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11th September 2013
METAL DISCOVERY: Last year, you had a couple of very prestigious Edison award nominations for ‘Everything is Changing’ so is it now your aim to top that by winning an Edison with the new album?
ANNEKE: [laughs] That would be awesome but I wouldn’t know! I would say the Edison is the biggest and most prestigious award in Holland you can get and we once won with The Gathering so I’m already super proud of that. So, to be nominated in the category of ‘Best Female Artist’, it was incredible because you get lots of attention in the media, only to be nominated and to be there, and to sit on the couch with the best singers from Holland, it was amazing. And I lost to one of the best singers we have for a long, long time, so it wasn’t sad at all.
(Anneke on what drives her artistically)
"I don’t look back at myself a lot but, when I do, I always learn a lot from it. I think, okay, I can do this better next time, I can do that better. So the best is always to come until the day we leave the planet. It keeps me motivated."
Anneke van Giersbergen - promo shot
Photograph copyright © 2013 Raymond van Olphen
Interview by Mark Holmes
Official Anneke Van Giersbergen Website:
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Air (2007)
Pure Air (2009)
In Your Room (2009)
In Parallel (2009)
Thanks to Freddy Palmer for arranging the interview.
Live In Europe (2010)
Everything Is Changing (2012)
Drive (2013)
MD: At least you didn’t lose to someone terrible, that would be…
ANNEKE: No, exactly, that would make me sad! But, no, I knew that I wasn’t gonna win to her because she’s also very, very mainstream and people love her. So, yeah, one day, you know.
MD: Next time! I have to ask this question as well because it’s not just another new album but, also, another new hair style… so is it fair to call your hair progressive as much as your music?!
ANNEKE: [laughs]
MD: As many different sides as you have to your music, you seem to have as many different hairdos! Is it intentional to keep on reinventing your hair to keep up with the music?!
ANNEKE: Can I use that, ‘progressive hair’?!
MD: Of course!
ANNEKE: Thank you! Awesome! Yeah, totally, this album is very up-tempo and more spontaneous than the former ones and I thought it needs a bit of a bite also hair-wise or look-wise. Also, the pictures we took are white face, red hair, blue background so I needed colour but, also, colours that go directly into your system when you see them; like no pastel, you know, no soft colours; just like, wham! Just like the album!
MD: I saw you Tweet a picture of Finn the other day with his new hairdo so is that the start of something there; is he going to change his hair as much as you?!
ANNEKE: I don’t think so because he’s a very traditional kid. He had his long hair for eight years… we cut it in the beginning but he wanted long hair for a long time. And, all of a sudden, he said, “I want to cut my hair”, so I let him say that for a week and he still meant it so we went to the hairdressers and so proud of his own decision. But, you know what, he went to 5th grade and he is now part of the group of the big guys because he’s eight. So he’s now a really cool guy and he felt he needed a haircut… and it’s so cute!
MD: So he’s not missing his long hair?
ANNEKE: No, he’s so steady about it. I’m much more all over the place and he’s already much more in control than I’ll ever be!
MD: I saw the mini-documentary for the making of ‘Drive’ and there’s footage of you busking on the streets of London – was that just a spontaneous thing where you felt like doing a bit of busking?
ANNEKE: Yeah, I did it in my younger years. When I needed the money, just right before the weekend, I would play the streets and get some money to go out and buy clothes. So those were my school years. And I really like the trade because it’s spontaneous and you never know what happens. There have been a few times my sack of money got stolen by some kids who ran off with it but, usually, it’s all nice. And I thought I wanted to make a little video of a song on the streets so we went out and did that.
MD: Did you get much money thrown at you?!
ANNEKE: I didn’t put my bag out. I should!
MD: Next time!
ANNEKE: Yeah, exactly. You know, London people are very spoilt, there’s so much good music comes from London and happening.
MD: Definitely. Talking of London, you’ve got the big European tour coming up later this year, in October and November, and there’s a UK date at the Jazz Café in Camden, so are you going to feel obliged to put a bit of jazz in your set?!
ANNEKE: Well, I should, shouldn’t I! I wouldn’t know, actually, what to play then, so we might just stick to our set! [laughs]
MD: You’re over in Belgium the following day, I noticed, for the Metal Female Voices Fest… obviously, you play some of the metal fests with Devin occasionally and whoever else but is it a cool thing for you that you’re still acknowledged for your metal credentials for your solo stuff even though it’s not particularly metal?
ANNEKE: Yeah, totally. I’ve been around quite a bit of time in rock and metal genres and the prog-rock/metal genre, and I really like it because people are truly open-minded because they respect me for so long already in whatever I do because I’m pretty random. I love all kinds of music and it just reflects in my own albums, and people check it out and they come to the concerts, and they really like what I’m doing with the metal bands and artists like Devin and Anathema. So I’m very much in the scene and, also, with my other past, I’m in other scenes as well and I just love it, you know, and they’re all so different. I learn so much from all these different kinds of artists I work with. And the people who listen to the music and come to the concerts are just so nice and so respectful and so positive. And, like I said, I use a lot of colour, I wear white and I have red hair, and people don’t mind, even though they wear black. You know, in the end, if you look at my audience, there’s also a random bunch of people there – students, lots of girls, and metalheads but, also, mainstream people, an alternative crowd…
MD: The best kind of audience to have; a diverse one.
ANNEKE: I would say so but what pulls them together is that they are all very much into the music and they know the lyrics, and they know what it’s about, and they know what I’m about and, so, the atmosphere is also very coherent. We are all very much together when we play a show. Everybody feels part of the same group which… we are human, you know.
MD: It’s the unifying power of good music and people’s love of that.
ANNEKE: Yes, thank you, good words!
MD: You’ve been announced for the Progressive Nation at Sea cruise in Miami which sounds like a bit of a holiday and gig all in one, obviously in the company of some of your friends and some pretty amazing bands as well, so that’s got to be the perfect show to do, I guess?!
ANNEKE: I would say so! I’m so looking forward to that. And, you know, like you said, people like Devin and Anathema, they’re all there but, also, Adrian Belew, whom I had the chance to meet a few months ago for the first time. I’ve been listening to him and everything he does for so, so long and he’s my hero. So I’ll be on the same boat as them for four days and I really can’t wait. I’ve never been on a cruise before, anyway, in my life. So, yeah, to go there, this beautiful place, and to play music, and to be surrounded by nice people – it’s the best thing in the world!
MD: And you get paid for it as well!
ANNEKE: Yeah! Not much, but it’s…
MD: …the perfect gig!
ANNEKE: Totally!
MD: Talking of random gigs, I noticed you played a solo acoustic set at Artis Zoo in Amsterdam a few days ago – is that one of the more random gigs you’ve ever done?
ANNEKE: Yeah, I was next to the flamingos! All the time I was singing, you could hear… [Anneke impersonates a flamingo]
MD: Was it in key?!
ANNEKE: Yes, they always are in key because they’re beautiful birds. And then, like, in front on me there was this huge cage with huge birds… I couldn’t see exactly what they were and, sometimes, it would fly across the place and it was so beautiful, and there was nice weather. My son and my husband were there; they went around the park. It’s one of the nicest gigs I’ve ever done.
MD: I also noticed you were on some TV show last night, DWDD, talking about your guilty pleasures, I gather…
ANNEKE: Indeed!
MD: What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
ANNEKE: Well, my answer yesterday was one song of Jermaine Jackson & Pia Zadora… yeah, you must know it, it’s ‘When the Rain Begins to Fall’.
MD: Yeah, of course, definitely.
ANNEKE: It was a very fun show because, of course, they ask the panel of their guilty pleasures but everybody in the audience and everybody at home, they have their own guilty pleasure so people on the internet reacted a lot to this programme with their own. So it was really fun to do. But I didn’t sing or whatever, I just talked about songs from the eighties. It was great!
MD: Great stuff. The final thing I wanted to ask - as the final track on the album is called ‘The Best is Yet to Come’, do you feel the best is yet to come from you in your music?
ANNEKE: Absolutely. I always think that and right after we finish an album, I always think – okay, so next time… and then you have new ideas and things will always be different, and things will always move up because it needs to. I want to learn and I want to develop as a human being, as an artist, as a songwriter, as a singer, and as a performer. And every time I look back… because I don’t look back at myself a lot but, when I do, I always learn a lot from it. I think, okay, I can do this better next time, I can do that better. So the best is always to come until the day we leave the planet. It keeps me motivated and I think it’s a very positive thing because if you think you’re done then there’s nothing to work for anymore.
MD: Of course. Very good answer. Very good closing words.
ANNEKE: Ah, thank you very much.
MD: Okay, thank you so much for your time, it’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you.
ANNEKE: Likewise, likewise.
MD: And best of luck with the album… and photo book as well!
ANNEKE: Thank you so much, and maybe see you in London.