Anneke Van Giersbergen

Leaving THE GATHERING in 2007 seemed to open a large kettle of fish for vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen; she has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the industry such as WITHIN TEMPTATION and DEVIN TOWNSEND. She is currently on a solo acoustic tour across Europe and bringing intimate togetherness with her. Lotty Whittingham caught up with her on one of her UK dates where they spoke about being a musician and a mum, imperfections and her collaborations.
By Lotty Whittingham
May 6, 2016
Anneke Van Giersbergen interview
Hello Anneke, how are you doing?

I'm fine thanks, I'm really happy to be in the UK. It's good to be back, I've been here so many times with The Gathering, only the last couple of years we have been returning with The Gentle Storm. So every half year is fine because I'm catching up.

Is this your first time in Southampton?

I think so, I think I was here with The Gathering a long time ago. I'm not sure.

So the tour has been going well?

Yes, lots of nice people coming to the shows. I've been travelling with friends and actually the bass player of Agua Anneke is here, we go back a long way. My husband and my kid is here, we have a car full of people with merch in the back and my guitar. That's how we travel and that's really nice.

How do you find the balance between being a professional musician and a mum?

For me it's the perfect world, I'm never homesick when they are with me. I don't mind where I am in the world as long as they are there. Yet again I tour a lot by myself, so it's cool when my boy is with me. Only today he has tonsillitis, a fever so he's at the hotel so you know he's a warrior. It's cool but shame he couldn't be here as he could be running around.

Talking of being a musician and a mum, Simone Simmons (EPICA) recently took part in a documentary that explained what that was like. She sometimes had her boy in the studios as she recorded, was that the same for you?

Yes, ever since he was a baby I took him wherever I could and so they grow up where they become used to touring, being around lots of people. When you travel to South America the flying is so heavy that we never take him, there are a lot of times where I am away from him and my parents, well what we do without parents. So they babysat a lot of the time and my husband was in the band so of course we're always together.

Now Rob isn't in the band and I do a lot on my own, so he's home a lot with him. It's a juggle but I think every working mum is juggling their work and their kids. So I don't feel any different to hard working mums but its great if they can come along, like you can bring them to the studio and they'll have a good time. It doesn't matter where he is as long as he is happy and healthy.

I bet he loves telling his friends at school that his mum's a rock star.

Yes, sometimes he Skypes to the classroom because he comes on tour when he's in school and he gets given homework to do. So it works out.

So this is your last date on the UK tour, were there any highlights?

To be honest, everywhere. Everyday has been different but everyone in the UK is funny; I tell a lot of stories at this kind of gig and I always get reactions, people have a great sense of humour and we laugh a lot. That's so cool.

It's different from a rock show where there is a lot of high energy whereas this is singing songs, talking and being at one with the crowd in an intimate way.

What made you decide to do a solo acoustic tour?

I do them all the time, so every once in a while there's just these tours in between everything else. I like to do them because it's one way to express yourself that's different to heavy metal, singing really loudly and moving on stage. The other thing is to be quiet, tell stories and to be very personal; more personal than if you were on a rock stage.

I love to do the songs on the guitar and strip down the songs we have. I also perform cover songs, I like to perform a variety of stuff. I always plan some of these tours throughout the year, just to do it because I love it so much.

It seems that acoustic shows talent in a different way. Actually at its best, particularly the vocals would you agree?

It's super different; at a rock show you can sing loud all the time and it's such a high energy thing. With an acoustic show, of course you're allowed to make a little mistake and talk about things, I usually talk about my day. It's like coming home, creating an atmosphere of just being together and enjoying the moment rather than somebody going to watch an artist. It's more like, we're here together and we invited ourselves here then we are here together. If we project that energy wise, people will pick up on that. We have good crowds, rock people are such a nice crowd.

Speaking of imperfections when performing, how do you personally feel about computer magic such as auto tuning?

If I make a mistake, I make a joke about it. I don't like making mistakes, it's never perfect. I pick a long setlist and some nights it's chaotic and I'm all over the place. So every day is different, you feel different every day so sometimes you're tired. Every day you feel different and that's good.
It's the sound of what's going on now, my boy listens to pop music and it shows there's a different generation of news sounds and new ways to record and produce. I find it really interesting.

The youth of today actually are going back to Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and vinyls are coming back. So it's a new wave. The music nowadays is really really good, very different to back in the day but that's not a bad thing.

As a solo artist you've collaborated with some amazing talents, who was your favourite?

I really loved working with Devin Townsend. He's such a nice person, he's such a genius musician and I learnt a lot from him. I learnt about vocals, recording, singing, everything really; we talk a lot when we see each other. I think that was one of the highlights of my career, playing with him.
I understand a lot of talented people are divas, which is fine because it makes them interesting in a way. Devin is very modest, hardworking and very honest about himself. People adore him and I know why.

If there is anybody you could collaborate with dead or alive who would they be?

Freddie Mercury with all of Queen, Freddie is one of my true heroes in everyway; recording, singing, writing.

To round up, what are your plans for the rest of the year?

I'll be touring and doing the acoustic solo tour in Holland. We have shows with The Gentle Storm, the last one in December. Then I'll take a break in early 2017, I'm already working on my heavy new album; that will released in one half of 2017. So there's a lot going on.

Thank you very much Anneke it's been a pleasure.
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