LEAVES’ EYES (Eng.)
– Hello Liv and, first off, thanks for your time. What’s the band currently up to?
Liv: Time has flown! However, Alexander (husband and producer), Thorsten (guitars) and myself have been really busy at our own Mastersound Studio. We needed 1,5 years to compose, record and produce «Meredead», which was also our goal! Liv: I am so happy to hear that fans, friends and press enjoyed «Njord».
– Before getting into your upcoming album I would like you to introduce the band a bit: when and why was it formed, etc.
Liv: Leaves’ Eyes was formed in 2003, by myself and my friends from Atrocity. I had, to cope with my situation after being kicked out of ToT in the spring 2003, fulfilled a concept, a story about a mermaid, titled «Lovelorn». I showed to my friends in Atrocity and they liked it. We immediately started to compose music for it, and this resulted in the band «Leaves’ Eyes», a record deal, and our debut release «Lovelorn».
– And why did you choose such name?
Liv: In 2003 Alexander (husband and producer) got married. We spent our honeymoon in Ireland. That was some romantic moment, when my husband said to me.»Your eyes, Liv, are shining like stars». «Liv» sounds like «leave», i.e. they are homophones. There you go «Leaves’ eyes» actually refers to ‘Liv’s eyes’.
– «Meredead» will be released during April in Europe and Asia and next May in the US; what are your expectations?
Liv: My feeling in my stomach and heart is 100% positive! Moreover, «Meredead» has got overwhelming critics as well, probably the best critics I ever got for an album. I have to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for being there for me all these years! I hope you enjoy «Meredead» when it is released 22.April!
– Anyway, before it you will release «Melusine» EP so, please, tell us abit what are we going to find on it.
Liv: You will find the title track «Melusine»), «Battle of Maldon» from the Njord-Era, «Legend Land» in acoustic version, all fresh recorded, and another version of «Tell-Tale Eyes», featuring my friend AnetteGulbrandsen. «Melusine», the brand new track, has more of the diologue of the beauty and the beast, and it is incredibly heavy and straight into
– The first thing that caught my attention from «Meredead» was it’s title: what does it mean? And how do you think it fits the content of the whole album?
Liv: «Melusine» is based on a female character found e.g. in Celtic mythology. The theme is a mermaid’s passions for the sea, although being married to a «normal» human being. One day a week she takes a bath, secretly; the other six days a week she his wife. One day he discovers her secret, i.e. that she is a mermaid and bans her forever.
– In this album we can find a cover for Mike Oldfield’s «To France». How did you come up with the idea and why did you choose that track?
Liv: «To France» that we covered, by Mike Oldfield and Maggie Railey, will be our promotion-single. Moreover, we already shot a video for it in Sweden 4 weeks ago in a Scottish castle with Revolver/Ppatric Ulläeus, my favourite producer. It was my guitarist Sander’s idea to cover it. Ipracticed «for fun» along to Maggie Railey when I was little, in front of the mirror, with a hairbrush in my hand. Her voice has always fascinated me.
– And what changes have you done to the song?
Liv: It’s much heavier. If you like Oldfield and Railey, and heavy metal,you will like our version! It was actually planned to be a bonus track, however, it turned out so good that our label said that this is the song for our video clip.
– I could say this album mixes perfectly the main elements from all your previous works, as the epic vibe, quite staright-forward songs, Folk elements… Could we say LEAVES’ EYES has now reached its real sound?
Liv: Lovelorn, our debut, had a sweet but heavy sound, moreover, a self-written story about a mermaid, a sad and passionate lovestory. I was amazed that the critics were fantastic. Vinland Saga is rooted in the historic happening of Leif Eiriksson, the Viking, who discovered America 500 years before Columbus. We toured very hard for this album, and it sold really, really well. Njord, our third album, has even more classical influence than Vinland Saga, moreover, it is a perfection of the Vinland Saga sound. This album has a concept in which we follow the Vikings all over Scandinavia, to the British Islands, to France, and into Northern mythology. It contains 7 languages. Meredead has the sound of Leaves’ Eyes, yes, however, it is more daring, rough, taking new turns. After the era of «Vinland Saga» and «Njord» we thought «ok, our next album is NOTgoing to take part in the competition of who’s got the biggest classical orchestra in gothic metal». So we let in new influences to our music.
– Due to this I’d dare say this is your most varied album so far. How do you feel about it?
Liv: I have heard fans, friends and people from the press say «Meredead is diverse, exciting, and full of life». I am very very happy about this. Thank you for this compliment.
– This time Folk elements have bigger presence. Do you think the Folk sounds fit better with the concept in the album? For example, we can even find a nyckelharpa, tell us about the idea of adding this instrument.
Liv: Alexander, Thorsten and myself are the song-writing and production team. Most of the time, music comes first, then vocallines and words.and then we work even more on the instruments. For the production of «Meredead» it was highly important to us that each song had its own «face», individuality and perfect, crystal clear sound to strengthen the emotional effect. We just let the music inspire us to add new and interesting «spices» to our music, like pipes, nyckelharpa (Swedish folk instrument), the fiddle, cello, classical orchestra or the flute. That’s what makes the album that diverse and exciting as you discover a different story, different instrumental combinations, different ways of singing even in various languages in each song.
– And please, explain the main ideas behind the abum’s concept and its lyrics as, if I’m not wrong, you have even used Old English and Norwegian lyrics.
Liv: Every song tells its own story on this album. It’s not like a huge concept from the beginning to the end of the album, like «Vinland Saga». I always just let the music itself inspire me when I am writing my lyrics. Concerning Meredead, if I chose a theme from Nordic mythology for a song, I would include Norwegian lyrics. It was very intimate to sing in my mother tongue Norwegian, it makes the lyrics even more emotional and personal. Singing in Old-English meant digging my nose in my Old-English grammar books once again, however, I am very interested in historical languages, which I also studied. I think that Old-English has a very special «sound» phonetically. You’ll find Froeya, three-headed trolls, vampires, ghosts, witches, Vikings travelling on sea, Viking ladies mourning.and of course many images from the Norwegian harsh weather and wild nature landscapes. Watch out for translations including my own words online during the next days!
– In «Meredead» we can also find a real choir and a bunch of guest musicians. Please, tell us a bit about who are they, what have they (both the choir as the guest artists) brought to the songs, etc.
Liv: The choir «al Dente» also sang on «Njord», it’s actually from our local area, from the next village. Oncerning the classical playing, we met Victor Smolski some years ago at a festival with Leaves’ Eyes and Rage in Greece. It’s an honour to work with him and the Lingua Mortis Orchestrafrom Minsk. Victor is a genius, moreover, he understands the musical goals of Leaves’ Eyes. I had wanted to sing a duet in Norwegian with my sister, Carmen, Midnattsol since our debut «Lovelorn»! It feels so good having her next to me. I think our voices complete each other perfectly. Some days ago, we had two visitors at our studio, Maite Itoiz and John Kelly from the band Elfenthal. I love their music, both of them are outstanding musicians and composers. There is a deep friendship between Elfenthal and Leaves’ Eyes. It is my deepest wish to sing with Maite on the next Elfenthal album. Her voice is such an inspiration to me, and it was such an honour and pleasure for me to sing with both Maite and John on our album «Meredead». Anette is a long-time friend of mine, moreover, she studied music and singing. She had some brilliant ideas for the folk songs, and she has a unique voice.
– One of those artists is Carmen, has been easier working with her?
Liv: Of course, it’s such a warm and comfortable feeling singing with Carmen. I like the fact that we have different voices. It will be fantastic to sing two songs with her live on our upcoming tour!
– The mix between all these different elements make a more symphoynic result. Did you have some planned idea of how you wanted this album to sound or do you just go with the flow?
Liv: We NEVER go with the commercial flow; we only go with the creativeflow of the band! I prefer not to force Leaves’ Eyes into a specific musical genre. I would rather say that Leaves’ Eyes’ music combines elements of gothic metal, classical music, folk music, with history and mythology.
– So, in some way, you have reinvented yourself. Is this important for you and your listeners?
Liv: We just started composing with an open mind. «Meredead» is our fourth album, there is no need to reduce yourself to a certain style. The artistic development is the basic energy for the survival of an artist, and art as such. I have a «hyper-active» artistic mind, I guess, because I never lack ideas, even when I sleep I dream of music. The same goes for Thorsten and Alexander. It’s a great help for us to have our own «Mastersound Studio» with even two recording rooms. There is always something creative going on here!
– Many people consider this album as a masterpiece and your best effort so far. Do you also think so?
Liv: What a fantastic compliment! I will share this thought with you! Believe me, this means so much to me. It gives me the energy to develop, make more music, go on tour, do hours and hours a day of interviews, moreover, it fills me with warm feelings and thankfulness towards the band’s fans and friends.
– I noticed this time you have sung more than Alex; was this something planned?
Liv: No, it wasn’t planned at all. That just happened. Maybe the album following Meredead will be different, like «Melusine» (EP), you never know. Anyway, Alex is singing in Norwegian dialect, which I am very proud of. It meant a lot of time and effort for him. Respect!
– Anyway, Alexander is still involved with the band and the production. Is it easier to work with your husband?
Liv: Of course I know exactly what Alexander is able to do, and how he «works», and he knows how I feel and work, too. That’s a very good basis for honest and creative work. The only thing that bothers us both, is that some people tend to think that we always share one and the same opinion, because we are married and work together. That’s impossible! By the way, we both have strong opinions about things and I think that a discussion within the band is just healthy every now and then. Anyway, we are an unbeatable team!
– Last 2010 three members left the band. Tell us a bit about it.
Liv: We already knew Sander van der Meer and Roland Navratil long time before they joined the band. Sander replaced Matze on guitars, who quit because of family growth, whereas Roland replaced Chris Antonopoulus, whohad different plans for his future. J.B. is our session player on bass, joining in after Alla Fedynitsch decided to pay more attention to her 9 to 5 job. After joining in, Sander and Roland were immediately members of the Leaves’ Eyes family. They travel from Holland and Austria to stay and work at Mastersound Studio as often as possible.
– And now we can find 2 new members plus a live member. What have they brought to the band? I mean, have they had anything to do with this new musical approach or aren’t they involved in the songwriting?
Liv: The song-writing team consists of Alexander, Thorsten and myself. Sander played some incredible solos on the album and co-arranged guitars together with Thorsten, it was also his idea to cover «To France». Roland arranged the drums with Alexander.
– All the LEAVES’ EYES members are playing or have played before in different known Metal bands. Do you care about the fact some people think you’re known just because of it and not due to the music you’re currently doing with LEAVES’ EYES? For example, I guess some people will always think of THEATRE OF TRAGEDY when hearing your name.
Liv: Well, it’s all the experience I have gathered being an artist thatmakes me the singer I am today. From the very beginning, since I was about 6 years old, I’ve followed my musical instinct: I wanted to combine a romantic, female, angelic voice with powerful, impressive music. Then suddenly, when I was 18 years old, I found myself in the middle of writing music history with Theatre of Tragedy, being one of the founders of «gothic metal with female voices» and «the beauty and the beast concept»! I am first of all grateful to our fans and friends all over the world, who have been there for me throughout all these years!
– And finally, what can we expect from now on from LEAVES’ EYES? Do you have any touring plans? Or is there any chance of seeing you in Spain?
Liv: In April we will tour with my sister Carmen’s band Midnattsol, and then in May we’ll play with Tarja. I am really looking forward to both tours! When «the ladies» get together, we’ll surely have a lot of wonderful (and funny!) moments together! Check out our homepage for news concerning shows in Spain! It is our dream to one day be able to supportElfenthal and our friends Maite Itoiz and John Kelly at a special location, moreover, to visit the beautiful Basque country side!
– That’s all, thank you once more for your time. If you want to add any final words, feel free to do it.
I have to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for being there for me all these years! I hope you enjoy «Meredead» when it is released 22.April!
Dear Tania, all the best for you and your family!