DATE OF INTERVIEW:
AGUA DE ANNIQUE
3rd June 2008
ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN
METAL DISCOVERY: Has having a version of your name - ‘Annique’ - in the band name confused anybody into thinking it’s a solo project rather than a band, or have I been confused and it is a solo thing?
ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN: It’s, ahhh….I don’t know myself. It’s just from me so you should say it’s a solo thing, and of course I came from a band so now I’ve gone solo - that’s what you call it. But I have a band, and we are a band, so that’s why I wanted a band name with my name in it….so to make everything a bit more….
AVG: [laughs] But suppose I want to do my next album with only violins and cellos, then it would be called Agua de Annique, only without the band members. So that’s how open we are…I said from the beginning this was kind of the setup I wanted to do, but because it’s working so good, I do my next record, yeah without thinking with the guys. But they are all making their own stuff, their own music, and their own albums, so if one of the three guys even also had a record out and there was a tour, I would find a replacement for him. So it’s kind of an open thing, but we are a band! [laughs]
(Anneke on her speculations whether or not air stewardesses are as 'nice' and 'pure' as they look)
"...I like to wonder the neater they are, the more of a dark side they must have!"
Anneke in the Melkweg's Café-Restaurant, Amsterdam, 3rd June 2008
Photograph copyright © 2008 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
MD: You said when you left The Gathering that you wanted to explore different musical directions - do you feel Agua de Annique has lived up to your expectations and aims so far?
AVG: Yeah, in this matter, yeah. I just made my own songs and I could do lyric-wise and everything-wise exactly what I felt and so that, for me, was very succeeded. And all the other, like I said, these projects like this, and working with other people is part of that as well. It’s very inspiring to work constantly with other groups or people, so that’s nice, and sometimes I also do solo gigs on my own with the guitar, piano, and I’m writing in Dutch language as well. I’m thinking about releasing a record under my own name next year with only Dutch language songs in the dialect of where I come from. So I like that as well, and it’s very nice to know that if I want to make time I can, so that’s kind of what I’m doing. But Agua is, of course, the most obvious thing and the biggest thing, so everybody sees this first, but around that I’m doing all these smaller things, so that’s nice.
MD: You’ve written a very interesting text in the centre of the ‘Air’ CD booklet in which you state complete admiration for the air hostess, and to quote part of that - “instead of wanting to be her, she inspires me to be myself”. Is Agua de Annique a representation of that because the music and lyrics are much more personal to you than what you did in The Gathering?
AVG: Yeah, very much so. It’s a bit of a philosophical way to look at it, but it’s a cool thing that the stewardesses - I just love them, you know! I love to be in a plane and just look at them, and when you have the real good classic beauties, then I can stare at them for however long I’m in the plane. So I like this concept, and the concept of her profession, and also the stewardess is also a little bit of a rock star because they entertain the people, and they provide, and they are amused by…and they feel comfortable, and fly from city to city, and I bet they have boyfriends everywhere…just like us! [laughs] I know it, I know it, they are not so nice as you think!
MD: I won’t send a link to this interview to your husband!
AVG: Don’t, don’t! [laughs] Yeah, now I’m in the band with my husband I have to cool down, huh?! [laughs] Yeah, but there are a lot of comparisons, but the big, big difference is that when you’re an air stewardess you have to be very punctual, and very neat, and very tidy, and when you are doing your profession, when you’re working. And that’s exactly what I do not own - these qualities…you know, to be on top of that, to be punctual, and to be in the lip gloss all day long. But I like to just look at it, and I like to wonder the neater they are, the more of a dark side they must have! You know, so they must have everywhere…they must have boyfriends everywhere! I like to think that!
MD: Can we blame the air stewardess for you leaving The Gathering then?! They inspire you to want to be yourself, so you’re there on the plane, flying out to wherever, thinking no more The Gathering, I want to do my own music!
AVG: Yeah, well, it’s far fetched, but yeah! [laughs]
MD: Of course, yeah, just in my head!
MD: I like the cover to ‘Air’ which kind of captures the two faces to the air hostess - you have like the smiley, happy, kind of false smile on the front cover, and the more contemplative, thoughtful face on the back smoking a cigarette, and all the in between faces in the booklet. Was that your idea for the cover design of the album?
AVG: Yeah. You saw it well, it’s kind of a story about her being very up on top, and nice, and tidy, and after a while you see her being a real person, so she has her things, and she has her dark side. You can see the man’s hand on her leg - you know, she is straying…with the pilot I believe! [laughs] Because I believe that we are all human beings for good and bad, and I think you have to kind of embrace both sides because you are who you are, and everybody has multiple sides, and especially in the West, we don’t live with our bad sides. We have to kind of ignore them and be only smiling, and only good, and successful and rich.
MD: I guess that comes from Christianity and Western morals - you have to be good or bad, and there’s nothing in between, you have to be either/or the whole time.
AVG: Morals, yeah. But why do we like the bad guys in the movies? For this reason, you know, we all feel what it’s like to be the bad guy because we all have it. And even, of course, you have murderers and it’s extreme, but we all have our silly things and our down sides. Maybe in the South, or like in America, people live much more with those things - people cry a lot sooner than what we do, and they live with death as a part of life. We all kind of ignore these things, and I think it’s unnatural. I smile a lot because I’m a happy person, because now or like here when I sing I’m in my place…I like what I do.
MD: People are taught to repress their emotions in the West like you say, more than elsewhere in the world where people are more just whatever, who they are.
AVG: Yeah, but you have to let it out sometimes, you know.
MD: Definitely. You do on stage!
AVG: Yeah, totally! [laughs]
MD: Er…you’ve kind of answered this, but are the sequence of pictures in the CD booklet supposed to tell a story?
MD: Erm…I think you’ve answered this as well, but…
AVG: I talk too much!
MD: Do you see parallels between being a musician in a band and the job of the air hostess? Like if you have to go out on stage and you’re not feeling so good, but you still have to go out there and smile, and perform.
AVG: Yeah. She has to be very up and neat all the time, but I saw some stewardesses lose their temper with guests that are really impatient or…and I like it, you know, when she stomps her feet and…
MD: Have you ever done that on stage? With some angry fans maybe?
AVG: Yeah, there’s always something. Usually it’s going well, but you have certain places where people are not so nice, and especially in the beginning when there was not a lot of female singers in the metal scene. There were a lot of farmer like guys shouting and….I’ve even been grabbed on stage as well.
MD: Absolutely. Out of pure interest, have you had any feedback from air hostesses about what you’ve said about them?
AVG: Yeah, yeah.
AVG: Yeah, it was live radio. It was in Holland, a big festival indoors, and the guy comes on stage and grabs me from behind, like here, and he pulls me towards him, and I could feel his stiffy in my back! I was singing, I could hear back on the radio - somebody taped it for me - and you could hear “ahhhh….…ahhhhhhhhh..la..la..la”! I was pushing this guy away, but then security came and they put him away and…
MD: Napalm Death have got it easy, haven’t they, really. I’ve never seen Barney like that, really. You know, I don’t think I’d want to see him like that!
AVG: [laughs] No, but nobody would go on stage and grab Barney! You should try, though! Let’s try! But this is a long time ago, and this doesn’t happen a lot, so…people really have respect for The Gathering and this scene; the metal and rock scene is very cool.
MD: I was going to ask them on the flight on the way over here, but it was only a 50 minute flight, and they were busy doing their thing, and looking perfect so….
MD: It’d be a good gig!
AVG: [laughs] I had some emails and some friends who knew air stewardesses that introduced them to our music, and they all seemed to really like it, and the concept. The funny thing is, the stewardesses all want to be rock stars, and singers, and be on stage and, you know, at least I’m looking up at them as cool. But it’s a funny thing, I’m still looking for a gig at one of their big parties. KLM have parties with ten thousand people once a year somewhere. I’d love to do that!
AVG: Yeah, that would be so cool!
MD: To change the subject, are there any bands or any artists out there you think people who will be reading this interview should go out and discover?…any genre of music…I ask everybody this who I interview.
AVG: Ah, that’s cool. Yeah, we play a lot with the band called Lawn. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them - they are kind of post-rockish type band. They’re from the north of Holland, and we played in The Gathering with them a lot. They’re so nice people; they make really beautiful music, and the thing is that they don’t have one singer, or eye-catcher that makes them instantly big, but the music is so fantastically beautiful, and…
MD: It’s all about the music.
AVG: It is, it is, and yeah, they are wearing jeans and shirts on the stage, but you have two brothers - they sing, both, and play guitar, and their voices are really, really special. Lawn - check it out.
MD: Will do. Also, everybody I interview, I like to recommend some music, so here’s a gift for you of a CD.
AVG: Wow, thanks.
MD: It’s a guy called Yoav who I’m hoping you haven’t heard of and own already! He’s one guy with an acoustic guitar and uses a delay pedal to create lots of loops and sings over those. It’s really nice stuff, a very nice voice, and nice tunes.
MD: I think he’s based in Britain, but from South Africa. I don’t know if he’s made it over to Holland yet.
AVG: Sounds good. Is it British?
AVG: Nice! Thank you, that’s so nice.