There are actually o lot of things to say to introduce the character of the following interview, first of all, one of my dearest singers in Metal Music, but also an historic person in Metal Music history, she’s the image that saw Theatre of Tragedy be born. In exclusive and all the way from Norway i had the lovey Liv Kristine to have a long conversation about her whole career as a musician, from Theatre of Tragedy to her own band Leaves’ Eyes that turned 10 years old recently, i don’t want to make a long introduction because there’s no need, just go and read the first part of this long interview with this living legend. Second part to be released soon.
Hi Liv! Thank you very much for giving me this chance! I am Kenta from Venezuela and I’ve been looking forward to interview you from a long time ago, it has finally happened. Thanks! This is a very long interview because it’s going to be a special article, is biographical because of the ten years of Leaves’ Eyes.
Liv: My pleasure, Kenta! Thank you for taking the time, thank you for your kind words! I am more than happy for this longer “talk”, and greetings to my fans and friends in Venezuela!
1.-The first thing i have to ask you about is Madonna! I know she has always been one of your main inspirations, I love her too! Are you the one that likes only her old stuff or do you follow her on now days? I liked her album ‘Confessions on a Dance Floor’ that’s how I met her music, for me that’s the kind of pop-dance album a metal lover can listen to, it’s very diverse.
Liv: In my teens she was, next to Black Sabbath/Ozzy, my favourite artist. I love all her albums up to and including “Confessions on a Dance Floor” You are right, it is truly diverse; Madonna = Diversity, in my opinion. I saw her live a few years ago, she is amazing. Since then I kind of lost track with her albums, unfortunately. As already mentioned Black Sabbath, especially, by time, “Vol 4”, are my biggest musical influence. I have been composing and singing for as long as I can remember, as mentioned above, but neither studied music nor music theory.
I am lucky to have been born with such an outstanding hearing and two strong vocal chords, moreover, parents who worship metal and who are only nineteen years older than me. “Changes” is the best song on this planet. Next to my mothers lullabies and carols Black Sabbath is THE music I heard from the day I was given the ability to hear… even before I was born.
2.-This kind of conversation might be weird for our metal head readers, what do you think as a musician about commercial music that many metal listeners do hate? And also do you think that metal heads must listen only to metal music?
Liv: In my opinion metal heads are open-minded at the same time as they stay true to you. You don’t loose a metal fan “just like that”. I am really lucky and grateful towards my fans, friends and audiences all over the world for supporting me and following me on my artistic path with my various artistic contribution through Theatre of Tragedy, Leaves’ Eyes, my solo band, Atrocity and all my collaborations beginning with Cradle of Filth to tributes to Depeche Mode coversongs… you name it. I am so lucky that I can spread my wings being the artist I am through different expressions. I have been around for more than 20 years, coming out of the Norwegian darkness with the idea of “the beauty and the beast” concept in the mid nineties… I am still here and I am very happy where I am standing with both my feet strongly rooted into the ground. Thanks to my dear, faithful and open-hearted fans!
3.-What kind of different genres albums would you recommend for metal lovers that wanna try different music?
Liv: Any compositions by Edvard Grieg, Monserrat Caballe, Kate Bush, Maite Itoiz, Anoushka Shankar, Dead Can Dance have been and are still of great influence for me.
4.-Changing the topic, we all know you started your career in the legendary Theatre of Tragedy, we all know what happened with this band, so in this moment of metal history I just wanna ask you, what does Theatre of Tragedy mean for you now? What is your retrospective of the ToT years and how has it influenced what you are now?
Liv: I was co-founder of the world’s first gothic metal band with female voices “Theatre of Tragedy” in the early 90s and the “beauty and the beast” concept in metal. We had just no clue that we were this revolutionary up there in the Norwegian darkness! We were good friends, being into metal, getting together at a rehearsal room, being creative, combining contrasting elements like a first soprano angelic voice with doom metal and growls. We recorded a cheap demo for a small fee nearby Stavanger, Norway, and sent it out (copying the cassettes and the inlay ourselves) to ten labels. A couple of weeks later we had a killer deal with German Massacre Records, recorded our first album in Sweden with Dan Swanö and went on the mention support tour with our friends from Atrocity.
We couldn’t really grasp the speed of success, moreover, it changed some of my former band members who became “rock stars” in a negative sense. This changed the whole band… and I didn’t feel comfortable anymore. I didn’t feel welcome among my so-called friends anymore. Suddenly, in 2003, there was a notice on ToT’s HP that they had excluded me from the band, which I had co-formed. Nobody answered my phone calls or question “why”. A new singer came, and a few years later the band dissolved. What a shame. Anyway, to me, I evaluate the experience I gather through ToT as highly impressive to my career, moreover, to the artist I have become over twenty years.
5.-Have you ever kept contact with any ToT member after your departure, or found them around in Norway?
Liv: I am sometimes in contact with Raymond, the singer, who moved to Brazil some years ago. The rest seem to have “disappeared”. I went to one of their gigs with their new singer, Nell, behind the microphone only months after they excluded me from the band. I wanted to know the reason. Everybody, except from Nell, Raymond and keyboarder Lorenz had the guts saying hello. The fact is, those years and those albums left a deep mark in my personal history. Some years ago, around that time when my former band dissolved completely, I felt kind of sorry, although their new singer, Nell, had replaced me for some years. Therefore I decided to add some of my personal ToT favorites to my setlist, which my audience really appreciated. This step and a number of solo gigs with a grateful audience led to “Vervain”, my final solo album which goes back to my roots. In the end both press and fans seem to appreciate this step. In the end there is always a positive side to any happening. Not to forget, in 2003 Leaves’ Eyes also came into existence!
After her departure in Theatre of Tragedy she founded Leaves’s Eyes with with German band Atrocity members including her husband Alexander Krull, making a huge entrance to Symphonic metal with their debut album ‘Lovelorn’.
6.-Now you have your own band Leaves’ Eyes that has turned 10 years recently, but, I wanna go back to the beginning of the band, can’t pass out the fact that your first video ‘Into your Light’ was something very different to the aggressive gothic metal going on by that time, what did it mean and what did you want to express? I totally though something like ‘Madonna meets metal’!
Liv: What a cool statement! “Into Your Light” was the first or second song Leaves’ Eyes ever composed. The videoclip is not what we actually had planned. We had planned to shoot it outside in the winterly landscape to make a clip that connects to my home country, Norway, which the whole album “Lovelorn” is about. Well, due to a snowstorm we had to change our plans within a day, and the result was, as you said…”Madonna meets metal”;-)
7.- I read that the song ‘Elegy’ was used in the TV series ‘Numbers’, is it true?
Liv: yes, that was the idea of Napalm Records, a super idea! I appreciate that step!
8.-In your last album ‘Symphonies of the Night’ you sing in many different ways, I think you used more your lyrical range in a very dramatic way, how did you discover that your could get these high notes like in the song ‘Symphony of the Night’ (Which I love)?
Liv: Aw, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I can sing higher than that, you bet. I absolutely love the first-soprano range! I never studied any music, I have no education. It’s always the music which inspires me in which manner I am to sing. I have always had music in my head, I have always been singing, even before I was able to talk, and I thought when I was little that everybody were like me, having the music and the perfect pitch in my head all day long…. sometimes even at night. Today I know that I’m kind of blessed with this ability, and with two ultra strong vocal chords. Music itself is a driving force in my life. There is so much to get inspired by, I have so many wonderful ideas and future plans! Those wonderful, enchanting melodies never stop playing inside my head. Along with all this, being able to sing those high notes you mentioned, there is hard work and self-awareness. As soon as I enter the stage and see my happy audiences I feel gratefulness, happiness and inspiration to develop and go on!
9.-Leaves’ Eyes had an anniversary show some weeks ago in Belgium, how was it? Why didn’t you do it in your home country, Norway?
Liv: True! This year we celebrate our 10th anniversary, we have toured four four continents and released five full-length albums and 3 EPs. We just played our headliner anniversary show in Belgium at MFVF which was absolutely wonderful. I would have loved celebrating in Norway but there was no stage or festival to arrange it for that time. The release of Symphonies if the Night” was definitely a highlight in the career of Leaves’ Eyes. We celebrated this with a special anniversary show at MFVF (as mentioned above) just a few days ago. Lots of guests, like Zube from Diabolus in Musica, Vic Anselmo, Aylin from Sirenia, a bunch of Vikings and folk instruments (including brilliant Christian Roch). We let our audience choose the setlist, we played one brand new track, Halvdan the Black, we had the tallest flames and the loudest explosions, the best light and lots of surprises…it was a hell of a night! A fantastic birthday party!