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Cydemind violinist, Oliver Allard, talks heavy metal and the new album



5/17/2017 – Olivier Allard is the talented violinist in the Canadian based instrumental prog metal band CYDEMIND.  With the upcoming release of the new album, Erosion, Allard spoke with Slickster Magazine about some of his favorite violinists across all genres, practice techniques and preferred equipement. ‘Erosion’ will be available on iTunes, Bandcamp, Spotify and all other major online retailers as of May 26, 2017. Their first single ‘What Remains’ is available for download on Bandcamp here.

Slickster Mag – The Mahavishnu Orchestra was one of the most successful hard core jazz fusion acts ever and also incorporated violin.  What do you think contributed to their success?

Mahavishnu orchestra1973.jpg More details Mahavishnu Orchestra N.Y.C. farewell concert New York Philharmonic Hall, December 28, 1973
Mahavishnu Orchestra N.Y.C. farewell concert New York Philharmonic Hall, December 28, 1973

Olivier Allard – To be honest, I don’t listen much to the Mahavisnu Orchestra. I’m too young and grew up with a classical music background. I’m only starting to like jazz! Tigran Hamasyan and Avishai Cohen are my favorites. I would have loved to see MO live though. That kind of music takes a whole new level on stage. I can’t tell what made them successful but I can tell they had exceptional musicianship and creativity.

As a violinist, do you prefer the Mahavishnu Orchestra with Jerry Goodman, or the later work they did with Jean Luc Ponty?

I really don’t listen enough to Mahavisnu Orchestra to have a valid opinion on that. I’m gonna have to check them out more seriously… Ask me that question next year!  Both Goodman and Ponty are incredible violinists, though. So talented and imaginative.

Curveball.  Of the two previous violinists mentioned, where would you rank John McLaughlin’s musical exploits with the Indian double violin master, Shankar?  Was he better than the other two violinists previously mentioned or simply a sign of the times, for example the Beatles working with Ravi Shankar?

Lakshminarayana Shankar
Lakshminarayana Shankar

It’s never a good idea to compare musicians. Shankar (Lakshminarayana Shankar) is an absolute genius who had a role in the coming of Indian music in the West. I don’t think Goodman nor Ponty could play the way Shankar plays, but it goes both ways. They’re just different, doing different stuff with different techniques.

Even though CYDEMIND is a heavy metal, a vast amount of the repertoire for violin is spread across the ‘classical’ literature.  (*Editors note – The term classical is a catch all term that encompasses many diverse eras in western european music, including Baroque, Romantic, Classic, etc..)  What are a few of your favorite pieces for the violin?

I’m a Romantic-era type of violinist. One of my favorite violin piece would be Chausson’s Poème, which I just recently played. Apart from that, of course the major romantic violin concertos like Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius are incredible musical masterpieces. In the ‘’violin sonata’’ world, the ones I enjoy playing the most is Frank and Strauss.

Can you briefly discuss the impact master violinist Itzhak Perlman has had on the instrument.

Itzhak Perlman is THE violin beast, my personal favorite. He made so many recordings, collaborated with so many great musicians, and received so many awards. He was the violinist everybody wanted to work and record with since everything was always flawless the first take!

I also respect the fact that, even if he could make a living only out of playing, he spends a lot of time teaching. It’s his way of giving back to the younger generations. I feel it’s every great musician’s responsibility to share their knowledge and experience to the younger musicians.

Let’s talk heavy metal.  There are a handful of examples of heavy metal violin out there. Some good (Dream Theater, Octavarium) and some that are less inspired… (Anyone remember Mark Wood?).  Can you name a few obscure heavy metal violin tracks that have inspired you?

There’s a band I discovered a few years back, Ne Obliviscaris. I fell in love with the way they blend the acoustic violin with metal. My favorite song would be And Plague Flowers The Kaleidoscope.

Other than that, one of my idols a few years back was David Garrett. He’s a classically-trained violinist but makes a few rock cover albums from time to time. When I heard his Master of Puppets cover, I was blown away. He’s actually one of the reason’s I started Cydemind.


What brand of metronome do you use?  Should all music students and musicians train with a metronome?

I use the Korg KDM-2. Aside from being a very complete metronome, I’d say its most incredible quality is its durability! I dropped it on the floor SO many times, and it’s still working! Is also has a drone function, really useful when I want to tune or check my intonation.

Practicing with metronome is very important. Like, really. It reveals every tendency to drag or to rush in your playing. And if you do proggy stuff like I do with Cydemind, take the time to program your metronome on programs like Logic or Pro-Tools so that it follows the time signatures properly. I use the one on Guitar Pro actually, since we write music with that.

What would you like to promote?

My shoulder rest, actually! Just got a Pedi Elegante, it’s the lightest shoulder rest I ever played with. Feels like you don’t have one and sound wise the violin gains a good deal of projection in comparison to heavier shoulder rests that tend to muffle the sound a bit . Every violinist should check it out. It’s rather expensive but totally worth it.

Pedi Shoulder Rest Violin Elegante Carbon Fibre
Pedi Shoulder Rest Violin Elegante Carbon Fibre

Anything we missed?

Cydemind’s album Erosion is gonna be out on May 26th. Be sure to grab a copy!

Thanks for your support!

Cydemind erosion, heavy metal violin
Cydemind is: Olivier Allard (Violins) Alexandre Dagenais (Drums) Camille Delage (Keyboards/Piano) Nico Damoulianos (Bass) Kevin Paquet (Guitars)

Track listing :

1. What Remains (4:58)
2. Tree of Tales (6:41)
3. Derecho (13:36)
4. Red Tides (5:25)
5. Stream Capture (6:29)
6. Erosion (27:19)
Album Length: 1:04:30

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