VIKING DESCENDANTS, NATURAL BORN SINGERS!
Hailing from the land of the Vikings, Liv Kristine, born Norwegian, now reciding in Germany, was interviewed in Finland while touring with Kamelot in Europe earlier this year. These two bands are lead by Norwegian singers, both blessed with great voices and charismatic personalities. This wasn't Liv's first visit to Finland though. Promotional work for her former band, Theatre Of Tragedy, brought her here eleven years ago, so Helsinki is a familiar city to her, and Tampere, Leave's Eyes concert place after Helsinki, is becoming familiar to Liv also. She also came to Finland earlier with her parents. What makes a Norwegian come to Finland then? After all, our country is nowhere as near as beautiful as Norway?
Liv - For us Norwegians Finland is very exotic. You have a different landscape, the land of thousand lakes. It's different from Norway, but Norwegians love Finland, and also we tend to get very well along with each other. Also we have the same drinking culture, which is really bad (laughs).
Liv has been singing already before she could talk. When the rest of the kids went to the playground and rode their bikes, Liv just closed the doors and windows, standing in front of the mirror with her hairbrush, singing loudly to Ozzy Osbourne, Madonna, Enya, any kind of music, giving her everything for becoming a performing singer. Liv is not her family's only singer. Her sister Carmen Espenaes sings in Midnattsol. Liv has no idea how they both happened to end up in the same jobs.
Leave's Eyes was formed four years ago, after Liv got kicked out of Theatre Of Tragedy.
Liv - Even today I don't know the reason for it, so I just had to live with it and accept it. But I was really eager to continue, so happily I got the support from my husband, and also from my friends and then we formed Leave's Eyes. So the bad luck of being kicked out from Theatre Of Tragedy turned into good luck of me being in Leave's Eyes.
It would be such a shame not to sing, when you have such a beautiful voice.
Liv - Thank you.
Liv is married to her bands second vocalist, growler Alexander Krull, who forms Atrocity together with the rest of Leave's Eyes members. How does a couple handle working together in such a tightly bonding career?
Liv - We don't have very much spare time together, but we have everything in common concerning our job, so we spend a lot of time together. The only problem is we tend to talk a lot about music and music business, and everything around it, even when we're not on tour or in the studio. So we have to keep reminding each other to shut up sometimes, and just enjoy staying at home and enjoying the day, going into the forest, just not thinking of the music business. You go crazy sometimes. (laughs)
The couple also has a three year old son Leon, who already has a long hair. Leon travels with his parents around the world.
Liv - This is his second big tour. He came along to the States last year, and now it's his first European tour, with a babysitter of course. I wouldn't like it without a special person taking care of him.
Not all can grow up in such nice musical surroundings, so Leon eventually must grow out to be a metal fan himself, listening to metal at such young age already.
Liv - He already listened to metal when he was inside me. So he knows metal and he likes to watch the soundcheck, be on tour, visit different countries and meet different people. He's very lucky, 'cos he gets a lot of input from different corners of the world at a very young age, and he already knows most of the flags. I must say travelling with a kid makes the kid open up his eyes and get a wider horizon on life. Most kids know their homes and maybe they've been on holidays somewhere not so far away, but Leon's already been to the States and everywhere in Europe, and I think that's good. And of course we need to have a family atmosphere on tour as well. There's no partying, no smoking and when Leon goes to bed everybody has to be quiet. It's ok, 'cos there are more parents in the band, so everybody's understanding and it really works. As long as my son is happy on tour, he can come along.
Leon is such a lovely name, like a reference to someone with a strong will.
Liv - Thank you. Leon already has a strong will.
Coming from you?
Liv - I'm more of the quiet and shy kind of a person, whereas my husband is more of the leader type, but he's got both. Sometimes he has to be by himself, he needs some privacy, but on the other hand he's got a very strong will. So if he wants something, he shows it to me, and if he can't get it, we have to find a compromise. It doesn't just work saying no, I have to explain and we have to meet in the middle, which I think is very good.
Apart from the European tour with Kamelot, Leave's Eyes also joined the band for the US part later in August and September. How did you end up on this tour?
Liv - We were lucky, that Kamelot wanted us to join them, we asked them and got a positive answer. We're very grateful, and we became very good friends.
The bands travelled to Finland in a ferry from Sweden, and the trip was a traditional one, set in party mode. What bands is Leave's Eyes still dreaming of touring with?
Liv - That's a very good question (thinking hard). Well, we always wanted to tour with Nightwish, also because I've always liked both Tuomas and Tarja, they're both really good friends (of ours), and it's a pity they're not working together anymore. Still it doesn't change a thing in our friendship. With Leave's Eyes I'd like to tour with Nightwish, and concerning my solo project I'd like to tour with Tarja.
Liv hoped to see Tuomas at their show and meet him again, but he wasn't seen in Tavastia. So far Liv has recorded two solo albums, "Deus Ex Machina" and "Enter My Religion", and her third one will be out next year, after releasing a new one from Leave's Eyes.
Liv - My solo albums are softer (from Leave's Eyes), but it's one side of my personality.
That more sensual and feminine side attracts metal fans as well, and it's also present in the Leave's Eyes live shows. When you go on stage, how do you prepare yourselves mentally?
Liv - What I actually do is just put on some red lipstick, put on my dress and shoes, and I always make some tea. Then I walk to stage. I don't make any preparations for my voice, because I've been singing all my life and I trust my vocal chords (laughs), and so far I've been very lucky. It's a mental preparation, but nothing like training my voice. When I have the possibility to sing in the shower or a car, I sing a lot, I do, but not before the show.
What kind of a band is Leave's Eyes live?
Liv - We trust in our own abilities and we trust in the audience, like we give something to the audience and we get something back. It's an exchange of positive feelings. Of course we have banners and big light show and everything, depends on the stage how big the show can really be.
The band performed in Belgium in Metal Female Voices Festival in the end of October, where they had a big Viking ship on stage. For Liv the shows are more than just props though.
Liv- I think it's very important to get close to the audience, because without the audience we wouldn't be here. Leave's Eyes is a very tight family, so we really do our best to show the audience how grateful we are. We also have a great relationship between the band, there is no outsiders.
One of the bands mentioned on the festival bill was Theatre Of Tragedy, who Liv was hoping to see again, but fate had other plans, again.
Liv - They were supposed to play, but they cancelled, again. It's the second time they cancelled, so I won't meet them. It would be nice to ask them why they kicked me out. I have no idea (if we're still friends), we're not in contact anymore. But if we play at the same festival we will definately cross each others paths.
Tell us about your acoustical performances in Germany last year, you performed in a medieval festival?
Liv - It was just me and my two guitarists. We did two ballads and two acoustic versions of heavy songs. We just picked up the guitars and entered the venue. Sometimes we even played in big shopping malls, it was very accappella. I like doing things like that, and it's also a new kind of situation, 'cos you don't have a microphone really and no PA's or nobody putting nice effects to your voice. You're just there with two guitars and your own voice and that has to work. There weren't of course that many people, because they would prefer to come to our shows, but people saw the possibility of meeting us personally, and that's nice.
Liv - I really like to play in small clubs. Of course it's nice to have thousands of people in front of you, it's lovely, but it's hard, because you can't get so close to the audience. Maybe they wish to meet you, but how can you really touch the audience in a festival? There's at least two metres between you and the audience. We play in tiny clubs just to give a chance to come and meet us.
MEDICINE FOR HOMESICKNESS
The fans of the band are anxiously waiting for the release of the next album. The gap between their second album to the third one is quite long for fans. Was this gap a conscious decision, or were you just busy touring and all?
Liv - We're just taking our time recording and mixing. You need to have ideas too. We already have few songs ready.
Any idea what the album will be like?
Liv - It's definately a concept album. You know writing about Norway, the history and the culture, is like medicine for my home sickness, because I moved to Germany ten years ago. It's beautiful where we are living in, with our house in the forest and everything, but there is no ocean, and I miss the ocean, because I grew up by the sea. I really need to go back to the ocean someday. So I work on this on my lyrics and the concept.
Do you write a lot by yourself?
Liv - Writing music is something we all do together, but writing lyrics and the concept is my task.
Did you read a lot of books for the concept?
Liv - Not really, because we learn a lot about the Vikings in Norway, and the history. The Germans don't do that. Because of the second world war there is no talk about German history anymore, and Vikings and everything, but we still have that. So we learn a lot about Vikings at school, and when I heard the music, I knew exactly what to write about.
The album doesn't have a title yet. How do you start creating from scratch till the point when you go to the studio?
Liv - Normally it starts with an idea from either one of the guitarists, or maybe myself just singing a melody. Then I go to the studio and I record it and everybody else just joins in and adds their ideas. So it starts with a little idea and it builds on.
You'll also be releasing a DVD. What does that include?
Liv - Of course shots from live concerts, the audience, being on tour, and some friends, interviews, filming from Norway, filming from the festival from Belgium in October. Maybe the videos, I'm not sure, but there will be a lot of stuff.
A ROCK LADY
When Liv was still with Theatre Of Tragedy, they did a very erotic video of the song "Image". What kind of response did you get from it when it was released, and who came up with the idea for it?
Liv - I was surprised, because when we shot the video I was really thinking that "ok, now I'm in front of the microphone, I'm kind of a rock lady". That's the role I have to play in the video. Afterwards I thought there was a lot of my personality there, the sweetness and the shyness also, but also a lot of sex, which I wasn't aware about.
But that's a nice video.
Liv - I really like it, and it's one of my favourite companies to work with actually. I also like the video for "Elegy" a lot. I'm always thinking about not showing too much sex, because I'm a little bit shy and I'm always thinking that I'm a mother, I have grandparents and I always listen to their advice. We also did "Into Your Light" years ago, which was shot in a concert hall. We were supposed to shoot it outside in the winter, but it was really too cold and there was a storm in that area, so we had to do it inside. It wasn't actually working.
You'll probably also do videos from the forthcoming album?
Liv - Yes, of course, but I would like to shoot outside. It's time to make a video, which has Nordic images in it, I think. It's very expensive to shoot videos in the North, unfortunately.
While waiting for the new album to come out and the new videos, check out Leave's Eyes live. The band offers different shows each night, and will do their best to show their gratefulness to the audience, taking their time to meet everyone, which is a part of their job, as Liv thinks.
Liv uses both blue and red dresses on stage, but on the Finnish shows she was like an angel in blue, singing like one too. The dresses, although they may seem light and comfy, are very hot according to Liv, and the band uses a lot of lights on stage, so their shows are truly hot, in many ways. At last Liv wanted to give her thanks to their fans.
Liv - Thank you so much for coming to our shows and the support through the years. I feel very comfortable and at home while we do our European shows. I see people I've met before coming to our shows again and again, and that really gives me confidence. Leave's Eyes will exist as long as there is an audience.
Interview by Satu Reunanen, satu [at] rockunited.com