The most organic one of Leave's Eye

Liv Kristine is no stranger to the goth metal scene, in the mid nineties she first applied her trade with Theatre Of Tradegy. What really got her name known in the U.S. and beyond Europe was her vocal duet with Cradle Of Filth on "Nyphomethane". To me, in my own opinion, if it wasn't for that song I wouldn't known about her latest band Leaves' Eyes. Back with a new album "Meredead", which is their fourth release, this is a very unique album plus one of their best works yet.

Greetings from Texas Liv. I hope everything is all well with you. I'm trying to deal with this blistering Texas heat, how's your summer going so far?
Thank you, all is well over here in Germany, 28 degrees Celsius and thunderstorms coming up. Just returned from a 2-weeks' visit at home in Norway. It was amazing, as always, seeing my dear Norwegian family again. Summer hadn't quite arrived in Norway, though, with only 12 degrees Celsius! Anyway, we took a bath in the fjord, a short one it was! Texas is way too hot for me!

First I like to say I love your vocals on the duet you did with Cradle Of Filth. If it wasn't for that video I wouldn't know who Leaves' Eyes is.
Yes, I know the clip was broadcasted on several tv stations, moreover, we were even nominated for THE GRAMMY (which Motörhead won that year.)! It was great working with Dani Filth! Cradle sent me the song as they hadn't found the "right female voice" so far, and they were running out of time. At first I thought it was just some kind of spam mail, however, their record company called me directly and sent me the song's file the same day. I knew right away what Dani was looking for. We talked on the phone, as he was recording his own vocals somewhere else on this planet, and we had the same idea in mind. I love our cooperation and the clip is amazingly well done, in my opinion!

To get me up to speed, how many albums Leaves' Eyes put prior to "Meredead"? How different is this album to previous albums?
"Meredead" is the most diverse album we've composed and recorded so far, and I would say the most organic one. I'd say it was an organic outgrowth of the whole process. We just started composing with an open mind. "Meredead" is our fourth album, and in my opinion there is no need to reduce ourselves to a certain style. The artistic development is the basic energy for the survival of an artist, and art as such.

I've been listening to the album for quite some time now and you seem to mix it up a little with different kinds of elements. It's unique from other releases I heard from female fronted bands like Nightwish and Epica.
I've been around since 1995 with my ex-band Theatre of Tragedy, the band that also founded the "beauty and the beast concept", moreover, included angelic voices in gothic metal, next to the growls. That was long time before Nightwish and Epica came into existence. Concerning Leaves' Eyes, the press, fans and friends say that Meredead is "the most diverse, emotional and best-sounding production" by Leaves' Eyes so far, moreover, "Leaves' Eyes have created their own genre". Believe me, this warms my heart! We NEVER go with the commercial flow; we only go with the creative flow of the band! I prefer not to force Leaves' Eyes into a specific already exiting settled musical genre. I would rather say that Leaves' Eyes' music combines elements of gothic metal, classical music, folk music, with history and mythology.

How long did it take to get Carmen from Midnattsol come aboard and on which songs she appeared on?
We had wanted to do a duet since our debut "Lovelorn". I needed a sweet matching voice that could be my duetpartner for Kraakevisa and Sigrlinn, both sung in Norwegian. I asked my sister to do Sigrlinn, and my friend Anette from Norway to do Kraakevisa. Both turned out amazing! During our latest European tour, my sister was my live duet partner for both songs. It was fantastic to have my sweet and lovely sister next to me on stage, singing in Norwegian dialect on "Kraakevisa" and the epic piece "Sigrlinn"! My heart was pounding, I am so proud of Carmen! She is such a sweet-heart! You bet we are helping each other out, ALWAYS!

Prior to her appearing on the album, how long you two known each other?
Carmen is my little sister, 7,5 years younger, moreover, she's my best friend! The best person to make funny faces with, and crack silly jokes in Norwegian.

One of my favorite songs on the album is the remake of the Mike Oldfield's 'To France'. What made you decide to do that song and why?
"To France" that we covered, by Mike Oldfield and Maggie Railey, is actually our promotion single. Moreover, we already shot a video for it in Sweden this spring in a Scottish castle with Revolver/Patric Ulläeus, my favourite producer. It was my guitarist Sander's idea to cover it. I practiced "for fun" along to Maggie Railey when I was little, in front of the mirror, with a hairbrush in my hand. Her voice has always fascinated me. Playing this song live is an amazing experience by the way!

You also had some other guest musicians to lend a helping hand on the album. Can you give a brief summary how you got these other musicians on board?
We met Victor Smolski some years ago at a festival with Leaves' Eyes and Rage in Greece. It's an honour to work with him and the Lingua Mortis Orchestra from Minsk. Victor is a genius, moreover, he understands the musical goals of Leaves' Eyes. Carmen, my little sister, is my perfect duet partner on Sigrlinn, as I wrote the lyrics in a special Norwegian dialect. I think our voices complete each other perfectly. Some weeks ago, we had two visitors at our studio, Maite Itoiz and John Kelly from the band Elfenthal. I love their music, both of them are outstanding musicians and composers. There is a deep friendship between Elfenthal and Leaves' Eyes. It is my deepest wish to sing with Maite on the next Elfenthal album. Her voice is such an inspiration to me, and it was such an honour and pleasure for me to sing with both Maite and John on "Meredead". Anette is a long-time friend of mine, moreover, she studied music and singing. She had some brilliant ideas for the folk songs, and she has a unique voice.

I like to know what other instruments the band used during the recording of "Meredead"?
For the production of "Meredead" it was highly important to us that each song had its own "face", individuality and perfect, crystal clear sound to strengthen the emotional effect. We just let the music inspire us to add new and interesting "spices" to our music, like pipes, nyckelharpa (Swedish folk instrument), the mandolin, the fiddle, cello, classical orchestra or the flute. That's what makes the album that diverse and exciting as you discover a different story, different instrumental combinations, different ways of singing even in various languages in each song.

What studio did the band used to record this beautiful opus?
At our own Mastersound Studio, which has existed for about ten years now. I know it is a privilege to own your own studio, however, Leaves' Eyes is a band that composes, records and produces everything on its own. It's hard work, yes, but everything is in our hands, and that's what we want. The composing process went overwhelmingly fast. It was one great pleasure writing and recording the album together with Thorsten and Alex. However, the fact that we do have included a number of complex instruments, all played live by the way, in most of the songs, made the mixing session quite interesting, I can tell you! Alex, my husband, slept only half of the time in total compared to Thorsten and myself during that period. At night the phone isn't ringing, moreover, thanks to Alex, we were alble to finish the production in time, as the delivery date was settled.

You sung some of the songs in your native language too?
Yes, some songs are sund in Norwegian, some in Old-English or partly in Old-English, next to Modern-English. There are lots of influences from Nordic and Irish Mythology. I just let the music itself inspire me when it comes to themes, linguistic choice and the emotional settings in my voice. If I chose a theme from Nordic mythology, I would include Norwegian lyrics. It was very intimate to sing in my mother tongue Norwegian, it makes the lyrics even more emotional and personal. Singing in Old-English meant digging my nose in my Old-English grammar books once again, however, I am very interested in historical languages, which I also studied. I think that Old-English has a very special "sound" phonetically. You'll find Froeya, three-headed trolls, vampires, ghosts, witches, Vikings travelling on sea, Viking ladies mourning.and of course many images from the Norwegian harsh weather and wild nature landscapes. I guess there is some homesickness towards Norway in my lyrics.actually, it's more than obvious that I miss my home country

I know the band is somewhat big in Europe. What is the band's status as far as getting exposure in the U.S. and how well is the album doing in the U.S. so far?
Things started going really well for us in the US around the release of our second album "Vinland Saga". We had two excellent tours supporting that album with Blind Guardian and Kamelot. I can tell you that for Meredead I have been doing just as many interviews, written and phoners, as I've done for the press in Europe. Right now I am looking for a support tour in North America.

Are there any plans for an U.S. tour?
I had hoped that it would happen this year, however, we had to postpone it. We need a longer promotion period before the tour starts, moreover, as I already mentioned, I need to find a great co-headliner or a bigger headliner to join Leaves' Eyes.

What kind of feedback you got from the U.S. and european press so far?
The feedback has been absolutely amazing, I am so grateful to all of you. The feedback has never ever been as fantastic as now, concerning the album Meredead!

Can you give the brief description of some of the songs on the album?
'Kråkevisa', 'Sigrlinn', 'Nystev' and 'Mine Tåror er ei Grimme'are sung in Norwegian dialect, actually Kråkevisa' (The Crow Song) and 'Nystev' (New stave lullaby) are traditional tunes that we rearranged and "turned into" our own songs. Nystev is a special genre in the manner of singing poetry in Scandinavian traditional music. The way I am singing in Nystev between the verses and the choruses is indeed traditional Scandinavian manner of singing. I had to adapt my singing technique to traditional settings for this song, which made a lot of fun. Development in my vocals is very important to me. Kraakevisa, "the crow song", is also a traditional tune which we already sung in school when I was little. It has kind of brutal lyrics, however the message is: don't kill an animal if you don't know the value of this life! Every song tells its own story on this album. Sigrlinn and Spirits' Masquerade are the longer epic pieces on this album. Sigrlinn tells the story about a Viking who leaves his family for the sake of discovering the New World. Empty Horizon, Velvet Heart and Spirits' Masquerade are thematically actually about "the living dead", like the vampires. The Tell-Tale Heart; by one of my favourite writers of all times, Edgar Allan Poe, was published for the first time in The Pioneer, 1843. The theme is a crime, told in details by the I-narrator. Our Tell-Tale Eyes is the first song I composed for Leaves' Eyes with a political message: we must treat Nature in a better way, I am thinking about the Rain Forest.Moreover, more fairness and respect for the peoples living as minorities all over the globus, Samis, Aborigines, Indians..what brutality and crime and unjust have we done to them over generations! Thank you, John Kelly (Elfenthal) for sharing this song with me, and thank you wonderful Maite Itoiz (Elfenthal) for playing the baroque guitar on this song! Edain and Meredead, sung with my dear friend and duet partner Maite are influenced by Irish and Nordic Mythology respectively. "To France" that we covered, by Mike Oldfield and Maggie Railey, is actually our promotion single. Moreover, we already shot a video for it in Sweden this spring in a Scottish castle with Revolver/Patric Ulläeus, my favourite producer. It was my guitarist Sander's idea to cover it. I practiced "for fun" along to Maggie Railey when I was little, in front of the mirror, with a hairbrush in my hand. Her voice has always fascinated me. Playing this song live is an amazing experience by the way!

How would you describe "Meredead" from a fan's perspective?
Diverse, organic, interesting, surprising.and emotional.although it's hard for me to take the perspective of my fans and friends. I just hope that we are able to transfer your senses into a wonderful world, far away from daily life and a busy time schedule. Meredead is an album for your senses, and for your fantasy and dreams, an unforgettable experience, I hope, for all of you.

I'm just about out of time and I would love to say I love your album. It's part Lord Of Rings, it's a very adventurous album.
I thank you for these lovely words. I am honoured. Thank you.

I like to say thanks for taking the time to do this interview, do you have anything to say to the fans in the U.S. and Texas?
Thank you for doing this interview with me! All the best for you and your family! And to our fans and friends: Thank you so much for the great times we shared on our U.S. tours, I hope there will be many more to come! Thank you for always being there for me and my band.
Interviewer: Paul Lewis
Jul 7, 2011

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