“Always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says, distract you with your goals”. There’s no other perfect statement than the one said by the great Michelle Obama in order to introduce you, folks, one of the best artists I’ve ever got to know in my life: the amazing Liv Kristine. After all the bad vicissitudes that ‘absorbed’ her life in the latest past couple of years, the incredible Norwegian singer gets back on track stronger than ever and is here to show the world that after the storm, the sun will shine again. And the sun really shone bright for this talented artist, who’s ready to unleash her new EP, “Have Courage, Dear Heart”, this week! I had the fabulous honor and privilege to talk to a dear friend and one of the people I do admire the most since my early teen. Enjoy our beautiful chat!
Hi Liv and welcome to Femme Metal. As usual, for me it’s always such a great pleasure talking to you. How are you? Hvordan har du det?
Hi, I’m fine, I’m here in Switzerland with my fiancé. We have a pretty relaxed situation concerning COVID right now, it’s better here, so it’s not as strict as many other countries at the moment, actually they’re loosining up their restrictions… so it’s alright and here in Switzerland we have the mountains around us, we have lot of nature… so it’s good to breathe, you know, take a deep breath sometimes. Generally, in Germany the whole atmosphere is a bit more depressed, I would say, suppressed and depressed! We’re all safe and healthy and I hope you are too!
Actually it’s since 2012 that we don’t see each other, basically after your latest performance in Pratteln, Z7. Today we’re here in order to talk about your upcoming brand new EP, “Have Courage, Dear Heart”. It will be released on Allegro Talent Media so I’d like to know how did this cooperation come to birth?
Well, the thing is that Michael and Pauli have known each other for longer time, they’ve been best friends for a long time and toured together and as I and Michael became a couple in 2019, I talked about Coldbound but you know, it was just something I heard about and didn’t know much about and all of a sudden, Pauli asked Michael if he would present a Coldbound song for me to sing on and that song was just ‘intruded’ my musical mind and I just fell in love with it. I said Michael: “We really need to do this”. We wrote the lyrics, I gave the song a new title, recorded it and sent it back to Pauli and he was absolutely freaking out, as Michael and Pauli have been working together for quite a long time. Michael already had checking Liv Kristine to his company and he started promoting me and supporting me and everything… He knows all this stuff, organizing that, I just don’t have the time and the competence to do it, because I’m in other areas: singing, composing, performing and all that stuff… so it just came natural that my goal is the label for both of us which is absolutely brilliant! Pauli asked me if I wanted to join the band, because Meiju was already there and I followed Meiju for many, many years, I know her work and she said: “If Liv’s in, I want to be in too”. It was a mutual understanding and I said yes straight away, because at first I thought it was a joke, but then I thought: “Okay, there is a reason why I fell so much in love with “Slumber Of Decay”, I just can’t let it go”… Now “Slumber Of Decay” has been released on Allegro Talent Media and now, as you said, I have “Have Courage, Dear Heart”, my new EP, which is actually a full length album consisting of five new tracks plus five live tracks, digitally and streaming-wise on the 16th of April and on the 7th of May physically. We have a good plan and after the EP, we’ll have a full length release, so… Good plans, good news!
The album title is indeed very suggestive and it seems to transmit a sort of positive message. Maybe I am way too naive or silly, perhaps both, but nowadays it seems very hard to have the courage to say or do something. this seems to be a self-motivating message that encourages people to have courage that maybe is kinda hidden somewhere. What can you share about this?
Well, actually the title “Have Courage, Dear Heart” comes from a tattoo. I have a tattoo on my own skin, saying: “Courage, dear heart”, which means “have courage, dear heart”. It’s basically about opening your heart again, I got this tattoo that was my first tattoo that got painted on my skin. It was done at some point of time, before I met Michael and I was really letting go, I was in a process of letting go everything that has to do with the past, everything that has to do with personal past stuff, with traumas, just leaving it behind, because I realized that the past is not that thing in my life that should define my here and now and not my future… so that’s one chapter! I was filled with fear, I have to say, because I was in and out of this disappointment, of course it doesn’t mean that the whole process has been only negative… no, not at all! I’m a really, really positive person and a really down to earth based person, an happy person, I have a very positive spirit within me… but still there was fear. What will I do concerning music, will I ever sing again? I basically lost everything, so what will I do, will I ever dare to fall in love again? What will I do with all my experience as an artist? I just can not do it! I need to do it, because it’s within our call, singing, painting, writing, as always been a part of my life! What will I do this? Where do I begin? And then I put this tattoo on my skin and I’ve thought: “Have courage, dear heart. Show your true colours and the only way to make it, the only way that is safe is walking, going an authentic way”. That’s where you are safe, that’s where you shine your true colours and nothing can happen to you, even if a bunch of people would say “Fuck that, what’s that bullshit going on and what you are up now?”. It won’t matter, because it’s my true, authentic side! I have not been paid to do it, I don’t have to do it, I just wish to do it, because it’s a vision and that’s so complete and so fulfilled on its own message, on its frequency. I decided to start from there, to dissolve the fear, to dissolve the past and then magic things started to happen, and first of all Michael came into my life. Michael’s message to me was: “Sing!”. Yes!
The record contains 5 tracks that you have written with Tommy Olson, your former colleague in Theatre of Tragedy plus 4 songs that you’ve recorded during your latest show at Nagold, in Germany. How did you feel like working again with Tommy after so long?
The thing is that Tommy left Theatre Of Tragedy a while before I did, so all of a sudden Tommy was just gone and Tommy is a person who needs a lot of privacy, he loves being in the studio, he loves living his life and all the things he appreciates. There’s nobody intruding his private sphere. I hold a lot of respect to that. Tommy is very, very authentic! He shows his true colors, yes, and I loved the authenticity of “Aegis”. I think it’s the best album that Theatre Of Tragedy released, so in 2015 when I was touring solo, I was touring Liv Kristine with Raymond and we played some old song, including ‘Siren’, I think ‘Cassandra’, ‘Venus’ from that album. Raymund said: “Why don’t you get in touch with Tommy?”, because Ray and Tommy have been in touch with each other for years and years since the split! I contacted Tommy and he said: “Hey, it’s good to hear from you. I have a bunch of songs to send you”, so he sent me like ten songs and that’s basically half of the songs, yeah five of these tracks were in that package packed then in 2015. That’s what you’ll hear on the EP, except for the cathedral version of “Skylight”, that’s of course something that happened later, but it’s amazing! Tommy has been so… he waited for a long time for my vocals to be recorded and he waited from 2015 to 2019, he waited nearly five years but he is never in a hurry! He’s a really down to Earth based person and I had to fix my life during those years and when I was ready to sing again, when I met Michael, Tommy was there and he said: “Hi, good to hear from you, let’s make an album!”. Yes!
The second part of the album is basically based on the live recordings and I’ve surprisely noticed that “Siren” is included as well. You don’t know this but I got in touch with Theatre Of Tragedy’s music thanks to ‘Aegis’, it’s one of my fav records ever so hearing this performance once again is only a pure pleasure. I would love to ask you about the choice of including these songs and in particular ‘Siren’. Why didn’t you opt for some tracks taken from other albums, like ‘Velvet Darkness They Fear’ or ‘Musique’?
Well, ‘Venus’ and ‘Siren’ have been played often, very often. I do play “Image”, I play “A Distance There Is”… I really want to play “Cassandra” and “Der Tanz Der Schatten”, but I need male vocals, that’s the thing! That’s actually the issue, I need male vocals and if I invite a male singer on stage, it really has to match, you know. It has to be a complete match, so it’s a very good question, but I don’t have a solution for that so far, because Ray is not touring anymore, in 2019 I met with Theatre Of Tragedy and Ray was not at the meeting, he was asked afterwards, because everybody else agreed on a reunion, but Ray said: “I am not touring anymore!”. That’s it! It’s just a question of male singer in my solo live shows. Maybe I’ll find somebody!
Just a couple of days ago, I’ve read something concerning the re-issue in vinyl format of “Velvet Darkness They Fear” that is going to be released for the 25th anniversary of the album itself. It seems that it will include some b-tracks and pictures and other stuff. Were you aware of this? What do you actually recall with your greatest affection about that period with the band?
It was actually the opportunity to perform the music, to perform our compositions in front of a huge audience. We never expected that! You know, I imagined a bunch of mates meeting and making music at the rehearsal room, having a few beers and we just recorded our rehearsals on cassettes and we sent our cassettes to different labels and then it was like: “Okay, we want to sign you!”… so we actually had to choose between different labels and what we had was a cheap cassette! It’s not imaginable today, you know, that process… so we played one or two shows at a youth club, some youth club in front of four people, a dog and the rest of the people were sitting outside. That’s what happened in Norway and then we went on tour and there were 800 people at our first show, it was sold out in Germany and we were just like… Well, I remember my first show, my real big show I had my eyes closed nearly the whole show, I couldn’t believe it! I thought: “How lucky we are”, you know being on the road with your mates, having a lot of fun, it was just a different world, so it was a very, very exciting period of my life and I have to say that it’s always good to meet with the guys when I’m back in Norway, back in Stavanger with Michael, with my family. It’s very good to see them for a cup of coffee or a few beers! We do rehearse some of the old songs when we meet, without Ray but it’s okay! Yes and it’s actually you, our audience, our followers and friends who keep this spirit alive! That’s why it’s so beautiful.
Unfortunately I have to say that, surfing on the net I’ve came across a little spoiler. In a few weeks you’re going to release the official videoclip for “Gravity”. I actually didn’t have a clue about the matter, so I apologize in advance if I ruined the surprise, ehehe. Indeed could you anticipate something about it or would you kinda prefer to keep the surprise?
I’ll let you know that there are a couple of countries and a couple of forests to be seen as a scenary in this video. Actually, “Gravity” was filmed here in the Lucern forest surroundings and it was filmed in Finland, where Pauli is living, which is due to the fact that Pauli actually made a video! He is the editor and the maker of the video. It’s very, very interesting!
How does it feel like working with Pauli? He’s a young guy and despite his young age, he knows what he’s about, his expertise is similar to the one that other famous musicians have… so I wish both Pauli, you and Coldbound to gain more recognition, especially here in Italy, because you all have what it takes!
Pauli has a huge heart and he has so many skills! There’s so many areas within he’s super professional, like not only composing, recording, producing, but also making videoclips, you know. Oh, I forgot to mention that what you see in the ‘Gravity’ video is also filmed at my birth place, in Stavanger. I have to say that Pauli is always creative, I wonder when he’s sleeping, he’s a 24/7 artist. He leaves a lot of space for me, which is very important. He leaves a lot of space for Meiju and me and time as well. You know, it’s hard to… we can’t meet, rehearse, so the whole process of finishing the album is slowing down, due to the situation we’re having now. I can’t travel to Finland, I can’t travel to Sweden, so it’s difficult, I have to say, it’s really difficult… but anyway, there is no hurry and Pauli is the coolest guy. I can’t wait till we can all meet, you know, Pauli, Meiju and me, Michael, Pauli and Meiju’s families too. It’s gonna be a day of celebration!
At the moment no detail has been shared about the upcoming Coldbound album, because Pauli didn’t unveil anything but I know that it shall be unleashed this year. What shall fans expect from this? Maybe we’ll discover a varied sound and some surprise as well!
I think you said it! It will be varied, yes, many, many layers, a huge bunch of new inspirational sources, female vocals, yes, and also Meju is the master of the sound of universe, the ethnic sounds, the ethnical sounds… so she’s bringing in that ethnic sound to Coldbound. I have to say it’s Coldbound, yes, because Pauli is the basic core of Coldbound, but there are new basis to Coldbound. They are strong and authentic, so that’s all I have to say for now, but we have a lot of songs work, we actually have more than enough songs for two albums. We’re getting there, we are recording vocals, we are recording more of Meju’s sound… yes, we are in that process of finishing the songs, but we just said that we just agreed on the fact that there’s no time limit to stick up to. We finish it within the time and space we need.
Liv, we’ve reached the end of our beautiful chat. You don’t know what this chat has meant for me today! You’re one of my fav female artists in the metal scene so it’s always so amazing talking to you. As our tradition wants, I often call the interviewee to share the final words so I call you to speak and, of course, I can’t wait to see on the road or perhaps in Italy, so we could grab a great espresso together! Thanks so much for having me!
Thank you for being in touch and connecting, for your beautiful questions. I really appreciated the mentioning Michael and Pauli and now you see the whole story, right? And you’re the first one, actually, so it’s a very special interview and I’m very happy to see you again, you’re looking so good.