Liv Kristine, known for her time with both Theatre of Tragedy and Leaves’ Eyes, is also a successful solo artist, a painter and mother. I had the chance this evening to get to know one of the most charming front women in metal.
After battling soundchecks, bins being tossed down the stairs and several other interruptions with Alexander Krull, I was thrilled to learn I’d be conducting this interview in the peace and quiet of their own space. I’d forgotten what it was like to hear myself think for a moment.
We’ll start off by talking a little about Symphonies of the Night. It’s your latest album, it’s not been out that long. We’ll talk about the recording process first, did anything differ from previous releases or is it a standard Leaves’ Eyes recording?
It was different, the whole recording and composing process was different from earlier recording processes because as we sat down and did some brainstorming for the upcoming album, I just told my band members that basically we have a ten years anniversary so feel free to let in any influence you want to let into our music. Feel free to do anything you like…
…yes, haha freedom, feel free to let out your creative heart. Do what you think is right and I think that was the right thing to do because we went with the creative flow and we saw and realised how well things were progressing. We went with the flow and I have to admit I feel very comfortable about where I am standing right now with my band. Symphonies of the Night is round and it sums up all the good things about Leaves’ Eyes. I think it’s a perfect beginning for another ten years of Leaves’ Eyes.
The album dropped in November, how was the reaction been from fans and critics?
It’s been amazing! It’s been surprising actually ’cause Symphonies of the Night IS definitely Leaves’ Eyes, it’s very very very much Leaves’ Eyes. It’s actually all about Leaves’ Eyes on this album and still it’s different. The lyrics are different, the concept, even the music. But nobody said well ‘OK yeah, it’s Leaves’ Eyes trying to be different’. Without sounding arrogant or anything I really don’t pay much attention to what is going on the music world around me at the moment. What’s in. What’s out. What everybody else is doing. I never did that, I have always followed my artistic heart and I have to…I need to… be comfortable with what I’m doing, especially with Leaves’ Eyes because I wasn’t able to feel this way with Theater of Tragedy in the past and you saw what happened to the band. So yes. Follow your artistic heart and just focus on yourself!
I agree, when you’re writing it has to be for yourself first and foremost.
Yes, absolutely, the trend right now is what I’ve heard and seen is that many symphonic metal bands with female vocals now seem to follow a kind of commercial trend to become more modern and that’s not my path. That’s not my ambition of Leaves’ Eyes.
You can see where Leaves’ Eyes have sort of gone off on a tangent and done your own thing, for example you have Within Temptation who’ve taken the more commercial route and Nightwish who’ve taken the grandiose cinematic approach.
Yes, exactly that!
So, you’re in the UK, then you’re off to the US. There’s nothing announced after that. What are the plans? Are Leaves’ Eyes off to…?
Yes! Err festivals, basically festivals…
I was gonna ask if you were coming back to the UK for any, but you can’t tell me anyway, can you..?
…hahaha! I haven’t signed any contracts yet so I have to do that after the American tour, we basically have 48 hours to do our laundry and then we’ll be off to the states. Well we start in Puerto Rico and we do 70,000 tons of metal, then the US, then Canada. So we’ll be 4 weeks on the road and after that we’ll take care of everything else…festivals! I’m hoping to do a world tour part 2 in October/November.I’m also trying to set up a solo tour Anneke Van Giersbergen that I think we’ll be the perfect match…
She is amazing…
…She is amazing and we’re really good friends and I realised, she gave me her album, the latest album ‘Drive‘ and I gave her mine, ‘Libertine‘ and we just realised. We have got to do this, so we’re trying to set up this thing for the fall so lets just hope and pray…
Please come back to Manchester!
…yes, yes, we’ll do Manchester!
And so, you’re mid way through the tour now, Manchester being the middle of only five dates. So how have the fan reactions been on this run?
Yes, unfortunately. The reaction has been absolutely amazing. Nottingham was yesterday. It was erm, a full house, first time in Nottingham and a full house, what can I say? I’m just very very grateful. I’m so happy about this. Cardiff was lovely as well. AND I know that tonight we’ll have a full house too!
So, we’ll talk about the next album. Are you working on solo material or Leaves’ Eyes?
I am! Solo! Just about to, I actually had planned to record three demo songs before coming to the UK. But just a lack of time. So it has to wait until after the American tour. But we’re in the middle of the composing process.
You were saying you’re gonna be on the road for a very long time going to America. So you go on the road, you play metal, you go home, you record metal. Do you still listen to bands whilst you’re recording and taking in outside influence?
I do, I do. I listen to music all day! My alarm clock goes off at 6 o’clock in the morning and the first thing I do is turn on the classical radio. Radio Klassisch it’s called in German and yeah my day always begins with classical music. Then taking my son to school, radio or a CD at the choice of my son which is usually metal and even when the house is quiet it’s just me and my ideas, a glass of wine, or maybe doing some painting or writing lyrics or doing some ironing like all mums have to do. My favourite CD right now…ahh thats…Dead Can Dance! Yeah! The best of Dead Can Dance. And every now and then Lamb of God!! \m/ It’s good for running!
So I’ve got a serious question now, I asked Alexander this also, that is, your thoughts on the future of the music industry…concerning music piracy…is this a necessary evil now? Do albums not sell.. or?
The problem is that the artist can’t live from this, that’s a problem and it’s just not the piracy, but the labels don’t have that much income any more and they spend less money on their artists especially those being in the middle. So the bigger ones, the bigger the fish is the more money they get poured on them. It’s the same in Germany, we do have organisations supporting artists but it’s always the biggest one getting the money although everybody pays into that pot. That is something that has also been discussed in the European Union and it just changes for the worst. So we’re having a hard time right now with all the piracy as well.
It is a double-edged sword would you say, getting your music out to the entire world with a further reach than before?
Yeah exactly, how is anybody in Indonesia…there is no record store anywhere in Indonesia selling Leaves’ Eyes albums that’s for sure. So how does this fan get his/her Leaves’ Eyes album. I realise that too, absolutely.
Final question. You tour all the time, fans will inevitably bring you gifts. What was the weirdest gift you’ve ever been given by a fan?
Ha! Haha! I appreciate good wine and chocolate and all that. All of my fans know that I really love it. I really appreciate it but once I had a crown. Somebody gave me a crown. It was knitted. In green. A knitted green crown. So that was quite special and it was huge!
Do you still have it?
…haha! It’s in the box with my son’s Halloween stuff. It works for Halloween, but I was quite surprised.
Well, I will leave you with thoughts of the knitted green crown. Thank you for your time! And I do hope to see you in the fall with Anneke!
Leaves Eyes Symphonies of the Night is out now via Napalm Records