DATE OF INTERVIEW:
21st October 2011
METAL DISCOVERY: Obviously there are a lot more actual instruments this time rather than keys and synths – did that force you to approach the songwriting differently or were additional instruments added as layers after the music had been written?
LIV: Well, the folk instruments were recorded pretty late. During the composing and recording process, we had everything played by keyboards or samplers so we knew, okay, we need the whistle there, we need the harp there. So everything was ready, it was programmed, but we needed to get the people. It was very important to all of us that ‘Meredead’ would be an organic album with a more earthy sound.
(Liv Kristine on the next Leaves' Eyes album)
"...my wish would be to keep the folky touch but...there are five other people so we’ll see what happens!"
Liv Kristine and Alexander Krull backstage at the Underworld in London, UK, 21st October 2011
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2011 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Leaves' Eyes Official Website:
LEAVES' EYES DISCOGRAPHY
Albums & EPs
Thanks to Andy Turner for arranging the interview
Leaves' Eyes Official Facebook:
Leaves' Eyes Official MySpace:
Elegy EP (2005)
Vinland Saga (2005)
Legend Land EP (2006)
My Destiny EP (2009)
MD: Definitely. If you’re doing a lot of folk stuff then you need it to be organic otherwise it would sound false.
MD: Out of all the instruments used on the album, the nyckelharpa sounds most intriguing which looks like a cross between a fiddle and a hurdy gurdy. Do you know these kind of instruments already or did you research them and try out different instruments to see what was best for each song?
LIV: What you can do, either you just check it on YouTube…like I just checked the most typical Swedish folk instrument, the nyckelharpa, you can just Google it, you know. And then I checked out what it sounds like and I thought, perfect, we need that. So, of course, we didn’t have anything like that to sample but we found one lady living not that far away who could play that instrument. I was amazed! And she came and we weren’t really sure how that would work out on that piece of music with that special song so we thought, okay, we’ll just give her some freedom and let her play. Sometimes, the vibrations and the sound of the instrument is just very different from what you hear when you sample it. You need to hear that being played, you know.
MD: Absolutely, and it does sound really good. So by using older, authentic, historical instruments, do you feel that enhances the mood and themes of the history and mythical sagas that you sing about?
LIV: Absolutely. Folk instruments add a depth not only to the music but to the whole concept as well…the whole travelling back in time…
MD: You’re renowned for basing your lyrics in history and around mythical sagas but have you ever considered setting your lyrics in a more modern context or do you think what you sing about historical-wise does have a place in the modern world, like metaphorically?
LIV: Ah, yeah, that would actually be my answer!
MD: I’ve answered my own question!
LIV: Yeah, you said it! Exactly! Most of our lyrics travel back in time but still focus on themes that could happen any day.
MD: Yeah, because history is cyclical anyway and goes round and round.
LIV: Yes, exactly. But I always let music speak for itself. If there is a piece, an instrumental piece, that Thorsten and Alex made in the studio, and the very next morning I’m in the studio and I open the last file they worked on and I realise that, ah, there is a new piece to work on, a demo or something, an idea being recorded. I just let the music speak for itself when it comes to themes in my lyrics so I would never say, “okay, the next album is going to be only about mermaids”. No, I would feel like I would limit myself.
MD: You used Victor Smolski’s Lingua Mortis Orchestra again – how was working with them the second time and did you learn anything from the first experience that you could apply the second time?
LIV: Actually, Victor Smolski, he’s just amazing. We sent him our files and he just…I think he’s doing it like Hans Zimmer, the great composer, just having his orchestra in front of him, playing music and trying to play something to each part.
MD: So did he do all the arrangements as well for the ideas you sent him?
LIV: We don’t play any of these instruments so if we would…of course we have ideas and we do it by sampler but, sometimes, Victor would tell us we can’t do that because that’s just not natural; it’s not possible because of the movements of the actual playing. So he’s taking care of that, yeah.
MD: From what I’ve read online, quite a few people have commented that the cover for ‘Meredead’ looks like Graveworm’s ‘(N)utopia’ album from 2005…
LIV: Ah, okay.
MD: Have you not heard that comparison before?
MD: I was going to ask if it was the same artist or if you were aware of the similarity.
LIV: I’ll have to check that out.
MD: It’s quite a similar concept with the sea, tombstones, and someone coming out of the sea.
LIV: I doubt the lady is as nice as our lady! [laughs]
MD: ‘Meredead’ reached number 41 in the indie charts over here – was that very unexpected to have that kind of success in the UK?
LIV: Yeah, that was a great bonus. And our show’s as good as sold out which means it’s going to be very crowded tonight. It means that we will have to be back in the UK very soon.
MD: ‘Melusine’, as you referred to earlier, I read is some sort of mythical female water spirit – is that supposed to tie in with the ‘Meredead’ concept and cover art with the woman coming out of the sea?
LIV: You do have a few mythologic characters in the ‘Meredead’ concept so we thought, okay, we could take that and continue with that for the EP.
MD: The song’s heavier and more energetic than a lot of material on the album, plus I’ve heard it’s been going down really well live, so does that inspire you to write more songs in that style for the next album?
LIV: Maybe, maybe, to add some more rawness to some of the songs, yeah. I think that’s the keyword, yeah.
MD: But you have a new solo album coming up next before another Leaves’ Eyes record?
LIV: Actually, the guys are composing the next Atrocity album at the moment and, parallel to that, I’m dealing with my solo thing. Luckily, we have two recording rooms so everything happens parallel. After that, we’ll start composing and recording.
MD: Do you have any idea yet what direction it will take?
LIV: Well, my wish would be to keep the folky touch but, as we already talked about, without having to enter a very different genre. I want to stay in this, where I am, I like this. But, of course, we will have to develop in some way.
MD: But to keep the folk elements as emphatic as on ‘Meredead’?
LIV: That would be my wish but, okay, there are five other people so we’ll see what happens! [laughs]
MD: Okay, my final question – what do you want to say to people who have never bothered checking out Leaves’ Eyes before that will encourage them to check out your music immediately?
LIV: If you like contrast in music and if you’d like to give yourself a chance to get away from your daily stress every now and then, I think Leaves’ Eyes is a good way of escaping from everything. We’ve put a lot of weight on the visual thing as well so, yeah, if you just want to leave behind everything, listen to Leaves’ Eyes.
MD: Good closing words. Thank you very much for your time.
LIV: Thank you so much.
Melusine EP (2011)