Interview by Grace Méridian, Kassandra Novell & Lindsay Schoolcraft
Video by Mary ZimmerHere what we present you is a special interview done by the Eve’s Apple (Don’t you know what is? Just take a peek here!) members Grace Méridan (Lifeaftergod), Kassandra Novell, Lindsay Schoolcraft & Mary Zimmer (Luna Mortis). First of all I thank the girls for this awesome interview and if you wanna enjoy the video experience, please check out here but we must warn we that there’s a little mistake that we cannot fix, we hope you like it the same. Then we come to the special guest – we’re talking about Anneke Van Giersbergen. The fantastic Dutch singer, after her departure from The Gathering, has slowly built a solo career with her 5 albums. The girls interviewed Anneke during her short trip in US, on March in Chicago. Beside the girls, I want to personally thank Mr.Rob Snijders for helping us setting this interview up. Well, after this short intro it’s time to read the interview, so enjoy it!
Grace: I’m Grace Meridan and we’re here interview Anneke van Giersbergen for Femme Metal and Eve’s Apple. So, Hi Anneke, pleased to meet you.
Anneke: Hi! Nice to meet you.
Grace: The show was magnificent. She played at Reggie’s and tonight there is an acoustic set.
Anneke: Yes, at the Ultra Lounge.
Grace: At the Ultra Lounge, awesome! So, how does it feel to go from a band to an acoustic set?
Anneke: Umm. I like it. I like the diversity of it and I like the balance in it. And I loved it yesterday because it’s like good energy!! It’s Rock and Roll. And I like the acoustic thing because it’s more pure and it’s more intimate. So, yeah. I enjoy both things. I wouldn’t do one without the other. You know what I mean. I really like the diversity.
Lindsay: So, I’m Lindsay Schoolcraft and thank you again for doing this interview and I wanted to know; I researched you like Grace did to. But, I don’t trust Wikipedia.
Lindsay: You can’t trust everything one there. So, I wonder what is your voice type? What is your range? You have such a warm, unique, earth tone. It’s beautiful.
Anneke: Thanks, thanks so much. Well, I used to be soprano, when I was younger. But, my voice dropped a little bit, cause I’m now older and cause I also can I didn’t train to stay up. With training, you expand your reach. But, I didn’t really think to do that. So, I just sing what I sing. I sing what I write and this is how I train my voice. So, so I dropped too. I don’t know what you call it in a logical: mezzo-soprano. It’s a little bit lower.
Lindsay: So lower or lower than a mezzo-soprano.
Anneke: No, it’s so lower than a soprano. So, it’s — I think its mezzo, you call it.
Mary: (behind the camera) Yeah, it’s mezzo-soprano. That’s what we call it too.
Anneke: Yeah, yeah yeah. So, I dropped a little bit. I used to have vocal lessons when I was younger. And I have one song that goes up really high up in the end and it goes over Porgy and Bess.
Mary: (behind the camera) I love that musical.
Anneke: And it is one song “It Ain’t Necessarily So”.
Anneke: Then you have the high notes in the end. I don’t know, it’s like a high C. I always told my teacher. I want to sing that, I’m going to go towards that. If I can sing that, I’m happy! And so, in the end; on a good day, I could do it! And later on I dropped technical stuff. I didn’t have a goal like I didn’t want to sing this high! But, I just loved that song so much that I wanted to be able to sing it in its original tone. So, I trained for that. But, I can’t really reach it.
Lindsay: It’s like a personal goal.
Anneke: When I was like 16 or so.
Lindsay: Oh wow!
Anneke: So, I loved it. I loved the whole thing.
Kassandra: My name is Kassy. It’s wonderful to meet you.
Anneke: Nice to meet you!
Kassandra: So, you’ve done some work with other female singers, I think it was one of your other band-mate’s songs *sings* “Today was a day..” you re-did that one, and then you had somebody else sing on it. She had a different, darker quality. And then, of course, there are great videos of you singing with Sharon den Adel. And so, tell us a little bit about other female singers that you’ve gotten a chance to sing with and some of your favourite experiences.
Anneke: Well the one you were talking about firstly is a Norwegian girl singing called Kristin Fjellseth. She used to be in a band called Pale Forest, and she’s a very, very good singer, totally different from me and that’s why it’s so nice, to sing with. Of course, vocals are always different because like we said it’s so personal, like your sound is always a personal thing, but I like it when it’s far apart and still you complement each other. Because sometimes you sing with somebody and your vocals are so away from each other that it doesn’t blend well and that’s a pity because you can’t make it blend, it’s you either fit each other or you don’t. And with Kristin we have always really liked it, because we’ve toured with them and we sing all together. And I very much like working with Sharon of Within Temptation. She has a very high beautiful, like airy kind of vocal sound and it fits quite with my midi range. She’s a fantastic vocalist; she’s very clear, spot on, very like an angel!
Mary: I just wanted to ask you about Devin Townsend, he’s one of my favourite artists and I got 5 seconds to meet him at NAMM, I was in a band that was signed to Century Media so I only met him briefly but I wanted to know about your experience working with him when you guys came out with “Addicted” together, that was fantastic, it was like my two favourite vocalists together! So tell us a little bit more about him and also I’m curious too, because he’s such a dynamic vocalist, did he push you in any way? As the producer did he challenge you to do some things vocally that maybe you hadn’t done before?
Anneke: Yes, well totally, because Devin, he is the master, you know, of everything, of song-writing, of vocals, of guitar playing, and also as a human being he is, you know, cause you met him for 5 seconds, you know he is all that! He always brings out the best in me as a human being and as a vocalist, as an artist, live, performing-wise. Especially in the studio, you know, like, he made me do things that I didn’t know I could do! And I know my voice, pretty well, I know myself pretty well, but, even if I said (which doesn’t happen a lot) I said “maybe I can’t sing it” he says “yeah you will” – and I just did it! And it’s how easy it is! But it’s good energy, it’s good, good, good positive energy and he is so talented. He is so intelligent, and he’s so funny that it makes it very easy to work with him and very nice and I’m very proud of that, so I’m proud of those albums, if I’m honest. And, yeah, he really reached out the best in me.
Grace: I noticed (I researched you a little bit before this) that you did some other artistic ventures. I saw that you did a children’s show last year. So can you tell me a little bit about that?
Anneke: Yes, I made a theatre play for children from a book of Frank Tashlin’s, an American writer. He wrote a children’s book called, “The Bear That Wasn’t”, and it was made in the 40s. It’s an old book, and I got asked to turn it into a play and I did it with lots of songs, in the Dutch language of course, and acting and we have visuals in the background – it is sooo super-cute! And so we always play an afternoon show. My younger son, he is 8 years old he always comes with me when I perform, which is fabulous! I really like the happy thing and the playing energetic shows. And then the next day, you’ve 11 o’clock show time in the morning and it’s just so cool to do!
Grace: You have a completely different audience, right?
Anneke: You know what it is? They are so honest because if they don’t like it, if you lose your concentration and you don’t really project every word like you’re supposed to then they go like this *folds her arms, crosses her legs and turns her face away rolling her eyes*
Grace: And you’re not used to it, you’re like..
Anneke: You have to think and to focus, for someone like me is quite a task. SO you have to focus for like 45 minutes and be on top of it otherwise they’re gone. And it’s just so cool to do! I love that so!
Lindsay: So, warming up before a show, what do you do?
Anneke: (whispers) Not much! *laughter*
Lindsay: So there’s no special certain things you do, maybe just jumping jacks or…?! *more laughter*
Anneke: Well yes, well I do, when I’m really on tour and I have to sing like thirty shows in a row, which is usually only European tours of like three weeks or whatever, I have to because you can strain your voice a lot. SO I do a lot of, before the show, I just warm up by humming just to vibrate it, loosen and, just humming, just singing low and then just do a little bit of scaling. I think it’s also really important to have your first song in the set-list, make it an easy song, like, just to kind of build it up.
Lindsay: …like in a comfort zone kind of thing?
Anneke: Yeah. Just start low. We have this song, “Feel Alive”; it’s kind of easy and it becomes a little bit heavier in the choruses. And you kind of warm your voice up in the first song anyway. But if I do really intensive touring, I have to do a little bit of warming up. I’m kind of lazy that way. Sometimes I don’t really need it, sometimes, and it makes me a little bit lazy.
Lindsay: Well, you all fooled us last night ‘cause last night was an amazing performance. We were all like, “I wonder what she does to warm up?” You were just soaring.
Anneke: Well, not much, but I have to say I am also a little bit hoarse, because of the flying and jet lag and the air conditioning everywhere, in hotels, and airplanes, and in venues; it’s the only place we go and they all have air conditioning. That’s much more of a problem than warming up the voice.
Kassandra: You were with The Gathering for 13 years, and then you made the very incredible brave leap to doing your own thing. And, I mean, I think that’s absolutely wonderful. Were you absolutely terrified, and what were some of the steps that you took? Because we know lots of different females out there who might be interested in doing their own solo career; they’re just terrified, they don’t know where to start. Any kind of advice?
Anneke: That’s a good question, because I have no idea. The only thing I knew was it was in my heart, like you said, it was a soul decision. But to find the words to explain it, that’s hard. The conversation I had with the guys, like I want to do something else, that was maybe the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, because I couldn’t put words to my feelings. But I knew, because The Gathering was still popular, we were still doing great. There was no reason to leave, you know what I mean? And still there was, I just wanted to get back on my own two feet, do my own things, release my own records, but also just make my own days, be with my family, and all that, and that’s all good reasons. But still, it’s hard to explain, because, why should you?
Mary: Here’s the last question for you. You’re going to be playing at Metal Female Voices Festival. We are all going to be there because we’re doing another Eve’s Apple pre-show, and we’ll be playing in various capacities as well. Are you looking forward to that? Have you played that fest before? Are you looking forward to that audience, and what do you think about being included on an all-female rock festival?
Anneke: It’s a strange thing for me because I know I am part of this huge female-fronted rock scene. You know, we as The Gathering are quite proud of that, that we were at the beginning of this huge scene. And I don’t really do these kinds of shows a lot, like the [Metal] Female Voices festivals, so this will be the first time I’ve played this festival. And I’m really looking forward to it because it is such a specific scene. And all the girls—we all have something in common—and that’s really nice. But I don’t really think about this a lot because in the end, we are just making music, and we happen to be girls in a male scene. Especially in the beginning, like 15 years back. There were not a lot of female journalists in heavy metal, or vocalists, or technicians, or sound girls, or light technicians. More and more girls came into the scene, which is great. I like that, I like that a lot. So, I’m looking forward to that, totally. But it’s like you are entering a world, you know what I mean? And I’m just a girl, I’m in a band, I’m making music, but I’m also a part of this world, and I’m a part of different things. It’s a funny thing for me to enter, it’s something very specific. I like to enter this world on that day, and look upon it as my own, because I’m a part of it. So yeah, totally! So you’re all going to be there?
Mary: Yeah, we’ll all be there.
Anneke: That’s cool.
Mary: Yes, we’ll be there. And we’re looking forward to seeing you as well. Thank you for the interview. It’s been an absolute pleasure. And thanks to Femme Metal Webzine for having us out here. I don’t know what else to say, but thank you very much, have a good one, we really appreciate it.
And now some other photos!