Interview and live photos by Shaq
Interview questions by Shaq and Lord of the Wasteland
Is Leaves’ Eyes focusing on creating concept albums now or is it just a coincidence that your albums so far have each had a common thread throughout them?< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
We will definitely produce more concept albums in the future. On my flight to the States a couple weeks ago I was considering what I am to write about on the next album. I thought it’s a good idea to stick to a historic concept. I think I would like to continue with the history of the Vikings, I like that. It’s a cure for my homesickness. I moved to Germany ten years ago so I do get homesick every now and then. I miss the ocean and the mountains and there is not much of that in south Germany. There will definitely be a concept on the next album and I would say on the future albums.
Some of your vocals border on an operatic style. Have you had any lessons or professional training to improve on that or is it just something you’ve worked on on your own?
It’s something I’ve been working on on my own. It’s the music itself which inspires me to develop as an artist and a singer. I’m very lucky because I’ve always been singing and I was able to sing even before I could talk and it’s kind of in my blood, in my veins, in my heart.
Did you originally envision the juxtaposition between Alex’s vocals and yours as being integral to the Leaves’ Eyes style or did it come about on its own?
It just came about. I thought I’d introduce him on a couple of tracks on the album and then he produced the LEGEND LAND EP and as you might have heard he’s on almost every song on that EP. It depends on the music itself. If the song needs it, I will ask my husband to do some dark vocals on it.
Throughout all of your music there’s a nice mix of heavy, light, catchy, and pretty much everything there is. Do you expect that Leaves’ Eyes will ever cross over to maybe a more mainstream audience?
I don’t think so, because we’re making all the music ourselves. The guys in Atrocity have been in the business for more than 20 years, and it’s my 12th year in the business. We work on behalf of our own minds and not on behalf of the business outside. It’s not about money, because the music business is like a roller coaster, it goes up and down. If you’re up very high you’ll fall again, so I think the most important thing is to stay authentic and stay true to yourselves.
Your singles for INTO THE LIGHT and ELEGY feature non-album tracks. When working on a concept album do you find it difficult to actually cut out tracks and keep the flow of the story going?
So far that hasn’t been a problem, as there have actually been too many tracks for each album. That’s why we’ve had some extra bonus tracks for the EPs. We always have too much, but LEGEND LAND is not an EP with “left over” tracks. 5 tracks are brand new, but some songs just don’t get used and they die.
Why did you decide to remake the song “For Amelie” which was originally on LOVELORN for the U.S. release of VINLAND SAGA?
First of all, personally it’s a very special song to me because I wrote it together with my guitarist while I was pregnant. The song is dedicated to a girl, and I had a boy. [laughs] The main thing is the song is dedicated to the unborn baby, and as we recorded it we actually had a problem with the piano. It didn’t sound exactly the way we wanted it but we found out what the problem was at a later point in time so we decided to re-produce it.
Were you involved in the making of the videos you have so far for “Into Your Light” and “Elegy”?
Sure, I read the storyboards and give the people the green light for it. I prefer “Elegy.” “Into Your Light” was done in a hurry and wasn’t what we had planned to do. What we had planned was to shoot the video outside in the snow but there was actually a hurricane across Germany at that point in time so we had to do it inside and we had to decide this within a time limit of 10 hours. “Into Your Light” was shot inside but that was not what we really wanted, so I prefer “Elegy.”
Since you had been a part of Theater of Tragedy for so many years, how nervous were you about performing the Leaves’ Eyes material for the first time?
Of course I was a bit nervous, and it was also my first performance after giving birth to my son. I had a short break, and after having a break you’re always a bit nervous, you have to get in tune to everything again. It was very nice, and the audience was so nice to us. Standing on a stage and performing in front of an audience has become a part of me so I’m not nervous anymore, I’m just happy to be able to do it and I’m very grateful towards the audience that I’m able to do it for a living.
If you don’t mind me asking, what was the actual story behind your departure from Theater of Tragedy? I’ve heard a few different stories.
I don’t know much myself, except from the fact that there was a message on their homepage.
Oh that is actually how you found out? I was told that but found it kind of hard to believe.
It was not very nice. We had been together for almost 10 years and I was one of the members that founded the band and nobody told me. I thought they were my friends. My mother actually called me and said “Hey have you checked the guestbook of Theater of Tragedy?” When I read it I was very angry and sad and at the same time very disappointed. The only reason I can think of is a couple of weeks before that we were supposed to play two concerts in Greece. Since I was pregnant in my 7th month no flight company would take me, and I cancelled the concerts myself. Maybe it was being pregnant and not being able to play concerts and not being able to fly. That must have been something they disliked very much so that’s the only reason I can think of. There is no other reason for throwing me out of the band.
Were you happy with the direction they’d been taking with a more electronic sound as opposed to how it was originally?
Of course I liked the music on the two last albums which are as you said more electronic. If not, I wouldn’t have sung on it. Closest to my heart are the first three albums, and that’s the kind of music I grew up with too like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden through my parents. Black Sabbath and Ozzy have been the main source for me throughout my whole career. The first three albums are the albums I prefer.
Have you actually heard their newer material with the new singer?
What do you think of it?
I think the magic is gone. If this album had been released about 15 years ago, it might have been something new, something people would open their eyes for. This album, called STORM is not very well developed. There are so many bands nowadays like Nightwish, Within Temptation, that are great gothic metal bands with female voices and these bands are far better than Theater of Tragedy today. In my opinion, the magic is gone.
You mentioned before some of the different bands that have influenced you. I have actually read that some of your favorite bands include both Six Feet Under and Madonna. That’s a very big range there. How do you feel this affects you with writing music?
Of course it affects me. I take my inspirations mainly from Ozzy and Black Sabbath. At the age of 6 I discovered Madonna. It was the period of time I started to rehearse in front of a mirror with a hairbrush in my hand. At that point in time I discovered pop music. Today I enjoy every kind of music but what I enjoy the most is actually classical music. In my favorite CD collection you’ll find classical music, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Madonna [laughs], maybe Six Feet Under. My music taste is very varied. I also like to work with different artists for this reason so I can pick up inspirations from different kinds of sources. I think that’s important to develop as an artist.
I know you worked on the song “Nymphetamine” by Cradle of Filth. Does that play into what you were just talking about? How did that come about?
Actually, Cradle sent me an e-mail and I thought it was spam mail so I just deleted it. A couple hours later there was a phone call from their management asking if I’d read the e-mail, so I told them I’d lost the e-mail. I was very happy to get the offer and I was happy to record my vocals in our own studio. I rang up Dani Filth from Cradle, he was in the studio himself, I think he was in London at the time. I checked everything with him, and his opinion on how it should be and how my vocals should sound. They had tried to work with Tori Amos, and Christina from Lacuna Coil and a couple other female artists and they ended up with me and I see that as a very nice compliment. I think the track is excellent actually. It’s very “beauty and the beast,” it’s very Kylie Minogue, Wild Roses, very much like this. That’s exactly what Cradle wanted, and I wanted.
I also read that your dream profession outside of music would actually be writing children’s books. Do you have any plans of actually doing anything like that?
When I have time, it’s just a matter of time. We’ve been touring a lot. Next to being a singer and a music I’m also a teacher at a special school for special children, violent children, kids addicted to drugs, any kind of problem kids could have. It’s helped me a lot to appreciate life even more because I am so happy I don’t have any of these problems and I’m happy I can give something to these kids. I would like to go back to this job but it’s just a matter of time. It’s still there, I can do it anytime. I would have to do it between touring.
Since becoming a mother just a few years ago, has your writing style or musical style changed at all or matured or evolved because of it?
I think my body has changed a bit. It feels better to sing, there has been a kind of development. I don’t know what to call it. Inside me there has been some kind of positive change. Many women say that after pregnancy that you become a better singer, and that’s a fact.
As I understand, you actually bring your son on the road with you. How does that affect your road life between having your child with you and being around your husband both on stage, back stage and in the studio?
I’d say it depends on the child. If the child is willing to adapt to this kind of life, because you have only a few square meters for 15 or even 20 people, and then you have a kid in the middle of all this. I always took my son with me and introduced him to all his uncles and aunts [laughs] and he’s been on the road a couple of times but this time is the longest period of time, 6 weeks. He’s doing very well and he’s very happy to have people around him all the time. If he needs peace he goes and sits in the back of the bus and plays with himself. Everybody needs time off, even mothers! [laughs] I do take care that I have a couple of minutes all by myself during the day so I can gain some more energy. It works really well and I’m very grateful for that, that he can take all this.
It probably helps that you have your husband along with you for the entire thing.
Oh yes, definitely, although he’s very busy. It’s much better to have our kid around us. The longest period I can take without my son would be like 10 days and after that it gets very difficult. It’s much better to have him. He likes it. He’s even talking about America and New York. He’s learning a lot, and he’s picked up a little bit of English already in addition to Norwegian and German, his mother tongue. He’s doing very well.
So far you’ve done two solo albums that seem to be more along the lines of pop music, maybe from your Madonna influences. Is that your way of offsetting the Leaves’ Eyes style as an opposite side of your creativity?
I would say that. It’s a part of me, the pop modern music part of me is always there so I need to work on this too. That’s how the solo albums, the pop albums, came about.
Are there any plans to release those in North America or is it a Europe-only thing?
I hope so. I just beg that ENTER MY RELIGION will be released worldwide. That would be fantastic. We’re getting there.
Do you have any other upcoming projects that you have planned outside of Leaves’ Eyes?
I didn’t actually have time to have a look at all my e-mails during the tour so I don’t know what’s in there. If there is an offer and if I have time I love to work on different projects with other artists, I really do. One artist or band I’d love to work with is Dead Soul Tribe with Devon Graves. We performed together at the Summer Breeze festival in Germany a couple of months ago. He did a duet with me and it was so nice, I’d love to work with him. We will have to see.
How has your first North American tour been so far?
Fantastic. I was amazed by the amount of people turning up to the shows in Canada, it’s amazing. We only did two shows in Canada last year, and the tour was a catastrophe. It was a fucked up tour, with car accidents. We had to leave the tour, some people we worked with on the tour screwed up and wanted money from us in the end and that was not the deal at all so we actually had to buy new flights back to Germany just to escape from the States because we were really scared that something would happen. That was not very nice, but this time everything is very nice and well organized.
Do you have fans recognize you a lot as you walk around in the U.S. or do you still have a sense of anonymity?
Here in New York there are so many people and as you can see I don’t walk around in my red dress on the streets! [laughs] In Europe in some cities it’s different, but I have no problems with that. Everybody has been kind to me.
Does the band have any plans for filming and releasing a live DVD?
Yes we do. On this tour we have made a lot of shots from our concerts, backstage, fans, life on tour, we have a lot of material so our DVD will be released next year. It will be a live DVD with some private stuff on it too, like a Leaves’ Eyes movie.
Are you involved in the design at all of, as you put it, the red dress, or your stage outfits?
Sure. Some things I just can’t buy If I have ideas, so I have to go to a place where they make a dress specially for me. Some stuff I just find in little shops in our streets, some weird stuff. I just keep my eyes open for special things.
Have you ever thought about collaborating musically with your sister? I understand she’s a singer too.
Oh I’d love to do that. She’s just having her final exams at the university, and after that she’ll have more free time. Midnattsol will be in the studio in the beginning of 2007, so maybe there’s a chance for me to be on their album or I’ll invite her to be on my next solo album. I think that would be excellent.
As is the case with most female fronted bands, you end up being the focal point of the band. How do you feel about that, and how do the other guys feel?
My band members are very professional, so they don’t have any problems with that. In comparison to the guys in Theater of Tragedy that was difficult many times. On one side they wanted to have the focus on me, being the only female in the band and they wanted me to sing more, and so on. On the other hand they didn’t want me to do that many interviews, so the drummer ended up doing a lot of interviews. It was ok if he wants to take the work. [laughs] I think it’s natural if you have a female fronted band that the girl takes most of the promotion. The guys do make a lot of the music. Some days I’m doing interviews all day in the studio and they’re making music, it’s just the way it is and it’s okay. Everybody is fine with that.
How do you feel that Leaves’ Eyes fits in with a lot of the other female fronted bands out there, as you mentioned Within Temptation and Nightwish, or Epica or any of the others? How do you feel you’re different from them?
I was there before all of them! [laughs] I think Nightwish and Within Temptation are great bands and they deserve their success. I would love to tour with one of these bands, but it seems like some female fronted bands don’t wanted to have another female fronted band on the tour which I think is very strange. I think it would be killer to have two female fronted gothic metal bands on the bill. I invite anybody, I’m not afraid of that. I don’t see them as competition; I see them as kind of soulmates. We are in the same situation.
I would like to thank Nathan Birk at Napalm Records for helping set up the interview.