Interview with Liv Kristine: Getting Up Close and Personal

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Interviewed by Jessica Clingempeel, Joshua Becker, and Brian Kelman
2018: Sorry for the delays, but it is here now. 🙂

How much fun was it to work with your son Leon in studio and on the video shoot for “The Waking Eye”?

I was just happy and proud, actually really moved. He played his role perfectly and earned himself a really big package of Lego. However, it is always his choice if he wants to do this or not.

Does Leon show an interest in perhaps making a career in the music industry in some capacity?

I don’t think so. Although he actually is a brilliant singer. However, he will find his own way, like I did when I was a teen. I finished secondary school, then studied successfully for my master degree for seven years, moreover, made music and toured parallel to studying. That was the deal I had with my parents. I have always been independent and I decided to move to Germany from Norway when I was 19 years old. I have the best and most loving parents in the world, and this is what I am passing on to Leon: Listen to your inner voice and to the people who love you honestly and truly. 

For “King of Kings”: How long did it take to write the lyrics for the songs that appeared on the album?

At least 7-8 months. I have always been fascinated by the history of my home country and it was my big wish and vision to bring both history and my love for Norway into the band’s concept and lyrics from the very beginning of Leaves’ Eyes.

I’m curious about what the creative process is like for you, Liv. Did the concept for the Leaves’ Eyes albums come first and then you went to the history books to do research or did what you read in your history books trigger the wider concept and lyrics?

Music always triggers my inspiration for lyrics. My creative process was definitely rooted in longing for moving back home to Norway some day. Books came as inspiration by and by. I love bringing facts on the table, on to paper, wrapping everything up in poetic language. Writing lyrics is like writing poetry. I love the “Edda”, ancient languages and all work by Snorri Sturlason.

Before you switched to AFM Records was there a time that you thought that combining music and family just wasn’t working out and that it was time to go back to teaching? And what would you be teaching?

Combining music and family is a tough business. On tour I was a performing artist, mother, wife, taking care of press, organizing daily life with nanny and taking care of the education of my son. It was hard, I have to admit that, but today Leon and I are proud of knowing that we’ve actually been traveling through 50 countries! 

However, I actually have been teaching for years parallel to touring and family. It has always been something I’ve loved doing. Today, since Leaves’ Eyes is not in my life anymore, I’ve been able to follow that path more intensively. I’m working at schools for “special children”, teaching languages, sports, cooking, maths and taking care of every-day issues that might turn up.

Brian considers “King of Kings” to be the best album in the Leaves’ Eyes catalogue (narrowly surpassing “Njord”). What prompted you to write and record such a record in terms of its heaviness and the historical concept?

I thank you. The music inspired me to go back to my roots. Now, a couple of years later, seeing things in a perspective, I feel sadness when these songs, which are so dear to me, are played live without me.

The first song Josh ever heard of yours was “Elegy.” As we all know, that song was written and recorded about 11 years ago. In those 11 years, how do you think you have grown as an artist? Be it lyrically, or even mentally or emotionally.

I’ve grown in all ways since then. Generally speaking, I’ve found my inner voice, both being a woman and mother, and being an artist.

Last year you reconciled with former Theatre of Tragedy bandmate Raymond Rohonyi. Your shows in December must have brought healing and closure to one of the more painful moments in your life?

Absolutely. We both felt the necessity to deal with the issue “Theatre of Tragedy”. The shows were important to me and playing in Moscow was especially emotional as Moscow was my final show with ToT back in the days around the Millennium. The show was one of the best in my entire career. What a vibe, what an audience, what an amazing experience. That’s a closed chapter now.

What did you learn from that episode that is helping you now?

That men might throw their girlfriends (or wives) out of their band(s) if they feel that their position or ego is threatened. Tina Turner is a great inspiration to me, by the way.

For every door that closes behind us we are presented with opportunities to open new doors. What new doors have you envisioned yourself opening in the future? Could there be a new Theatre of Tragedy project with Raymond, for example?

We did have some plans for some cooperation on my up-coming solo album, however, I’d rather move into talks with ToT considering a ToT gathering. My solo album will not include Ray’s vocals.

You recorded a duet and video clip for “StilleWasser” with Tanzwut in 2016. How did the entire process go and when can we expect to see the video? Can you give us a few details on the song?

As soon as I had heard the song I fell in love with it. It was an artistic idea and cooperation that appeared at the perfect time at the perfect place in my artistic process. The video clip was shot in Switzerland and we had such a good time. Teufel is a brilliant musician, moreover, a really supportive friend.

Are there any plans for other collaborations, maybe with Sirenia or Tarja?

Who knows. At the moment I’m working on demos for my solo album. I’ll be recording next week and then we will see what happens from there. I would love to work with Maite Itoiz, Tarja, Heri from Tyr, Doro, Teufel, Michelle Darkness…there are so many good singers out there!

Were you able to get your Black Sabbath albums signed by Ozzy at the Metal Hammer Awards last year?

No, unfortunately not. My original LPs are still unsigned.

I understand you are a big fan of the TV show ‘Vikings’. As a student of Viking history, what is it that makes it a favourite of yours? Characters? Setting? Costuming? The story line? Action?

I love the historical settings, the bearded men, the strong women, the bad weather, the harsh landscapes. Somehow all of this reminds me of my homeland, Norway, and the rugged west-coast. Also the music is amazing.

This last set of questions will be dealing solely with your solo career, as well as the ones about the band and what the fans and others would like to know. Please know if you feel uncomfortable answering any of these questions, please let us know. We will thoroughly respect your decisions. 😊

I noticed on social media (Facebook) the band is hushing the fans who are siding with you, and even going so far as to delete their comments. Are you aware of this, and if so, what message do you have to the fans about it?

I am aware of it, although I have decided to keep a really distanced position to all this. I don’t want to be involved in this way of treating fans. I think the whole decision of replacing me “all of a sudden” and continuing with the band was not the right decision. Why not just chose another band name and change concept. You can’t ignore the fans, and without fans’ support there is no success. Of course the fans are disappointed. Two years have passed since then and Krull/Bauer are not my problem anymore. Their attacks on me in the social media, trying to manipulate the rest of the world with fake insider information, trying to hurt my privacy and family, posting a band protocol in Spring 2016 to explain the split, without my allowance and even signature…I find it disgusting. All I can say is – respect – they really had the guts to do it! Luckily, my fanclubs who had been contacted by Bauer/Krull informed me and warned me about it.

Since the band was started and even named after you, do you think the band should change the name? Also, considering you wrote many of the lyrics do you think they should stop performing the old songs?

Yes, I consider that to be the best ther decision, as already mentioned above. As soon as I got the news that Elina would replace me and that she was ready for touring with Leaves’ Eyes, I just hoped that they would change the name of the band and come up with their own new concept in case of a new album.

Given the situation with the band Leaves’ Eyes, what message do you have for the fans who still follow the band now?

Everybody is free to enjoy and appreciate whatever art or artist he or she likes. Fans don’t have to worry about moral issues. I am very proud of the albums Leaves’ Eyes released up until the split and I enjoy performing some of the songs live at my solo shows.

In your opinion, do you think the fans should still continue to support the band?

I don’t mind, as said above, the fans are free to do so, and the artist is free to expose himself, too. I feel honored and touched by the enormous support from my fans since the unforeseen split with Leaves’ Eyes. I once loved my band, too.

Do you think experiencing band life gave you a new appreciation for your solo career, and do you think you may have learned some things to better your own career?

I’ve been performing as a solo artist since 1998. I appreciate both band and solo settings in my career. My love for music, especially metal, composing, writing lyrics and singing has always been inside me since I entered this world. I guess I am highly adaptable in musical settings and enjoy every new experience and task.

Do you have any future plans to join a band, or do you want to focus solely on your solo career for the moment?

I joined my sister’s band “Midnattsol” a few months ago. I am very happy about it. The album will be out in May and I am amazed by the band’s work and artistic quality. It makes so much fun to sing in Norwegian and Swedish and just suck up the raw, clear, Nordic metal sound. I can’t wait to play live with Midnattsol! It means so much for me to share stage with my sister. All the guys in Midnattsol are just wonderful. Feels like a family. Parallel to Midnattsol, I’m working on my upcoming solo album. A handful of demos are ready. I also am looking forward to the upcoming release by The Sabbathian of my dear friend Anette Gulbrandsen! This is pure doom metal and I loved participating! 

With this falling out with the band, will you remain friends with any of the members, or is it a full parting of ways?

I miss Joris and Pete, who are still in Leaves’ Eyes. They weren’t even present that day I was excluded from the band. I don’t blame them for anything.

We know you have been going through so much in the last months, but your fans have seem to remain loyal, even through the stories that we have been getting from others. We also know that the band or someone behind the band has been saying so much about you and that everything was mutual. Would you like to tell your side of things or clear things up?

In January 2016 my whole life changed. I had no clue what was going on behind my back, personally and professionally. I guess I was bloody naive, I thought we had an honest communication on all levels. It was tough to lose everything I had within a few weeks, my marriage, my home, my band, my income, my daily life, everything, except my son and dog. My family in Norway and closest friends have been a fantastic support, as well as my fan base. 

Today I am happier and more confident than ever and I have entered a brand new chapter in my life. I have found a lovely home for my son, my dog and little family where we can live in peace. I have also found the love of my life, a wonderful person I wish to share the rest of my life with. I enjoy working on my solo career with single shows and an upcoming album. It has been a pleasure working with other artists during this period, from Tanzwut to Cradle of Filth, moreover, I have joined Midnattsol. My work with children and teens with special competence and needs is very important to me. Yes, life is wonderful, life is good to me, and some day, when my family is ready, we will return to Norway, which I consider to be the best place on earth.

Finally, anything you would like to say to your fans?

THANK YOU, thank you, thank you.

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