Interview by Robert BradyIn a country that is notorious for its biggest musical export being Black Metal, Norway has also been building a great legacy of producing some of the top female vocalists, artists and musicians in the world. In modern time in the heavy metal and hard rock community, Norway has produced Liv Kristine ex-Theatre of Tragedy and current frontwoman of her own band Leaves Eyes, probably one of the most beautiful and undisputed powerful operatic vocalist in ex- Tristania soprano Vibeke Stene, Carmen Elise Espenæs of Midnattsol and on the pop side Marion Raven. However, Norway has certainly been hiding a true treasure and one of the most beautiful ambient and classically minded artists I have heard in quite a while in the lovely Silje Kristin Leirvik. After listening to her debut album “With Lights Turned Out So Beautiful”, which was 10 years in the making, I discovered a true diamond and beautiful soul. “With Lights Turned Out So Beautiful”, Silje Kristin Leirvik has open the door to her soul and spirit to the world to see and at the same time left the listener room to perhaps find themselves or relate to Silje‘s personal journey as their own. I recently had a chance to sit down and talk to this beautiful Nordic treasure. After listening to her debut and interviewing her I believe this Norwegian beauty will soon have a very vast audience for her very unique style and sound of music. You will certainly find a little of yourself in Silje Kristin Leirvik‘s debut album “With the Lights Turned Out So Beautiful”. Here is what this beautiful soul had to say to Femme Metal Webzine. Norway and Autumnsongs certainly have a very Beautiful Treasure to share with the world. Silje, first of all we would like to warmly welcome you to Femme Metal Webzine. It has been a true honour and privilege to have a listen to your very introspective music. I love the name of your debut album, “With the Lights Turned Out So Beautiful”. What inspired the elegantly dark title for your debut?
Thank you, it is my pleasure to be a part of Femme Metal Webzine. The title is a reflection of a state of mind. The album tells a story, and is about a journey within myself. The songs were written over a decade, each one reflecting its own private part of the journey. I say that phrase “With the lights turned out so beautiful” in the first verse of my first single, “With Me”, and the song was also the first I wrote for the album, back in 2002. The album has a clear thread, but I want the listener to draw any line they can find themselves.Were you surrounded with music in your home as a girl growing up and were your parents musicians or had involvement in the music industry?
In my home, the radio was always on. I had an intense interest in music very early on and spent a large part of my childhood in my room, singing, making songs and recording on my cassette player, making harmonies on whatever I could find that resembled an instrument. I had to do music and it has always been a very natural part of my life. My parents both enjoyed music, they would pick up the guitar from time to time and sing a song or two, but had no link to the music industry themselves. My two older brothers don’t either. My mum also has a passion for music and I think she realised early how intensely occupied with music I was, although I kept it quite private for years.It is very evident that “With the Lights Turned Out So Beautiful” is very classically oriented. Are you classically trained and who are your classical influences?
I have not had any classical training, and I am self-educated within music. Orchestrations are fantastic, but I don’t listen to classical music more than anything else. On “With the Lights Turned Out So Beautiful”, it became obvious that a lot of orchestrations were needed. My absolutely fantastic producer Rhys Marsh is the mind behind it all, and has a knowledge of music and sound, and the history of music that I lack. I just know what I like, and don’t like.There is also a very modern, current and very relevant sound to your music. Who are your modern rock/pop influences?
Among others Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Daniel Lanois‘ music and productions, Anthony and the Johnsons, Joze Gonzalez, Pink Floyd, Madrugada and so much more. These are more well-known artists, but within the underground scene there is just a jungle of fantastic music to discover. When I was younger I made more music than I listened to, and it’s only been in the last few years that I have really dug into it. There is so much great music out there.
“With the Lights Turned Out So Beautiful” is like listening to 10 different autobiographical stories in their very nature and it really seems like you have lived some of these songs, what was your approach to writing this album?
My songs are very personal. When it comes to that, I seem to have no choice, really. A song is created in the whirlwind of an emotion, it swirls up from a naked truth and it is both a curse and a blessing. This album has been a long time coming, as well as how the story it tells unfolded within sort of a syrup-mess of time. Some of the songs are over ten years old, and some brand new, each one telling its own little private part of the story.Norway for almost 30 years has been notorious for exporting black metal as its main musical cultural product, with artists like Marion Raven and yourself do you see that starting to change and what is the musical lansdscape for women in Norway?
Norwegian music was always played on the radio back home, but for me, I took a major interest in music from the rest of the world as time went by. There is so much great Norwegian music, and there is so much great music coming from the rest of the world. I can’t really speak for other Norwegian artists, nor female artists, about the conditions in Norway for musicians. I have the freedom, living where I live, to sing from the heart and make music, and that’s what’s most important to me. The freedom to express myself whichever way I want is something I don’t take for granted.Besides music are there any other artistic pursuits you have in your life?
I like to write, obviously song-lyrics, but also poems and stories. I also made some films as a little girl, and wrote some scripts. I have a lot of ideas for videos for my music, which is something I hope to do more as time goes by.Some artists like to share their talent through teaching and mentoring other younger and aspiring artists and or musicians, have you shared your talent or mentored any younger aspiring women like yourself or would you ever consider doing that going forward?
I worked as a kindergarten teacher for years, and sang a lot to the kids, and also made kindergarten-songs. It’s great fun writing children’s music. They listen with instinct, and it’s all joy, just pure. I remember that joy from when I was a girl, and I remember the somewhat grief I felt when I realised music was also an industry. I don’t feel like a teacher. Like always, I like to just create my music in a private place, like I did in my room as a little girl. But if I find someone who is as passionate about music as I am, it’s only natural to exchange that passion. But I don’t think that passion can be taught.Are there any plans to tour your debut album, if so will you be touring in support of someone or do you plan on going out alone?
I don’t have any current plans at this point. I did perform a lot for many years, but right now I am most comfortable working with songs at home or in the studio. I’m not really a great fan of being on stage anymore, unfortunately. Contradicting that, I do love to sing to an audience! I will definitely have more concerts in time, that would make sense. How that will come about, only time will tell.We are about at the end here, I want to thank you so much again for your time giving us this interview, the floor is yours feel free to share what you want to or can for now, what are your plans for 2013 and beyond and do you have any other special projects in the works you can share with us now?
I am currently working on album number two, together with my producer Rhys Marsh. He is also such a great instigator, and keeps the wheels turning. We are done with quite a lot of the songs already, and the album will be due in the autumn this year. The sound will be a bit different on the follow-up, and I am very exited about it! That album will also be distributed by Burning Shed through Autumnsongs Records, which are both fantastic places to be. I definitely will continue making albums also after the next one. I have finally started actually putting together albums, and don’t think I will ever stop. Thank you so much, and a happy springtime to you and all the readers!