Infernal Masquerade: You are just releasing your double DVD and double live CD; can you tell us about the process of making this release and how satisfied are you with the end product?
Liv Kristine: We actually had planned to finish the production and release it in 2008, but due to such a huge collection of filmed material and some serious personal problems coming up during this process, we needed a little longer. We also have 2 new wonderful members in the band, Alla (bass) and Seven (drums), and we soon have our 3rd full-length album ready. This is like a new chapter for the band, with lots of positive feelings, new friendships, and new ideas. There couldn't be a better point of time for the DVD release. I am so happy that our fans and friends appreciate our work. The DVD just entered the German DVD charts on number 11!
However, our plans to release a dvd has been an on-going process since 2004. We've been collecting clips and film material for years, actually since the very beginnings of Leaves' Eyes. The hardest job was to look through all the takes, there were several hundreds of them, decide which ones should be in the movie "We Came with the Northern Winds" and then patch them all together in a way that makes sense. The mixing of our live show for "En Saga i Belgia" was not that hard, though, although we did that all by ourselves in our own studio. It was clear from the very beginning that we only had this one chance to do a great show when recording our headliner-performance in Wieze at the Metal Female Voices 2007. Moreover, we obviously wanted to keep the special live atmosphere having the audience being recorded through our stage microphones. In my opinion, if you cut and paste or re-record the playing or singing for a live show in the studio, you might loose the mood and the excitement of the audience. What you hear on the live DVD is 100% live, and that makes me very proud. The only thing we had to leave out was my (sorry) swearing behind the stage, as I had to change dresses and corsets 4 times during the show!
I.M: I've seen some of your live performance in bootlegs, since I haven't had the luck of catching you, guys, live, and you clearly give all your energy and they all seem extremely natural (since you don't count on the camera being there), was it different to perform knowing that you were being filmed? If so, what kind of issues did you have and how did you address them?
Liv: Our crew members had a huge job building the enormous Viking ship. Luckily, the stage was enormous, so we avoided the space problem we normally have to deal with, even without the ship. We had changed the play list according to which songs we felt that our international audience seem to like the most in our shows all over the world. This was quite a job, because we had played over 200 shows due to that date. I had to practice walking down the stairs of the ship on high heels in my new extremely long dress a hundred times! We also had some technical troubles, on stage and with our film recordings, however it was an amazing feeling to be "carried" on the hands of the audience. The atmosphere was incredible, and I thought the concert was over much too soon. We all had such a great time! Actually, I haven't been nervous since my first shows with Theatre of Tragedy 15 years ago. I am quite lucky, i guess, because I can just let my feelings and energy flow naturally to the audience when I'm on stage, without "having this aching feeling of nervousity" in my stomach. Anyway, in Belgium there was no chance to film anything over again, everything was shot once, as mentioned above, everything is live. That means that we do not sound exactly like on the album, however, this is live, and you should both feel it and hear it.
I.M: I know you had some glitches and had to push back the release date and you were forced to cancel your USA tour on 2008, could you elaborate on this to give closure to upset (myself included) US fans that were not able to see you live?
Liv: We were all incredibly upset that we were forced to cancel the US-tour. Our record label set the priority to finish the DVD before any touring could take place, and we were in the middle of the production as some serious personal problems turned up and the whole thing got delayed. We just had to deal with all this and try to find solutions and think positive. I am so sorry we didn't tour the US last year; I really miss our American fans and the live atmosphere.
I.M: From what I understand Vinland Saga is about the discovery of America, however, this version is not the widely accepted version (I'm referring to the Christopher Columbus version), would you care to elaborate on the concept of the album more? And why did you decide to tell this story in this album?
Liv. True, "Vinland Saga" is about how Leif Eiriksson and his crew members discovered America, about 500 years before Colombus. I am lucky, because in Scandinavia we do learn about the Viking even before we start going to school. Some years ago, an Norwegian/Icelandic archeological team discovered the necessary traces left by the Vikings in North America, so it is proven that Colombus was not first. I am very interested in history, especially the Vikings and the Early Middle Ages, also linguistically.
Writing concepts which are based on Northern history and mythology is a way for me to deal with my homesickness, though. I was born and lived in Norway for 20 years, until I left and moved to Germany. Since I became a mother, I miss my home country even more. It's this strong feeling of my roots and heritage, family, nature, history - everything which makes Norway so special, i.e. everything that makes me feel "Norwegian".
I.M: Moving on to other things. It has been 2 years since you released Legend Land, is there a new album in the workings for 2009? Or we'll have to wait until 2010 for new material from the band?
Liv: The album "Njord" will be released in the summer 2009, the single probably in July, and the album in August . We are in the middle of the mix right now. The title reminds everybody of the "north", wich is an important key word for the history and concept of Leaves' Eyes. Moreover, "Njord" is a brilliant song on the album. In our concept we are again dealing with Vikings' history and mythology. As long as i am responsible for writing the concept, the lyrics will be based on things that I love so much about my homecountry.
I gather most of my inspirations in Norway. It's the nature and the atmosphere that characterizes the country and people so much. I always feel that I can concentrate much better up there, because it is a country that offers you wide landscapes, less stress,
amazing views - it just makes you listen to your soul and get in balance with yourself. This is something I wish to forward and show our audience.
I.M: Each of your previous releases has shown a clear musical progression, what direction will the band take now? Are you going to keep choir-like singing and the folk style singing?
Liv: Technically, we constantly have new ideas and aims. We have our own studio and therefore we have the opurtunity to specialize in technical tasks concerning album and DVD productions. "Njord" has even a more bombastic but delicate sound that "Vinland Saga" and "Legend Land", because techniques allows it. We recorded the classical parts in Minsk (Lingua Mortis, supervised by Victor Smolkski), we had a complete local choir singing the choire parts, special artist playing solos on special instruments like the uillian pipe and the whistle. The lyrics are written in 6 languages...I even sat down to study a bit French to be able to write one French lyric. Old-English and Middle High German was something I studied at the university, and a friend helped me with the Gaelic parts.
Yes, "Njord" was an even more complicated recording process than the album before, but that is part of our work as artists and composers - always getting better, and composing music that comes from the heart!
I.M: About the other band projects, any new original material album from Atrocity? Or is there a Werk 80 III in the works, any news on the release date of Liv Kristine's new album?
Liv: My 3rd full-length album is just as emotional and personal as my previous one "Enter My religion". I'm composing the songs together with my guitarist Torsten Bauer at this very moment. There will be a few guests on it, too, but that's a secret for now! "Work 80 III" is not yet planned, however, there will be a second album of Atrocity featuring Yasmin Krull, which will be released in the Fall this year.
I.M: Are there any plans touring the USA (if this was not addressed in question 3)? Any plans of playing any festivals this summer (if you could just provide some hints in case you can't reveal which festival, it would be really nice to provide fans with some mystery)?
Liv: A US-/North-American tour is planned after the "Njord"-release. We are also thinking about doing an acoustic tour for the US in August/September as part of the promotional work. We just did an acoustic tour in Germany. This is a chance for fans and friends to spend some time with the three of us, not necessarily being on a huge stage with a huge production. We give autographs, make photos and have nice chats with our fans, in additon to promote the album and the DVD. Concerning the summer festivals we are still negotiating with a few promotors, however, we have to keep in mind that the album should be finished a.s.a.p.
I.M: Which live performance would you say has been your best one so far (crowd response and musically), and which one would you re-do if you could (and why)?
Liv: That's a tricky question, the crowd differs in every state, every town. There is a special character with every audience, like the US and Canadian audiences seem to love the historical and mythical "Viking" aspect of Leaves' Eyes, whereas the South-American audiences love the vision of the "beauty and the beast" on stage and in music. Scandinavians get really loud after a few beer, whereas French, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian crowds would go crazy even before the party has started. Once we played in Serbia, and this was an incredible feeling as they were really hungry for this kind of music. The same feeling appeared to me as I performed with my ex-band Theatre of Tragedy in Lebanon many years ago, at peaceful times.
I.M: What bands do you consider shaping (influencing other bands in) metal music these days?
Liv: In the past i would say Ozzy/Black Sabbath, nowadys...I really don't know. To me personally it has always been of vital importance to make my own music, which comes from the heart, going my own way and not with the flow. Walking around with a dollar-sign on the forehead just doesn't make sense to me.
I.M: After touring extensively the last few years, which countries and cities have you enjoyed the most?
Liv: Stavanger, Norway, my hometown, with my complete family in the first row!
I.M: What new (or relatively unknown) bands would you recommend for our readers to listen?
Liv: My sister's band "Midnattsol" just released their second album, I also love "Elis" from Switzerland/Lichtenstein, you should check these out.
Thanx + Love, Liv
I.M: Well I think I'm all out of questions for now, so thank you very much for taking the time to answer this interview. Keep up the good work and hope to see you live in the US soon!.
Leaves' Eyes Is:
Liv Kristine Espenaes Krull – Vocals
Torsten Bauer – Guitars
Mathias Röderer - Guitars
Chris Lukhaup - Bass
Moritz Neuner - Drums
Alexander Krull - Vocals, Programming