So, I've been asked once again to help my friend from WomenInMetal.com.ar to make an interview with Anneke in Buenos Aires last Saturday. Of course I accpeted once again, and as it was expected, Annie was so super sweet and professional by answering all this sort of questionaire that we prepared. She even had only 1 HOUR of sleep between their show in Brazil, the flight and getting to the hotel just to drop stuff in her room and lay down a little bit. She didn't care at all and accept to make this interview anyways
I know some questions might not be of your interest, specially when it comes to things she already said and we already know, so I hope you can discover something new about her in the next lines.
1) Let’s catch up with you a little bit since the last time you came to our country in 2016. I’d like to ask you about this brand new band you founded, VUUR. How did the idea of telling stories about different places from the whole world come up to you?
You know I traveled a lot playing shows and I always go to places where I feel something. Sometimes I feel at home. In some countries you don’t feel at home, you feel it’s difficult or something else. So in every city, in every country is always different feeling. Mostly like big cities like Buenos Aires, or big capital cities, they’ve been going through a lot of history. So, there’s always been a war or something, revolution. And I’m very much inspired by travelling, and meeting people and cultures. I write a lot, but I never write about these cities. And then I thought “I want to make a concept album about all these cities that I love so much”. But the only way I could do it is with heavy music. So, then I formed the band VUUR, and then I thought, “OK, now I can do this concept with these cities, so I started writing. And I get a lot of complaints from people like “why not songs about Buenos Aires?” or about their city, but there are so many. So I’m compelled to make a part two.
2) Which bands/artists do you feel as influences for VUUR’s music?
For heavy music I listened a lot to Devin Townsend. Opeth. Mikael Åkerfeldt’s voice in any shape or form. Gojira. Mastodon. It’s a little eclectic, a little all over the place. But I love melodic heavy stuff, rock, with a lot of melody. All those bands have that. I think you can hear the Devin’s influence a lot. I told him, I let him hear my demos, and I said “I’m sorry you can hear yourself in there”. But he liked it. I’m so happy to have worked with him, I mean, he’s my one of my favourite artists in heavy music. So I’m very heavily influenced by him.
3) Was the recording process pretty much different from the last experiences with your former projects/bandmates?
Not so much. Actually, I wrote the songs together with my producer. I went every Tuesday to the studio to write, write, write. And then when it was time to work on the songs to record them, then we got the band to the studio. So, I like to concentrate completely, with very few people, and work on the songs, and then, later to get the band because if you write with the band, it takes so much time, and my concentration is like a goldfish, you know, it’s very short. And then with The Gentle Storm, for instance, Arjen and me just wrote the music together and, also, apart. At home, I wrote the lyrics, we made calls, we sent emails, and then went together. So it was really fast. Not too fast, but concentrated. Not like… when I was in The Gathering, we always made everything together, and that takes a long time. Everybody’s thinking “mmm, you know, about the sound of that one little thing...”. But they had much more higher concentration level. So, when I’m going solo, I write with one or two persons and then be intuitive about it.
4) You’ve collaborated with many artists throughout the years. Which band or artist would you like to tour with or collaborate in the future? Anything you haven’t done before, if there’s any left?
Mikael Åkerfeldt, everybody mentions Mastodon, Mikael Åkerfeldt, Gojira, I love the vocalist from Gojira. I love their music, and bands like that. That’s my wish. But I’m happy, I do. I love, you know, working with all those people. And now touring with Delain, it’s fantastic. So I do have a lot of wishes. I only wish I could do this for a long time. BUT, if Mikael Åkerfeldt calls me and work with me, I can die.
5) Speaking of collaborations, how was the Ayreon Universe experience like? Judging from the DVD it was visually incredible. But how does it feel to work with such great artists from the metal scence?
It’s super cool. The funny thing is that you have 17 singers there. The biggest singers in the scene, like Floor, Marco, everyone. Holy shit! And nobody is a diva. Nobody’s like “oh, I want this and that”, everybody is together, working together. And it’s because Arjen. When we are with Arjen, he makes the group feel like we are family. And it’s the best thing. And then we can lift each other up and make something beautiful. And I love it.
6) And you also collaborated with the Finnish guys from Amorphis. Have you ever heard of the band before working with them?
Yeah, when we were touring with The Gathering, ‘cause that’s how long they exist as well, they were also touring when we started out in 95/96, before the war (lol). We were always on the same posters of the festivals, in the tours, in the venues. So we knew their music, and we played their music. But then we never collaborated. And then one day in Romania, we were singing with The Sirens on a festival. And Amorphis was playing after us, so I was done playing, and I watched Amorphis playing. And I was thinking ‘Oh, man! They’re so good!’, so I watched the whole show, I was backstage. On the front of the stage, but I had a good view. And I was so enjoying myself and I thought “Oh this band is so good! (noise) And now I’m getting to see them once more, because they still exist and they’re so good”. And then I had a lot to drink, and then I watched the show and while I watch a show I drink a lot. So, when the show was over I was drunk. I started sober (lol) and like half an hour I was tired as well. And then after show, Esa Holopainen, the guitar player, he spoke to me, but he was on the show with his hair like this, but not only his hair, like he had his jacket on, and started talking to me. And I didn’t recognize him. And he says “I loved your show”, and I was like “Thanks, OK”, and then like after 5 minutes later: “Oh shit, your Esa from Amorphis!" And then we drank a little, we talked, and then we became friends. It’s so cool. And sometimes we work together and the whole band, it’s so cool. It’s a cool thing that you go way back, but you never really work together, until like… 20 years later… I love it!
7) And then we got the release of your Live Album “Symphonized”. Was it difficult to choose the setlist among all your vast catalogue of songs?
Yes, because there are so many songs in 25 years. But I made a very long list on Spotify with my favourite songs from The Gathering, from whatever I did. And then I told the boss of the orchestra: “you can listen to it and you can choose the best songs”. Because he doesn’t know all my songs. So, yes, it was like a fresh air, and he chose the very best and we made this very short list. So, it was my favourites, and then his decisions would be like ‘what is good to work with a big orchestra?'. Because some songs are not eligible to work on for an orchestra, so he has a good ear, like “oh, you can do this and this with this song with the orchestra”. So I let him decide also a few things.
8) We don’t have much access to certain Dutch interviews or newspapers, but is it true that you suffered from a burnout a couple of years ago? How was the healing process like?
Almost a burnout. I had to lay down for weeks. And I couldn’t do anything. It’s like, sometimes one Monday morning, my body is (weak) and I can’t do anything anymore. It happened to me a few times. And I have to go for weeks I have to be in bed. But it’s not even a real burnout, like, that’s even more heavy. But I’m trying to learn to dose my energy. But I love everything I do. It’s a luxurious problem. I don’t say no to anything… Like, Rob, my husband, he always says: “you can’t, you have to be wise, choose your project, choose what you wanna do". But I really love, and being, getting inspired by all these different things. But, I’m writing now an acoustic album. On my own. On my own concentration. And my own thing. And then I go on a long tour just by myself, or with a guitarist. So everything becomes more simple in the coming years. No 50 projects, just do… from the heart.
9) Being one of the first female singers in the metal scene, what do you think of women’s position right now in the metal world? Do you think it’s easier now than when you started in the 90s? What’s the hardest part of being a women in the music business?
Yeah, I think so. And I think now it’s more common that there’s females in the metal genre. Not only singers, but also intrumentalist, journalists, technicians, a lot of women! And I like it because it’s more normal than 20 years ago. But I do wanna say that I like metal being a men’s world. I like the masculine energy in the music and in the audience, in a band where it’s mostly men, I like this energy. Men energy. And we (women) are like dreamers. We have a different vibe. Then, men are like earth/grounded and we are in the clouds. And I think it’s a good balance on metal nowadays, it’s not too many women. It’s good! Yeah, it gives us the chance to be special as well. And there’s different kinds of females in the metal scene like… a few years ago you got only operatic metal or people like me, but now you have the growling voices like in bands like Jinjer, you know. Holy shit! That’s a whole new breed! Tatiana... She’s everything, she’s beautiful and she can growl but she really has a good voice. Because in the old days when women could only growl, they couldn’t sing. It was singing or heavy shit. And she can do everything. So, I think there’s like a whole new breed of women, and they’re so so good. And they’re also a little bit masculine and it’s a good balance!
10) What do you think it's the hardest part of being a woman in the music business?
I don’t think there’s a hard part, to be honest. I feel very comfortable in the metal scene but it’s my personal opinion. I feel very comfortable, I feel very valued. I feel respected. And I love it, I love the atmosphere, like, metal and progressive metal people like… they’re very serious about music. So, they drink a beer and they talk about the lyrics, they talk about their lives, they talk about the bands and how they play, which pedals they should use. I feel very comfortable in that world. So, I don’t think it’s a hard thing.
11) Lastly, what would you like to say to your Argentinean fans who are eagerly waiting to see you tonight?
I’m happy that people come and see us, together with Delain. And I’m happy to play with them. And it’s been way too long, 2016, man! I’ll have to come back next year. But I will come back with my solo stuff. I will make it worth it. I will come back with a very nice solo show.