Interview with Liv Kristine (Leaves’ Eyes)

As previously announced, the current Leaves Eyes’ and Ex Theatre of Tragedy singer Liv Kristine is set to embark on a historic tour, playing with Anneke Van Giersbergen and Kari Rueslatten as The Sirens. The three singers who embodied the start of the now global female fronted metal scene twenty years ago will be playing on the same stage together. After Anneke Van Giersbergen previously spoke to Swirls of Noise, Liv Kristine has also agreed to answer questions about the tour:

You’ll be touring with Anneke Van Giersbergen and Kari as The Sirens. What can you tell us about this project, and how it came about?
Liv: I was lucky to meet Anneke at Masters of Rock (CZ) last summer. We had a few minutes only to talk in between our gigs, however, we agreed that we really should get together and tour together soon. We both had to smile then, thinking that we were, with Kari, the “originals” within our scene. Moreover, all three of us being mothers and still highly busy in music and art. Anneke told me that she had just talked to Kari…And that was the “go” for the “Sirens”!

from left to right: Kari Rueslatten, Anneke Van Giersbergen and Leaves’ Eyes

When you had just started out, were you much aware of what Anneke and Kari were doing with The Gathering, and The 3rd and the Mortal/Storm respectively?
Liv: Absolutely! Looking back, I consider it to be highly interesting how each three of us were doing “her own thing” already back then. The 3rd and the Mortal, The Gathering and Theatre of Tragedy were all pioneers, each band being kind of different and individual, though. We all came into existence and grew individually despite the fact that we were pioneers within one brand new genre.

The first Theatre of Tragedy album from 1995, Liv Kristine’s first full length recording

And how much are you looking forward to performing on stage with Kari and Anneke?
Liv: I am more than excited and happy to soon be practicing and sharing stage with my ladies! We are already putting together our live set list, preparing the program, so to speak. We met a while ago, the three of us for the first time, for an exclusive photo shoot in Stuttgart. I can’t wait to share the stage with them – they are absolutely lovely and we have so much in common. This is kind of magic. Moreover, our gigs will be, too! Fans have been waiting for this for years and years. All three of us know that experience comes only with hard work and reflection upon your own standing point and progress. I am very proud to share stage with Kari and Anneke, as already mentioned, we have a lot in common!
What really inspired you to sing as part of a metal band in the first place, given there were very few women doing so at the time?
Liv: next to Black Sabbath/Ozzy we used to listen to a lot of classical music throughout my childhood. Edvard Grieg’s classical compositions were and are my biggest musical influences. I have been composing and singing for as long as I can remember, but neither studied music nor music theory. I am lucky to have been born with such an outstanding hearing and two strong vocal chords! I have been composing and singing for as long as I can remember, but neither studied music nor music theory. I am lucky to have been born with such an outstanding hearing and two strong vocal chords! I sing a lot (thank heavens I have fantastic neighbours) and that’s my way of practising. I evolve according the the musical input I get; if a musical piece requires a certain way of singing I will evolve on that. It is my artistic stomach-feeling that decides. I like challenging and surprising musical moments. The greatest gift is to be adaptable in your own artistic mind, wherever you are, in the studio or on a stage. This is where you collect your experience. I see the live situation as an especially inspiring event. Creativity and love towards music is the force behind my artistic work, as well as thankfulness towards my audience and fans all over the world. The adventure will go on for many years, I can promise you that! All of this is my life! There is only one thing being more important to me: my family.

Liv’s first band “Theatre of Tragedy”

Are there any older songs you’ve not played in a while you’ll be looking forward to revisiting on the tour?
Liv: A few “pearls” will be included, yes. Moreover, a few new songs from my up-coming solo-album “Vervain”.
Your singing with Theatre of Tragedy in the early days was the first example of “beauty and the beast” vocals in the metal genre,what made it work so well, and did you think at the time the influence would spread as far as it has?
Liv: When founding Theatre of Tragedy and the “beauty and the beast concept” in the early-mid nineties, none of us, neither my band members back then nor myself, had any idea how revolutionary we actually were. This idea simply came into existence because 6 people living on the far out countryside in Norway came together and eventually formed a band… Theatre of Tragedy. I have always followed my own artistic heart and mind, moreover, my main inspiration came from THE band which my parents introduced to me – Black Sabbath. I have to add that British Anathema, Paradise Lost and Celtic Frost also were and still are bands that are on rotation on my stereo.
Was there a sense at the time that you were really doing something special?
Liv: After practicing a few times and recording a demo tape with a handful of songs we realized that people, to whom we represented our music, were surprised and really liked it. Thus we decided to send this 150$ demo tape out to a couple of labels Europe-wide. A dream came true: after a few weeks we signed with German Label Massacre Records, after a few months we recorded our debut album “Theatre of Tragedy”, moreover, went on tour for a month supporting Atrocity. Initially most magazines were not that confident with angelic and growl vocals in one and the same band constellation. However, our fan base grew quickly. Promotion was superb and our fan base grew quickly and steadily. Suddenly our fans voted for us to the that band of the year, female singer of the year…etc. – incredible how fast things went. Thereafter the world-wide press was mainly on our side and we gathered acceptance and support. Our world-wide audiences have always been on our side, and this is something I am eternal grateful for. In 1996 “Velvet Darkness They Fear” was released. With this album we reached unexpected goals, and sale’s numbers. It was just amazing and quite hard for us 6 country-side-born Norwegians to believe what was going on in Europe within the genre we had founded.
With the female fronted metal scene having gone global around the world, and various artists having become huge, do you feel proud of how the influence of your music has spread so far around the world?
Liv: I feel very honoured, yes. A few years ago I watched a band in Sau Paulo, playing cover-songs of Theatre of Tragedy; just recently I watched an Irish folk band covering a Leaves’ Eyes ballad. I don’t know who’s heart was beating stronger – mine or the cover band’s singer’s heart…what a lovely moment!
And with the Metal Female Voices Festival in Belgium allowing female fronted bands to all play together, how does it feel playing with The Sirens at the festival,performing the songs that really started it all?
Liv: Fantastic! I consider MFVF to be a highly special event. The audiences travel from world-wide places to attend this festival. As you already mentioned, we will perform those songs that “really started it all”. Let’s put it this way: It’s the right artists at the right place at the right time. This stage can be considered to be kind of the “homely living-room” for the Sirens, however quite crowdy, I’d say (smile), but just perfect! We are ready to lift the roof!
Your current band Leave’s Eyes have gone from strength to strength since it’s beginnings, with your latest album Symphonies of the Night being in my opinion, the best one to date. How did the upcoming album build on the Leaves’ Eyes sound, and what can you tell us about it?

The most recent Leaves’ Eyes album, 2013’s “Symphonies of the Night”

Liv’s current band Leaves’ Eyes

Liv: thank you for your compliment! Now ten years have passed, and we have released five albums, including our final release “Sympohonies of the Night”. I feel very comfortable where my band and I are standing right now. My members and I have been gathering experience in the studio and on tour for 20 years, some more. Our latest album has its roots in both the “Meredead” and the “Njord” productions, however, it is another impressing and innovative step in the history of Leaves’ Eyes. Symphonies of the Night” sounds heavier and more powerful than our post productions. “Hell to the Heavens” for example, 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, dedication to metal and experience.
With Leave’s Eyes celebrating their tenth anniversary this year,you’ll be performing a special set where the fans choose the songs. Are you looking forward to taking on different songs than might usually be present in the set, and seeing the reactions from the fans?
Liv: I can’t wait to see the audience’ reactions! Indeed, my band is very excited to present a unique set list and show just for this festival. Yes, our fans have chosen their favorites for that show and we have a lot to practice during the up-coming weeks.

Liv’s most recent solo album, 2012’s Libertine

As well as being a singer, you’re also a really great painter and artist. Do these two aspects of your career have any impact on each other, or are they different outlets for different things you want to express as an artist?
Liv: The artistic progress has taken place all my life like a natural goal and inner “call”, without professional training and theoretical studies of any kind. Singing is often a better way for me to communicate than talking. It’s been like this since I was a toddler. Painting and writing lyrics the same. I was born near Stavanger, one freezingly cold morning. I grew up by the fjords of Norway. I had a wonderful childhood – I had enough time to think, consider and grow and take in inspiration with all my senses. I have always had very strong connection to nature, which also inspires me when composing and writing lyrics. Moreover, I have got the best parents in the world – they always let me spread my wings, but made sure I always knew where I come from.
And on the same note, as well as having played gothic doom metal with Theatre of Tragedy and symphonic metal with Leaves’ Eyes, you’ve also had success with your solo career, which has taken on a more pop driven sound. What has drawn you to play with so many different styles over the years?
Liv: My fifth solo album “Vervain” will be released in October. My solo band has an individual sound, progressing over fifteen years. My artistic work has a lot of different colours and features, yes. Some people have pointed out that I am artistically “never-resting and always progressing”…Yes, I guess that’s true. I am a full-time artist.
 
You collaborated on Cradle of Filth’s highly successful Nymphetamine album 10 years back. Is there anyone in particular who you’d like to collaborate with on one of your albums given the chance?
Liv: Doro Pesch, as a singer, and as a person. She is wonderful, just fantastic. We all have a lot to learn from her. She is the most down-to-earth and honest person and artist I know. That dream came true: Doro was here at Mastersound Studio recording a duet just a few weeks ago! Some day I wish that I could meet Ozzy, too.

Liv Kristine with Dani Filth from Cradle of Filth

Can you tell us about your best and worst gig experiences?
Liv: Worst…or funniest…in Austria some dedicated fan started kissing my feet during one of our saddest ballads – I just had to laugh! The best one was Leaves’ Eyes headliner show in Wacken, Germany, 2012, with our Viking ship and 20 Vikings on stage.
We’re really looking forward to seeing The Sirens in the UK. How do you like playing to a British audience?
Liv: I can’t wait to be back in the UK! I played there with Leaves’ Eyes last January and it was absolutely amazing – thank you for always filling up the venues and being such a dedicated audience!
And finally, thank you for talking to Swirls of Noise Liv. Is there anything else you’d like to add about The Sirens project?
Liv: Thank you for interviewing me – see you soon!

Liv Kristine will be performing with Kari Rueslatten and Anneke Van Giersbergen as “The Sirens” on the following dates:

14.10.2014 DE Bonn, Harmonie 
15.10.2014 FR Colmar, Le Grillen
16.10.2014 UK London, Proud
18.10.2014 BE Wieze, Metal Female Voices Fest
17.12.2014 NL Zoetermeer, Boerderij
18.12.2014 DE Jena, F-Haus
19.12.2014 DE Nagold, Alte Seminarturnhalle
20.12.2014 FR Paris, Divan Du Monde

Find Liv Kristine, Leaves’ Eyes and The Sirens on facebook. Listen to Hell to the Heavens from the most recent Leaves’ Eyes release:

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6 thoughts on “Interview with Liv Kristine (Leaves’ Eyes)

  1. She’s done some very interesting stuff through the years. For a pop album, I really dig “Enter My Religion”…

  2. Pingback: Interview with Kari Rueslåtten | swirls of noise

  3. Pingback: The Sirens premiere two new songs “Sisters of the Earth” and “Embracing the Seasons” | swirls of noise

  4. Pingback: Liv Kristine – Vervain | swirls of noise

  5. Pingback: The Sirens at The Garage, London, 16/10/2014 | swirls of noise

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