Interview by Ary RAfter the great success gained with her new solo album, “Libertine”, the amazing Liv Kristine comes back with her band Leaves’Eyes and she introduces to the metal audience this new record, “Symphonies of the Night”. On the occasion of the release of this Norwegian/German band, we’ve got the chance to exchange again a few word with the blonde singer and we talked about this new brand music effort. Hi Liv and welcome back on Femme Metal Webzine. How are you doing, first of all?
Thank you, all is well, we are on our way to Russia, actually sitting on the plane right now. I am happy that Christmas is knocking on our doors..that means a few days off with my family. We will spend a week in snowy Austria at a cottage with a few friends – skiing, cooking, sauna, relax – perfect!After the great success gained with “Meredead”, Leaves’Eyes comes back with a new record, “Symphonies of the Night”. It deals with the history of 13 heroines of the past. Would you mind telling us something more about the concept?
The lyrical themes on “Symphonies of the Night” turned out to involve female heroes from history books and sagas. This wasn’t really planned, however, after having written the lyrics for the demo tracks for “Ophelia” and “Saint Cecelia” I realized this is the path to follow. I have always been inspired by women and female characters in history and literature, especially when it comes to witches, female warriors and women who suffered because of male power and religiously based views that lead to historical tragedies, murderer and mistreatment. To be honest, in my opinion, some of the best lyrics I’ve read and sung are found on Theatre of Tragedy‘s album “Aegis”. Raymond did a superb job on that album. One of the “ladies” who has inspired me artistically since I was a teen-ager studying Anglistics is Ophelia. She one of the main characters in “Hamlet”. Shakespeare Hamlet. She is Polonius’s daughter, a beautiful young woman with whom Hamlet has been in love. Ophelia is a sweet and innocent young girl, who obeys her father and her brother, Laertes. Dependent on men to tell her how to behave, she gives in to Polonius’s schemes to spy on Hamlet. Even in her lapse into madness and death, she remains maidenly, singing songs about flowers and finally drowning in the river amid the flower garlands she had gathered.Once again, you’ve worked with Stefan Heilemann for the artwork. What does it want to represent?
I am very happy with how the artwork turned out, moreover, that dress made by the company Struppets in Berlin is a masterpiece! Alex and our long-time friend and artist Heile (www.heilemania.de) are the masterminds for both ideas, pictures and artwork design. I would use the same words as you, which was also the goal for the artwork: we wanted it to be captivating, natural, mystical, dark and feminine…I mean…it has a tiny little bit of sex appeal, I’d say;-) The cover of the album reflects the album’s title. In this picture we wish to underline the feelings and emotions that your senses are evoked by when listening to “Symphonies of the Night”.In order to promote the album, you’ve released a videoclip for “Hell to the Heavens”. What could you say about the video itself?
We left straight after the Leaves Eyes performance in Wieze in Belgium to Siegerland in Germany. The forest is in private hands and absolutely untouched! It was quite cold though, especially for Lisa, the witch, and myself wearing only a dress. Rainer ZIPP Fränzen (and his team) is the man behind the cameras! Fantastic work! “Hell to the Heavens” is a strong, rough song that really kicks, as well as it draws the attention of the audience that this is a very interesting, solid and innovative album which unites 10 years of a Leaves’ Eyes history. The main character here is the witch, Hecate, who is punished to burn for her witchery. However, Hecate is strongly connected to nature and she brings the natural forces to take power over the inquisitors in the end. Hecate in Shakespeare‘s Macbeth is the goddess of witchcraft, and you can view her as the ruler of the Three Witches. I think “Hell to the Heavens” summons up Hecate‘s many features in history and tales very well.If I’m not mistaken in this new record we see the attendance of your sister, Carmen, who has taken part in the song “Eileen’s Ardency” that is one of the b-tracks of the album. What has pushed you to cooperate again with Carmen?
My sister Carmen is my perfect match on “Eileen’s Ardency”. She happened to be around during the recordings of “Symphonies of the Night”, moreover, in return I am her duet partner on her up-coming album with “Savn”. “Eileen’s Ardency” is an Irish-inspired ballad which I composed as our previous album “Meredead” was already in the mix. For “Meredead” it was too late, however, for “Symphonies of the Night” it is just perfect.Unlike the previous studio effort, there’s not so much Norwegian culture in this new record, despite some verses here and there. How come have you decided of not including a full song in Norwegian, like it happened for “Krakevisa” (“Meredead”, 2011)?
I never plan which languages should be sung on an album: it is the music itself which inspires me to write in certain languages. Mostly I start with a “nonsense” lyrical lay-out consisting of simple syllables or phonetic patterns. Then I re-write everything into real words expressing the emotional state I am heading for being the “expressional goal” of the song. I am always aching to achieve the optimal sound of the words being sung. I want the lyrics to smoothly assimilate to and melt into the music. phonetics, phonology and historical languages were my favourite themes at the University. The good thing is that I speak at least three languages fluently, Norwegian being my mother tongue, plus a few just a little bit. I studied old-English and Gothic. Sometimes English is the best language to express my story, setting and emotional peak, whereas for some songs I would prefer a different linguistic approach i.e. phonetic variations. I just happened to meet an Irish native speaker, which is fantastic, because I always wanted to sing a complete song in Irish. However, my pronunciation must be perfect, so I would need some professional help. I still need to learn French in a proper way. So far I have just picked up some phrases here and there on the road. Grammar, phonetics and semantics interest me a lot.A nice thing we’ve noticed is that you covered Depeche Mode in this record, I’m talking about the song “One Caress”. Where did the idea of covering this historical band come from?
Thank you very much! The track “One Caress” was originally recorded for a Sonic Seducer tribute to Depeche Mode. It was actually their request and I just love that song!
The album sees a lineup change: in fact, JB haven’t taken part in the recording process, his parts have been played by Thorsten Bauer, the guitar player, and there’s a new member, the drummer Felix Born. What did it happen?
J.B. has always been touring with a number of bands. I need to work with people who are present when we have a practice, recordings, a show or a tour. However, he is a superb bass player. Felix had the crazy idea to quit metal and go for German party music just five days before our previous tour in Europe and Asia. I was shocked! I have to honour Atrocity drummer Joris Nijenhuis, who replaced the Leaves’ Eyes drummer, learning a complete head-liner live set within four days! That’s Dutch power!Well, you’re currently touring Europe… how is the tour going so far?
The recently played tour for Leaves’ Eyes went through Belgium, Bulgaria, Romania, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Austria, China, Taiwan, and Thailand. Ahead of us, actually this week-end, is Russia. Next year begins with a handful of UK shows, followed by 70.000 tons of metal through the Caribbean and a US tour. Solo shows (exclusive ones!) are scheduled for December this year. I hope to see you soon at one of our gigs! Apart from MFVF this year I have to say that our tour to China, Taiwan and Thailand was absolutely fantastic! The Asian audience is really hungry for more and very, very grateful and warm-hearted. We had such a splendid time in Asia and a second round is planned for 2014. Our promoters there are extremely hard-working and generous. Apart from the shows they also showed us some special places and invited us to local restaurants to “taste some culture”. Lovely people!For this tour Leaves’Eyes is supported by Atrocity. We could say that this is a “family tour”, since as everybody knows, Alex Krull is your husband and he plays in both these bands. How did the decision of being supported by Atrocity happen?
The promoters often ask for both bands at the same gig. However, playing double shows is quite hard work, I have to tell you, especially because Atrocity‘s setlist is pure death-metal.Starting from January, you’ll play in UK and then you’ll embark for the US, in order to play at the 70.000 Tons Of Metal. Do you have any expectations for this event?
We can’t wait to be back in the UK and in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico with a brand new setlist!Any future goal for Leaves Eyes after this tour?
We will start composing our sixth full-length album I between the shows and the tours.What about your solo career? I remember of having read that you’ll perform in Switzerland this month…
That’s correct: shortly before Christmas I will play exclusive solo shows in Germany, Nagold, and Switzerland, Pratteln. I have quite a few surprises for you, including a meet and greet after the show, which I am always looking forward to. My setlist includes songs from all my solo albums, a handful of Theatre of a Tragedy songs and a few special classical carols. A while ago I met my friend Anneke van Giersbergen at a festival…we are hoping to tour together, both solo, in 2014! Let’s cross our fingers!Recently you also had the chance to cooperate with Tyr and Primal Fear. What do you remember with such a great enthusiasm about these experiences?
I love both bands, and both Heri‘s and Ralf‘s vocals. It’s always the music which makes me decide whether I would like to participate in collaborations or not. I’ve been involved in a number of duets – “3 a.m.” (Nick Holmes), “Nymphetamine” (Cradle of Filth), “Tell-Tale Eyes” (John Kelly), “Born with a Broken Heart” (Primal Fear), “Despierta” (Romanthica), “The Lay of our Love” (Tyr)…Duets inspire me! I will tell you a secret: I always sing in the shower. That’s one of my tricks to develop my singing techniques and practicing languages – just sing as much as you can! I have enjoyed Tyr‘s music and albums for a long time. Then we suddenly met a few years ago backstage at a German festival. During Leaves’ Eyes headliner show in Wacken, Germany, 2012, Heri joined me on stage as my special guest. Heri is a great musician and very, very nice. I fell in love with “The Lay of our Love” straight away – it was a pleasure returning a favor to Heri and Tyr. I hope we can play live together some day. Ralf came by and visited us at Mastersound Studio a while ago for a coffee and a great chat. We are both parents and full-time musicians, moreover, we both love sports. Ralf is a fine guy, and I really enjoyed working with him.Ok Liv I think we’re done so thanks so much for your time. The final words are up to you.
My pleasure! Thank you for all your love and support through all these years – I hope you enjoy “Symphonies of the Night”! I hope to see you next year!
Photos by Stefan Heilemann- Heilemania