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23rd September 2012
METAL DISCOVERY: What was the idea behind the ‘Take Me Home’ video because you’re rocking it out on bass, guitar, drums and singing…kind of multi-tasking as the band!
ANNEKE: Yeah! [laughs] I don’t know, I thought it would just be a cool idea to play all the instruments. And having the dancer, there were a lot of metal-heads going, “what the fuck is she doing now?!”
(Anneke Van Giersbergen on her creativity and evolution as a solo artist post-The Gathering)
"All the ideas that I have I can actually work out because I am my own boss which is nice. And, yeah, it’s very luxurious. I get lots of work with other people and I learn a lot from working with other people and singing with other artists. So I’m very happy to evolve like this."
Anneke Van Giersbergen in the Academy, Birmingham, UK, 23rd September 2012
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2012 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
ANNEKE: I thought I might’ve gone too far with lots of people but I thought it would be cool because I love, for instance, the stuff that Beyoncé does with the dancing and she has heavily produced songs. Actually, she’s kind of heavy in the pop industry and she does fierce dancing and I thought a dancer, yeah, that would be just cool. I think, with a lot of people, they really like that rock thing with playing the instruments and the pop thing with the dancer but there were a lot of metal-heads, like the dark guys, they couldn’t get it. And he’s a famous dancer in Holland so his fan base consists of fourteen year old girls – they didn’t understand me at all! So they said they watched the video and you can see on YouTube the comments from them like, “I hate the song but I love Meysam.” And then metal-heads were like, “yeah, yeah, I think it’s cool but what is she doing with the dancer?” But it’s funny because it moves…
MD: It gives a nice flow to the video.
MD: I like it.
ANNEKE: I like it! [laughs]
MD: You’ve been very prolific, of course, since leaving The Gathering…it’s been five years now hasn’t it?
ANNEKE: Yeah, yeah.
MD: So would you say you’ve become, and have had the space to become, much more creative since leaving The Gathering? Do you feel more creative?
ANNEKE: Yeah, I can do a lot of stuff with my creativity. All the ideas that I have I can actually work out because I am my own boss which is nice. And, yeah, it’s very luxurious. I get lots of work with other people and I learn a lot from working with other people and singing with other artists. So I’m very happy to evolve like this.
MD: I have to ask about the ‘Addicted’ show last year in November because you obviously did the Within Temptation support in Brixton earlier in the evening but you looked very composed and full of energy on stage at the Devin show but I gather you rushed over there pretty quickly?
ANNEKE: Yeah, totally.
MD: How was it from your perspective? It must’ve been very tiring!
ANNEKE: Yeah, what a day!
ANNEKE: We travelled to London to make the gig in the first place with Within Temptation and, actually, I did my show with Within Temptation in the same clothes…I took off my heels, jumped in the van, he was waiting for me, and I had my sneakers on, and I came to Devin and had ten minutes, I refreshed my lipstick and I went on stage, and that’s it.
MD: Oh seriously – you arrived and then ten minutes later you were out on stage?!
MD: Wow!
ANNEKE: In the afternoon I soundchecked with Within Temptation for our show and then I went to Devin to soundcheck there, and then I went back to play with Within Temptation and then I went back to play with Devin.
MD: So you were back and forward all day?!
ANNEKE: Yeah. It’s kind of a rush job but it’s also high energy. I did my own set so, for Devin, I was totally warmed up. But Devin always makes me sing the most loud and the most high stuff…by the end of that set I had a total headache so I was done for the day but I thought it was one of the best days ever.
MD: Cool. Was there any extra pressure knowing it was being filmed as well?
ANNEKE: Yeah, I thought I had to look good so I had to make sure everything was still in place! But, other than that, there was no pressure because I knew the set and I knew my songs and…with Devin, I’m not the main focal point so I have to do good, I have to do as perfect as I can. But Devin, he was under a lot of pressure over those four days.
MD: Of course, yeah. It all turned out perfect though.
ANNEKE: Yeah, totally.
MD: You’re doing a children’s play in Holland this year I read…
MD: ‘The Bear That Wasn’t’ and you’re singing songs in Dutch…
MD: How did that whole idea come about and has it always been an ambition of yours to become a children’s entertainer?!
ANNEKE: Well, not really but I was asked by a production company who makes theatre plays among other things and the guy who runs that production company, he is a big fan of the book which is an old book, a children’s book. And he wanted to put that into a play and thought that I might be able to do it. So I developed that together with the director and somebody who I’m also playing it with so it’s two people on stage. It’s mostly songs so it’s music theatre and I get to act a little bit. And it’s so awesome because it’s new for me to be in theatres and to act…because, in rock ‘n’ roll, you put on your guitar and you start playing but in theatre you have to watch where you’re standing, and then you take three steps and you say this line, and then you take four steps and there’s this light upon you, and then you sing a song. And you can’t go out of your role because…
MD: You can’t jump into the crowd!
ANNEKE: Unless it’s directed! But it’s a fantastic experience because, also, the audience is so honest! You know, if the attention is out of the show, if there’s ever a point where there’s not enough story or whatever, kids start looking around and they’re totally gone. So it’s hard work but I love it. There are kids of four years and grandparents of eighty in the same audience. I’ve had dogs in the audience! Like a blind grandmother with a dog.
MD: Did the dog enjoy it?
MD: Or did he start looking around?!
ANNEKE: At one point we have to run and I thought, oh no, maybe the dog will run with us! But, of course, he’s a trained dog, so he was satisfied, yeah.
MD: The metal guys who didn’t like the dancer in the ‘Take Me Home’ video probably hate the children’s play even more I guess!
ANNEKE: Well, actually, there are guys coming without kids to the show just to see it.
MD: Wearing Cannibal Corpse t-shirts or whatever?!
ANNEKE: Yeah, and people from abroad, like Turkey and Italy, because it doesn’t play anywhere.
MD: Fans of yours then?
ANNEKE: Yeah. And it’s in Dutch language and the songs are in Dutch but they just got curious and then they travel all the way because it’s not playing anywhere else at the moment. So we have an odd crowd, like there’s metal-heads, and grandparents and…
MD: Just like one of your gigs then really!
ANNEKE: Yeah, exactly! [laughs] And people from the theatre, they never get this kind of crowd in one show so they are all very surprised.
MD: Do you think it’s helped since becoming a mum? Like, do you think it’s been easier to do a children’s play and connect with children more since becoming a mum?
ANNEKE: I don’t know, I’m not sure. I think you either connect with children or you don’t, that’s what I think. But I don’t know because I didn’t do it before I had Finn. But sometimes I see teens who totally connect with kids or people who don’t have kids themselves, or actors who are just good actors. I’m not a good actor; I’m a singer who acts a little bit. So my strength is my songs and the way I tell the story. I never had any lessons so I really have to have it from the connection, a direct connection with the kids. It seems to work fine. And, of course, my son is in the age group of the play, he’s now seven, so he watched the rehearsals and he gave me tips!
ANNEKE: So, in that sense, it works!
MD: What did he think of the play?
ANNEKE: Well, he liked it but after three times he thought it was very boring! [laughs]
MD: He’s one of the ones who starts looking around then!
ANNEKE: Yeah, yeah, yeah! At least sometimes he comes with me and he likes it but there’s one point that somebody has to push me and I fall on the ground and then he says, “I don’t like it”…he doesn’t like mum being pushed, you know.
MD: He doesn’t quite get the acting thing then, it looks more aggressive to him…
ANNEKE: Yeah, exactly, yeah.
MD: Awww.
ANNEKE: [laughs]