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23rd September 2012
METAL DISCOVERY: Devin’s new album, ‘Epicloud’, which you sing on…an incredible album as well, absolutely amazing.
ANNEKE: Thanks.
(Anneke Van Giersbergen on the unifying power of her music)
"I always try to do that, just to make one bubble and to all enjoy the same thing and to all love the music or each other or whatever. And then we create mini-world peace in the little venue that we are in."
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
Official Anneke Van Giersbergen Website:
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Air (2007)
Pure Air (2009)
In Your Room (2009)
In Parallel (2009)
Thanks to Simon Fogal for arranging the interview.
Live In Europe (2010)
Everything Is Changing (2012)
MD: Did he let you have much artistic freedom or input with the vocal melodies or was he very prescriptive and said, “this is what you have to do”?
ANNEKE: Yes, he told me exactly what to do and I did it. And I thought everything I had to do was amazing and I was happy to be able to do it because he’s asking a lot from me vocally. I loved every second and I loved all the melodies he wrote for this album – musically and vocally for himself, and for me as well. When I was singing I told him, “this is gonna be a classic because it’s so beautiful.” And it’s heavy at the same time – it’s such a perfect balance.
MD: Is there ever likely to be an Anneke record where you can get Devin over to Holland in your studio and you can have control of him and tell him what to sing?
ANNEKE: [laughs]
MD: Have you ever thought or talked about doing that at all?
ANNEKE: No…but I don’t dare ask him because he’s so friggin’ busy. We wrote a few songs earlier for my album ‘In Your Room’ so that was a fantastic experience but, nowadays, he’s so, so busy and I wouldn’t dare to ask him. But maybe I should get over my fear and do that because it would, of course, be awesome to have him sing something with me. But I didn’t muster up the courage yet! [laughs]
MD: I was going to say, get him drinking a few beers and then ask but he doesn’t drink now I don’t think.
ANNEKE: No, he doesn’t drink and he’s a very strong personality so he’ll do what he wants to and he’ll not do what he doesn’t want to. But I’m sure he would like to. I’m sure because I’m happy to say that we became very good colleagues and so on but, yeah, he’s friggin’ busy.
MD: Actually, I did an interview with him last year and we chatted about you briefly, and he said he’s been a fan of your vocals since someone from Century Media let him hear some ‘Mandylion’ demos, and he said he loved your voice since then. Have you been a fan of his since back in the day as well?
ANNEKE: Yeah, since Strapping, yeah, and the album with Vai.
MD: Oh, ‘Sex & Religion’, yeah.
ANNEKE: Yeah, a fantastic album, I played that a lot. Actually, he was playing with Strapping in the town where we lived, in Nijmegen in Holland. He came into the crowd afterwards and I didn’t dare speak to him because I was, “ohhh, there he is, ohhhh”, and he walked right past me and I didn’t speak to him. And then, later, I told him, because he already knew me, he already knew who I was so I could’ve said, “hey Devin, I’m Anneke” but I couldn’t…so maybe I should be more bold, to get things done maybe! But I’m happy we got together now.
MD: Yeah, be more bold and ask him to sing on a whole album with you. Get him over to Holland and boss him around!
ANNEKE: [laughs]
MD: So if you had to sum up Devin in three words as a person and as somebody to work with, what words would you choose?
ANNEKE: Well, that’s the same thing for me because it’s a very personal thing to work with him. But I would say incredibly talented…is that one word? [laughs]
MD: That can count as one phrase!
ANNEKE: He’s super talented and he’s very serious about what he’s doing. And he’s a pleasure to work with because he’s just real, do you know what I mean? He’s honest and real. Whenever you have, maybe a problem, he’s just so honest and that’s very unique. He’s himself…I think he’s exactly the same as he’s working as he’s not working. And he’s very funny.
MD: Yeah, he has a very zany sense of humour.
ANNEKE: Yeah, it gets him through the day, you know.
MD: I have to ask about Maiden uniteD as well. How did you become involved in that because it’s a very special project? The songs turned out very beautiful, I think. Do you still have an involvement in that?
ANNEKE: We did live shows together and now they have made another album but I’m not on that. They asked me but I’m all over the place and very busy…which is luxurious for me because I get to do a lot of really, really nice projects and I have to choose. It’s not that I didn’t want to because they are a very, very nice bunch of people…some of them I go back a long way with and the music, like you said, is very beautiful. And it goes to show that the Iron Maiden stuff is heavy metal but, if you strip them down, you notice how beautiful the melodies are, and how fantastic the lyrics are, and how well sung they are by Bruce. I thought it was really, really nice to dive into these songs and Damien, he’s a fantastic singer. He’s one of the few people who can really pull it off.
MD: Yeah, for me, some of his best ever vocals are for Maiden uniteD; some absolutely beautiful singing.
ANNEKE: Absolutely, yeah, and his timbre and the way he performs it, it’s so well done.
MD: Absolutely. Would you like to get involved with them again in the future?
ANNEKE: Yeah, maybe.
MD: Time permitting.
ANNEKE: Yeah, exactly.
MD: So, my final question then – because everything is changing, if you could change anything in the world or would like to see anything change in the world, what would that be?
ANNEKE: Lots of things. I think that we are going towards a more peaceful time. I don’t know why but I think the children that are now growing up have a different state of mind, everywhere in the world, than our parents and the generations before this. Of course, I can say this easily because I live in Holland and it’s a very easy country to live in but seeing the wars and the situation in the world, I would totally change…if I were god…
ANNEKE: But I think if we would get back to just being ourselves and just to love and respect, all war would end. And if there was no chips about who, four thousand years ago, created a country because it’s one world, one Earth…all the trees, all the earth, the water, everything is all of the Earth itself. We don’t own anything so if we stopped owning and if we just be ourselves, I think it would totally be peaceful. And I try to…who am I, you know…but I try, if we only pull a crowd of a hundred people, I always try to do that, just to make one bubble and to all enjoy the same thing and to all love the music or each other or whatever. And then we create mini-world peace in the little venue that we are in. So, you know, you can see it’s possible, like metal-heads, old people, young people, there’s students, there’s prog-rockers…and they all get along.
MD: So, one day, your music will bring world peace hopefully. That’s kind of the plot to ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ isn’t it…
ANNEKE: I don’t know.
MD: Ah, have you not seen the film?
MD: Some guy travels back from the future to set two guys on the right path because, eventually, their music brings world peace. It’s a ridiculous plot but a similar idea.
ANNEKE: Yeah, it’s micro-world peace in little venues all over the place.
MD: It’s the unifying power of music.
ANNEKE: Yeah and I think it’s the one thing I can do and I’m very, very conscious of it. And if everybody does their little bit in life I think it would be better.
MD: Absolutely. Very good closing words.
ANNEKE: Alright!
MD: Thank you so much.
ANNEKE: You’re welcome, thank you so much.