Kalidia: Nicoletta Rosellinio and Federico Paolini
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Emil Westerdahl at Inner Wound Recordings for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Inner Wound Recordings for the promo pictures of the band.
Italian melodic/power metal band Kalidia’s brand new second album THE FROZEN THRONE hit stores late last year (2018), and since the band haven’t been featured in Metal-Rules.com before, I thought I would check them out. I had the pleasure to speak with singer Nicoletta Rosellinio and guitarist Federico Paolini and hear what they had to say about the band’s past & present, and how they landed a record deal with Swedish label Inner Wound Recordings. As well, Lars Rettkowitz from Freedom Call produced the album; because he is a well known name within the business I had to ask what it was like to work with him. I also got a little personal with Nicoletta; if you’re curious about that then keep on reading…
Hi guys, how are you doing today? Ready to take on a few questions from Metal-Rules?
Federico: Yes, we are!
Lets take it back to where it all began; when was the band founded and who came up with the idea to form a band?
Nicoletta: The band was founded in 2010 by me, Federico and our former keyboardist and drummer. At that moment we were playing together in a cover band; when the time was right and we felt it was time to write our own music, we founded Kalidia.
Did you decide at the very beginning that you were going to play this kind of metal music?
Nicoletta: Yes. We’ve always been huge fans of melodic and power metal, since we’ve grown up with this kind of music.
What did people think of your 2012 demo EP, that you released in Italy?
Federico: It was very well received by press and fans, not only in Italy! This encouraged us to keep writing songs for our first full length, LIES’ DEVICE.
The EP also launched the band’s live performances. Did you do a lot of live shows during this time?
Nicoletta: We started to do shows around our hometown (Lucca), with thanks to our former producer, Alessio Lucatti of Vision Divine. It was indeed a good start!
Tell us a little about the launch of the debut album LIES’ DEVICE in 2014. Is it correct that it was an independent release? How come you chose to release it by yourself?
Nicoletta: We sent out promos to many labels and we received some offers, but we weren’t satisfied. So, we decided it was better to do a self-released album so we could keep 100% of the income and invest more, and that’s what happened! We spent hours, days, weeks to promote the album in the best we could and we managed to achieve some quite cool results.
The video to the title track “Lies’ Device” has over 900,000 views on YouTube, how does that feel?
Federico: The video from Lies’ Device is our first video and we are very happy about the attention that we received with it! More than 900,000 is a really huge number of views especially for a band with its first independent release, we are honored!
Lies’ Device (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
Who came up with the band name Kalidia and does it mean anything special?
Federico: The idea of the band name was mine and the other members thought it was a good one. Kalidia is composed by the two names of the ancient Anatolia’s region Lidia and the Indian Goddess Kali.
During 2014-17 the band toured heavily in Italy, Germany, and the UK, how was that? Did you gain a lot of new fans back then?
Nicoletta: It surely helped us a lot. We’ve grown a cool fan base here in Italy, mainly because we were playing before well-known bands, in front of good crowds. Let’s see what will happen in the UK, we’ll be back there next week!
You shared stages with bands like Rhapsody of Fire, Serenity, Cellar Darling, Ancient Bards, did you tour with those bands or only a few single shows or festivals?
Federico: Up to now we have only done single shows/festivals with those bands but we are working hard to do a tour in the future.
Would you have liked to tour more than you have done so far?
Nicoletta: I think it was good like that, we had the chance to grown up as performers before been thrown in a long tour. Now we are ready to do this 😊
With all the live performances you’ve done together you must have become a solid live act. How do you prepare before you enter the stage?
Nicoletta: As I said in the previous answer, I think we’ve become a cool act to see on stage (at least we hope, haha!). Before going on stage we usually warm up a little bit and drink a lot!
In three words how would you describe a live show with Kalidia?
Nicoletta: Energetic, intense, funny
Does the band have a solid fan base in Italy?
Federico: Considering how the last shows went, we have a great number of fans in Italy right now.
Why did you choose to only have one guitarist? Two seems to be the most common when you play harder music?
Federico: We think that our line-up is well balanced with one guitar considering the pre-recorded orchestration we use in our songs, we don’t feel the need of another guitar at the moment.
When the band first started out you had five members including keyboard player Nicola Azzola, who parted ways in 2016. Why did he leave the band?
Nicoletta: He left the band for personal reasons, mainly related to his day-job. Anyway, we are still in touch!
Do you have anyone playing the keyboard during live shows or are you managing without one?
Nicoletta: We are using pre-recorded tracks at the moment. Even if we decide to add another keyboardist to the band, we should keep the backing tracks, considering the huge amount of orchestration in our latest album…so no big stress in finding a new member for now!
Previous drummer Alessandro Cecchini left back in 2014, why?
Federico: He left because it was difficult for him to combine his full-time job and the activity of the band
He was replaced by Gabriele Basile but he only lasted one year, why did he leave? Has it been hard with the frequent line-up changes?
Federico: Yes, we have been through a couple of years of line-up changes and this was not an easy moment but we’ve finally reached a solid line up. Gabriele also left because of his day-job.
In 2012 bass player Roberto Donati joined forces with you. Did you have anyone handling the bass before him? And in 2016 drummer Dario Gozzi joined, are you done with changes in the line up now?
Nicoletta: Yes, we did have another couple of bass players before Roberto, but they didn’t record or compose anything for the band. So we consider Rob as our only bass player! Well, we hope we are done for now, ahah! We share the same vision about this band so I think we found all the right pieces of this puzzle!
Gozzi is also involved in the band Ion of Chios, do you see any difficulties or problems in that?
Nicoletta: Not at all, they are not doing lots of shows like us, so it’s easy to combine our schedule.
Do all of the band-members live in the same town in Italy?
Federico: No, I live in Turin while the others are from Tuscany.
In the bio I read that you are inspired by bands like Hammerfall, Stratovarius, and Rhapsody of Fire. Is that correct and are there any other bands that have inspired you?
Nicoletta: I think we can say, we’ve been inspired by the whole ‘90/’00 power metal movement! And we also like new bands such as Beast In Black.
Do the members have any particular band in common that you all are fans of?
Federico: Although we have different music influences, I would say that Iron Maiden is the band that we are all fan of!
Like myself Hammerfall comes from Sweden, do you like any other Swedish acts?
Nicoletta: Yes, speaking about myself I’m a huge fan of Evergrey. I also listen to Opeth, Amon Amarth and Sabaton.
New album THE FROZEN THRONE
When did you begin to write material to the album?
Nicoletta: Most of the album was already composed in at the end of 2015.
Are all of the song newly written or did you use any older left-over songs?
Federico: The songs are all newly written but the idea to write a songs about the “Myth of Masada” was already born during the LIES’ DEVICE production.
Who writes the material and have all the members a final saying when it comes to the songs like which song that should be featured or not?
Nicoletta: Federico is our main composer. I take care of vocal lines and lyrics. We discuss all-together about the results of our songwriting, but the last word is usually of the main composer of that song.
Comparing the new album to LIES’ DEVICE, do you think the band has changed or developed anything musically?
Federico: I think that we have achieved a more mature songwriting compared to our first work and we have moved to a more power metal sound.
How did you end up working together with Lars Rettkowitz from Freedom Call?
Federico: It was Lars himself that contacted us after listening to our song ‘The Lost Mariner’ on YouTube. He liked the song and saw some potential in the band. We were really excited about this!
What was it like to work with him?
Federico: We enjoyed a lot the experience and we learned a lot from his majestic work.
Before the album was released the single/video to “Frozen Throne” was released. What did fans and media think of it?
Nicoletta: It was really well-received, we received tons of positive comments and good vibes about it, the perfect comeback after 4 years. Also the views on YouTube are still going so well, we reached more than 1.5 millions in just 4 months!
Frozen Throne [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]
Do you like shooting videos? Are there plans on shooting videos to any of the other songs as well?
Nicoletta: It’s always stressful to organize everything, pick up clothes and so on, but in the end we always enjoy the shooting part. I think we’ve already done a good number of videos for this album!
How come you only made a lyric video to “Black Sails”?
Nicoletta: We had already shot the other 2 videos, so we decided to go for a lyric video, which also works good since we could use a full pirate theme.
Black Sails [OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO]
The album contains 11 songs and clocks in at about 47 minutes which is a pretty decent amount of time, was that something you thought of when you wrote the album?
Federico: Not in the beginning, we were full of ideas but only the best tracks went on the album. We noticed the running time only at the end and we were satisfied.
What are the longest songs “Frozen Throne” and “Circe’s Spell” about?
Nicoletta: ‘Frozen Throne’ is inspired by Warcraft character Arthas, a knight who turned into the worst evil creature, while ‘Circe’s Spell’ is about the Odyssey and describes the meeting of the witch Circe with Odysseus and his crew.
Have you recorded any bonus songs for singles b-sides or so?
Federico: Yes, we have…
Nicoletta: We recorded another song but it wasn’t released with the album. Who knows!
David Bassin sings additional vocals on “Myth of Masada” and Gabriele Boschi plays violin on “To The Darkness I Belong”; how did they end up on your album and are they old friends to you?
Nicoletta: Gabriele is an old friend of ours, we’ve played many times with his band, Winterage (check them out, real symphonic metal band with real orchestra!). I met David at Lars’ Studio, he was there to record some additional parts on the latest Victorius EP; we were recording ‘Myth of Masada’ and we got the idea of including his guest appearance.
How would you like to describe what kind of music the band play? In my opinion it’s power/heavy metal..
Nicoletta: I’d say melodic power metal with modern sound.
Why did you choose to name the album THE FROZEN THRONE?
Nicoletta: The album name and the title track were inspired by Arthas, as I wrote before. We liked the idea of having a ‘frozen’ theme for the whole graphics/live visuals.
Are you happy with the art work made by Sten W Decker? Does it reflect the essence of the album?
Federico: We are very happy with the artwork. Stan is an amazing artist and was able to fully represent our idea of the ‘Frozen Throne’ with his work.
Was he given free hands to create something for you?
Nicoletta: More or less, we just told him the title of the album.
Have you read any reviews of the album yet, do you care about what media and critics think of your work?
Federico: Yes, we read almost every review we found. We care about the reviews and what people think in general, however we write and play the music we like and we maintain an independent attitude in this respect.
Are there any differences in how the native and foreign press writes about the band?
Nicoletta: Not that much, we got good and bad marks on both sides!
Do you consider THE FROZEN THRONE or LIES’ DEVICE as being your debut album?
Federico: Although it was an independent release, we consider LIES’ DEVICE as our debut album.
The bio states that Kalidia have created “an uplifting melodic power metal album with the roots in classic power metal with a modern and fresh touch”. What do you think of that description?
Nicoletta: I think it represents perfectly our new album. It’s melodic, it’s classic power metal but with a modern flavor and bombastic arrangements.
When the album was released back in November did you throw a release party?
Federico: Yes, we had our release party in a fantastic venue, the Hard Rock Cafè in the center of Florence. A really unforgettable experience, lots of friends and fans coming from all over Italy.
Which of the songs on the album are your personal favorites and why?
Nicoletta: Mine are “Frozen Throne”, “Circe’s Spell”, “To The Darkness I Belong”, and “Go Beyond”. I think they represent our new sound well.
You used keyboards/orchestration on the album but no one is listed on it, why?
Nicoletta: Because we don’t have a permanent keyboard player. The keys arrangements were recorded by Lars himself.
Was is always planned for “Myth Of Masada” to be a duet?
Nicoletta: No. As I said, David was in the studio when I was recording that song and we got the idea of doing a duet at that moment.
All songs except for the ballad “Midnight’s Chant” are uptempo. Did you purposely choose not to feature more slower songs?
Nicoletta: We think one ballad song is enough for a power metal album. Maybe on a longer album you can add one more, but with 11 tracks I think that one is enough.
Production, mixing, studio
Rettkowitz produced, recorded and mixed the album, how was it to work with him in the producer’s seat?
Federico: It was a great experience for every one of us. We recall it every now and then because it was also very funny! Lars is a very talented musician, producer and a wonderful person.
Nicoletta: We also learned a lot from him, absolutely the best studio experience with a super producer.
Did you learn much from him? After all, he is a musician as well and not only a producer?
Nicoletta: I think yes. We play this kind of power metal and I think it was a plus for our production. He knew how this album was supposed to sound from the very beginning, but he’s also working on pop and rock production, so his musical culture is really wide and this also add something to a production.
In which studio was it recorded?
Nicoletta: We recorded it at at Lars’ studio (KR music studio), except the drums which were recorded at Soundart recording.
Was any of the members part of the mixing process?
Federico: We didn’t take part in the whole process but only some intermediate steps.
Achim Köhler mastered, where did he do that and how long did everything take all together?
Nicoletta: The album was mastered at Indescreet Audio. It took a couple of months after the mixing was ready
I know Köhler is a busy man, was it hard to get him to master THE FROZEN THRONE?
Nicoletta: We are lucky because he’s working as live sound engineer for Freedom Call and we met in during one of their live shows. Lars directly contacted him and he agreed on working with us!
Label and management
Was it easy to land a record deal?
Nicoletta: Well, it was easier than the first time…I think the improvements are huge.
Were there many labels that showed interest in the band?
Nicoletta: We received 5-6 offers, so not bad at all!
How come you finally chose Inner Wound Recordings as your label?
Nicoletta: We’ve been talking with Inner Wound team for a month before signing. We had a good feeling about them, we thought they believe in our music and our band as much as we are. And we weren’t wrong!
Do you see any problems in the fact that IWR are a smaller label?
Nicoletta: Not at all. I think they are perfect for us. Also they worked as a top-class label, doing a huge promotion. We are really satisfied with our work together. Sometimes it’s better to be one of the main bands on a smaller label than the last band on a big one…at least for a band like us!
Until now THE FROZEN THRONE is available on CD and in limited black wooden box edition which sounds really fancy, haha. Does it also comes in vinyl?
Nicoletta: Yes! We’ve just announced a vinyl edition! It will be released on April 12th and there will be a coloured limited edition disc as well as the standard black one.
Are you fans of the vinyl format yourselves?
Nicoletta: I am a collector, so I was really happy when the label wrote us about the possibility of doing a vinyl edition. This is a dream came true for me.
Is it possible to stream the album at Spotify, iTunes and so on?
Nicoletta: Yes, the album is available on all major digital stores!
Who takes care of the distribution in Asia and South America?
Nicoletta: Unfortunately, we haven’t any licensing for Asia or South America, but we ship worldwide from our Bandcamp store and so does the label.
What are your thoughts on streaming music and the fact that bands don’t sell as many physical copies of their albums anymore?
Nicoletta: There are some good and bad sides, that’s for sure. I think streaming helps a lot a small band to grow and reach a wider audience, and there’s still an hardcore fan base who still buy CDs!
In order to make money bands and artists are writing books, launching beers/alcohol, and hosting meet & greets with fans for huge amount of money. What do you think of that? Do you see Kalidia charging money from fans to meet you in the future?
Nicoletta: I don’t think we’ll do it, I don’t like the idea. But I’d like to think that the artist are forced to do that kind of paid meet and greet by the production of the tour…It’s really expensive to go on tour.
LIES’ DEVICE is sold out in your webshop, when is it going to be re-stocked?
Nicoletta: We don’t have any plans at the moment, because it’s really expensive. Unfortunately we chose a 24-page booklet and this increases print expenses so much. We may start a pre-order campaign for a reissue later this year.
How many copies have LIES’ DEVICE sold yet?
Nicoletta: More than 1,500. I think it’s a good achievement for a self released album 😊
Are you currently working with any booking agency?
Nicoletta: We’re about to sign a contract with one!
Personal with Nicoletta Rosellini
Your voice is amazing and your English is really good, are you a trained singer?
Thank you so much! I started taking singing lessons after the release of LIES’ DEVICE and this really improves my skills. For the English, I tried my best and also Lars helped me correcting some of my ‘Italian’ pronunciations.
Do you have any favorite singers that have inspired you?
I will mention 3 of them: Fabio Lione, Russell Allen, and Roy Khan
Do you play any instrument?
I studied classical piano for 7 years.
Do you also write lyrics and material to the songs for Kalidia?
I take care of all the vocal lines and I lay down all the words, even if sometimes we decide the topic of the song together.
Have you been parts of any other bands before joining Kalidia?
Yes, I’ve been playing in bands since I was 15. Most of them were cover bands.
Kalidia rose from the ashes of Neverwing which was active in between 2007-10, what music did Neverwing play?
I joined Neverwing in 2010 for 4/5 months, before we decided to change direction and write our own music. It was basically a cover band.
You’re also a part of the band Walk In Darkness, tell us a little about that band?
WID are a mysterious gothic/symphonic metal band, a studio project. Beside me, all the other members are unknown. The music is really different from Kalidia, but I suggest you to check them out if you like that kind of music. We released two albums, IN THE SHADOWS OF THINGS (2017) and WELCOME TO THE NEW WORLD (2018), plus a new single a couple of weeks ago (‘Time to Rise’ – 2019). There are also lots of videos on YouTube.
And besides that you’re also involved in the project Vivaldi Metal Project, what is that?
VMP is an all-star project, based on ‘The Four Seasons’ by Antonio Vivaldi. A symphonic metal album was released in 2016 and I’ve joined the live bands among other 10 amazing musicians coming from all over the world. We did two shows last year and recorded a live DVD (to be released in the next few month). We have two more scheduled shows for this year, one on March 22nd at Mixtape 5 (Sofia – Bulgaria) and one at Dokk’em Open air (29 June, Dokkum – The Netherlands).
Even though the society and the music industry have moved a little further when it comes to women in harder music we still have a long way to go until it’s equal between men and women. Do you consider yourself as a role model for women in the industry?
That’s a good question. I think there are three kind of metal fans: the first is the ‘true metal’ fan, who will never accept women in metal music, the second one is the ‘female-fronted metal fan’ who only listen to metal band fronted by a woman, and the last one is the metal fan who listen to everything without prejudices. I think we need more of the last kind! We are still far from being on an equal level as men, unfortunately.
The bio states that you are a very charismatic lead singer, what does that mean?
I think you must attend to one of our shows to find it out 😉
Past present and future
The band’s website is great, who runs it?
Nicoletta: Our official website (www.kalidia.com) is designed by our friend Claudio Falconcini of Wind Rose, who runs his own graphic/web designs company (www.cosmicnest.it). He also did most of our graphic designs for our social media pages.
Do you think it’s important to be active on all the social forums of today? Do you get a lot of mail from fans? What’s the most common question you get?
Nicoletta: Yes, it is. Social media is still a good way to interacts with fans and followers. We got a great amount of mail, mainly asking when we are going to play in this or that country…just to be clear, it’s not the band who decide where to play, it depends on the offers we received…so ask your local promoters to book us if you want to see us in your country!
Circe’s Spell [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]
Until now you got 43,000 likes on your Facebook page, congrats. How does it feel to know you got fans all over the world?
Nicoletta: Great! The label did some great ads about the new album and the fans increased a lot. It’s good to see we reached people from all over the world!
Now that the album is out do you have any tours or shows booked for the summer?
Nicoletta: We’ve several shows around Italy, UK and Switzerland in the next months, plus we are working on more in the other countries. We are trying to do as much shows we can!
I read you’re going to perform at the Metal Queen’s Burning Night festival in Italy and at Gothic Circus Festival in England this spring, are you looking forward to that? Any other festival shows booked so far?
Nicoletta: Of course! We played at Metal Queen in 2015 and it was really a great festival, also for charitable purposes, while it’s our first time at Gothic Circus not only a music festival, but a complete gothic show…we are really curious about it! We’ve been confirmed also for UrRock in Stans (CH) on Oct 26th, with Primal Fear.
Which festival would have been the dream to perform at? You can pick any festival in the world 🙂
Nicoletta: I’ll pick two: Wacken and ProgPower USA. Oh well, also Rock in Rio is pretty cool!
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t heard your music yet?
Nicoletta: if you like strong and catchy melodic plus the classic flavor of power metal…take a listen 😊
Could you give them three reasons why they should buy THE FROZEN THRONE?
Nicoletta: Because it’s pure Euro-power metal, with strong melodies and interesting themes and lyrics.
Well, that was all for me and metal-rules.com this time around. Thanks for taking the time making the interview and all the best to you and the rest of the band, do you have any final words of wisdom to share with fans and readers?
Nicoletta: Thank for this long and detailed interview! We hope to see you at one of our shows!
Federico: Thanks for your time! Keep supporting the music you love. Rock on!