where it all started. Looking back, it opened the door for you, and after a short break, you’re back to making videos again. What are your plans for the channel? Can we expect more videos and maybe some covers in the future?
Michalina: Helvetion changed my life. This channel is an important part of me. Now it comes back with new force. I’ve recently posted a new cover, it’s “Martyr” by August Burns Red, you can check it out here.
I have to admit that you guessed it perfectly, there will be more videos and covers, everything is on its way and coming soon straight from our new home studio, NUEMO! I’m super excited.
MG: You founded a blog called Ancient Made Present a while ago. Why a blog? What made you start writing? Did you need more creative space other than YouTube and social media?
Michalina: I’ve always felt a need to write. Written word is the most natural medium for me. I created stories since I was 12. Now I use it to tell people about the hurdy gurdy and myself. Every social media channel I run is different. Facebook is more official, Instagram – more fun and chilled, Youtube is for music and my blog – Ancient Made Present – is where I explore the world outside and inside of myself and try to sum these efforts up as articles. Writing it down helps me organize it. I love order. If there’s even one person in the world that will find it interesting, helpful, inspiring – I’m fulfilled.
MG: How do you choose topics for your articles? Do you have some kind of a schedule and a list of ideas and topics that are close to your heart? Or is the whole blogging spontaneous for you?
Michalina: I list my ideas, that’s true. Every day I stumble upon a topic that can be turned into a post. I collect these ideas and work on my creativity – I believe that it can be practised and I enjoy the process. Spontaneity, on the other hand, is something I need to learn, being spontaneous is difficult for me! 😉
MG: On your blog, you state: „Ancient spirit still exists and the mission of this blog is to unveil it“. Do you feel like we, as people, no longer know how to appreciate our past and origins? Is it one of the reasons why you wanted to bring some of that ancient glory back among people with your articles?
Michalina: I believe, that we as people have an internal urge to get to know our past, so we can learn, who we are. We need the roots. And I think we didn’t change that much for at least last couple thousands of years. I’m interested why the world works as it does. What is the cause. How did our ancestors perceive reality. How did they react to the challenges we’re still facing today. They were wise and they left the legacy out there for us, disguised as stories. I’m not an expert in any mythology by no means, I’m just curious, I want to explore it and share, what I’ve learnt.
MG: Speaking of the ancient, you seem to be very keen on the past and history in general. What time period and place you’d like to experience?
Michalina: I’m convinced that right now, in the 21st century, we live in the best times ever. Our opportunities are endless. Life has never been easier in the whole history of humankind. I tried hard to imagine, what time period I’d like to visit, but if I had the ability to travel back in time – I’d stay right here, where I am now. This is what our ancestors have built for us and I will be forever grateful for that. We need to make the best use out of it to show the gratefulness.
MG: Usually, artists listen to different music compared to music they actually play. Tell me something about the music you enjoy in your free time. Any bands or albums we should definitely check out?
Michalina: I listen to a lot of Parkway Drive, Jinjer, Bring Me The Horizon, Lamb of God. I’m looking forward to listening new Monuments album, “Phronesis”, it comes out in October. Also the last August Burns Red – “Phantom Anthem” is one of my favourites. Music is all about groove for me. If a song rocks me, I’ll listen to it, no matter the genre. 🙂
MG: The answer is clear, but let me ask anyway: Can you imagine your life without hurdy-gurdy?
Michalina: It would be so much different. If I never knew this instrument – I think it would be fine. But to give it up once you know it – it’s not an option. 😉
MG: Before we come to an end, there’s one more thing I have to ask. Since Metal Goddesses focuses on supporting women in metal, I’d like to know if there’s any band or a female metal musician in particular who you think is terribly underrated. It seems to me that especially women who don’t sing but play some instruments go often unnoticed. Would you like to give a shout-out to any of your female colleagues?
Michalina: The person I thought of is a vocalist, but still – with these skills, she is underrated indeed. It’s CJ Gilpin from Dream State. Terrific artist. But they’ll get there, I’m 100% sure. Just like Jinjer is doing it right now, I’m a hardcore fan of Tatiana and I’m convinced they’ll be huge.
MG: Alright, that’s all. Well, thank you very much for your time and the lovely chat. It’s much appreciated. Is there anything you’d like to add?
Michalina: Thank you so, so much for having me and for these well-thought, unique questions, it was an honour and a pleasure. And to everyone who read this interview: Thank you for following me, wherever you do it, I’m eternally grateful that you want to spend your time with me. Peace!<3