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Interview with Liv Kristine from LEAVES' EYES

By Kate Wilcox

April 12th 2011, Los Angeles CA: Read on as Liv Kristine from Leaves' Eyes talks about the reaction to the new album "Meredead", songwriting, working with family members, being a multi-linguist, inspirations, and future plans.

Kate: First off I wanted to thank you for doing this interview! How are you?
Liv: Thank you, the pleasure is mine! I'm good, thank you, just returned from a run through the forest in rain and sun and saw an amazing rainbow, had a shower, and now a huge cup of coffee! Now, "back to business". I am overwhelmed by the superb critics of "Meredead", our fourth full-length album. About one and a half years ago I was so happy to hear that fans, friends and press enjoyed "Njord". But now, "Meredead" gets fantastic 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 April 22!

Kate: "Meredead" is the 4th album for Leaves' Eyes, what should fans expect?
Liv: We just started composing with an open mind. "Meredead" is, as you mentioned, 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! The press, fans and friends say that Meredead is "the most diverse, emotional and best-sounding production" by Leaves' Eyes so far, moreover, "Leaves' Eyes have created their own genre". Believe me, this warms my heart!

Kate: Is the whole band in charge of the song arrangements? Who decides what does and doesn't go on the album?
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. It's the three of us who decide what goes on the album and what doesn't.

Kate: What made you decide to cover Mike Oldfield's "To France"?
Liv: "To France", 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/Patric Ullaeus, my favourite producer. It was my guitarist Sander's (guitars) idea to cover it. I practiced "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. It was actually Sander's (guitars) idea!

Kate: The last time you had your sister do a guest appearance I believe was on "Lovelorn"? How was it having her singing with you again?
Liv: I was listening to Midnattsol in the car this morning! I am so proud of my sister! It was a pleasure singing "Sigrlinn" with her in Norwegian. It's very interesting that we have that different voices, although being sisters. I had wanted to sing a duet in Norwegian with my sister, Carmen, since our debut "Lovelorn"! It feels so good having her next to me. I think our voices complete each other. Next week-end she will be here to practice with us, and with Midnattsol.

Kate: Leaves' Eyes will be touring with Midnattsol later this month, are you excited to be touring with your sister?
Liv: True! In April we will tour with my 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! I will sing Sigrlinn and Kraakevisa in Norwegian with my sister on stage!

Kate: How has it been working with your husband over the years?
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. I've never ever worked with such a talented, hard-working and creative perfectionist! The only thing that bothers us both in this music business, 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!

Kate: The album cover is beautiful. Who came up with the idea for it?
Liv: Thank you, we are very pleased with it, too! Many people already asked me why I'm not on the album cover of "Meredead". I think I look too "sweet" and "angel-like" for the album. The title means 'dead by the sea', or 'the deadly sea'. She represents both the beauty of the sea and at the same time the dangerous ocean! I think the girl on the cover is really beautiful, and I absolutely love the artwork of Stefan Heilemann! I am going to ask Stefan if I can meet her some day (laughs).

Kate: What is your favorite song off of "Meredead"?
Liv: I'd rather pick some from each production: I would suggest "Norwegian Lovesong" and "For Amelie" from the "Lovelorn" album; the ballad "Leaves' Eyes", the epic track "Frya's Theme" from the "Njord" album, "Meredead", "Sorhleod", "Empty horizon" and "Tell-Tale Heart" from our up-coming release.

Kate: How would it compare to albums in the past?
Liv: Meredead truly 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 NOT going to take part in the competition of who's got the biggest classical orchestra in melodic gothic metal". So we let in new influences to our music. 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. We constantly develop; we always want to become better musicians and technicians and bring in inspiration from all kinds of sources when we compose and produce. This band will never stand still. Art is always the product of mental evolution, evaluation and development.

Kate: You sing and speak several different languages. What peaked your interest in studying these languages?
Liv: I love digging my nose in grammar books, especially Old-English! I've always been interested in languages and linguistics, especially historic languages like Gothic, Old-English and High-Middle German. I know since a few years that I have a very special and outstanding "ear", i.e. hearing, which is a great advantage in music, and in linguistic terms. I never needed notes to sing or make music. As I was little, I thought that everyone could sing, i.e. had a nice voice! Now I know, I'm quite lucky to be equipped with these hearing abilities and with these vocal chords! I started to sing even before I could walk or talk, however, I never had any musical education, and I never studied music (I studied linguistics, German, English and historic languages). It was my inner voice that told me that singing is a part of me, it just comes from the heart.

Kate: When you start writing lyrics for your albums, what are some of your inspirations?
Liv: Being homesick! I miss the fjord where I grew up and lived for 20 years. I left Norway for Germany when I was 20, falling in love with my husband (yes, it was very romantic, almost unreal!). Germany is beautiful, however, my family lives in Norway, and I will always remain a Viking lady. My first family name is even a Viking name, containing a runic letter.

Anyway, 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 the "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!

Kate: Who have been some of your musical influences over the years?
Liv: Coming to influences, I grew up with Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Edvard Grieg and Tschaikowsky, and female singers like Enya, Madonna, Kate Bush, Abba, Tori Amos and Monserrat Caballe. From the very beginning, 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!

Kate: What can someone expect from your show if they haven't seen Leaves' Eyes before?
Liv: A live-set of old and new songs! A new dress in purble! Duets with my sister, Carmen! Moreover, a fantastic sound and light show!

Kate: Will there be a tour in the U.S in the near future? Any words for your fans?
Liv: I wish and hope we will do a tour in the U.S. in the summer/fall this year. I hope to see you there! I hope you enjoy "Meredead" as much as we enjoyed composing it! Best wishes for you and your family, Kate!

Check out Leaves' Eyes' official website.

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