Home > Interviews > Liv Kristine – composed the most emotional ballads on ‘Libertine’

Liv Kristine – composed the most emotional ballads on ‘Libertine’

text: Gerianne Meijer
photo’s: Alexander Krull & Stefan Heilemann

Liv Kristine Espenæs – Krull as the full name of the singer is, released her fourth solo album ‘Libertine‘ a month ago. It is an album with pop influences and also a return to the roots: an interesting combination. There is a Dutch review on Muzikantenweb for further details.

At that time she was touring in Europe with Leaves’ Eyes her main band. When she arrived home, in one day the email questions were answered. What follows is a short update with the charming Liv Kristine revealing more about her solo record. 

Compared to your previous album ‘Skintight’ (Napalm Records 2010), ‘Libertine’ seems to contain more up-tempo rock songs. It seems difficult for you to shake off your ‘loud music’ roots. Do you find yourself always coming back to that style of music for a reason? Or did you just feel like creating some heavier songs?

Liv Kristine:  ” To compare “Libertine” with my former releases, ‘Dues ex Machina’ (1998) was very atmospheric and reminding you a bit about Irish Enya, a real pop-album. ‘Enter My Religion’ (2006) was more guitar-based and earthly with many interesting exotic folk influences. ‘Skintight’ (2010) had some influence from Johnny Cash, which sometimes gives the listeners a warm and here-and-now campfire feeling experience.

Libertine’ (2012) is a back-to-the-roots album for me, containing the most emotional ballads I’ve ever composed, Some songs even have a dark, but sweet feeling to it. Through both the piano, the dark bass lines and heavy guitars, as you pointed out. I see every album becoming more and more individual, just like I am getting closer to myself in a way. I would say all of my albums are somehow indie, pop or rock.”


I know you have written a lot, if not all, lyrics yourself. How much did you participate in the writing of the music on ‘Libertine’?

Liv Krtine: “ I write all lyrics, for my solo project and Leaves’ Eyes. I just love poetry and linguistics! When composing for Leaves’ Eyes most ideas are recorded instrumentally by Alexander Krull (singer), Thorsten Bauer (guitarist) and Sander van der Meer (guitarist) at first. Then I start working on my vocal melodies and lyrics.

A solo album song-writing process mostly runs in the opposite direction: initially there’s a vocal melody or a single bass or piano line from which all songs start growing. I composed three songs, the rest was co-composed with J.B.van der Wal, under the production of Mastersound, Alexander Krull (husband, producer). The only exception is the Kate Bush cover, of course.”


The opening song on ‘Libertine’ titled ‘Interlude’ feels like a serenade. Was that song inspired by someone. What or who, is your main inspiration in general?

Liv Kristine:  “Interlude is a very atmospheric opener and intro pece of music. It has a sweet sound to it. It is a love declaration written like a poem. Coming to influences, I am lucky to have parents who love music too, so I’ve always spent a lot of time listening and singing along to music.

I started to sing even before I could walk or talk, however, I never had any musical education and I never studied music (I studied linguistics, German, English and historic languages). It was my inner voice that told me that singing is a part of me, it just comes from the heart.

Actually, when I was little, I thought that every human being could sing! Well, I guess I’m lucky, having a kind of perfect hearing. Coming to influences I grew up with Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Edvard Grieg and Tschaikowsky. Also female singers like Enya, Madonna, Kate Bush, Abba, Tori Amos and Monserrat Caballe.

From the very beginning, I’ve followed my musical instinct: I wanted to combine a romantic, female, angelic voice with powerful and impressive music. Then suddenly, when I was eighteen years old, I found myself in the middle of writing music history with Theatre of Tragedy. My favorite album at the moment is “Ark” by Brendan Perry – absolutely amazing, can’t stop listening to it!”


The song ‘Paris, Paris’ is obviously inspired by France. Do you get a lot of inspiration from other cultures?

Liv Kristine:  “Most influence come from my homecountry, Norway. Then why Paris? I haven’t always liked Paris, as I also have experienced a few bad things there, however, we have slowly become friends now. I like the special feeling I often have when I visit Paris: the narrow streets, the little cafés serving the even smaller espresso, all the beautiful fountains, the Seine, and (as often happens in Paris)the rain!

One of my favorite cafés is in Paris, where I usually have a cup of tea and carrot cake when it’s raining outside. ‘Paris Paris’ was actually a demo song I prepared for Theatre of Tragedy, but it was never recorded. However, I re-wrote it for fun using the program Garage band. My co-musicians loved it and all the instruments were recorded new. It is definitely a very refreshing song.

What draws you to other cultures?

Liv Kristine: ” It is rather the nature that draws me to other cultures and places. I am dreaming about going to Himalaya, doing a mountain tour by foot, meeting and getting to know the peoples and their history. I have to tell you I just love little villages surrounded by nature, which is also my main motives when I paint my pictures. There is something exciting, like a secret to every village, I think.”

Where did the idea of the Kate Bush cover come from? It is not an easy song to sing. Were you afraid of any criticism of Kate Bush fans or others?

Liv Kristine: ” So far the critics have been absolutely amazing! I am so touched. Kate Bush and Tori Amos are truly my greatest influences vocally. Since I never had any musical education I have found my own way to prepare my voice before a concert or recording session. In which I sing along to either of these wonderful voices.

It was my best friend, Katja, who had this idea that I should cover Kate. During one of our girls’ evenings (parties) I started singing from the top of my voice along to Kate, but the next day I was worried what the neighbors would say. Katjas neighbors did not complain. and my friend inspired me to record the track for ‘Libertine’. It was recorded in a one- take session.”


Your first solo album was released many years ago in 1998, but when did you first feel the urge to make a solo album?

Liv Kristine: “I’ve been singing for longer than I can remember. I think ‘Deus ex Machina’ came at the right point of time yes.”

Would you feel like you couldn’t express a part of yourself if you did not have your solo career?

Liv Kristine: ” I have to tell you that I feel truly privileged. First of all I am grateful to my fans and friends for giving me all this respect, love and good energy. Some of them following me since my ex-band Theatre of Tragedy came into existence about eighteen years ago. My fans have granted me this freedom I appreciate so much.

Through both Leaves’ Eyes and my solo project, I am able to live out my musical instinct. There has never been a day since I at the age of seven realized that I had been given a special musical gift genetically. Since my childhood there has never been a day at which I haven’t been creative in some or the other way. I just love singing, composing, writing, recording and most of all: playing gigs!

What is it like to perform these songs live, since they must be really close to your heart?

Liv Kristine: ” Absolutely amazing!  There was this moment during my concert in Nagold (Germany) December 2011, when I first presented the demo song ‘Libertine’ to my audience. I had also performed a handful of Theatre of Tragedy songs, because it was my wish. There and then I understood in which musical direction my up-coming album would be, more powerful, more back to the roots.  Everybody was there, my closest friends and family, my fantastic fans from all over the world: Argentina, Belgium, Denmark, UK, Finland, Spain, Holland and all over Germany. I was so happy: this was a very special night for me, so special that I will do it again in December 22. this year!


How do you see your musical growth through the years and how does that reflect on your albums?

Liv Kristine: “I am getting closer and closer to myself, I feel that my artistic heart is happy, I am really having a good time although it is such hard work. I have so many ideas: I tell you I never get bored.”

Do you have a message for your Dutch fans?

Liv Kristine: “Thank you for being there for me all these years, with Theatre of Tragedy, Leaves’Eyes and my solo work. I hope you enjoy ‘Libertine’ as much as I did composing and recording it. I can’t wait to play it live for you! See you soon, I can’t wait to be back in beautiful, humble Holland – Love Liv.

More information on: http://www.livkristine.de

Word of Thanks to: Liv Kristine, Napalm Records and  Hardlife  promotion.

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