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Interviews   

ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN: OPTIMISM AND HYPERACTIVITY


Everything Is Changing is the first album where Anneke Van Giersbergen is truly coming to terms with her condition of solo artist. Musically speaking, while its predecessor, In Your Room, was full of obvious joy, this new record gets back in touch with a still positive but more measured and deeper emotion, which takes the full weight of life into consideration.

More than opinions, this interview with the ray of sunshine that is Anneke conveys enthusiasm and freshness. Ever since she left The Gathering, the singer seems to have reached a form of bliss in her life: while she makes every artistic idea that goes through her mind (from a children’s play to a song with Napalm Death…) a reality, she spends all the time she needs with her family.

Anneke Van Giersbergen exudes happiness, and that’s enough. And when you read this interview, you’ll envy her her enthusiasm and her serenity.

« I am a very positive person by nature and I have a positive outlook. But there are also things like romance, darkness and melancholy in the world, and it seems that it’s coming back in my music. »

Radio Metal : After leaving The Gathering, you founded the project Agua de Annique. In 2009, it became Anneke Van Giersbergen with Agua de Annique, and finally, the name Agua de Annique was dropped and the project became officially your solo project. Why is that? Do you think it was more honest to clearly state that it was Anneke Van Giersbergen’s solo project?

Anneke Van Giersbergen (vocals) : Actually, yes. When I went solo, I thought I needed a band name, so I made up Agua de Annique. But nobody understood it, it’s a long name, and nobody knew I was behind it. Then I thought maybe I should go with Anneke Van Giersbergen with Agua de Annique, but that was even longer! So I thought I should drop the name and go under my own name. I think it works better, but it took me forever to drop the band’s name!

Does this mean the writing process has evolved and that the rest of the band is less involved?

No, everything is the same. I only dropped the band name because it was too long.

Whereas In Your Room was a very joyful album, this new record, Everything Is Changing, has a darker, more melancholic vibe. Where does that melancholy come from?

I don’t know, I think I’ve always had that. I am a very positive person by nature and I have a positive outlook. But there are also things like romance, darkness and melancholy in the world, and it seems that it’s coming back in my music. I like that, I also like listening to music that has a melancholic touch. I think it’s just a natural thing. There are different vibes in the same human being. I just tried to add this to the music.

Nowadays, bands feel very concerned about the economic crisis and environmental issues, and often talk in their music about the fact that the world has come to a turning point. Is it also what you mean with the album title, Everything Is Changing?

Yes, absolutely, that’s exactly what I mean. The world is changing fast. Nowadays, youngsters and we ourselves have a lot of choices. I think we should be very conscious about ourselves and our environment, about the world. I think about that stuff a lot. It’s what I write about, so yeah.

« I just like doing it and working together with all these people. It inspires me and it makes me a better musician, because I learn a lot from all those people and all these musical genres. »

Since you left The Gathering, you’ve been taking part in a lot of very different projects, in very diverse musical styles, from acoustic albums with Danny Cavanagh to a grindcore song with Napalm Death. That’s a pretty wide musical universe. Do you feel artistically fulfilled or do you think you still have some things to experiment?

I’m not sure. I really like all those projects. At the moment, I’m also doing a children’s play in Holland. That’s for kids, with songs in the Dutch language. I really love everything, from this to Napalm Death and everything in between. I just like doing it and working together with all these people. It inspires me and it makes me a better musician, because I learn a lot from all those people and all these musical genres. I don’t really have a wish for the future. I just take whatever’s coming down my path and work on all my ideas. That’s it, you know? I work very much on a day-to-day basis, really.

Having all of those different projects and collaborations, is this what makes you “Feel Alive”, as you say in the first song of the album?

I think so, yeah. I love life, and I love music. I think it’s going great, and I’m just happy, yeah.

On the other side, don’t you feel the need to “Slow Down”, like you also say in another song on the album?

Yeah, sometimes I should, actually! Absolutely. There’s always a time where you have to rest and get new ideas. You have to slow down once in a while, yeah. But I like being busy.

« The main idea was to get away and do something new, do everything I wanted to do in my own time frame and spend time with my family. That was actually the main thing for me, just to be my myself and do my own thing. »

When you announced you were leaving The Gathering, it was said that you wanted to focus on this new project but also that you wanted to spend more time with your family. But with all those collaborations and projects, it looks like you’re more busy than ever. So do you really have some time to spend with your family?

Yes, of course, absolutely. I’m with my family all the time. I work a lot from home. We have a studio at home and we work on ideas and all that stuff at home. I don’t tour as much as I did with The Gathering these days. With The Gathering, I was away from home for months. Now it’s perfect.

Since you’re a very prolific artist and a very creative person, do you think that being part of a band, like you used to be, would be impossible for you now because you couldn’t fulfill all your ideas?

I don’t know. The main idea was to get away and do something new, do everything I wanted to do in my own time frame and spend time with my family. That was actually the main thing for me, just to be my myself and do my own thing.

The Gathering has recently announced that they will play the first album live with the original line-up. If someday they intend to play one of the albums you sang on, for example Mandylion, would you consider doing a show with them?

I’m not sure. I’ve been going solo for a short time, I think it will be something to consider in ten years’ time!

How would you describe your relationship with them today?

We don’t have a lot of contacts, but I follow what they’re doing, of course. That’s it!

Devin Townsend is also a very prolific artist. Do you feel close to him for this reason?

Yes, very much. It’s very nice to work with him, he’s a fantastic artist and human being. He’s great to work with, and I’m very inspired by his music and his personality. It’s awesome, I’m really proud to work with him.

You’re part of a new album he’s working on, Epicloud. What can you tell us about this record?

For now, I only heard the demos. Initially, he said it would be a softer album, but I think it’s going to be very intense and diverse, and also heavy. It’s progressing as we speak, it’s going to be very, very nice. I will record with him in April; I’ll be going to Canada to record with him there.

To conclude this interview, can you update us on what you will be doing for the next few months?

We are going to play a lot in Holland and in Europe. Beyond Europe as well, I think, after the summer. So there’s a lot of playing involved – and we’re going to France, so that’s cool! We’ll be there in May. If you check on my website, you have all the dates. I think we have five dates or so in France, among which, of course, Paris. We’re looking forward to that. It’s very nice, because I don’t have a lot of projects, I just have the album and the gigs. I’m looking forward to playing a lot.

So you don’t have any collaborations planned at the moment?

Not much. I do the children’s play in Holland and I have the thing with Devin. That’s kind of it for this year. Of course, there’s always something you can find on your path, but I also really want to focus on the new album. That’s exactly what I’m doing.

Interview conducted on february, 24th, by phone.
Transcription : Saff’

Anneke Van Giersbergen’s Website : www.annekevangiersbergen.com
Album : Everything Is ChangingJanuary, 20th, 2012



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