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Liv Kristine (Leaves Eyes)

Interview with Liv Kristine from Leaves Eyes
by Yiannis Mitsakos at 16 May 2004, 10:17 PM

Liv Kristine, the siren from Norway, is the trademark for female vocalists in metal music. With her previous band ToT, they released some of the greatest albums that changed the face of gothic metal forever. After two non-metal releases with ToT and their strange -to say the least- way to tell her she was off the band (an email) she created Leaves' Eyes, a super project with her and all the members of Atrocity.
Her voice was the most amazing thing to ever grace my phone and thank goodness I had lots of questions for her, so let's see what she had to say.

Hello Liv, it’s great to hear you and my congratulations to you and Alex for the new album and your son.

Thank you very much!

First of all, let’s begin with a couple of questions from your past. A few months ago, Theatre of Tragedy decided to inform you via email that you are excluded from any future cooperation. Besides being obviously shocked, what were your first thoughts? Anger, sorrow or perhaps that gave you a bigger push to make Leaves Eyes an even bigger success?

First when I got the message from the Internet, I was very disappointed because they did it in that way, I mean, we had been working together and been friends for ten years…

You read the news on their internet site?

Yes, on their internet site. So I was very disappointed with the way they did it cause if they were not satisfied with something, they could have talked to me before and because I don’t know why they decided to split with me, nobody said anything to me, so I was very sad with the way they did it. Of course in the first day, I was a bit shocked too but then I thought ok, now I have time to start something new and I have had this idea of Leaves Eyes and the idea of the concept for a couple of months already so I thought that now I am going to do this and I will work very hard for this to hopefully be a success cause music is my life and I can’t live without it.

And Theatre of Tragedy was on the first place on my time schedule for the last ten years you know, so, when something such as important as the band is gone, you have to replace it with something, so Leaves Eyes and of course family are now the most important things in my life.

They never expressed any complains about anything? I mean they did that all of a sudden?

Yeah, all of a sudden and I haven’t talked to any of them since then.

During the Theatre of Tragedy era, you went from gothic metal to electronic in one night. Was that a decision that the entire band took and did you like that experimentation? How did the old fans receive that decision?

It was a decision that was taken by the whole band. For me it wasn’t that important, I like the development in the electronic and the modern music but for me it would have been great if we would have stayed in the style we did on Aegis as well. I would have like that as well, so I’ve been stuck a little bit on the old style of ToT.

So, yeah, I can understand the old fans who said that the new music is too electronic for us, we don’t want to look into it, we don’t want to accept it, I understand them, because it was a very radical change.

Did you have any weird reactions during your live gigs, especially during the electronic songs?

Well sometimes yes, people didn’t really move or didn’t seem to take notice of the music.

They seemed like aliens in a strange place.

Yeah like this. It wasn’t very often, just some people always but in some countries, like France, we had always some very crazy concerts with our new style, so it changes from country to country, really.

Tell me a few things about your upcoming album, is it based on a concept or perhaps it was created during a special time of yours or Alex’s life? Should we call it a back to roots album for you?

I wouldn’t say it’s back to the roots. I would rather say it has the concept; it has so much of me in it. I was just about to finish my studies at the university and my husband Alex asked me what are you going to do with everything you have learned and read for the last 5-6 years and I said well, I would like to write stories and he said ok, have you thought of writing concepts and I thought that this would be a good idea. So I sat down and wrote the whole concept on which Lovelorn is based so the concept was there before the music. I went with my concept to the guys from Atrocity and I asked them if they would compose music to the concept if they liked it.

I had ten chapters in my concept so I was thinking about tens songs, one for each chapter, and they thought that this was a brilliant idea so within a couple of months we had already a few songs and I was very happy about it.

So the lyrics are all yours?

Yes, the lyrics are mine and they are based on the concept on the special story in it.

Well to put it in short, it’s much about love and if you loose somebody and my own childhood in Norway which has very much to do with nature. So it’s love towards another human being and towards nature.

It’s based on your childhood and your current life with your family?

That’s right. There are two stories; I think about my self as a little girl and I fall asleep at the sea and I start dreaming. I dream a special story about a young man and his young love, his woman who he lost because she drowned her self in the sea and a mermaid. So there are three characters in the story and it’s the story I dreamed, a story about love and then I wake up again because my mother is calling for me and that’s the whole story actually. But it has two levels, the level of my mind, of my dream and the story about the three characters.

Are there any other concepts you have thought of that you’d like to use in a future album?

I am now thinking about writing a second concept for our second album, so this time the concept is not there before the music, we have already almost ten songs for the second Leaves Eyes’ album.

How are things going with your new label Napalm Records till now?

We are so happy to be with Napalm Records we are 100% satisfied with them. They are doing a great promotional job and we wanted to be with a label that has people working there who we can trust. We have been with bigger labels as well and the problem is that you never know if the person you are supposed to trust if he’s there for one year or if he’s there when you call him. So it is difficult to get in contact with them, so in my opinion it’s better to work with a label which is not that big as major labels because then you have more control in everything and you get better in contact with the people working there.

How are things working out with Atrocity?

I think it’s going very well with Atrocity, their album has already been released I think and I like very much the concept they have done, they have done something which is based on Atlantis. It has been very interesting to follow Alex in his work on Atlantis.

You had fun during the recordings obviously.

Yes, we see each other every day because we are at the studio, so it’s very interesting to see what they are doing and I hope that everything goes very well with them.

How many things have changed with you as a singer since you first started out? How much have you evolved? Are you happy with today’s Liv or do you think that there’s still room for much improvement?

Well I think you can always improve if you sing more, that’s my aim to always try, to try different singing techniques. My biggest inspiration through my whole life I would say is that I’ve tried to imitate the way other people sing, that’s how I started in my childhood, I was imitating I am a singer like Caballer, the big opera singer. That’s really how it started, I imitated Madonna and then I found my own singing style, but I am always open to something new and I think it’s very healthy to develop your style.

When we recorded the vocals for Lovelorn I was pregnant as well so things changed in my body and I found that the voice changed too, I felt that I had more control over the voice, it became fuller and stronger. I can recommend singing while being pregnant (laughs).

(Laughs) That’s the first time I listen to this. I know that pregnant women are usually knaggy.

I know, and lazy and eating all the time, but I had nothing like that, I had a very happy time in my pregnancy, it was just wonderful. I was the same as always.

You’ve sung metal, pop, electronic, you have exposed yourself to a broad range of different kinds of music and you have lots of fans with different taste. Are there more things that you want to experiment with, or do you feel more comfortable with the metal related audience, perhaps because they are the most tolerant ones to changes?

I’ve done pop things and metal things as well and I feel more at home in the metal business because of the audience; it shows more acceptance than the pop audience and you can trust the people in the metal business more. They are more open for your own suggestions. If you work in the pop industry at least if you are on the Top 10 you will definitely feel the pressure from the people who handle the money. They want you to do certain things and there is not really much you can say or do, but I admire people like Madonna who does and controls everything herself.

But mostly young girls and boys don’t have it easy in the pop business. So I feel more at home in the metal business I must say.

If I want to do a second pop album, I want to do everything by myself.

Would you cooperate with anyone else, like you did with Nick Holmes perhaps?

Yes, something like that would be ok but I want to be part of the production, I want to write all the lyrics myself but of course now we have our own studio so, it is possible.

In the past I had to travel somewhere else and work with people whom I haven’t seen before…

Would you like to tell me more about your participation in Genius Episode II and the Dead Can Dance tribute?

Yes, they are called Hortus Animae and we did Summoning of the Muse of Dead Can Dance which is their most famous song, and I was very happy that they offered me to do it because I was originally going to take part in the tribute with ToT and then they kicked me out, but they asked me and I said yes, of course, come on, let’s do it. We had a very nice cooperation and I am very proud.

The Genius II was also a brilliant thing for me because this is more in a musical style and I always wanted to try out that. So I had a lot of fun and it was a pleasure to do the vocals for Genius II and I would love something like that again.

Have you got any other invitations for other projects?

I have and I am happy to get invitations. I like to do different things.

Anything going on right now that you’d like to mention?

I don’t think I can mention it until it’s settled (laughs). But there are a couple of suggestions on my desk right now.

(Laughs) I was just trying to make some news…

Ah, I see (laughs). Well you can make the news, Liv Kristine offers for projects, please contact!

Ok, I’ll put that in bold and post it on the news! (laughs). How will Alex and his band share their time between Leaves Eyes and Atrocity?

They are very busy guys. So when we’ll go on tour for example -at least what we’ll do in the autumn- we’ll go together as a family.

Will it be Leaves’ Eyes or Atrocity?

It will be both bands.

It will be a European tour? Will the set list include both Atrocity and Leaves Eyes songs?

There will be a European tour. I think Atrocity will headline the tour because they are more known and they have been going on for years, and then Leaves Eyes’, and another band or maybe two other bands.

This is probably a tough one for you since it concerns your two favorites. Ozzy and Madonna. One into silly reality shows, the other one into lesbian French kisses, both after cheap publicity setting aside what made them famous in the first place, music. Do you have any comments on that? Does the end justify the means?

Well, they are my favorites so it’s hard to say anything negative about them (laughs). You are right; there are certain things that artists do to get extra publicity. Of course there are, it has always been like that. It seems that all famous people want to have more publicity, to get more famous than they already are so it seems like a never-ending story. If they don’t have a record out right now they will probably do something else. So if you follow Madonna’s career if she didn’t have an album out, she had a book out or she had something else going on. I guess you never get tired of selling more records or getting more publicity.

Would you ever result to things like that to get publicity? Not so extreme as these two, but just enough to get publicity.

Ehm, well I was asked once to dress off and make photos, but I said No way, not over my dead body! never would I do that.

I’ll take that as a no.

It’s a very clear no. I promised my grandmother I would never do anything like that. I keep my promises. Now I have a son as well, a child and I would never do anything that could upset him later. You start to think differently when you have a child.

Has it affected the whole way you are thinking and probably your music and your lyrics?

Definitely yes!

Have you got anything to say for the Greek public? Should we expect to see you around here soon?

I hope so! I hope it will be on our tour plan in autumn. I hope everybody will be there, I know that some were disappointed by the latest ToT albums, but I hope they will be there to support me and come to the Leaves’ Eyes show.

Trust me they will, I was one of the disappointed ones. \[Ranting about the single follows and certain ToT comments from my part, which are better left off the interview, if you know what I mean].

(Laughs) I know I can trust the Greek audience.

Should we expect a tour in the US?

Maybe next year, when our son has grown a little bit older.

It’s been great, thanks for everything.

Thanks for making the interview with me; it has been very nice talking with you!


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