Entrevistas en inglés

Phone interview with Anneke van Giersbergen – May 25th 2010-05-27

On the day in which Argentina celebrates it’s 200th year as a free nation, we had the opportunity to chat on the phone with Anneke van Giersbergen, the Dutch singer from the band Agua de Annique, who is going to be performing next week together with Danny Cavanagh (Anathema) at The Roxy Bar Live in Buenos Aires. We talked about those concerts, the future, the internet and many other things in this exclusive interview that you can read below.

You'll be playing a couple of concerts with Danny Cavanagh in Buenos Aires next week, so how did the idea of these acoustic shows with Danny happened? Whose idea was it?

yes, well, actually Danny and I are playing every now and then, somewhere, in the world, we usually play in Europe or cities that are a bit close by, because it's just fun and we do some small gigs , you know, in small clubs, just for fun, and we like it very much, but obviously Danny with Anathema and we are also always quite busy, so whenever we have the chance we kind of do this...so, actually, now it's the first time we are going to South America together, so we're looking quite forward to that...so yeah, it's gonna be good, I think!

Have you been friends with Danny for a long time? I mean, doing these shows with him and all...

Hmmm, I think...we're doing this...well, we know each other for a long, long time, and we're always saying, "Ah, we should do something together", you know how that goes, but we never did until like, 2 or 3 years ago, and then...I think he had a gig in Holland or something, and he invited me, and we made this double show...actually that went down so well, and everybody liked it so much that we said "Ok, we should do this more often", you know, then it was like a fact, but there was like 10 years of "let's do something together" talk only.

I've seen that you don't just play your own songs, Danny's and yours, but you guys also play covers. How do you choose those songs?

Yeah! That's a good question, because we have our favourites, of course, those are all like classical pop and rock songs, and it's like...Kate Bush and all those stuff from when we were a little bit younger...and they're just so nice to play, you know. But we e-mail just a little bit back and forth, like "Oh I know this song, let's do it" or "I have an idea for this song, can you sing it or can you play it, so let's do it"...so it's quite spontaneous, you know, we never think about consequences, or whatever, we just play the songs that we liked when we were younger...of course our own stuff too.

Of course...well, I find that the covers are a lot of fun because we never know what we're gonna get!

Yeah, that's true, and we have some new stuff lined up, so definitely.

I was going to ask you about that, what can you tell us about these concerts that you're going to do in South America, are there any surprises, new songs?

Yeah, a little bit. We have the set that we normally do, but then we have some additional new songs we are trying, because you know, we have to rehearse still because the day before the Santiago gig, which is our first gig, we have to rehearse, because, you know, he's living in the UK, I'm living in Holland so we never see each other. So we always do everything on e-mail, then we practice at home and when we come together...like the first time we came together we did everything we now do, we didn't play before that, never played before that, and in the soundcheck we played like, all the songs, and then we were like, "oh, ok, it's gonna work". So now we've played a little more often so those songs are going quite well, and some new songs we're gonna try before we gig, and I think...I don't know if it's gonna work but we want to do some Kate Bush and Queen, and I have some new songs as well, that I do by myself, and I think Danny has some new songs because he released a new Anathema album, so I think he's gonna do some new stuff, so I think it's gonna be quite special.

Do you play different songs at each show, or it's the same setlist?

Well, we don't do 2 totally different shows, that's impossible, because we play quite a long stretch, we play per show maybe 2, 2:30 hs, so to do exactly different shows is impossible, but we try to make some different things, we pick and choose, and I know Denny, he has a setlist of like, 100 songs, so he can do something different. I have not so many songs that I can play myself, I usually need to bend to play all of it...but yeah, we'll make some changes for people who come twice, we'll make it worthwhile too.

So, you're doing this collaboration with Denny right now, you've also done collaborations with Sharon Den Adel and many other artists, so is there any artist in particular that you would like to do a collaboration with that you haven't done already?

Yeah, it's such a good question, and I get it a lot, I never know exactly how to answer because, I actually like all my collaborations so much and they always come from spontaneous questions, like... so I never think about, like "hmmm who should I work with", it's always like an idea and I call them or they call me...things go very fast that way, so I never had like a dream of, like, "oh, in 5 years time I want to be playing with him or her". But of course I have my favourites, like, it's definitely from other genre but I like Prince so much and ever since I was a kid I listened to all his albums and he's like an absolute genius...then of course that would be marvellous, but of course that's a dream...

Maybe not...

Maybe not, who knows! But also people like Thom Yorke, or Kate Bush...I'm naming a few classical artists...those people, yeah, I've admired for years.

Not so long ago you had a benefit concert for Chile, that you were planning, that you had to cancel at the last minute. Most artists at that time were doing benefits for Haiti or other countries, so what made you decide to help Chile in particular?

Well...it's a really good question, because when I was busy doing this, I found out that there's like 5 earthquakes in the world in 2 months time. So that goes to show that the world is changing and it's messing about and there's a lot of stuff going on, and how do you choose what you want to support most, you know? It's a difficult thing and of course Haiti was a very big disaster and there was a lot of people killed, but on the other end I thought Chile was also a big, big disaster and there are a lot of people homeless, it's very awful...but I think we all should support the area or the people...something that your heart is in it, where your heart is in it. And of course we played in South America and in Chile quite a few times, and I've come to love Chile as a country and the people and the culture and...I immediately thought, when this happened, I was on a holiday, and I woke up and I said "I have to do something", you know...and it was too bad that it didn't happen, but that's another story. But I think, you know, it's good to help, to try to help or just to be there for the others when...yeah, we weren't so lucky that the outcome was not so good.

Why do you think that was? Because you had a lot of really good artists participating...

Yes! We had a lot of artists, and all of them individually would fill up avenue. And that’s so weird, you cannot stack up fans, and I know it's a thing with festivals, I know that’s an unrealistic thing, but there were so few tickets sold, it was awful! And the reason is, people say they are also benefit tired, but also...I don't know, it's so difficult... you never know, you know, why people don’t show up, other than it was a benefit evening, I think it was also just a nice evening to go to, with all the artists and everything…

Yeah, I agree!

Yeah, so…I have no idea, but…maybe we had a short time to make awareness for the people that it was there, the concert, but I was on national television talking about it and everything, I was on the radio, so a lot of people knew about it and still they didn’t come. But I heard like, from later, all those benefit festivals, that a lot of the gigs that didn’t happen because of the same reason, so maybe people are just tired of this concerts.

Yeah, maybe…maybe you should try something like that over here in South America, we would love to see all those artists together!

Yeah! And I know that The Gathering did and they raised a lot of money, so I'm happy that things are being done, you know, so that's good, yeah.

And you donated the money from your single, so you're still doing something to help...

Yes, I try, I try, it will be less money, but of course anything I can do, I will do.

I think that everyone here is very grateful to you.

Yeah, we've got a lot of comments on the internet of people who really liked it and so...

Speaking of comments online and everything, you are always communicating with your fans, you have a Blog, Twitter, Facebook, so how important is it to you to interact and communicate with your fans and the community that follows your music?

Well, it's very important because...and I love the internet, when used well, when used properly, but I love it because our audience is all over the world, you know, not just Holland, so it's easy to twit or to make a blog and everybody knows where to find this. You can have a close personal relationship with everybody even though you're far away, you know? I like it, and I love things like Twitter, it's easy, one sentence like "this and this", you know, and you get some comments and you have like contact with the outside world, and I know what they like, what people like and they tell me...and the most fun stuff is actually not the business stuff, sometimes I tell people "Oh, the record is coming out" and this and this and this, and people like it, of course, but if I Twit something about "Oh, I'm so behind on my series, what series should I watch?", then eeeeverybody starts commenting on "you have to watch this or that series"...so it's very interactive...it's very fun, because I started to watch the series "Lost" because of everybody telling me that I had to do it, you know (laughs). So I started, and I'm now in season 3, and so excited...

The finale just aired last Sunday, so beware of spoilers!

Yeah, that's true, and I don't wanna hear because everybody's talking about the last episode, some people find it disappointing...ahhhm I don't wanna know!

Some people loved it, some people hated it...

True, True...

So when you get there, maybe I'll get a chance to ask you again what you thought about it...

Yeah, yeah! (laughs)

Besides this internet thing, you're also doing a lot of contests, to get together with your fans, in particular you're doing this very special contest in Holland, where the winner will receive you in their kitchen and you will cook sunny side up eggs for them and sing the song...how did you come up with this idea?

Well...it's funny, you know, the single is called "Sunny side up", and it's about eggs...and we thought it might be funny just to do it, you knw, and...Holland is a very small country, so you can drive everywhere and just be in somebody's kitchen and make an ommelette or a sunny side up egg, and we've got a lot of comments about that, people really liked it because...I like that it's personal, you know...

And is there any chance that you'll do something like that when you come to Argentina or something, I don't know if as special as that...

Yeah! We might, we might, because I also get a lot of comments from people from South America, like "I live too far away!", you know...so if we come with the band we have to do something like this as well.

Yeah, like that meet & greet you were doing with the "cheese and wine", in France, something like that...

Yes, that's a good one. But then the South Americans should tell me which is the best wine, you know, and all that stuff, we need their input.

We have some good wine, so...

Yes, absolutely!

Well, you have been, and you still are, very busy with your career, you're travelling everywhere, how do you manage to do all that travelling, being an artist, and being a mom at the same time? It's hard, I guess, to balance. How do you manage?

Yeah, well, actually, I don't travel all that much, only sometimes a week here and a week there, and now in South America it's like, 10 days or so, and it's kind of maximum, so I'm also at home a lot of the time and now that we built our little studio in the back of our house, we work a lot at home, so when Finn is in school we are just here working, and when he's asleep we are here working...(laughs). So we can spend a lot of time with the 3 of us at home, so we can combine it, but it's always like mathematics, you know, trying to get a babysitter here, a babysitter there, because we make all the hours. And I work a lot in Holland as well, so Holland is so small, that if I have like a gig on my own or with the band, I can always go home and sleep, at home. So, all in all it's not that bad, but of course if I go away for a week, I miss Rob and Finn terribly.

Yeah, I can imagine, it's a matter of getting your schedule well organized, I suppose...

Exactly! It's not romantic at all, it's really practical stuff, you know. But planning, like you said, that's the big secret I think, to make it work. But other women, you know, with their own careers have the same thing, only we have to live with weird hours, and when we are away, we are away for like, 2 days or a week or so. Yeah, long days but then again when we are home, we are home for a long time, so that's cool.

And what are your plans for the future, after you finish this tour? I've seen you have some other concerts in Europe later, so what are your plans after all that is over?

Well, we have a little bit more quiet time, because now we had a few trips back to back so that's really like, terribly busy, but after that we have a little bit more quiet time, and I was kind of writing some new songs, and I have some ideas for the next album, I want to release a live album with some shows throughout Europe with Agua de Annique, sop we are going to release a live album somewhere down the road, and like all different kinds of stuff. But I would like to write some more, maybe towards a new album I guess. And then...we'll see what happens!

Ok, Now I’m gonna ask you a question that came from one of your fans, she wanted to know, I don’t know if it’s too personal or not…what are the meanings of the tattoos you have on your arms?

Nice question, yeah! Some have no meaning whatsoever (laughs), I mean, they’re just nice, like the lizard on my right arm, actually it was a fake tattoo I found in a store, you just put it on your arm and you wash it off, but I liked it so much that I kept it, you know, I had somebody put it there…my latest is my most proud one, it’s the big angel on my right arm, and she’s my guardian angel, you know, with a sword, keeping the evil away, with the initials of Agua de Annique underneath, so I love this one, it’s really my favourite.

So, one last question, because I know you’re on a tight schedule…I wanted to know, your first album with Agua de Annique has more of a “darker” sound, more similar to the sound that you used to have with The Gathering, but this new album, “In your room”, is a lot more “happy” and up tempo…does that have anything to do with how you feel at the moment? Or are you looking for your own sound?

Yeah, I guess all of the above! (laughs). Also, the album “Air” it contains also some even older songs and I’ve written some new ones in that half a year that I was kind of making it, but there were also some older songs that were indeed a little bit darker, and I love the dark romance, and the romantic feel in those songs, but now, I was in this period in my life, I was really…like you said, it was exactly how I felt…maybe it’s not a good word, but more at ease, and I didn’t want to make long, long songs, I felt like making shorter songs, and be crystal clear about it, make crystal clear lyrics, and make short titles and no nonsense, and to make it quickly recorded, like spontaneous, so…that makes a lot of difference indeed. I make actually what I feel, at that particular 2 or 3 months in the year that I’m making the album, so that actually comes out a little different every time.

And your next album? Do you have any idea how the sound is gonna be, more similar to this last one? Do you have anything in mind yet?

Maybe somewhere in between, I would say…it’s difficult to say, of course, we wrote 3 new songs for this last album, and those songs, you can find them already because we played them in France and in Spain and in Holland, those songs are a little bit more up-tempo and a bit more catchy, so maybe it’s like…it’s difficult to say…I have no idea! (laughs). But it’s definitely more refreshing and more up-tempo and more kind of catchy, but there’s still some romance to be found, you know, it’s not purely happy music. So, yes, I guess the next one I feel like that as well, like a lot of energy, and that we are able to dance on the stage and the audience is able to dance, and yeah, I feel like doing that for a while.

Well, I guess our time is up, it was really nice talking to you, any last message that you want to give to your fans?

Well, we hope that everybody’s coming to see us, and we also hope that we’ll be returning really, really soon with Agua de Annique, and I’m never tired of playing in South America, and in Argentina, so hopefully it won’t take a year before I come back again.