Rhiannon Marley of Metal Discovery recently conducted an interview with Norwegian singer Liv Kristine (LEAVES’ EYES, ex-THEATRE OF TRAGEDY). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metal Discovery: You’re all masters of reinventing yourselves with each new album. What do you bear in mind when breaking genre conventions? Changing musical tides, or changing personal preferences?
Liv: That’s a very good question. Actually, I never plan anything, I just go for it. Normally, it’s Thorsten [Bauer, guitarist], my red-haired guy, who comes up with most of the ideas. Then they just start recording, and I’ll have a listen to it eventually. The music itself inspires me to write my lyrics and my vocal lines. I never predict anything; I just follow my artistic heart and soul, and that’s what I’ve been doing since I was a little girl.
Metal Discovery: LEAVES’ EYES have also been treading the musical boards as a group for many years. Do you think you’re at the most polished and confident point of your career now? Have you learned a lot along the way?
Liv: I’m always learning, especially since I don’t have any musical education. I’ve never had a single singing lesson in my life. I guess I was genetically given a singing voice. I didn’t talk much when I was a kid, but I sang all the time. Strange kid! [laughs] I’m glad my parents didn’t listen to people who said, “That kid needs therapy!” I’ve learned by “doing things” my whole life, especially since I started touring when I was 18 and that’s so much work. I mean, you can be a good singer in the studio, but when it comes to singing live, it’s all so very different. You have to adapt to every situation and gig; every night, every audience, every piece of technical equipment is different. There are so many things you have to handle up there onstage. You have to look good as well! Put on some lipstick and nice shoes, and I’m good to go! [laughs]
Metal Discovery: On that note, I’d like to touch on your live work. Given your theatrics and infamous Viking long-ships on set, do you feel LEAVES’ EYES flourish more as a studio or live band? Which do you prefer?
Liv: I prefer being on tour, with live performance. It was amazing doing Wacken this year, with the ship. My drummer just started the intro, and I was waiting to get onstage; to walk across the Viking ship and start the gig. Then during the third song, I thought, “Fantastic! Nothing’s going wrong; the whole universe is cooperating,” and everything went fine. That was such a good feeling, because we’d been practicing and preparing for six months. And the whole ship had to be lifted out of the neighbor’s barn! There were a lot of things to prepare! [laughs]
Metal Discovery: The neighbor’s barn?! How on earth did you go about making the ship?
Liv: A friend of ours… He’s quite crazy actually, to say yes to doing something like that! He was busy for eight months building it. He’s a crazy guy, but I guess you’d have to be crazy to agree to build a Viking ship! [laughs]
Metal Discovery: I just love all your mythological epics and concepts behind your albums. Do you build the stories around the music, or the music around the stories?
Liv: I’d say the music decides. The music inspires me as to where to go, both lyrically and vocally. I’m a great collector of books, and I just love languages, especially Old English. I studied it; every time there’s a new album coming up or we’ve started a new production, I gather my books. My suitcase is full of books, shoes and Lush soaps! Actually, I have to tell you a secret: I’m borrowing underwear from my drummer, because I just don’t have enough at the moment! I wanted to find a Victoria’s Secret shop today, but I just didn’t have time!
Metal Discovery: [laughs] On the note of your legends, is Scandinavian folklore something that’s ingrained in Norwegian people from a very young age?
Liv: Yes, it is. I just loved history lessons, especially about Vikings. The world wars, second and first, didn’t interest me much, but Vikings are my kind of thing. Gods and goddesses of Nordic mythology are just something I’ve always been into. And since I left Norway, I’ve started realising how nice it is there. It’s beautiful. I grew up by the sea, in the middle of nowhere; there were mountains, forests and our little house, with the Fjords just in front of it. I grew up in a fairy-tale world. Sometimes, touring is quite hard for me, because a lot of things happen at the same time, and in the cities, it’s always loud. I go running every day to find something green: either a park, or water, or just anything to switch off my ears and head.
Read the entire interview from Metal Discovery.