As the third and last of our interviews with The Sirens, Kari Rueslåtten has also agreed to talk to is about her upcoming tour with Anneke Van Giersbergen and Liv Kristine, the first three ladies to play the modern style of female fronted metal. Having left The 3rd and the Mortal after changing the metal landscape forever with their debut album Tears Laid in Earth she has had a successful solo career as well as performing with black metal legends Fenriz and Satyr on Storm’s Nordavind. She also returned to music after a five year hiatus earlier in the year with the fantastic new album Time to Tell. Here’s what she had to say about it all:
Hi Kari and thank you for talking to swirls of noise.
Hi, thank you John!
You’ve recently released your fifth solo album Time to Tell after a nine year gap since your last album Other people’s stories. How much have you been enjoying writing and playing again?
Oh, it has been absolutely fantastic! Now I am almost angry with myself for not writing and playing music for so long! But I needed a break back then, I had been in the music industry since I was very young and I wanted to concentrate on other things for a while, family and studying mostly 🙂
Time to Tell is a great album, how has the general reception been to the release?
Thank you so much! The reception has been overwhelming – I am so glad to receive such a warm welcome for new music from me.
What can you tell us about the lyrical themes on the album, what has inspired the writing process this time around?
I have actually grown really fond of reading poetry and I read many poems in the process of writing lyrics and songs for this album. I just adore the way great poems can say so much, make you feel so many different emotions just from a few careful words. To find other writers than those I would normally go to, I asked the wonderful people following me on my facebook page what writers they were inspired by and would recommend. I got such a great response! Many writers were mentioned, and I went to the library and got books – very inspirational in many ways!
The album has a lot of brilliant songs with the lovely soft Rainy Days Ahead and the catchy Wintersong standing out.Do you have a favourite from the album?
Thank you so much! It is really hard to choose a favorite because they all have a special place in my heart… I think I will have to answer “Paint the rainbow grey”. It is inspired by poetry of Pablo Neruda. He was recommended to me by Chilean fans when I asked them to recommend writers (see previous question). I read his “Canto General” – and, well – you simply have to be inspired!
Twenty years on since it was first released, you’ve chosen to re-record The Third and the Mortal song Why So Lonely, what made you choose to revisit it?
I wanted to celebrate that it is actually 20 years since the first time I released music, and I wanted to choose a song in honour of those who followed my music all these years. Why so lonely has always been a favorite song of mine. I always enjoyed singing it live, I like the almost Celtic sound to the melody, and it is a personal song to me in many ways. It was an easy choice in that respect.
You had Nightwish’s Tuomas Holopainen play piano on this re-recording. He cites the original album as one of his biggest influences. How proud are you of the influence and legacy of your early metal work on the current female fronted metal scene?
It is amazing to think of the fact that music we made all those years ago actually made a difference and influenced other bands in their music making. It is really flattering. We were just a bunch of guys playing together the music that we liked, and made an album that we would like to listen to ourselves. I am proud in the sense that I see more women in metal now, as lead singers and not just as a “curiosity”. Still I would hope for more women in metal and in the music-industry in general, in other roles, such as musicians (in addition to singers), managers etc. We still have a long way to go there.
Tears Laid in Earth was the first metal album to feature female vocals that had a feminine sound and helped to spark of a scene, did you think you were doing anything special at the time.
I wasn’t thinking about that at the time, we were just doing what felt natural to us.See also previous question.
On Storm’s Nordavind and The 3rd and the Mortal’s Tears Laid in Earth you bought a soft folky voice to a metal style. How far were you influenced by metal in your early days, and who would you cite as your main influences?
My huge idol in those early years was Doro Pesch. She was a huge idol to me in the sense that she was a great song-maker and vocalist. She came across as a very strong and independent woman to me. I think also I saw much of my own situation in her, being the only female in a male-dominated environment as the metal-scene definitely was back then. I was influenced by metal because of the mix of energy, darkness and woefulness – Candlemass needs to be mentioned, also My dying bride among others. But, I have always been listening to and been inspired by many musical genres, I was very much inspired by Lisa Gerrard and Dead can dance, Diamanda Galas and Tori Amos. And of course back then I was also listening a lot to classical music and opera as I was studying classical musical training of my voice.
Twenty years on from Tears Laid in Earth you’ll be touring as The Sirens with Anneke Van Giersbergen and Liv Kristine, the other two founding members of the female fronted metal scene with The Gathering and Theatre of Tragedy respectively.What can you tell us about the project and how it came about?
Yes, it is great!! Anneke and I got in touch some time ago when she asked if I wanted to sing with her a song on her new album Drive. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, but we agreed that we should find a way to work together one way or another. Then she got in contact with Liv – and the rest is history 🙂
With The Sirens playing at Metal Female Voices Fest, a festival set up specifically for metal bands with female vocalists. As the first woman to have sung in this style, how does it feel to be playing this festival?
🙂 it is nice when you say it like that, but it feels also a bit unreal – but a totally great feeling of course! Also, I have never been to the Metal Female Voices Fest, and I am really looking forward to it!
While Liv and Anneke have pursued a more poppy sound in their solo careers, they’ve also continued to play metal music in their other projects, whereas for you it will be the first time playing metal since 1995’s Nordavind with Storm. Are you looking forward to playing metal again?
I certainly am! It’s been too long 😉
What does the future hold for you past the tour with The Sirens?
I will release a collection of songs to sum up that I am celebrating 20 years as a recording artist this year. It will be released soon – October 8! It will consist of songs from all my solo releases, also some live songs from the Time to tell tour this year. And I have started writing new material and plan to release a new solo-album next year.
And finally, thank you for talking to Swirls of Noise, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much for the interview, John – and thank you readers for reading it, I hope to see you at a concert very soon! All the best from me, Kari
Kari will be performing with Liv Kristine 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
Listen to the re-recording of Why So Lonely from Kari’s new album Time to Tell: