It has been a long time since Liv Kristine published her last album ‘Vervain’ and many other works after it, on many different levels. Liv Kristine has experienced a change and she’s not the same anymore, both as a person and as an artist. Nor even her life course remained unchanged since then. ‘River of diamonds’ marks a new beginning within her recognizable figure and should be a moment of celebration for her and her followers.
Surrounded by friends and people of her trust, Liv publishes an album full of truth, pure essence and honesty to come back to settle her career.
In this interview with Liv, we broke down ‘River of diamonds’, we talked about the Nagold event, other concerts, fans and friends, and all with our eyes on the launch of the album and with our eagerness to see each other again. This is how Liv Kristine speaks about 2023.
By Marc Gutiérrez
EMPIRE MAGAZINE (EM): First of all, how are you? What’s about your personal and daily life right now? How do you feel living in Switzerland?
LIV KRISTINE (LK): Thank you so much, my dear friend. I am doing well, my family is doing well. I enjoy my „9-5“ Job with children (mostly, with special needs) at a Swiss primary school, moreover, having the time to really enjoy the release-process of „River of Diamonds“. My life has calmed down a lot since I left Germany a year ago in many ways, which was necessary after a period of a really turbulent life situation. I now wake up every morning with a huge smile on my face and in my heart, with an emotion of gratitude and freedom, being in the here and now.
EM: How was your latest show at Die Halle in Reichenbach?
LK: It was a wonderful experience. Such a lovely audience and organising team. I think the audience enjoyed our new setlist. I am lucky to have both a long-time audience and a band always backing me up. And of course I am lucky to have the endless support of Tommy Olsson who composed this outstanding and most authentic album, of my amazing husband, Michael, who is the one who really helped me to find courage to open up my heart again as an artist, to take control of my artistic values and rights, to release my sixth solo album with my trusted team, to get back on stage. After nine years. I thank my audience for being incredibly patient. Our next show is in Langenthal, Switzerland, on the very release date, 21.4.2023.
EM: “Gravity” and “Serenity” are your new classics: You had both songs on previous works (‘Skylight’ EP and ‘Have courage dear heart’). What is the reason to include again these songs in an album?
LK: Eroc (mix and master) and Tommy, including myself, had that shared feeling that these tracks still have to be heard by music-lovers around the world. To me, „Gravity“ is a composition that kind of got manifested through me. It still feels like a magic moment when I listen to it or play it live. It shines the frequency of the universe, that divine greatness and endlessness, moreover, that natural attachment and attraction which gravity provides in space and everywhere else. Tommy Olsson created something huge there for which I have no words, because the words and the melodies really found me.
EM: Osten Bergoy, Fernando Ribeiro, your sister Carmen, your husband Michael… this is your album with the major number of collaborations. Why did you decide to take all of them on the ‘River of diamonds’?
LK: The music always decides if only my own or other voices need to be present to express the feeling of the song and the lyrics. Østen is the singer of one of my favourite bands, Long Night, as well as Tommy’s friend. Fernando is a long-time dear friend who has supported me strongly after the unforeseen split with Leaves’ Eyes. Carmen, my dear sister, has always been by my side and we share the same kind of Norwegian, black humour, so there’s a lot of laughing whenever we meet. „Love Me High“ is our song, feeling blessed by life itself. These three pieces of music longed for these three special voices. Rocco, my dear friend, inspired me to cover „True Colours“, which fit to both our life situations – coming home to our true selves, thus he re-recorded it for me. Michael is a phenomena – he neither sang on a stage, nor in a studio. He never ever even thought about it, and he never had singing lessons. As his dear father passed away last summer, he found a lot of healing in John Lord’s compositions. We drove to the studio and recorded „Pictured Within“ in memory of my father-in-law. First and second take and it was manifested. It was an unbelievably beautiful moment.
EM: To be completely honest, when I read that your husband would sing on the album, I thought he would do it with growls… he looks like a tough guy, isn’t he? Ha, ha! Surprisingly, he has a beautiful voice!!! “Pictured within” and Michael are the greatest surprises of the ‘River of diamonds’ for me, without any doubt.
LK: Thank you from the heart. That means a lot to both of us. As mentioned above, having Michael’s voice, which comes from the heart, on my album is truly special. I know he looks like a really tall, big Danish Viking, however, I never met a human being with such a great empathy and inner clarity, which you can her in his voice.
EM: I’d like to ask you about “Shaolin me”. I try to relate this song to Shaolin Temple and their painful resistance. Would you concur with me? Does it refer to your past? Or maybe to your life philosophy, your resistance to pain and your inner strength?
LK: Yes, indeed, you describe it with the right words. The monks use a.o. Qi Gong and a special method of breathing with the lower abdomen to transform their bodies into armor. This allows them to withstand powerful blows, including those from dangerous and sometimes sharp objects. These abilities stem from breath and awareness. I have learned to become more aware of my soul-life through meditation, kundalini yoga and Tai Chi, Qi Gong etc. over a period of 25 years, however, at those times when I felt that life was a challenge, I intensified my meditation practices to rebuild resilience and courage, moreover, to gain mental clarity which is so important when your mind is full and blocked due to distracting circumstances. Shaolin monk training begins by trading material pleasures and worldly distractions for an ascetic lifestyle of study, physical exercise and meditation. And, above all, self-discipline is required to razor-sharpen their minds and body strength. I find the life and studies of Shaolin monks fascinating. The line in my lyrics „In this body so light, see it walk on snow without sinking in“ describes the inner frequency for me to be strong, free and clear-minded.
EM: I love the rhythm and the emotion behind “No make-up”, I think it’s an absolutely mag I love the rhythm and the emotion behind “No make-up”, I think it’s an utterly magical song. When you were no make-up is like your body naked, like something pure without secrets… Is this what you meant with the lyrics? I’m absolutely fascinated with your lyrics and the album concept.
LK: Thank you so much for pointing this out – yes, these lyrics are kind of special in both rhythm and constellation. I never sang in this way before, but it feels really freeing and creative. It pics up daily life and those thoughts entering your mind from the moment you wake up like simultaneous high-speed trains of thoughts, which trigger emotions, which cause chemical reactions in your body, which trigger new thoughts….It’s your monkey-mind. Then, as a contrast, what really plays a vital role in life is the love-relationship with yourself and how you treat others. Just that pure frequency, that pure intention of unconditional love towards yourself and those persons who meet you with an open heart and compassion. That’s the place or the soul-space where you can find silence and authenticity, where no make-up and conditioning is needed. I think it is of vital importance to shift perspective sometimes, to step out of your mind to be able to actually take control of your mind, that means learning to choose what you think and feel. This is such an important step and revelation in the process of personal development and of self-love. Moreover, you will discover that there is self-love and freedom in the acceptance of knowing that life can be both – broken and beauty. That period of time which „happens“ between what we call birth and death, is called life, with all its broken and beautiful moments of experience. Life is exactly that – „Imperfectly perfect“, which are the final words in this song.
EM: I still remember how impressive was “Maligna” in Nagold and your speech about a new beginning! You decided you play the première of this song but, why did you choose “Maligna” and “Our immortal day” for the première?
LK: „Maligna“ is a hymn to everybody who have experienced any kind of oppression or/and abuse of any kind. This song has a strong message – I want to give people the courage and strength to clarify their boundaries, to say NO to toxic personalities and treatment, and I guess it’s the first time I have ever included „fuck you“ in any of my lyrics or poems. „Our Immortal Day“ is a beautiful follow-up to „Love Decay“ which people always request at my concerts. „Our Immortal Day“ describes a soul-relationship. That frequency of love is meant to be. It’s unique, it’s yin-yang, it’s unconditional and divine.
EM: Both “Pictured within” and “True colours” piano covers are absolutely thrilling and in perfect match with your voice. I truly love your passion when you sing this kind of ballad, as well as “The rarest flower”, too. What’s special for you in these songs and when you are alone with the piano?
LK: The piano asks for this feeling and sound of intimacy. It feels like melting with the sound of the instrument. My voice just finds this special resonance with a piano ballade.
EM: Rocco Cogliati from Italy had been working with you in “True colours” and he was your special guest in the “Enter my religion” reissue. What’s special about his talent?
LK: Rocco is a dear friend and an amazing artist himself. He creates this space of intimacy when he plays the piano and when he sings that I just love. There’s so much space and tenderness in his artistic work. Sometimes he passes through Switzerland on his journeys and we get to sit down for a beer a two, which I really appreciate.
EM: I think that the front cover of the ‘River of diamonds’ is absolutely amazing, probably the best one in your solo career. What’s the concept behind this front
cover with only half of your face?
LK: The cover and the artwork are based on ideas which were developed with my husband and my beautiful friend Mariel Rohrbach. We knew about her talent and asked her to come and stay with us in Lucerne for a weekend to see if we could manifest our ideas on her camera. All this turned out to be a perfect match.
EM: What can you tell us about the experience of working with Mariel Röhrbach? I think she is an amazing photographer and a lovely woman!
LK: Yes, indeed. We soon need to book another flight to Switzerland – Mariel is amazing and she is able to catch exactly that moment when I’m about to forget that we’re actually working and taking photos.
EM: Unlike previous years, Nagold 2023 event will take place in November, not in December. This seems to be a requirement imposed by the organizer and also because December is a complicated month for everyone. Could you announce the official date for the show?
LK: Yes, the date is Saturday, 25th November, 2023. (I hope you will make it to Nagold, dear Marc!)
EM: Back in December, we were talking about the chance of doing a European Tour to promote the ‘River of diamonds’. Is it still an option? If so, would it be before or after summer?
LK: There will be a few single shows this spring, summer and fall. I hope that we will get the chance to play more shows in connection with the release of „River of Diamonds“.
EM: Metalville is your new record label. How is it to work with them? In my opinion, they are not the biggest label, but they do a great job with the bands in their
LK: My husband and I find open and frequent communication utterly important when it comes to work and cooperation. My artistic work is half-a-lifetime, highly personal and authentic, and the label that is promoting my releases has to resonate with my clear intention and with my personal situation. I love composing, singing and performing, but I also love teaching and coaching. The guys of Metalville give me this trust which is of vital importance to both Michael and me.