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? Continue reading »
Label: Napalm Records
Review by Tony Cannella
“Symphonies of the Night” is the title of the 4th full-length album from the German/Norwegian metal band Leaves’ Eyes. The band – which is led by the duel vocals of Liv Kristine and her husband, Atrocity main man Alex Krull – has forged a pretty consistent and solid career for themselves based on an excellent body of work and “Symphonies of the Night” certainly rates right up there with their previous efforts.
The opening number “Hell to the Heavens” is simply awesome and my favorite track. What a great way to start things. Liv Kristine and Alexander Krull continue to be one of the most unique vocal tandems who use the “beauty and the beast” technique. Continue reading »
LEAVES’ EYES — the German/Norwegian band formed by ex-THEATRE OF TRAGEDY singer Liv Kristine Espenaes Krull and members of ATROCITY — has set “Symphonies Of The Night” as the title of its new album, due later in the year via Napalm Records.
A new LEAVES’ EYES video, for the song “Melusine”, featuring footage from live shows, tours and festivals like Wacken Open Air in 2012, can be seen below.
Interview by Ed MacLaren
From her groundbreaking contributions to the seminal goth metal band Theatre of Tragedy to even bigger success fronting the eponymously named Leaves’ Eyes, Liv Kristine is one of a few women who have truly earned the status of femme metal icon. With the release of her third solo album, “Skintight”, Liv continues to offer fans a new and diverse musical perspective along with her unique vocal skills. Femme Metal had the privilege to speak with Liv about her creative process, the secrets to her longevity, and her dreams for the future. Congratulations on the release of “Skintight”! It’s another fantastic showcase of your creative talents. Listening to a new Liv Kristine solo album is always an interesting pleasure. What you hear is always unexpected but at the same time it’s totally you.
Thank you so much! This album is me, straight from the heart, just very down-to-earth, natural and personal. It really deserves the title “Skintight”.
Your solo efforts don’t come along that often – although in your defense you’re a pretty busy woman. What happens that points you down the solo path? Does the mood just overtake you and you have no choice but to focus your creative energies in that direction?
My solo work and Leaves’ Eyes have the same status for me, however, I’ve needed more time in between the releases of my solo albums than when it comes to Leaves’ Eyes releases. There is no explanation for this “rhythm”, though. My first solo album “Deus ex Machina” was released eleven years ago, the second one “Enter My Religion” in 2006/2007. However, “Skintight” is my most personal album so far and the one I appreciate the most. I need my solo albums next to Leaves’ Eyes. I never plan an album, the songs, or the percentage of slow and fast songs. I just compose it and record it and then when it’s released, the audience decides what to think of it. I hate trends and forced ideas. I’m glad my record label trusts me and lets me do my own thing and follow my own instincts. “Deus ex Machina” is probably the one album that had the most influence from the label, external producers etc. and it mirrors a very young “myself”. I hate the picture on the cover, though! Something went wrong when printing the booklet, I guess. “Enter My Religion” is the album that celebrates the freedom I felt after winning my artistic freedom back after a terrible time spent in court. And I was happy becoming a mother! With “Skintight”, I have taken a big step and gained more independence and self-confidence. It feels really good to release this album, and I am really looking forward to my next one!
What was your goal when recording “Skintight”? Did you accomplish what you set out to do?
I was aiming at one thing: making an album that’s ME – just listening to my inner voice. Concerning the song-writing process for the album, I never really “plan” a production. Most ideas just appear unexpectedly, like for instance when I wake up early in the morning at 6.a.m., or perhaps they come along with a glass of red wine when all is quiet in the house. I always carry a little book for notes with me, just in case. The next thing is to call Thorsten and meet up in the studio, which is, luckily, close to where we are living.
The lyrics on “Skintight” are very personal reflections for you as are your lyrics for Leaves’ Eyes. Do you have a different mindset when you’re writing for one or the other or does it all come from the same place?
My solo work is where I put all my childhood memories, my experiences being a young woman, ideas about love, marriage, memories from travelling, and becoming a mum. Leaves’ Eyes has a special concept to every album and I sing in up to seven languages. All lyrics on “Skintight” were written in English. I guess it’s just a matter of feeling comfortable in my own artistic “expression” both lyrically and musically.
“Skintight” is a Liv Kristine solo album but you’re working mainly with Thorsten Bauer and your husband Alexander Krull from Leaves’ Eyes. For a solo effort, why did you decide to keep your collaborations within the “family”?
As I already mentioned, I only want to be independent being an artist, so I would chose any label that would let me do whatever I want, in my own studio, with the musicians I choose to work with myself. I don’t care so much about what the trend is like; I’d rather listen to my inner voice and pay attention to my artistic development and my own goals.
Did the writing and recording experience evolve differently than working with Alexander and Thorsten on “Skintight” than on a Leaves’ Eyes project?
The composing period and recording period of “Skintight” was much, much shorter than any Leaves’ Eyes production. The complete production of “Skintight” was stripped down to a few instruments to make the album warm, focused and intimate. That was my thought from the very beginning.
Was it still essentially a mutually collaborative effort or did you ever have to put your foot down and say, “This is my album and we’re doing it this way !”?
This time we did it MY way! I am so grateful that Thorsten, Alexander and my label supports me doing this – achieving my goal!
Does releasing a solo album give you an opportunity to indulge your diverse musical influences in the context of your own music? “The Rarest Flower” has a wonderful Tori Amos flow to it.
Thank you, that’s a really nice compliment! I have a varied taste in music: Coldplay and One Republic in the car, Black Sabbath at every party, Tori Amos when relaxing, Edvard Grieg when cleaning, Amorphis when typing interviews and Madonna when cooking! Tori Amos inspired me to record in the way we did. I think she’s a genius!
“Skintight” gives you an opportunity to make use of your full vocal range in a more “natural” sounding environment. As a singer, was it a specific goal to experiment with your voice on this album and try some things that just didn’t “fit” Leaves’ Eyes?
First of all, Thorsten (co-song writer), Alexander (husband and producer) and myself, rebuilt one of the recording rooms so the engineer and the one being recorded are in the same room. The room also has a fantastic view out on the southwestern forests and wine yards! Both music and voice were recorded in a “one-take” procedure to keep the songs real and natural, like Tori Amos, because we wanted to intensify the emotional flow in a natural way. I hate recording little bits and pieces and making pauses between verses and choruses. I would like my friends and fansto hear that this is me. I really don’t need to polish my vocals, nor my identity.
You’re releasing “Skintight” at the same time as the special edition of “Njord” and on the eve of a Leaves’ Eyes tour of the United States. What was the rationale of releasing the solo album now instead of waiting until next year and back it with a solo tour?
I was just eager to have it released as “Skintight” was completed in January 2010. I just couldn’t wait! “Skintight” along with “Enter My Religion” and “Deus ex Machina” gives you three full albums of solo material.
Do you think that you’ve established a unique identity for yourself as a solo artist separate from being the lead singer or Leaves’ Eyes or Theatre of Tragedy?
If I take a look at the progress between all my albums, I feel good about it. Album by album I’ve become more independent and gained more self-confidence. After “Deus ex Machina”, which ended in a terrible court case, I have learned to speak out when I feel that something is not all right, fair, or my taste. “Enter My Religion” was a very important step towards freedom for me after a very tough and exhausting period, the ups and downs with Theatre of Tragedy and endless touring. I have been around for 17 years now and I can thank my friends, fans and family for that!
It’s also been 15 years since the release of Theatre of Tragedy‘s self-titled debut “A Distance There Is” still gives me chills every time I listen to it. An amazing vocal performance! Do you ever reflect on the progression and evolution of the musical genre you helped define? Did you have any idea it would explode the way it did?
That’s really a wonderful compliment, thank you from the bottom of my heart. No, we would never guess back in 1995 that we would be the trigger and founding band of such an explosion in metal – creating a new metal genre. At first, we were really screamed at by music journalists for mixing extreme contrasts of beauty and the beast in metal, however, the metal fans voted for us to become the band of the year, best new comer a.s.o. world wide. Then the explosion came! Some time ago, I met Tuomas from Nightwish. He really made me blush, he said, “There would have been no Nightwish without you”. That went straight into my heart!
You’re considered one of the definitive voices of the metal genre – gothic or otherwise – often imitated but never duplicated. Your musical contributions helped open doors for many women to express themselves musically in a genre then dominated by men. Did you think, at that time, that women would ever become such a fixture on the metal scene?
I had no idea! I am so glad that my members of Theatre of Tragedy back then let me step out of the background-singer position and into the front-vocal position! I guess that was the important step to take.
With more and more female-fronted metal bands appearing all over the globe, is there any advice you could offer any young woman wanting to strap on a corset and jump onstage?
Speak out for yourselves and listen to your inner voice! Do not pay so much attention to the money and the fame, because it can hurt you really bad! Be yourself! Be creative, always develop! And stay healthy.
You were still a teenager when you started performing professionally and even now you are still able to keep your music relevant with a fresh perspective and point of view. How do you do it?
I’ve always had a great passion for music and art in general. I was born with a very creative mind and a voice that can do multiple things. Moreover, I take good care of myself, stay in shape, and have a very healthy living style. I’m 34 now and just won a 10 km run in south-west Germany and my winning time was the best I ever achieved. That’s nice! Being a mother also gives me so much power in my daily life. Having my own wonderful family is the greatest luck on earth! I consider myself a very lucky person: I’m able to combine family and music! I never earned the big money, however if I ever do, I have huge plans. My ultimate goal with my solo work is to sell “millions” of albums so I can start my own foundation, helping children in need worldwide. Moreover, I’m dreaming about starting a bilingual/trilingual music kindergarten for kids with special needs and abilities, children that have a “handicap” somehow and do not fit into the typical, official kindergarten concept. Music can help these children in a social, psychological and physical way and they have so many “hidden” abilities that we need to discover and trigger! This is only possible in such suitable, loving and stable surroundings like a “special” kindergarten or school. This is my dream for the future.
You’ve had an incredibly diverse and prolific career. Are there any songs from any stage in your career that hold a special place in your heart? What makes them so special?
“A Distance There Is” (ToT), “For Emily” (Leaves’ Eyes), “Irish Rain” (Leaves’ Eyes), “Blue Emptiness” (Liv K.), “Twofold” (Liv K.) and “The Rarest Flower” (Liv K.). They’re special because they’re all linked to happenings in my life and they make me cry every now and then. It’s like holding up a mirror to my own emotions.
What next for you after the Leaves’ Eyes US tour? Will you try to do some “Skintight” promotion in the new year?
My next tour will probably be an acoustic tour, some shows in December and the rest next February or March, in intimate locations, with chairs, candles… Let’s call it “A Night with Liv Kristine”. I will bring three musicians and play songs from my solo albums, some acoustic Leaves’ Eyes pearls and maybe “A Distance There Is”. Vocals, guitars, piano and percussion.
(Famous) Last words?
“My greatest luck is to give some happiness and love to others”. This is what my mother always told me and she is so right! Through my art, I am able to do this and my fans and friends have made my dream come true. I have the best fans in the world! Thank you!
Photos by Stefan Heilemann
Interview by Ed MacLaren
In the European metal scene, Liv Kristine is an icon. From her years with the seminal gothic metal band Theatre of Tragedy to her current success with Leaves’ Eyes, she is the archetype to which all female metal singers are compared and measured against. With their fourth full-length album, “Meredead”, Leaves’ Eyes have created their magnum opus – a brilliant fusion of music, melody, rhythm and language that transcends categorization and redefines the definition of metal. After finishing a spring tour with Midnattsol and Tarja, Liv took some time to talk with Femme Metal about her creative process and the creation of “Meredead”.Since our last interview for your solo album, “Skintight”, you’ve returned once again with your fourth Leaves’ Eyes album – the brilliant “Meredead”. Could you actually get any busier without having to clone yourself? (Laughs) True, we’ve been very busy the last six years! However, I was born with a hyperactive artistic mind, so being creative – composing, writing lyrics, recording and performing – is something I really enjoy doing. It’s all a part of me and experience has made me become the person and artist I am. Concerning our latest production, we needed about one and a half years for the complete production of “Meredead”, which is only possible because we do have our own studio – Mastersound Studio. The composing process went overwhelmingly fast. It was one great pleasure writing and recording the album together with Thorsten and Alex. We actually just arrived back from tour, and I’m now looking forward to further shows and tours. In April we toured with my sister Carmen‘s band Midnattsol, and then in May we joined Tarja. Wow! Both tours were full of magic moments when the ladies got together! Busy, for sure, but very happy!
“Meredead” sounds fantastic – a full, rich musical experience from beginning to end. It has everything fans love about the band but expands the Leaves’ Eyes sound in some interesting ways. With each album your music becomes more progressively intricate and layered – complex and elaborate. Was “Meredead” a deliberate direction or an organic outgrowth of the writing and recording process?
I’d say it was an organic outgrowth of the process. We just started composing with an open mind. “Meredead” is our fourth album, and in my opinion there is no need to reduce ourselves to a certain style. The artistic development is the basic energy for the survival of an artist, and art as such. The press, fans and friends say that “Meredead” is “the most diverse, emotional and best-sounding production” by Leaves’ Eyes so far, moreover, “Leaves’ Eyes have created their own genre”. Believe me, this warms my heart! We never go with the commercial flow; we only go with the creative flow of the band! I prefer not to force Leaves’ Eyes into a specific already settled musical genre. I would rather say that Leaves’ Eyes’ music combines elements of gothic metal, classical music, folk music, with history and mythology.
True, Alexander, Thorsten and I are the songwriting and production team. Most of the time, music comes first, then vocal lines and words and then we work even more on the instruments until the three of us have a good feeling about it. Thorsten is our main composer, whereas words, concept and vocal lines are my area. Alexander is our producer meaning he’s the person in the band that gets only half of the sleep compared to Thorsten and myself. There is always a strict deadline, there a tons of different instruments in our music to take care of in the mix. Everything is recorded live in our studio except for the Lingua Mortis Orchestra from Minsk. Moreover, Alex is a perfectionist. I am really happy my husband didn’t suffer from a heart-attack yet – he’s incredible! Seeing that “Skintight” was such a departure from your band material, did it take you and the guys some time to switch gears and get into a Leaves’ Eyes groove for recording the new album? No, not at all. We compose and record in two different recording rooms. However, normally there is only one production going on at the time. Anyway, the mental “switch” is no problem at all. After all these years, doing everything by ourselves, there are enough reasons to call us professionals. I know very well that I’m surrounded by first-class musicians. You’ve also added some new members since “Njord”. How are their contributions adding to the core trio? The feeling within the band and between the band members has never ever been as positive, strong and inspiring as it is now since the latest line-up changes. That’s utterly important for the existence and the creativity of the band. I am so, so proud of my guys! It’s such a pleasure composing, recording and touring with them. We already knew Sander van der Meer and Roland Navratil for a long time before they joined the band. Sander replaced Matze on guitars, who quit because of family growth, whereas Roland replaced Chris Antonopoulus, who had different plans for his future. J.B. is our session player on bass, joining in after Alla Fedynitsch decided to pay more attention to her 9 to 5 job. After joining in, Sander and Roland were immediately members of the Leaves’ Eyes family. They travel from Holland and Austria to stay and work at Mastersound Studio as often as possible. We often hang out at my house after work, as I love cooking spicy Indian food and baking my special “Norwegian” cakes, moreover, sharing some bottles of wine.
“Meredead” integrates much more folk elements and melodies than previous albums. The pipes, fiddles, flutes – the more diverse instrumentation on “Meredead” really expands your musical palette.
For the production of “Meredead” it was highly important to us that each song had its own “face”, individuality and perfect, crystal clear sound to strengthen the emotional effect. We just let the music inspire us to add new and interesting “spices” to our music, like pipes, the nyckelharpa – a Swedish folk instrument – the fiddle, cello, classical orchestra or the flute. That’s what makes the album that diverse and exciting as you discover a different story, different instrumental combinations, different ways of singing even in various languages in each song. “Meredead” or “deadly sea” is the underlying theme of the album. How does that concept of death by water thread through the songs on the album? It’s an interesting contrast as water is also looked at as a giver of life.
The title is my own word-creation: To my grammatical knowledge, “Meredead” could mean ‘dead by the sea’, ‘or the deadly sea’. Poetically, we could add some imagination and lyrical sound and say “Sea of Death”. Secondly, the word “Meredead” sums up some of the themes rooted in my lyrics on the album. I grew up by the fjords, and I sense pure luck every time I return to my birth-place. Yes, you are so right, water is the giver of life. Again you find a whole palette of contrasts in our music, which has always been a feature for both Leaves’ Eyes and Theatre of Tragedy, my ex-band, that actually founded the “beauty and the beast” concept in metal back in 1995. Your lyrics generally look to the epic history of Norse literature and mythology for inspiration but on “Meredead” you’ve gravitated towards other cultures for inspiration. What was the genesis of that expanded outlook? I just let the music itself inspire me. If I chose a theme from Nordic mythology, I would include Norwegian lyrics. It was very intimate to sing in my mother tongue Norwegian, it makes the lyrics even more emotional and personal. Singing in Old-English meant digging my nose in my Old-English grammar books once again, however, I am very interested in historical languages, which I also studied. I think that Old-English has a very special “sound” phonetically. You’ll find Froeya, three-headed trolls, vampires, ghosts, witches, Vikings travelling on sea, Viking ladies mourning and of course many images from the Norwegian harsh weather and wild nature landscapes. I guess there is some homesickness towards Norway in my lyrics actually, it’s more than obvious that I miss my home country.
You’ve also expanding your use of language on “Meredead”. You obviously spend a long time working on your lyrics and the meaning and symbolism of the songs. Given your affinity for language are you taking the opportunity to experiment with phonetics to provide a different listening experience?
Yes, phonetics is a great help for me. I studied Old-English, Gothic, Middle-High German, phonetics, phonology, language acquisition, next to Modern English and Modern German at the university in Stavanger, Norway, and then following up at the University of Stuttgart, Germany. Sometimes I use lyrics existing only in the form of a phonetic string of sounds. Such a phonetic sequence has an important meaning: it conveys an emotional state provoked by that particular sound of my singing. My acoustic aim is not the words and a certain thematic content; it is the sound and the emotional effect of it in the listening experience.
What a wonderful idea! This would be fantastic! Let’s hope the universe hears this! I would love to do it. I have seen Elfenthal‘s “The Blue Elf’s Dream” and I am stunned. What an amazing show. Maite Itoiz and John Kelly are outstanding composers, musicians and performers. You’ve had much ongoing success in music appearing in two big bands – first Theatre of Tragedy and now Leaves’ Eyes. Does success with Leaves’ Eyes feel any different than what you achieved with Theatre of Tragedy? I always wanted to become a singer. Singing is a part of my nature. When I was little, I thought everybody was able to understand music and control their vocal chords. The fact that my parents were interested in music – listening to it – plays an important role: I grew up with Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Edvard Grieg and Tschaikowsky, and female singers like Enya, Madonna, Kate Bush, Abba, Tori Amos and Monserrat Caballe. From the very beginning, I’ve followed my musical instinct: I wanted to combine a romantic, female, angelic voice with powerful, impressive music. Then suddenly, when I was 18 years old, I found myself in the middle of writing music history with Theatre of Tragedy, being one of the founders of “gothic metal with female voices” and “the beauty and the beast concept”! I am first of all grateful to our fans and friends all over the world, who have been there for me throughout all these years! This feeling has remained the same – my gratefulness towards my fans. Being thrown out of Theatre of Tragedy was perhaps bad luck; however, sometimes bad luck leads to good luck. Today I have Leaves’ Eyes; it’s like having a family, next to my own family. For me two dreams have come true: I am a full-time singer, and I am a mother. How do you manage such a busy career as well as being a parent? Do you have any advice for women in the business that are hoping to have children one day and still pursue a music career? You need a good plan in your daily life, you need your own studio not far away from your home, moreover, a family who is there for you. My plan is strict however, and effective: when I work I am working my ass off; when my family is around and needs me, I am only there for my family, keeping our rituals. In between work and family I do a lot of sports, sauna and yoga, which is my way to recharge my battery if necessary. And then, from the business point of view, find the right people to support you, honest people. And speak out if you have an opinion. Money can be such an evil means to make you forget about your inner voice.
You’ve recently finished a tour with Midnattsol and Tarja. When do you hit the road again and where will your travels take you? We do have a few festivals this summer, then hopefully a North American and an Asian tour, including India. Your music is reaching more and more people internationally – you even toured India recently. How are you enjoying your progression towards becoming a truly global band? There is this special feeling that gives me the energy and the inspiration to travel the world – I get caught up in every moment that I am able to share with my audience. Every performance is one process of giving, and receiving, I call it “exchange of positive energy” between the band and the audience. I really have to say that we do have fantastic fans. I am looking so much forward to every gig, and to meet our fans after the show! (Famous) Last words?
Give a little bit love, and you’ll get it back. My mother taught me that. Thank you, mother.
Photos by Stefan Heilemann
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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