Liv Kristine

Leaves Eyes

Liv is a wonderful person to talk with. A skillful performer with a very good taste in music, she has managed to establish the female dominion in Atmospheric Metal with her old band Theater Of Tragedy. After her departure she formed Leaves' Eyes. The band's brand new effort is called Vinland Saga and since this was the third time I had the chance to talk to Liv, I decided to do some questions out of the box...
By Michael Dalakos
June 4, 2005
Liv Kristine (Leaves Eyes) interview
Liv, congratulations on your new album. How come this time you didn't visit us for the promotion?

I don't know. I always like visiting Greece since I have very good friends in your country. Unfortunately this time the promoter didn't arrange it. I'm a bit upset about this you know...

Let's start by giving us some information about the concept story behind Vinland Saga...

Vinland Saga has a historical base. It's about the discovery of America by the Vikings about one thousand years ago. There are historical facts about these events. Through the album we follow the course of those brave Vikings. I must also mention that the mini album also contains fragments of the story so one can see it as a complementary to the full album.

Apart from the historical facts there is also a little fictional story, a little love story invented by me and blended in the actual story. This story has to do with one of the men in the ship who's leaving his wife behind to take the long journey.

How exactly did you decide to work on such a concept album? Did you read a book or something?

Yes, of course. First of all in the schools in Norway children learn a lot about the history of the Vikings. A very important part of Norwegian history and culture. I was always interested in history. I had a book from my mother, it was actually a gift from my mother to Alex [Krull, husband of Liv and singer of Atrocity / guitarist of Leave's Eyes]. This book is full of pictures from the place I grew up in Norway. My decision to do a concept about the place I grew up came quite naturally.

The latest Atrocity album was a concept one. The new Leaves' Eyes album is a concept album. I see a pattern here...

Well, if you also recall, the first Leaves' Eyes album was also a concept album. I guessed we influenced each other on this aspect.

Atmospheric Metal is considered to be on a winning streak lately. On the other hand concept albums never were easy to digest. How difficult was it for you to set a certain balance between the music and the lyrics?

First of all, we composed the music. I started working on this project as a concept album and started writing lyrics for it after the music was composed. We had eight or nine instrumental songs before I started writing lyrics. So, I was inspired all the time by the music. There was a flow in the process and the lyrics followed that flow, not the music.

If you write lyrics first then you must make many sacrifices on the way the music will go. I didn't want this to happen.

Compare the two albums. Do you believe there are big differences or is there simply a natural evolution in the band's sound with the new album?

I will say that Vinland Saga is 100% a natural evolution to the sound we have created with our first album. There are some differences, for example this time we used real classical instruments and not samples. I also used my voice in different ways, also the song structure is a little more complex.

I think the big difference in the new album is that the songs are really different the one from the other. The ballads are very feminine, while the heavier songs are really bombastic. There's a big contrast between the songs.

You have mentioned that you have used your voice in a different way. I believe that in Vinland Saga there's the biggest variety of vocal lines you have ever offered to you fans. How did this happen?

Thank you very much for your compliment [Laughs]. I am very proud of what you are saying. I didn't do something special actually. It just felt right to try something different. Of course the experience I now have helped me a lot to get this inspiration. I also really liked the chance I have had over the years to collaborate with many important bands like Cradle of Filth for example. All this helped me to expand my horizons.

The main thing however is that after the pregnancy my body changed. Now I can do much more powerful vocals, I don't know really why but I can. I think I got some new muscles somewhere [Laughs].

With your previous band [Theater Of Tragedy] you have managed pretty much to bring a revolution to the Heavy Metal community. Do you think that you can achieve something equally great with your current band? Generally how difficult is it to sound original today?

I think it is very difficult to sound different, to achieve your own sound so people can understand what a band is playing after listening for a couple of seconds. Most bands today try to adopt elements from their favorite bands and if they are lucky enough to blend them with some elements of their own hoping for a personal sound. When you run a band like Atrocity or Leaves' Eyes it is very difficult to stick to your sound when many bands try to sound like you. Personally I believe that the best thing one band can do is to stick to its sound and be as much original as possible. You must try to develop your sound at one level but never forget where you come from.

That was the main problem with Theater of Tragedy. They have created a very personal sound. There was a dramatic difference between Aegis and Musique. They didn't want to have any connection with their past. For example their singer was interested mostly in Eminem (!!!), so the band had a break with their past and started working on totally different material. This was very difficult for me. I will never try something like this with Leaves' Eyes.

Lovelorn was released in a very beautiful digipack. Can we assume the same thing for Vinland Saga?

Yes, there's going to be a limited edition, with one bonus track called Heal, a new version of For Amelie from Lovelorn, also a videoclip and a documentation about the making of the album. Oh! It will include a long interview with me. We wanted to add more value for money this time.

Touring plans! Is it too early?

Touring plans! We will tour Europe in October / November and for me the perfect ending for 2005 is to play in Greece. I always love to play in Greece. The last concert with Atrocity and Paradise Lost was amazing. People have always been very friendly to me from the very beginning.

Rumors want you to be releasing a second solo album. What can you tell us about this?

Yes, it is true, there will be a second solo album. It will be released around autumn. I signed a record deal with Roadrunner Records. A dream came true for me since I had a lot of trouble with my first company. I had to fight for my rights in the court. I was really sad when I realized that some people wanted to put the dollar sign on my forehead. I don't want to be a Barbie Doll in the music industry. I want to write my own lyrics, be part of the recording process...

Can we assume it will be in the same vein as your first solo attempt?

Yes. This CD will follow the steps of the first album. It will be quite atmospheric and dark, but I can tell you that I collaborated with other producers like Peter Tagtren, so expect some very interesting combinations of music! There will be some up tempo songs for the album.

More and more women are involved in the Metal music industry when few years ago this was considered to be a sport dominated by man. What's your advise to all those women?

My advise... always stay true to yourself. Don't let people handle you like an object or something. There are always people who offer you contracts and money but most of them try simply to exploit the musicians. Be careful with who you work with. Don't do anything you believe it will backfire at some point in the future.

So far you have succeeded many great things. Are there any unfulfilled dreams?

Of course. I haven't played everywhere around the world for example. I'm very happy to see the Elegy mini CD entering the charts. That was a surprise for me. After all, this is a mini album and we are a Metal band. We never expected something like this to happen.

Liv, I want to thank you for your time...

Is it over already? It was so nice talking to you.

I promise next time to have twice the questions for you. Close this interview with a message to all your friends in the magazine.

I love you all. People in Greece have always been nice to us. I really look forward to see you very soon.

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