An Interview with MYDDLE EARTH


MF. Listening to your links to MySpace I found myself enveloped in a sense of well-being and tranquility. Why the name Myddle Earth? And what sort of imagery and mood is it meant to evoke within the listener?

CLIFF. Well, this name was primarily chosen to draw the attention of the those most likely to enjoy our music. People, when they hear the name, commonly associate it with ‘Lord of the Rings’, of course, which starts them off nicely on the journey to meet with us in our wild and free musical landscape. ‘Myddle Earth’ is the old European term for the physical world we inhabit. which was conceived of as lying in between the higher and lower world’s that are, for the most part, hidden from us. I think the name evokes well the great joy and sadness of being a temporary resident in nature’s almost unbelievable grandeur.

MF. Cliff, as a lyricist, which poet/writer influenced you most in your outlook and mode of expression?

MYDDLE EARTH – Cliff West (Guitar, Vocals, Recorders, Percussion), Dan Van Tonder (Violin, Recorders) and Ed Dumbel (Percussion)

CLIFF. That’s really hard for me to say.  Almost certainly, it would rather be a fellow song writer. Perhaps Ronnie James Dio for magic, 0r maybe Quorthon of Bathory for some warrior spirit. But perhaps  William Blake? Lets throw in some Rumi influence, or maybe Lau Tze or Osho? Now we’re warming up! Hey, Mr Tolle, I hear you, lets rock!

MF. Is ME a musical legacy and if so, why?

CLIFF. I suppose this is indeed music and dance that has flowed down to us from the hills and distillery’s of our ancestors,ha ha, to swirl in the delirious waters of Now. A leg-acy, yes, its all there in the genes.

MF. Do you hope for a “key” that will open doors for you? And what doors would those be?

CLIFF. A theory of all, to jump out the stall… Tah Dah! Yes, those doors of perception Wot! The ‘key’ being to ‘turn’ inside out? Those would be the in-doors and out-doors. But more seriously’, perhaps a key to a recording studio, for inside. And a spot of exposure, for outside. A ‘key’ is often a person one meets, and then there’s.. ‘ki’ ! Once the ‘key’ is found, I’d really love to experience the creative freedom of unlimited time in a studio, plus the adventure of roaming the world playing the result.

MF. Dan, your violin playing, in my opinion, grants ME the quality of joyous melancholy. Where do you see Myddle Earth in a few years?

DAN. Anything’s possible! Producing myriad CD’s with varied emphasis? Busking in Ireland? Doing stadiums in Russia? Or just awaiting rebirth!

MF. At what sort of venues do you make your appearance and how do you wish to touch people with your genre of music?

CLIFF. Any small live music venue, and we’ve also run a series of gigs at peoples houses, where we typically will play a set, and then open the floor for an open jam. In this way we’re taking the playing of music back to where it started, a part of every ones life.

MF. What is your approach to spirituality? Are you Pagan minstrels or conspiracy mystics?

CLIFF. YES! Both! And repressed inter-dimensional musical Gypsy’s too. For me zen is ‘The Way’. Twixt Scylla and Charybdis. The gods are cool, yet I prefer to pass over the mushrooms with focused breathing. We (royal WE) seek the grail of ultimate reality and truth (exits stage center in a puff of flower, rising with the Dough).

MF. Are your lyrics the epitome of romantic escapism or are they animated by clear-cut philosophical thinking?

CLIFF. YES! Again Both! Words can only allude to, and hint at, reality. So we come closest to the truth when we recognize and accept the minds fantasy for what it is. What I strive to do is make my lyrics fit with many peoples different perspectives, and hopefully allow or create a bridge from one to another, till the circle be complete.

MF. Would you ever consider teaming up with a metal outfit to produce a sound like Eluveitie?

CLIFF. What a great band! Yes,I think a lot of our music would be very suitable for this, both Dan and I are from a metal background, and would love to be able, at least some of the time,  to embrace the extreme ‘Heart’ that is what ‘Heavy Metal’ is all about. When time and opportunity permit, we’ll be sailing for a visit to that country once again, dragging Ed along, screaming.

MF. Your repertoire is made up of Celtic, Medieval, Folk and Acoustic Rock sounds. Do you agree with that? And which of your numbers is closest to your heart and why?

CLIFF. Yup, there’s no escaping that conclusion! I think, for myself I’m going to say either ‘To the Sun’, or ‘Ghostwinds’. Both define a feeling that’s at the center of my ‘Being’. Primal, Mystical.

MF. Are you as a band, socially conscious? And if you had more social and political input musically speaking, what would be your say in today’s society? Your message!

CLIFF. Let’s say we’re aware. I think we’ve pretty much agreed that our voice is for balance with nature, both human and other. To drop the petty and look to the big picture. Hence we’d welcome sponsorship from alternative energy people, so we can help promote them. And I’d personally like to urge my fellow homo sapiens to climb out of this horrible dark overpopulation hole. Just think how many of our problems would evaporate if we weren’t in this pressure cooker.

DAN. I think Cliff caught the Myddle Earth ‘entity’s Ideals quite nicely there.

MF. Is Myddle Earth’s repertoire entirely original?

CLIFF. As original as one can be, when creating within an evolving stylized cultural art form. The jigs and reels of course, are traditional and have been passed down to us.

MF. I believe Myddle Earth has a new Manager?

CLIFF. Yes we do, and we eagerly await his working of miracles. Else we shall just have to bury him in the garden of history, for compost. As for his roots, persona, and ‘modus operandi’, this is probably worth another whole interview.

MF. Do you have any merchandise and or music for purchase? Where can we get hold of it?

CLIFF. Alas the only album out to date is ‘Celtic Jigs and Reels’, which is primarily traditional. A good keepsake for people when we play functions though. As soon as we’ve found a way to do a good recording of our own work, we’ll be marketing with the best of them. Best plan is to come to a gig and we’ll sort it out.  Otherwise contact us at .
Same applies if you’d like to be personally notified of upcoming gigs by sms and email. T-shirts are in the pipeline.

MF. What were your greatest musical influences and inspirational factors as you were filling your musical shoes?

CLIFF. The first music to have a powerful impact on me was Black Sabbath, specifically a song called ‘War Pigs’. I can still vividly recall this momentous event. I was 17, and my identity just fell into place, some kind of recognition, like meeting ones family for the first time. Bands like Uria Heep, Ramases, and Led Zep came and lifted my soul. What could I do, I had to learn to play music!  Bring it all through!  Let it all out!  Dance in the rain!

ED. I’d never even heard, let alone played, music with this sort of sound. So actually, Cliff has had more influence then any of my favorite bands. We all love ‘Dead can Dance’, and I’d like to bring in more of that influence.

DAN. My highly respected, ancient and beloved Czechoslovakian violin teacher!

MF. Can you describe generally how you compose ME songs?

CLIFF. Simple ways really, I’m the primary writer/instigator. Perhaps I stumble across a riff, This conjures a feeling, which then suggests words. Or I find myself singing/chanting unknown words and melody’s, and converting them to English and so on. Or maybe a phrase leads to a tune. My favorite is when we improvise live, this obviously has to be the more primitive stuff. When I write I like to find a mood and structure within which the others can place there own creativity, each tunes in, and then we find we pretty much always agree in our interpretation. We work together really well. Its a bit like drawing the song out of the air, and then embroidering it.

MF. Is it strictly about the music? Or did money and the desire for the limelight play a role in your career choice?

CLIFF. Ha ha ha…  Nothing strict about it. Some money would be lovely, thanks. I don’t think any of us are particularly limelight types, but it is great fun to perform. And a tremendous way to outgrow fear and inhibition which then of course enriches ones life.

ED. They assured me that the drummer always gets the chicks. But after I joined the band they confessed to having tricked me, so now its just about the music. And the mead.

MF. What would be your advice to aspiring musicians?

CLIFF. For the greatest satisfaction? Make it all about finding your true self, and what it is to be human and alive, feel it all, and then you can bring it through as your gift to others.  Donna worry ’bout the money laddie, everyone gotta play their part, and when you play your part well, there in lies the true you. Sheese, I feel like such a pontifact!

ED. Pick an instrument that you can practice quietly enough so as not to start a feud with your neighbors.


MYDDLE EARTH caters for functions, weddings and parties etc. with a lively selection of jigs and reels. For medieval pageants and feasts, we add beautiful ‘Old Times’ music, performed as far as possible with the appropriate instruments. Then for our gigs and similar events the acoustically performed original and fresh Celtic Rock goes down a storm. Myddle Earth find and play sounds that conjure up resonance with our ancient roots and wisdom, the primal joy of life – lets find it share it and celebrate it. For more information or to hear what Myddle Earth sound like visit or


You may also like...

4 Responses

  1. Diccon says:

    The listener found herself “enveloped in a sense of well-being and tranquility” ?
    You are obviously not playing loud enough then !

    Sage words from Cliff regarding the True meaning of playing music and muso’s both young and old would do well to heed them.
    Great interview.

    Bring out a cd dammit !


  2. Helen Byrnes says:

    Great interview! Hail and what Dave said my favorite Ravenwolf song 🙂

  3. David says:

    “The serpent swallows it’s own tail.”

  4. Anton Mory says:

    Great sound. . Awesome Guys. Hope to catch a gig asap. .

Leave a Reply