An older interview we did with Liv Kristine when she was with Leaves’ Eyes. Enjoy!
Interviewed by Katie Tait
How long were you writing and recording for the album Meredead?
We needed abou 1,5 years for the complete production of “Meredead”, which is only possible because we do have our own studio (Mastersound Studio).
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 able to finish the production in time, as the delivery date was settled. Thanks to Alex, “Meredead” is said by press, fans and friends to be the best production of Leaves’ Eyes so far. I really think it is. I am so proud of my band members. It’s a real pleasure performing the new songs live, by the way.
Who picked Meredead to be the title of the album and why?
The title is my own word-creation: To my grammatical knowledge, “Meredead” could mean ‘dead by the sea’, ‘or the deadly sea’. Poetically, we could add some imagination and lyrical sound and say “Sea of Death”.
Secondly, the word “Meredead” sums up some of the themes rooted in my lyrics on the album. I grew up by the fjords, and I sense pure luck every time I return to my birth-place. You know, water is the giver of life. Again you find a whole palette of contrasts in our music, which has always been a feature for both Leaves’ Eyes and Theatre of Tragedy, my ex-band, that actually founded the “beauty and the beast” concept in metal back in 1995.
It was said that Meredead would have “lyrical themes from Viking literature, Norwegian song tradition, and tales from the Irish isles”, what was the inspiration behind this idea?
I love digging my nose into books! After three or four songs had been composed, I realized that it was time to wipe the dust off my long-time favourite mythological and linguistic books. As with every album so far, I just let the music itself inspire me. 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.
How do the sound and lyrics on Meredead compare to that of your previous album, Njord?
Meredead is the most diverse album we’ve composed and recorded so far. 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. 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.
Who came up with the amazing album cover?
We are very pleased with it, too! Many people already asked me why I’m not on the album cover of “Meredead”. I think I look too “sweet” and “angel-like” for the album. She represents both the beauty of the sea and at the same time the dangerous ocean! I think the girl on the cover is really beautiful, and I absolutely love the artwork of Stefan Heilemann! I am going to ask Stefan if I can meet her some day, hehe.
How was the tour with singer, Tarja?
It was absolutely amazing meeting her again! We had wanted to tour together for years, however, both of us have been extremely busy recording, performing, long tours and doing promotion. There is a very deep friendship between us. Tarja is such a sweetheart, and she really deserves her success. She is extremely hard-working and a perfectionist.
Had you met previously before the decision to tour together?
Oh yes, a number of times, like at the German festival Wave Gothic Treffen in Leipzig (back then with Nightwish and Theatre of Tragedy), moreover, at the Doro Celebration Show for a duet a couple of years ago. Tarja also visited me in Germany, and I met her on the road in her hometown in Finland and later in Los Angeles.
How does opening for Tarja compare to when you’re the headlining band?
You know what, I actually enjoy being support, somehow I’ve always favoured that position. This time, I could watch Tarja!
What was it like to do a duet with Tarja?
That was one of the most magic moments in my whole career I can tell you. You can watch it on youtube, by the way. I have no words. It was just amazing!
Who had that idea and who picked the song?
That was Tarja’s idea! I loved it straight away. I am a huge fan of Kate Bush, so it was a great pleasure to sing her parts!
Who in Leaves’ Eyes takes the longest to prepare for a performance?
My husband, because he has got the longest hair!
Does the group have something they all do together before going on-stage? Or do you each do your separate things?
Each of us does his or her separate thing, like getting dressed, tuning the instrument(s), gathering behind the stage. I am caught up in the moment. Every performance is one process of giving, and receiving, I call it “exchange of positive energy” between the band and the audience. I really have to say that we do have fantastic fans. I am looking so much forward to every gig, and to meet our fans after the show!
Which song from the new album were you most excited to get to play live for the first time?
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! We had wanted to do a duet since our debut “Lovelorn”.
What’s the first thing you like to do after finishing up a concert?
Have a cup of tea or a glass of red-wine, then meet my fans and friends!
What’s the first thing you like to do after finishing up a tour?
Go for a walk through the forest with my son and just breathe the moment in!
Do you have any new, exciting places you plan on performing in for the first time with the new tour?
Asia is coming up! Moreover, India once again!
Last, anything you want your fans to know?
I am really, really happy that both my dreams in life have come true: being a musician, and becoming a mother. Thank you so much for the great times we shared on our North-American tours, I hope there will be many more to come! Thank you for always being there for me and my band. Thank you, take good care!