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Anneke van Giersbergen Interview 2013
Written by Frozen Angel   
Saturday, 16 February 2013

Interview performed in person / Greece 2013

Anneke

*Anneke* confirmed for MFVF XI in October 2013 

It’s not a secret anymore: Anneke van Giersbergen is in the studio now! Anneke has released three studio albums and one live album since leaving The Gathering. That’s not bad at all for a solo artist. But, there was more to come: guest appearances with Within Temptation, Ayreon, Moonspell, Anathema, and Devin Townsend. She even collaborated with bands such as Napalm Death and November’s Doom. Also, she wrote and performed a children’s play and participated in a ceremony for the Dalai Lama. Recently she was nominated for two Edison Music Awards (Best Album, and Best Female Artist) in Holland. Next, she is going to tour in the United States for the first time as a solo artist, and she will be the main support act in Pain of Salvation’s upcoming European acoustic tour. Anneke seems to be a restless spirit – and it seems she really enjoys that!  

Actually, Anneke is the sweetest, kindest and calmest person I have ever met. After every concert, she never leaves before having a word with every single fan. Not many artists do that these days. Also, Anneke is a very clever and glib woman; I would say that she is a real thinker. I had a very nice chat with her for Sonic Cathedral, and she gave to us some very nice and interesting answers about everything. It seems that “everything is changing” in her life. If you keep reading, you will read her opinion about the metal scene (and if she is planning to come back!), some small details about her upcoming album and tour, her own point of view about her solo career, and much more. To be honest, there were a million things I wanted to ask her, but her time is quite precious. One thing is for sure: Anneke van Giersbergen came to stay with us for many years.



Frozen Angel:  The last time we talked, you told me to expect a rock album. Everything Is Changing, in my opinion, is your best solo album without The Gathering. In what ways do you see the album as a step forward from what you’ve done before? Do you consider it as something different from your older solo albums?

Anneke:  First of all, thank you for your kind words! (laughs) Actually, yes, I believe that Everything Is Changing is a different album from my older ones. And I think I succeeded with this album because I had some ideas to make an album rocky, poppy, uptempo, and energetic all at the same time. I think that I succeeded with my goal!

Frozen Angel:  I think that it has everything!

Anneke:  Exactly! That was what I wanted! (laughs) I love all those things, and I just wanted to combine them in one album. People seem to like [this album] because it is a bit more rocky and uptempo.

Frozen Angel:  As I said before, I think that this one is your best solo album!

Anneke:  Thank you!

Frozen Angel:  You recently played two gigs in Greece. Did you get what you expected from the Greek audience?

Anneke:  Yes! Totally, and more! The Greek crowd always has been good to me.

Frozen Angel:  And you even played a song [“Beautiful One”] for us!

Anneke:  Yes! I played it! And every time I play it, I feel it.

Frozen Angel:  It seems that you are one of the most beloved artists in Greece. You also did a tour with Within Temptation recently. Back in the 1990s, you [with The Gathering] and Within Temptation started playing music at the same period of time. Both bands were “born” together, in some way. Did you feel with these guys like family? I think that you know each other for quite a long time [before Within Temptation’s “Black Symphony” DVD show in 2008].

Anneke:  Yes, I felt like that very much. Also, I am very proud to be part of a scene which started from the Netherlands, my home country.

Frozen Angel:  We love your country! (laughs)

Anneke:  That’s great! (laughs) And yes, it was great to be with them because we have made the same journey. They are a huge name now, and I really like what they have done until now: the theater shows, the small movies, the concepts. So, it’s just great!

Frozen Angel:  It was kind of an achievement for you, in my opinion.

Anneke:  Yes! I think so!

Frozen Angel:  I have a friend from the United States. He always complains that he had never the chance to see you live either solo or with The Gathering. And during January, you confirmed some US tour dates finally! That’s awesome! How do you feel about that?

Anneke:  This is a good question! To be honest, I always wanted to go and play in the United States. But it is very hard to get gigs there.

Frozen Angel:  This friend of mine told me that the female-fronted fans there are not many.

Anneke:  That’s true. Of course, there are bands who are doing very well in the United States, Lacuna Coil for example. I am not a big name, and paying air tickets and hotels rooms for five or six people and getting our visas approved, it is a little hard. It was a matter of logistics. We almost had to pay money to go there! But we got invited and the logistic problem is solved, so we are heading to the Latin America!

Tourdates: Confirmed dates are as follows;
MAR 15 2013 AR Buenos Aires @ El Teatro Flores
MAR 16 2013 BR São Paulo @ Hangar 110
MAR 17 2013 BR Rio de Janeiro @ Rio Rock & Blues Club
MAR 20 2013 CL Santiago de Chile @ Teatro Nescafé de las Artes
MAR 22 2013 MX Mexico City @ El Plaza Condesa

I know that I have fans in the United States, but they have to travel a little bit to see us because it’s a big country and we cannot visit each and every city like we do in Europe.

Frozen Angel:  Many fans have told me that they did not really like your solo stuff. Do you believe that you lost some [Gathering] fans and gained some new ones at the same time?

Anneke:  Absolutely! Like you said, it’s a bit different from The Gathering’s style, especially from the The Gathering’s style back in the Mandylion and Nighttime Birds era.

Frozen Angel:  People are saying you should be back in The Gathering.

Anneke:  I understand that because [my music is] different, and if people don’t like my solo stuff I understand that. It’s fine. It’s only music, and it’s a matter of taste. But I love it! I love all the things I am doing. I really love to make it on my own and be different in every album. And there are many people who like The Gathering and my solo stuff, too. And there are also people who did not like what I did with The Gathering and prefer my solo work. But it’s all good. Sometimes people come and go. Sometimes people say, “Oh, I don’t like her soft solo album, but I like her rock solo album.” And some other people say, “Oh, I like her pop solo album, but I don’t like her rock solo album.” I noticed that with every album, I gain new fans. For me, this is very interesting. I like it! (laughs)

Frozen Angel:  Why did you name the album Everything Is Changing? Is it a personal statement or motto?

Anneke:  I believe that everything is changing, indeed! I am always thinking about this phrase. My life is changing, of course. I have a 7-year-old kid, and his life is changing. He is growing up so fast! But the world is changing generally. You live in Greece, and you can confirm how the economy is changing quickly. Also, the political scene is changing. The climate is changing. I am always thinking about these things, and I am writing about them.

Frozen Angel:  It seems that your solo album includes more personal songs, like “My Boy” for your son. Do you do it that on purpose? I mean, when you decided to start a solo career, did you want your solo stuff to be more personal? I guess this was one of the reasons that made you leave The Gathering?

Anneke:  It was not one of the main reasons, but it was also included on my main thought back then, which was “I want to do things on my own.” You know, make my own agenda, recording by myself, and stuff like that. All these were like a wish for me.

Anneke

Frozen Angel:  So, you wanted to do whatever you want! (laughs)

Anneke:  Yes! And change in every album! It was like a small research for me: pop music, ballads, heavy music. I also work with many bands who are still in the metal scene. I like the diversity very much. That was my wish back then: to be open and do anything. Regarding the lyrics of my songs, of course, they talk about my family, my life, my routine, and my thoughts.

Frozen Angel:  When did you get the thought of going solo? After a certain period of time, or a certain Gathering era or album? Or, did you know it from the very beginning?

Anneke:  It didn’t really matter for me because I wanted to make music along with other people. I used to make music with my band mates from The Gathering. Now I make music with other musicians. In the end, after 13 years together, I thought that it was just about time to break loose and do something else. So I thought, “This is the end. Let’s do something new.”

Frozen Angel:  To be honest, I did not really like the video for the song “I Feel Alive.” I thought it was kind of “poor” and sketchy.

Anneke:  That’s OK! (laughs)

Frozen Angel:  Most of your solo videos include nice sceneries, you playing an instrument, and stuff like that.

Anneke:  You like that better?

Frozen Angel:  I just thought it was quite poor.

Anneke:  Right! Only the face? I got it!

Frozen Angel:  There was not any concept in the video, am I right?

Anneke:  The thing about this video is that we were supposed to do lots of things for this video. I had many different clothes especially for this video, my instruments, and many other stuff. When we went in the studio, the director said, “Let’s warm up a little and do some face shots.” And then he said, “Actually, these face shots are really good. Why don’t we keep them?” Then, we take a few more face shots, and it took only one long take. So it’s a one-taker, which is quite special! (laughs) He advised me to take off my clothes in order to have only me. No backgrounds, no colors, only me. It was a little funny because we were not prepared for such a thing! We were prepared for something completely different!

Frozen Angel:  “I Feel Alive” is a happy song.

Anneke:  Yeah! Actually, a lot of people commented on this video. Half of them really liked it, and the other half did not really like it. The opinions were divided! Someone wrote, “I liked it because it was empty, it was pure, and it was all about the lyrics.”

Frozen Angel:  It was only you. You took everything on your shoulders.

Anneke:  Yes! And I understand if you think that is boring. Some people call it a boring video, and some others thought it was very interesting because of this and that. There was also one guy who wrote, “If I look at this video by myself, I will almost be embarrassed if my wife comes in!” (laughs) I guess this was written because I was naked! (laughs) I never thought about this! Lot of people have lots of different opinions.

Frozen Angel:  You stated that after you left The Gathering, it was more natural for you to be with a band than going solo immediately. That’s why you formed a band under the name Agua de Annique. I didn’t really understand this statement. You said, “Going out under your own name is tough.” When you left The Gathering, did you feel unsure or frightened? This statement made me think this.

Anneke:  I am not sure what it was! Now that I am under my own name, it feels much better.

Frozen Angel:  You said that it was only on your shoulders.

Anneke:  Right! I was just used to having a band name. So when I went solo, I didn’t think about it. I just got a band name. And then I thought that actually nobody understands this band name, like you said before! So I thought, “Why not drop it?” And now people understand me better because it’s just me.

Frozen Angel:  You put your name there [Anneke, in the form of “Annique”], but many people had no idea that you, Anneke van Giersbergen, were with them!

Anneke:  I know! That was exactly the problem!

Frozen Angel:  In my opinion, it’s better to have just your name!

Anneke:  I know, and it took me four years to understand that! (laughs)

Frozen Angel:  It was confusing!

Anneke:  Totally! But this is a journey. I have to learn all these things. And in Everything Is Changing, I just put my own name and I was like, “That’s OK! Oh God, I should have done it immediately.” But you don’t really think about it when you start. That’s living and learning! (laughs)

Frozen Angel:  Your label your music as pop/rock. Still, the lyrics, videos, and emotions seem to be more melancholic. You seem to be a very happy person, though. And to be honest, I don’t really get this label. How can a so happy person write this stuff?

Anneke:  People have all kinds of labels. I think pop and rock music is very wide. You can put a label on anything you want.

Frozen Angel:  In Thessaloniki’s show, a trip-hop band [Broken Tempo, fronted by former Bare Infinity singer Angel Wolf-Black] opened for you.

Anneke:  Yes, I know that! But you know, I am a happy person. I make happy music. But also I have some melancholic sides of myself. Actually, I love melancholic music! So, I would call my music as alternative pop or rock or whatever.

Frozen Angel:  I think I like alternative pop better.

Anneke:  Me, too! (laughs)

Frozen Angel:  What really happened with Agua de Annique? You still tour with the same musicians that used to be in the band. Did they split up?

Anneke:  Agua de Annique was only a band name that I just dropped!

Frozen Angel:  So, the musicians will stay the same?

Anneke:  The musicians I cooperate with sometimes are different. All of them have their own projects. But now I have a band, and they are fantastic! It has nothing to do with the name. It was just a name.

Frozen Angel:  During 2012, you did an appearance in a children’s play, The Bear That Wasn’t. You also played for a special presentation in front of the Dalai Lama, you went solo playing pop/rock, and you participated in the Devin Townsend Project. You even performed a U2 cover! Your music has no boundaries, many different things together! You are not afraid if someday people get all this wrong? Like they’ll think, “Anneke has no music identity”?

Anneke:  That’s exactly why I love what I am doing. These are exactly the reasons I love making music, I love singing, I love rock music. Regarding my children’s play, I wrote it myself. I wrote the songs, and I performed them. I was acting for kids! That was fantastic! So, why shouldn’t I do it? I love it! And I love my audience, too!

Frozen Angel:  You look like you don’t care about people’s opinions.

Anneke:  I don’t! And I know people are confused.

Frozen Angel:  When you played for the Dalai Lama presentation, I read some comments like, “What is she doing? Is this a conversion or something? Is she a representative of this religion?” And other stuff like that.

Anneke:  My heart is there.

Frozen Angel:  You’re not afraid of labels.

Anneke:  No, not at all! I know people are confused. And like I said, people who like me as an artist will choose if they will come and see me in the children’s play or if they will buy my new album or my older album. It’s fine by me!

Frozen Angel:  People are like, “Anneke is doing rock. Anneke is doing metal. Anneke is acting.”

Anneke:  Yeah! Anneke is doing all these things. She like an octopus! (laughs) Also, I love singing in the Dutch language. Actually, I am writing many songs in the Dutch language, and maybe one day I will release an album with these songs. I love it, and since I am solo nobody stops me! So, everything is great!

Frozen Angel:  Are you a religious person? In “Sunny Side Up,” the lyrics seem to be about you and your everyday life. It’s quite obvious that you experiment all the time!

Anneke:  No, actually it was not written about me. There is a funny story behind this song. This song is written for a radio producer. She is doing a Christian radio show, and I was a guest in her show. So, I wrote a song about her. But I consider myself as a religious person. I believe in God.

Anneke

Frozen Angel:  In your own way?

Anneke:  Kind of, in my own way. So, yes, I am a believer. I believe in God, I believe in the cosmos, I believe in the world, I believe in people, I believe in nature, and I am always thinking about these things. Absolutely!

Frozen Angel:  It seems that you were more than thrilled about participating in [the Devin Townsend Project’s new album] Epicloud. You wrote that Devin asked you to sing in various ways that did not even know you could. Actually, I have not read a more enthusiastic post from you than the one about the Epicloud recordings! What’s Devin like to work with?

Anneke:  He is a total professional! Oh my God! He is focused, and he knows what he wants.

Frozen Angel:  You said that he made you to sing in various ways that you did not even know you could!

Anneke:  Yeah! He is the only man who can make me a better singer, because he knows what I can do.

Frozen Angel:  Not even Arjen Lucassen?

Anneke:  (laughs) He is good, but Devin was a way much tougher! I had to sing a lot of stuff for him, and I had to use all my range. I kind of expanded it. My limits went higher. I love him as a person. He is a very nice guy, very focused, very intelligent, and funny. He is very nice, and he makes you to want to work with him. He brought out the best of me.

Frozen Angel:  Any Ayreon plans?

Anneke:  No. I know Arjen is doing something, but I will not be featured on it. He is a great guy, and he always works on something! He is a professional!

Frozen Angel:  You are still in the metal scene, even as a pop/rock solo artist. You’ve done guest appearances for Moonspell, Within Temptation, and Anathema. You still love the metal scene, don’t you?

Anneke:  Yes, very much, and I love the people in the scene. I think the metal crowd is very loyal, very sweet, very kind, and very calm. They exist in all over the world. They are like a unity of people. I really love the metal scene, and you know metal as a music genre is so big and wide.

Frozen Angel:  Indeed, there are many different genres.

Anneke:  Many! And I am somewhere there. I love it! (laughs)

Frozen Angel:  Are you planning to come back with a metal record?

Anneke:  Everybody is asking this! (laughs) I am not sure. I think that there are always metal influences in my projects. I have to say that my next album, which I am currently preparing, is going to be a little less pop and a bit more rock. It will be more straightforward, more honest. It’s difficult to use some certain words.

Frozen Angel:  Maybe you mean that it will be an album with more attitude?

Anneke:  Yeah. With some ballads, of course, but also many uptempo things. I believe that the metalheads will like this one as well. But I would certainly not call it a metal album.

Frozen Angel:  I see. But metal music is still in your mind. You don’t say, “Metal? No way! Not again!”

Anneke:  Oh, no! Actually, I am a big fan of alternative metal and of bands like the Deftones, System of A Down, and Faith No More, my all-time favourite band.

Frozen Angel:  Two years ago you told me about Faith No More. I checked this band a few days after our interview, and right now they are on the top of my playlist if you check my mp3 player! (laughs)

Anneke:  That’s great! (laughs) See? They are awesome. And they are also a metal band, actually an alternative metal band. If you put Everything Is Changing next to a Faith No More album, I think that you can call me a metal artist. Because it’s heavy music with melody, and Faith No More have a lot of ballads, a lot of melody, and a lot of funny things.

Frozen Angel:  They sound to me a little funky!

Anneke:  Yeah, exactly! I don’t know what people mean by saying “This is a metal album,” because there are always influences.

Frozen Angel:  They mean Nighttime Birds and Mandylion, that’s for sure!

Anneke:  Exactly! I did that! Why should I repeat it? In addition, The Gathering bandmates made these albums. The boys made these melodies. I cannot do it by myself. And I want to do new things, you know.

Frozen Angel:  It seems that you and Danny Cavanagh are very close friends. Having seen you together onstage, I felt like you are best friends in some way. Is it true? Is there a story behind this friendship?

Anneke:  We know each other for so long, and during the tours with The Gathering we always saw each other in festivals and gigs. We kept in touch. In 2007 we said, “Now we really have to work together.”

Frozen Angel:  I think he is a personal friend of yours now.

Anneke:  He is. Especially when we tour together, we have long conversations. We are really close friends. We know everything about each other’s life. So, yeah, he is a very good friend and a talented artist.

Frozen Angel:  Female-fronted metal is very popular nowadays. You have posted several times photos with Simone, Floor, and other metal girls together. Do you consider any of these girls as a close friend of yours? Any special connection with any of them?

Anneke:  I would say that I talk more with Floor Jansen and Simone Simons.

Frozen Angel:  All the Dutchies together! (laughs)

Anneke:  They are Dutch, so they are close to my home. Actually, Simone lives in Germany, but we have a bond and we speak a lot with each other.

Frozen Angel:  And with Floor? Because I am kind obsessed with her! (laughs)

Anneke:  I understand the reason why. She is awesome!

Frozen Angel:  And I was really happy when she joined Nightwish!

Anneke:  Yeah, lots of people think that it’s a perfect combination. I think it’s perfect, too! People love her.

Frozen Angel:  I think she is the best soprano in the metal scene.

Anneke:  I think so, too! Because she is the only one who can do soprano vocals and operatic stuff, but also growling vocals and clean female vocals. She can do everything. She is fantastic!

Frozen Angel:  You always have some Gathering songs in your playlist. Do you feel weird, emotional, sad, happy, or nostalgic when you play these songs?

Anneke:  Of course, I do. The Gathering is a big part of my life. When I sing these songs and especially when people like it [me singing The Gathering’s songs].

Frozen Angel:  Of course, they like it. It’s a special moment in your concerts.

Anneke:  I think so. And that’s why I do it, actually. Performing a few Gathering songs is a special moment in my gigs. I like the memories. I like the songs, of course, and I really like the fact that people enjoy them, even though I play them with different musicians. But it should be special, not like, “Let’s play five Gathering songs in order to fill the setlist.” Just two Gathering songs are perfect. Also, I am planning to do something like a heavy setlist for the festivals in order to play in some heavier festivals during summertime. And I am thinking about changing a little bit some The Gathering songs. I was wondering about your opinion. (laughs) If I play another The Gathering song apart from “Saturnine,” like a heavy Gathering song, which should it be? What would you like to hear?

Anneke

Frozen Angel:  Certainly any song from Mandylion.

Anneke:  And which ones are your favourites?

Frozen Angel:  Maybe “Leaves” and “In Motion”? Those two have most of the clicks in YouTube.

Anneke:  Yeah! I checked YouTube, too, and I noticed that those two along with “Strange Machines” are the most popular. Sometimes I wonder if it fits with the rest of the music I play, but then I say that it doesn’t really matter because people want to hear them live. But it’s good to know! I am just asking around! (laughs)

Frozen Angel:  I think those three songs are the most popular songs by The Gathering, from the most popular Gathering album ever! (laughs)

Anneke:  Right! Exactly! I know that’s true. It’s so long ago! People have this specific album in their hearts. It’s amazing!

Frozen Angel:  What’s next for you? Any new stuff has been written already?

Anneke:  I am currently in the studio, writing and recording stuff for my new album. I am planning to release my new album after the summer of 2013. I have already confirmed some shows, too. That’s the big plan: playing, writing, recording, and of course releasing new music.

Frozen Angel:  So, should I say “see you soon” now?

Anneke:  Sure! Because I will be back in your country soon! (laughs) We have already talked about coming back in Greece for gigs. I love your country, as you can see! (laughs)

Frozen Angel:  And we love you, too! (laughs) I don’t know if you ever noticed that, but every time you play in Greece, no matter where or when you play, the place would be full!

Anneke:  I hope so. (laughs)

Frozen Angel:  Trust me. This happens with very few artists in my country!

Anneke:  That’s great! Thank you guys from the bottom of my heart! (laughs)

Frozen Angel:  Thank you, lovely Anneke. See you soon!

Anneke:  Thank you, too! And yes, we will meet again soon!

*Special thanks to Anneke for her precious time, mr Rob Snijders for helping me to arrange this interview and TK photography (Thanasis Konstantopoulos http://flavors.me/kthanos) for the nice photographs.

Links:

A) http://www.annekevangiersbergen.com

B) http://www.facebook.com/annekevangiersbergenofficial

C) http://twitter.com/AnnekeAnnique

D) http://www.youtube.com/user/AguaDeAnniqueMusic?gl=NL&hl=nl

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