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Agua de Annique - Interview @ Le Splendid (Lille, FR) - 26.04.2008

We met with Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering) in between the two concerts that Agua de Annique played in France. Therefore, she was able to give us her impressions about the French audience. We discussed a lot of matters related to ADA first album Air, as well as the next album. She also answered our questions about her past and upcoming projects and appearances asides the band.

Metal-Ways: Yesterday in Paris, were you expecting such a warm welcome from the audience?

Anneke van Giersbergen (Agua de Annique)
Anneke: I didn't expect anything because we have no idea of who's coming to check us out and who's into it. I didn't look into the venue before so, when I came on stage, I saw that there were so many people! So I was very happy and moved from how warm you guys are. That was super. I slept really well.

It was your second show (after Greece) outside the Netherlands. Did you choose to visit those two countries?

Actually, it was the first concert with the whole band. In Greece, there was only Joris. I didn't really choose. They just asked me to do this promo thing over there. I did a lot of interviews, and I did one show with Joris. But there's no real reason. If people ask us to play, we come (laughs). There's no tactic.

M-W: What will be the next countries you're going to visit?

We're going to do a festival in Romania. And we will do some shows in Finland. I will do a few shows by myself, with Danny Cavanagh from Anathema, in Norway and Sweden. There will be travelling! But we do a lot of stuff in Holland. It's nice because I'm often at home.

M-W: Yesterday, for the first time, I saw you sitting on stage, behind your keyboard. Are the sensations different from when you are standing?

I don't play the piano for a long time. So I have to concentrate. But I like it, because it's something different. And I can switch. When I don't have the instrument, I can move more. It has a different energy. On the piano, it's more "romance". You can look around, and look people in the eyes.

M-W: This afternoon, you did an acoustic show in Lille. It wasn't announced on your website, so was there a particular reason? Did you want it to be more intimate?

Actually, I knew we were going to do a signing session with a few songs, in the Fnac. I thought: "Well, we'll do four songs". But, when we got there, it was really like a stage, with sits. And it was really like a mini show you know, lasting half an hour. I didn't realize it until then. I didn't put it on my website as a show!

M-W: I have two questions regarding the title of the album. First, I remember Strange Machines from The Gathering, which is about flying and planes. When I saw that the title of the album was Air, I asked myself: is there a link?

Maybe, yes. Because, also with The Gathering, we made How To Measure A Planet, which is also about space, and cosmic things. It's always about flying, and being in space, and in the sky. I like the sky. It's the great nothing, you know. I like to fly... It's not healthy to fly, because you get tired... But I like to be in the air. For some reason I think I'm closer to God, and heaven, and the beautiful things. And I like it, because when you look at the window, there's nothing there, except clouds or, I don't know, the weather. And that's what I like, because life on the ground is fast. I like being closed up in the sky, and being in the seat belts, and not going anywhere. Because then you are forced to just sit, and think. It's ok to be stuck in an airplane, I like it.

M-W: The other question is that, in the name of the band, you have "Agua", which means water, and the title is "Air". Those are two natural elements. Is it also a choice?

Yes, they are together. They're my favourite elements. The water, it's something that's always coming back, you know. Of course, we, and the world, consist of water. But it's also something metaphorically really beautiful. You know, you can go with the flow... It's really beautiful in sunlight. And you can go so many ways with water, literally and figuratively speaking. So I like to use it in lyrics and I liked the band's name Anneke's Water. And maybe next album should be about fire and earth, to keep really grounded again. But I like to fly, you know, in my head... Too much sometimes!

M-W: You wrote some of the songs during your last months within The Gathering, and some other tracks were written later. Can you tell me which songs were written first, and which ones were written later?

A few songs are really old actually... because I write a lot of songs. Some of them have been used with The Gathering, and some of them not. And there are just so many! And a few of those, I really liked. So I used them for Agua de Annique. The oldest one, I think, is Take Care Of Me. I wrote it when we were recording Nighttime Birds. So it was 1997 or so. But it's a slow small song so it doesn't have an atmosphere of a certain time or period. It's a very open thing, so I could use it. Witnesses is also quite old. It's heavier. I had a 4-track recorder in my home, and I had a little drum thingy. And I made something silly like "tuc tic tuc tuc tic" and I came up with the words. Then I felt I could make it in the computer. I should put the very first version... And then I made big beats out of it. And I finished it, and then it was on the shelf. When I made this record, I just put it out. But most of the songs are new.

M-W: Is there one or two songs that you like a little bit more than the others?

I like Witnesses because it has a good energy, especially on stage. People really like to sing along these certain parts. I like the energy about it. I wish I could make another one of those, really for this purpose. It's nice, and people dance to it. It's really great live.

M-W: My next question is about the artwork of the website and the album. Did you draw the little stewardess yourself?

No! I wish, because it's very well done. I have a friend who made the video, and he also designed the website. So they're very much alike. It's really good.

M-W: Is it something that's going to change with the new album?

Yes. The stewardess is the ambassador of Agua de Annique, so she will stay, but there will be new images and new colours.

M-W: At first, when you were performing on stage, you were wearing those flight outfits, and then you dropped them. Why is that?

Well, because I'm a girl, and I like to change! (laughs) I had the all hair and everything, but after a few weeks, bah... This is the only reason. I wore these dresses last week, but sometimes I change a little bit, because I just think it's boring. But when you go for the first time in a new country, or a festival, it's nice to wear those, because all of us were in pilot outfits, also the guys. Actually, the best thing would be to do one tour with one look.

M-W: You're always smiling when you are on stage, and also off stage, and...

Not always! I have my bad days. Ask my husband (laughs).

Rob: Yeah, every month!

M-W: The little stewardess of the video is also very smiling, but we can also see her dark side. Is there a parallel between you and the stewardess?

Yes, there is. You can see that the little puppet is smiling, but in her heart it's empty, because she loves the pilot. She's sometimes a bit lonely. I think that's the beauty of life. Us as humans, we have good things and bad things happening to us. But we have good sides and dark sides. So of course, I have my tricks, I have my things. But the beauty is that nobody's perfect. And in the West, especially in Holland maybe, the more southern you go, the more people are in touch with the dark side of life, or with death even. In our country, it's very much like you have to work work work. I'm from Nijmegen, which is a bit more in the South, and it's a bit more relaxed. But that's kind of a general feeling in Holland: we don't think about death, and we don't think about the downsides. We just work our way through it. I think that if you forget this half of you, then you're out of balance. I smile a lot, because I'm really happy. But if I don't feel happy, I don't smile. I think it's only natural to cry once in a while, and to be silly or stupid, or make mistakes. And I make plenty, you know. But people ask me all the time: "Why do you smile so much?". But I meet them in good circumstances, usually when I play. I'm in high spirits, you know. But a lot of the time I'm very tired, and I crash, and I'm not reasonable or nice. It's a big up and down. When we play it's a more euphoric day. We are together, and we can make jokes. That is good to sometimes embrace your silly sides, to accept them.

M-W: What was the main reason of this personal project?

Well, initially it was very important for me to release the songs that I had, literally and figuratively, and to make a nice album. In the beginning, I never really thought about how much I would sell, or where I would play. I just did it. And then things started to roll from there on. That's what I like about it. It's a spontaneous thing. I had a very simple idea about it. I just wanted to air the songs. And now, I have new songs and a new album in mind. I have new goals. But initially, the goal was to do something nice, to work hard and then kind of see what happened, without trying to control everything. And that works for me.
I'm very satisfied with the album because it was made in a good time and period, and it sounds good, and it's spontaneous. And most people are really enthusiastic about it. And I like the fact that we're getting asked to play all over the place. What better scenario is there?

M-W: Do you already have a very good memory about the concerts you played?

It's a funny thing because we only exist for half a year. When you compare it to the days with The Gathering, those 13 years... Everywhere I come now, we have already played with The Gathering. So, everywhere, I have old and good memories. Also this place: I know every corner of this venue. It's funny because we've been here so many times. So it's nice for me to make new memories with a new band, and it's nice for me to come here and to think about the days with the guys of The Gathering. That's what I like about this period.

M-W: How many songs did you write for the new album? Are they going to be more 'rock'?

Maybe 10 or so. I wanted the songs to be a bit closer to the live feeling that we have. Because live is more happy, more rocky, more intense. I noticed the album is softer because, it has some rock songs of course and it has some ballads, but it also has some really small songs. And it's too much apart, maybe, from the live shows. So I would like to make those two closer together, and maybe one day make an album with only the very small songs. I want to make some big thing out of Agua de Annique live and on the record. It will be a bit faster and rockier than My Town, but it will also have ballads enough. So there will be girly stuff, and romance and melancholies.

M-W: Do you already know if there will be duos, maybe with Joris?

Yes, Joris of course. He will sing on it, maybe even more than before, because he's a wonderful singer. And maybe I'll ask some people, but I'm not sure. I have some ideas, but I don't dare to say because if they don't appear, then I'm going to have to get back on my words.

M-W: With the festival period approaching, is there a particular festival you would like to play at with this band?

In Holland, we have a few really nice festivals, like Pinkpop and Lowlands. Everyone wants to play there. We played there with The Gathering, of course, and that's really fantastic. So we'll try, maybe with the next album, to play there. But this summer we do a lot of nice things also in Finland and in Romania, and in Holland some nice festivals. So we're quite happy already with what we are doing.

M-W: You guest appeared two times with Within Temptation. How did they approach you?

It was very funny, because it was just after my split with The Gathering. They thought: "Oh well, then maybe she has time to do this stuff!" That was quite spontaneous, and I liked it because, for a long time, we've been seeing each other all the time. Of course we are on the same nest, the same genre. I really liked that they give me a chance. They're really big. We started both relatively small and they became really huge. They make pop music, you know. It's a funny thing. In Holland, they're so big. They're on television all the time.

M-W: Did you rehearse a lot with them?

No, just soundcheck and do it! (laughing) It was exciting!

M-W: You also participated to the last Ayreon CD and Arjen Lucassen asked you to write your own melodies for two songs. How did everything happen?

Well, he had in mind which songs were opened for suggestions, and which songs he had already his thoughts on melody. So he emailed me all the songs that were in progress. And with two of those songs he said: "Here are kind of the lyrics", or "These are the words", and "Just go for it!" And I did, and it's great because it's then personal for the singer as well. And he is a great guy, he's so nice.

M-W: Are there other projects that you're going to do in the future?

I'm doing a few shows with Danny from Anathema in Norway and in Sweden. That's what I'm concentrating on. There are also some small things in Holland. I also participated to a single which reached number 1 in the charts. It's fantastic. We are raising money for Tibet. There are problems, really. It's a big thing now, so we are happy to help or do something.

M-W: The Gathering was one of the first bands of the often called 'female fronted gothic metal scene'. Now, there are a lot of Dutch bands within this scene. Would you like to work with one of them?

The thing is that we have a good breadth of these bands. They're all coming from Holland, and they're all doing their thing in their own particular way, because within the metal scene, even this particular scene is wide. If you compare The Gathering with Within Temptation: it's totally different music. But you can hear that it's coming from the same base and the same nest. Therefore, it's nice just to work with them, and to see them, and to meet them, and to be good friends or colleagues, you know. We had a photoshoot, once, with a few of the females, with Ayreon. It made a lot of covers [editor's note: look at the cover of the Aardschok magazine # Jan. & Feb. 2007]. It was really funny. And, I said: "We should start a girly band, with all these girls. We ask Sharon and we will be complete!" And sometimes we joke about it, because we all like each other, and we're all good voices. We'll see, maybe one day...

M-W: Here comes the stupid question! A lot of people are singing in their shower, so are real singers doing the same?

(Laughs) I don't. But maybe people sing in the shower because it's a nice colour of sound, you know, like the echoes. And when we're on stage, every week, we have this beautiful sound. They hire PA for us to do it. Because I thought about it once: "Why do people sing in the shower?".

First, it's maybe because nobody can hear them. But I really think that's because the sound is good, and they usually sing [singing] "Oh sole mio!", you know, the big arias, not the small ones. And singers are doing that on stage, so they don't feel the urge. I think there are not a lot of people who are professional singers and who sing in the shower.

M-W: To conclude, maybe there is something you want to say about the band that I didn't ask you about?

They're all really handsome... laughing... très beaux!

Anneke van Giersbergen (Agua de Annique)
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