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Interview - Liv, Anneke, and Kari (Sirens)

Interview with Liv Kristine, Anneke van Giersbergen, Kari Rueslatten from Sirens
by Tuoksu Holopainen at 12 November 2014, 2:41 PM

Liv Kristine, Anneke van Giersbergen and Kari Rueslåtten, the three pioneering front women in Metal music, are about to embark on a European tour in an unprecedented live act, befittingly named "The Sirens". The music of their original bands defined a whole generation and is still highly influencial, mainly due to their mesmerising feminine vocals that changed the rules of the game, back when Metal was vastly dominated by tough guys.

I was very lucky to be granted the great opportunity to talk to the these charming ladies all at once and amiably discuss the origins of this idea and much more.

Hello ladies, Thank you so much for granting Metal Temple this  interview, it's amazing to be talking to you!

Anneke: Hi, you're welcome!

Kari: Hi!


The three of you are regarded as the  pioneers of the female-fronted metal scene.  How and when exactly was the idea of "The Sirens" born?

Anneke:  Liv and I met at a summer festival about a year ago, and we already knew each other from so long ago, so when we met we kind of hit it off and we said "Maybe we should do something together!" We took a picture, we put it on Facebook and I've really liked this picture. And then I was also in contact with Kari Rueslåtten for my album actually, for a song, and I thought maybe it's really nice if we put the three ladies together, because, you know, we all came from the same background, we were among the first ladies to do Metal music, and yeah, we  thought maybe it's nice to make a live show and do old songs from our old bands.

You mention Kari Rueslåtten as one of your mains inspirations. Kari, what do you think of this?

Kari: It's very flattering and  of course very nice to hear, but it's also a strange feeling..(laughs)

The 3rd and The Mortal, The Gathering and Theatre of Tragedy laid the path for a whole new subgenre of metal.Did you realize, when you first started these bands, that it will have such a major influence on the next generation of metal bands?

Kari: Well, no, we didn't have any idea of it. We knew that we wanted to do our own style which was kind of a mix of Doom Metal with Prog Rock and female vocals, and that was the concept. When we started, we didn't think anybody was going to think  this was a good idea but we liked the idea ourselves.   So it's quite nice to know it has an impact.

Anneke, what do you think about this?

Anneke: No, just like Kari, absolutely not. We just did our thing, and The Gathering was just looking for a singer, and I happened to be the best one to audit, and I had to be a girl, right? (laughs)

What about Theatre of Tragedy?

Liv: It was just an idea. In Norway, you have access to rehearsal rooms if you want to, and it doesn't cost you anything. We just went rehearsing a week later, we found out "Wow, yeah! Let's do something new!" We were lucky to know somebody who owned a studio, and we recorded four songs and we sent a cassette to fifteen labels and four weeks later we had a deal with a big label in Germany. So somebody must have been interested in the shit we were doing. (laughs) So yeah, I feel honored that many bands are  following the steps of The 3rd and The Mortal, The Gathering and Theatre of Tragedy.

How do you see the female-fronted metal scene today? It is certainly very different than it was back when you were just starting out.

Anneke: I'm happy it's changing all the time, you know, it's a new day, and it's  new kids on the block. (laughs) And I really like that the new female-fronted scene has now like a few girls who are doing the melodic singing but also the growling voice and that's pretty good. I do like this new way.

Kari: I remember, back in the day, there were like no women, no girls anywhere. There's a complete difference now, and it's much more common to have female singers but also women in other places in the band, like managers, sound engineers.. But it's still a long way to go. It's still much more common to  be a singer than in any other position in the band.

Liv: I'm filled with hope and positive thinking because Doro is still going on, she's still around and she's amazing. So I think the future is bright. Come on, girls, we got to hang on!

Can you tell us more about this Siren tour. What will the setlist include?

Anneke: Well, we're going to play a pretty long set, with old songs from our old bands, the biggest songs and  the beautiful ballads, then some songs from our solos and some duets. There's a lot of stuff going on for this show and we wanted to make a whole evening with this atmosphere from the old days and from now and the beauty is that, as we are now, all in different solo careers, the music, if  your put it together, it fits so well.

Liv: I would call it a historical journey for the three of us. We would like to show where we come from and what we have achieved during all these years. I'm really looking forward to sharing the stage with Annie and Kari. It's going to be amazing.

Kari, this will be your first appearance at Metal Female Voices Fest. How does it feel to rejoin the other ladies after being away from the metal scene for such a long time.

Kari: Now I'm really looking forward and I've heard so much about it too. I feel very excited, there are so many people coming there, who are also looking forward to it and requesting favorite songs, you know. So, it's
going to be really nice.

It's been 20 years since "Tears Laid in Earth" was released. Can we expect more songs from this iconic album (which is one of my all-time favorites, by the way), other than "Why So Lonely"?

Kari: Yeah, definitely, there will be more songs from "Tears Laid in Earth".

After The Sirens  tour, do you have anything else  planned? Can we expect a collaboration  on  a studio project, for instance?

Anneke: Actually, Liv is releasing her album, right now, and Kari is releasing an album right next week, I think, and I'm going to release a new album early next year. So we're all super busy. So, for now,  we're just looking at the live shows.

Back when you were just starting up, what were your main musical influences?

Anneke: I loved people like Kate Bush, she's an amazing singer. But outside of this genre, I was also listening to "Black Music" like Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson. I also loved Barbra Streisand. So I got my inspiration from all over the place. In Metal, there was Doro and nobody else in the scene.

Liv: Nobody else.  I remember still when I hear Doro for the first time and I just thought "is it really possible?" But she sang with a rough voice and I remember trying to copy that but I couldn't it. (laughs) It was impossible to do, so it had to be the clear voice.

What about you other influences, Liv?

Liv: Ozzy Osbourne (laughs) I was trying to imitate him, and I was also trying to imitate Montserrat Caballé and later, Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Lisa Gerrard and Madonna.

Tuomas Holopainen mentions The 3rd and The Mortal, The Gathering and Theatre of Tragedy as the main inspiration behind the creation of Nightwish. This eventually led to collaboration with you, Kari, in  the new version of "Why So Lonely". How was that experience?

Kari: I didn't know about this until like two years ago. It was very flattering that the things we did back then, like I said in the beginning of this interview, did impress others.  I think also it started  when I was on a long break from music and it actually made me think "Why shouldn't I do more music?" I'm actually grateful that Tuomas actually mentioned that in an interview, because that inspired me in turn.   He's a really nice person and very talented, so I'm really lucky to have him for the remake of this song.

The three of you are quite successful at balancing a family life and a hectic musical career. How did you manage that for all these years?

Anneke: I think we're like every other working mother, we just have weird hours, but it's always a weighing scale of work and being at home together, and I really like to combine touring with family life because Rob,  my husband, is also my manager and drummer, and Finn \[her son] is also coming on tour  with us when we do a bit of a longer tour. So yeah, for me it's perfect but it's  hard work, you know, like I said, every working mother has the same problem.

What about you, Liv, is it easier for you as well because Alex \[Krull, her husband] is touring with you?

Liv: It is easier and if we  bring along Leon \[her son], then it's better to have both of us on tour, but if we can't take Leon out of school, because you need a special permission for it, it gets really difficult to cope with, especially if the tour is like six or seven weeks long. So we try to have him on the tour as often as possible. I'm very lucky to be able to do it.

What about you, Kari? Was that the reason behind your long absence from the musical scene?

Kari: I definitely wanted to have some time to raise a family but also because I was doing this since I was very young, so I really wanted to do something else too, I started studying psychology and I've done  different things too. I also had children and of course it makes traveling a completely different matter and that's one of the reasons as well.

Before we finish, Kari, Do you have any favorite songs by Anneke and Liv?

Kari: Now that I'm really getting into the setlist and learning the songs because I'm going to sing them, I'm getting to know some of them differently now than when I was just listening. So, right now I think that my favorite by Liv would be "Silence"  which is really sticking to my mind (laughs) That song is really nice, it's really melodic, and for Anneke it's "1000 Miles" which I think is both kind of intimate and touching but also massive. It's a really good song.

And you, Liv, do you have any favorites by Kari and Anneke?

Liv: My favorite by Anneke is "Drive" and "1000 Miles" and by Kari it's "Trollferd" and "Exile".

It's Anneke's turn now.

Anneke: Actually I love Liv's ballads, they're very catchy indeed, they stick to my head all day long, but I love this very new stuff she's making now for her new album "Vervain", it's one of the most cool rocky songs, and I think this one is going to really work live. And for Kari, I love her old stuff with The 3rd and The Mortal, it's super doomy, it's dark but I love this ballad "Why So Lonely" it's so beautiful. So, I like that the three of us are doing a bit of a different thing, you know, Liv is a very Rock 'n Roll Lady, and Kari is like this romantic and beautiful ballads, I think I'm somewhere in the middle there and I think it's going to be a good combination.

It's going to be an amazing combination indeed. Thank you so much, ladies. Bye.

Kari: Thank you!

Anneke: Thank you!

Liv: Thank you, bye!


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Edited 31 July 2021

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