Liv Kristine has come back in order to stay and to drive us again into her religion. And in between all her creative activities, the moment to re-edit “Enter my religion“ has finally come, a key disc in her career for various reasons that we are going to talk about in the course of the interview. But in this reaffirmation of her career, Liv has sat down to work on new songs, plan concerts beside Nagold, and in her own way, upholds her traditional Christmas concert where she is going to meet all her fans.
I got in touch with Liv to talk about more in detail about ‘Enter my religion’, to give an introduction to this year’s concert in Nagold and in order for her to reveal one of the surprises planned for the concert and – as usual – to talk about the present and the future.
By Marc Gutiérrez
EMPIRE MAGAZINE (EM): How has Liv Kristine changed from 2006 to 2023?
LIV KRISTINE (LK): My life has changed immensely in the period between 2021 and now. 2006 to 2021 is one separate era which has come to its natural closure. Ten albums later, my sixth and most authentic solo album in the mix, my son is two meters tall and a lovely young man mastering his own life (who also saved and brought two dogs into our family), I moved home four times and country twice, I met and married the love of my life sharing a home which is built on unconditional love, respect, gratitude and deep compassion. My supporting musical community is stronger than ever and I have found a fine balance between my work as a teacher for children with special needs, and my creativity in music, painting and as a vocal coach. This is luck for me. It feels like coming home, like I am feeling safer and calmer now. The path began, interestingly enough, with ‘Enter My Religion’ in 2006, but now in 2022 this awareness is even more intense. On my path I have become more conscious about who I am and what I am doing here on this planet in this one given lifetime. It feels like there is an awareness shift towards experiencing BEING, more than DOING. All this craving and doing means being occupied with stuff that we have to deal with in the outside crazy world. It’s crazy how we forget to live. Our minds turn into never-resting monkey-minds that take over and rules our existence, even our sleep when we’re supposed to rest. My life has been utterly busy and yes, I like being an active person, moreover, I treasure the experience I’ve gathered because it’s all part of my life and it has lead me to here and now, but sometimes we are so busy that we forget that we are human beings, so instead we are „human doings“ on a hamster-wheel. Now, being half-way on my life path, I have come to a new era in my life that demands more awareness going inwards, anchoring in my soul, also asking „what is authenticity?“. My mind has become more quiet and I need this silence. I have come to understand that there is a „thing, a state“ between birth and death that we call LIFE. It belongs only to you and it is unique, however, it is your perspective on any situation, experience or mood that changes the matter. The essence of life is how you live it and what you do with your experience. If I want to I can see beauty even when something is broken, I can see sunshine when it rains. This perspective gives me so much freedom to choose what is essential for me to really live a life in compassion, authenticity, love, gratitude and deep awareness. Maybe this is what our great, compassionate thinkers call “enlightenment”, many pointing to the practical way of living found in Buddhism.
EM: Why did you decide to re-release ‘Enter my religion’ right now? Could it be because your contract with Roadrunner has finally released the legal rights to di so?
LK: Yes. In 2019 when I decided to release my music by myself („Have Courage Dear Heart“) and with the support of my husband, Michael, and his independent label Allegro Talent Music, we soon came up with the idea of re-releasing «Enter My Religion». We decided to give both production and artwork a real face-lift. The files were all still there, sound and visuals. However, we decided to include unreleased tracks. Andy Classen (One Stage Studio) gave the songs the finishing touch. We also decided to redesign the artwork. The photos are actually from a photo session made in 2005 which had never been used. Kai R. Joachim had saved them and was happy with me that these good photos can be shown. Marc from Artwars completely redesigned the cover artwork and the booklet. We will certainly re-release every solo album – each one with a better sound and special editions. We promise you there will be more re-releases.
EM: If I have to be honest I was very very very surprised when Roadrunner released ‘Enter my religion’ since Roadrunner is pure Metal but then your solo career was including Rock, Metal, Pop and acoustic elements. How did you get this contract and how did you make Roadrunner pay attention in your music?
LK: It’s a very good question. If you take a look at my solo albums: ‘Deus Ex Machina’ (1998) – ‘Enter My Religion’ (2006) – ‘Skintight’ (2010) – ‘Libertine’ (2012) and ‘Vervain’ (2014), you see that all albums were released on metal-oriented labels. I guess it happened this way as I come from metal and sold a lot of albums with my first band – gothic metal pioneers Theatre of Tragedy.
EM: What was your contribution with Cradle of Filth for “Nymphetamine” (song, video and album) like? Was this contribution related in any way to your contract with Roadrunner?
LK: You are absolutely right. Dani also got in touch with me directly and explained what he had in mind – „the sweet honey voice“. It was a perfect match and I have to say that it is one of the best collaborations I have experienced so far. The video was shot in London’s dungeons, a very dark and humid place. I had a really good time with the band and the crew, a really good weekend.
EM: The second contribution of the album that needs to be remarked was Peter Tägtgren who wrote the music for “Over the moon” and “Trapped in your labyrinth”. How did Peter’s collaboration come to be?
LK: I really like Peter’s diverse style in his compositions and I was searching for a couple of up-tempo rock-metal songs.
EM: Why did you choose to develop your sound from ‘Deus ex machina’? I think in some ways ‘Enter my religion’ contains traces of your solo past but in some other ways can also be seen as a new beginning. If yes, could you please tell us more about this new beginning?
LK: After the success with Theater of Tragedy and the release of ‘Deus ex Machina’, my first solo album, I felt the knife of the hard side of the music business. I had to go to court to settle my artistic freedom and I didn’t even understand why I was being forced to do it in the first place, because I just wanted to release good music, be authentic, sing, give the world some aesthetics. I didn’t know whom to trust anymore and was very disappointed. When all the chaos finally came to an end, my son was born shortly afterwards. Then I didn’t care about what had happened anyway. I felt that my path was the right one, with everything that life entails, and I felt at home again, with myself and especially with raising my son and being a mother. ‘Enter My Religion’ has a lot of light as well as some darkness to it, which reflects my life experience: Life can be broken; life can be beautiful.
EM: Roadrunner, Peter Tägtgren, a new sound in your solo career… I think ‘Enter my religion’ was a kind of “now or never”. Do you agree with me?
LK: You are so right. It’s about creative freedom and coming home. This album is spicy, quite daring in both sound and concept. Spicy pop-rock with folk influence, perhaps? I recently found the CD under the section “independent” at the Media Markt, by the way. That fits. I invited musicians from different backgrounds and cultures to add their passion and musical knowing to the compositions. Vocally there’s a bit of Tori Amos influence in there. I love her lyrics, by the way, they are damn honest. I love the contrast of her sweet voice and the honest and often brutal stories she’s telling. A brilliant artist. I just went with the creative process and took in all inspiration that was around. Based on my experience with music business as mentioned about, I focused on my artistic freedom.
EM: The cover photo of this this re-issue is the same one as the original one. Why did you want to use a similar image and concept? At the same time your new image shows a more balanced and mature and woman in all ways. Do you agree with me?
LK: Absolutely. As mentioned above, the photos were not used for the cover artwork back then, but were saved after a photo session done in 2005. Kai R. Joachim, the outstanding photographer of these photos, told me he still had them and was happy that these great photos can be shown in connection with the re-release. Marc from Artwars completely redesigned the cover artwork and the booklet so that it reflects and combines “now and then” perfectly.
EM: Now, with the perspective of time, which songs are your personal highlights of ‘Enter my religion’?
LK: It’s hard to say but I believe you can find the answer in my lyrics. That was back in 2006. My life had changed a lot. To sum it up – my lyrics „happened“, as mentioned above, after a period of great disappointment, but sensing that the personal path was meant to be as one going inwards also in 2006, learning to lean into the seat of the soul, observing the mind, not getting lost in the monkey-mind and all the nagging stories created by unconscious people. I found and find eternal bliss in motherhood, moreover, in my deep, compassionate marriage with Michael. The lyrics on this release are more honest, dealing with both struggles and bliss. So you can tell from the titles like «Coming Home», «My Revelation», «Enter My Religion», «You are the Night» and «Woman in Me» that I had the feeling of „arriving“. «Over the Moon» is a song about happiness (especially being a mom), while «Fake a Smile», «Blue Emptiness», «For a Moment» and «Trapped in Your Labyrinth» are food for thought. The album meant and still means freedom to me, and that’s a personal highlight in itself.
EM: If you now think about the release of ‘Enter my religion’ back in 2006, what would you have done differently in terms of composition, promotion, concerts…?
LK: Only one thing: I would have used the pictures Kai took back then as they are more authentic, however, I am so glad they were „resting“ safe on Kai’s computer. I guess it was meant to happen this way.
EM: What can you remember about the shows you played to promote ‘Enter my religion’ back in 2006? You played two shows with Apoptygma Berzerk and at Wave Gotik Treffen, the biggest Goth festival in the world…
LK: Good times, really good times. Most shows were of a bigger scale with bigger locations and audiences. One gig, though, was in Wuppertal in Germany, which should have been cancelled as the club was about to close. Anyway, we didn’t know and drove there. There still were 18 people waiting to get in what so ever, so we decided to play for less than a third of the agreed fee. There was one lady in the audience with incredibly beautiful eyes and aura, who didn’t move a centimeter from where she was standing during the whole show. Today Anna is my best friend and I am the godmother of her son. You can’t imagine how glad I am that we played that cancelled show.
EM: Do you think that ‘Enter my religion’ had the success it deserved or maybe did you expect something more or different?
LK: This album was promoted for only a short period of time. Then there were structural changes within the company Roadrunner which meant the end of our cooperation, sadly. I was happy with Roadrunner, but due to the situation the album kind of just disappeared and lost all attention.
EM: I want to ask you about your next album because I know you are working on new songs. What can we expect? Who is writing the new music? When can we hear the new music? Is there any chance to play a premiere in Nagold as you did for ‘Libertine’?
LK: My sixth solo album, composed by the legendary Tommy Olsson (‘Aegis’, Theatre of Tragedy 1998) is in the mix and soon ready to be released. And yes, I will play two of my new tracks in Nagold this year (17.12.2022).
EM: Is there any chance that Rocco Cogliati or Anette Gulbrandsen will be on stage with you in Nagold?
LK: It is not planned for this year’s show.
EM: Your annual show in Nagold has always been on a Friday. Is there any special reason to do it on Saturday?
LK: It’s due to practical reasons. I have to work on Friday and since we are living in Switzerland we have a ride of 300 kilometers.
EM: I can’t close this interview if I don’t ask you about Theatre of Tragedy… Any news? Any step forward to a reunion or something similar? Any new upcoming re-release?
LK: I will be home for Christmas and hopefully be able to meet some of the guys downtown Stavanger for a few beers. Lorentz is currently living in the US, Ray on the other side of Norway, I’m settled in Lucerne, all of us having families and 7 – 4 jobs. Maybe not now, but I hope some day, at least getting together for a couple of festivals.