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INTERVIEW: ANNEKE van GIERSBERGEN of VUUR – September 2017

According to a recent press release: “Anneke van Giersbergen’s new band VUUR are set to release their debut album, ‘In This Moment We Are Free – Cities’ on October 20th, 2017. Now they are pleased to reveal the official video for new single ‘My Champion – Berlin’ which you can watch now here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAwDw5zXtLI.”  I was recently given the opportunity to speak with Anneke about the new disc, touring, and much more.

Toddstar: Anneke, thank you so much for taking time out for us. I really appreciate it.

Anneke: Absolutely, absolutely.

Toddstar: Well, let’s jump right into it. New album from Vuur, In This Moment We Are Free – Cities. What can you tell us about this disk that a fan might not grab the first or second time listening to it?

Anneke: Actually, I’m glad you’re asking this question. Because I think this album has a lot of layers, lyrically, song-wise. But also, there’s a lot of stuff going on, melodies, rhythms. I put really my heart and soul into it. It’s a layered album, there’s a lot to be found. I think we might need a couple of times to listen to grasp the whole thing. Although I hope of course that when you listen for the first time there’s some things that appeal to you right away, of course.

Toddstar: Looking through the tracklist, it’s hyphenated with cities. Each song based on what I read, is your own interpretation of the vibe or the feel of those specific cities. What is it about traveling and touring that allows you that component inside you, to where you enter a city and pick up something different from each place? Not just the food, or the language, but actually pick up that vibe.

Anneke: I’m not sure. I suppose I’m open to it, because I love traveling as is. I love being in an airplane, I love driving a car, I love being I different cities and places, to tour as well. I’m always open and I’m inspired so much from being there. Anything is different in any city, so climate-wise, culture wise, people. That inspires me a lot. I always write a lot of songs and lyrics, and poems when I travel as well, in airplanes, in hotel rooms, yeah.

Toddstar: You’ve done so many different things. What is it about this project that you really embrace? What makes Vuur and this album stand out in your mind compared to some of the other things you’ve done?

Anneke: I would say the fact that this is my first solo album, which is heavy, and metal, and Prog oriented. That was important to me that it then has to be super good. In the last 10 years that I’ve been solo, I did a lot of different things. I loved everything. I did some different genres, and inspires me, and I learn a lot. I just love singing, I love making music. But, I know I wanted to know a heavy album for a long time. Then I thought, if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do this with these people, this band. I take a year off, no project, no big things around it, just concentrate and make absolutely the best and most honest thing I can do. In that respect, it’s different from what I did before.

Toddstar: You’ve mentioned what you did before, and that was during a lot of the melodic stuff with The Gathering. Moving into this project though, because this is so different from what you did either with The Gathering or on solo material, or stuff you’ve done with Devin Townsend. This is a little heavier, a little more fluid. This album is fluid. Even though each song represents a different city and a different vibe, these pieces all seem to fit together. When you are putting the album together, was that something you wanted to do? You wanted to make this as fluid an album, or did you want each song to really stand on its own?

Anneke: Actually, both. That’s the tricky part of making an album. Because it’s a comfort album, although it’s not one big story, every city has a story. There’s an overlapping theme. The songs should fit together. But it shouldn’t be one thing and one sound to listen to. We wrote the songs together, Joost and me. But we got some help, big help from some of our friends in music, like Mark Holcomb from Periphery, we had Esa Holopainen from Amorphis, Daniel Cardoso from Anathema. They all contributed to these songs. Then, the tricky part is, we get all these cool, epic, beautiful stuff, and they have all this melodic fingerprint and characters of the people who wrote these parts. It can also easily become like a potpourri of whatever, of different things. But, I think the big, big influence and big thing was the help of Joost van den Broek, who is the producer. He made sound right, and also arranging the songs so that they did fit together, but stand out on their own as well.

Toddstar: Looking back over these songs, which one Anneke, lyrically seemed to be the hardest for you to put together?

Anneke: That’s a good question. I didn’t have a lot of trouble with any of the lyrics, because I was so focused. For every city there was a story or a vibe or something that I wanted to write about. Because I’ve been contemplating this theme for so long in my head, it was easy to come up with the lyrically content.

Toddstar: On the other side of that coin, which one was the easiest? Which one almost wrote itself in your head?

Anneke: I’d say a song like “Save Me – Istanbul”, that was actually the first one I wrote, and I think the most easy one. Because I had clear, clear picture in my head, and the words just came to me. The things also with inspiration is, I get up in the morning, I put my kids to school, I do what I have to do. At half past eight in the morning, I’m at my desk writing, right? Sometimes they come easily and sometimes you have to think about it, right? But in this case, sometimes you just okay, I feel, I make a cup of tea. I go and sit down, and I feel this is going to go my way. I feel all the words will come to me. Then they do. That was the case with the Istanbul song.

Toddstar: It’s great. It’s one of my favorites on the disc.

Anneke: Nice, thanks.

Toddstar: The band that you’re using for this project – even though it’s a band, it is your project – you had some experience touring with these guys as part of the live band for the Gentle Storm Project. Was leaning on their musical ability what helped you focus on a heavier album, or was this just something that was buried inside of you, or a combination?

Anneke: Totally a combination, yeah. I wanted to do that for a long time, make my own heavy album. When I worked with Arjen Lucas on The Gentle Storm, we threw a band together, because I wanted to take it on the road, and you need metal players for that. Then, all of a sudden I’m in this group. This group is really an all-star band. Such good players, such great guys. Then I thought, okay, if I’m going to make a heavy album, I’m going to do it with these guys, because they are such a good match. Then I ask, “I’m going to make a solo album after this. Will you join me?” At first the characters, the guys in the band, I pushed them more forward than I would do with any other solo band, because of that. Because they are true characters on their own, and true stars on their own. You have freaking Ed Warby on drums. He’s a living legend. I’m proud to talk about them as well.

Toddstar: It’s great what you’re doing with this. You’re going out, you’re touring this. You’re putting dates together. But all of us over here in the US, we don’t get that often an opportunity. If we’re lucky enough to go to Prog or something like that. But, is this something that you’d like to tour on a little more wide range, maybe hit the US or North America proper?

Anneke: Absolutely. When the album is released [Anneke’s son requires her attention for a moment…] Sorry, I’m talking to my son. ‘This is mine?’

Anneke’s Son: Yeah.

Anneke: ‘Thank you.’ He’s bringing me dessert. It’s fantastic. Where was I? We’re going to tour when the album is out, 20th of October. We will start with Epica, touring with Epica together through Europe. But all 2018 is going to be touring year. Like you said, we do appear sometimes on the festival or every now and then. But it’s logistically, financially always a big challenge to tour through the United States. However, we love, love, love, love touring the US. We are always trying to find ways to come back. With this one, we have to, we just have to, because I know everywhere there’s people who would come visit the show. We’re going to do our best to maybe around the festival or maybe some other time to come back and play in the US.

Toddstar: Awesome. I believe a direct translation of the band’s name Vuur is fire.

Anneke: True.

Toddstar: Is that something that you directly took, or did you just like the word Vuur? What was your inspiration behind grabbing that name and for the band?

Anneke: Actually I wanted to call the band Fire, because I love the word, I love the sound, I love short, cool, catchy band names like Kiss and Yes. But fire is already in so many band names. I was thinking I need something in the same vein. I thought, why not Vuur? It’s a Dutch word, it’s equally short and powerful. It’s close to our hearts, because it’s a Dutch name. At least you are asking me a question about it, so that’s cool, you get some attention. Yeah, that’s how it came about. It looks good. It’s a good word to make logos, yeah. I’m really happy with the band name.

Toddstar: It definitely stands out. Looking back over everybody you’ve worked with, because you’ve worked with so many different artists Anneke. Who is still out there that you want to collaborate with in one way or another?

Anneke: I grew up when I was young in the ’80s, ’90s, with singers like Mike Patton, of Faith No More. It’s my big wish to work with him one day. Devin, I’m living the dream working with Devin Townsend, with Ayreon, with a lot of cool bands.

Toddstar: Looking back, if you could pick or had to pick one album Anneke, that really focused you and that you wish you’d been a part of in one way, shape or another, that isn’t yours, what would it be? What’s that one album that you always go back to?

Anneke: I love the Tool album, Ænima. In those days when it came out, holy shit, the vocals, the whole darkness of it, and the whole atmosphere, with the melodies, it was something you’ve never heard before. I would definitely want to be a part of that, yeah.

Toddstar: Awesome. Looking back over your career Anneke, you had a long career, especially for an era of music where everything is so disposable and single oriented. If there is one thing you could redo or one regret you could do over, what would it be?

Anneke: I would do nothing again. I’m always doubting, right? I always think if I did a gig or an album, was it good enough? I can always do better tomorrow. But if you don’t feel that, then you’re going to be satisfied and you’re going to be boring, because there would be no new input, because you don’t push yourself to new input and new inspiration. Things I made 10 years ago, I would make differently now because I’m older, I’m wiser, whatever, I have some more learning experience. It’s not the most important thing if something is really, really good or well played, or produced perfectly, as long as it was honest. I think if that’s the case, then it’s scoop out of time, it’s a moment in time, and it will be good as it is in that moment because I did whatever I could do to make it the best at that moment. I would never do anything again. It’s changing history, it’s impossible.

Toddstar: It’s a great way to look at. As you’ve mentioned, October 20th Vuur the album In This Moment We Are Free – Cities, will be released. As you prepare for the tour, because you guys have dates coming up in November, and you guys are starting to think this through and think through a set list, what’s the one song that just sparks you and you can’t wait for, you get excited for when you know it’s going to be in the set list?

Anneke: All the Free songs, because they’re all new. We’re ecstatic to play. There’s a few ones that I love paying live, that I love singing so much. One of them is “Time – Rotterdam.” One of them is “Freedom – Rio.” Because it’s such an epic feel to it. I think in a life perspective, it’s going to be awesome also for people who are coming to listen to it, that you can really get into it also as an audience. Because it’s something can share with everybody.

Toddstar: What’s it like for you to hit the stage, and know you’re doing more of a metal, heavier show than what you’ve done for so many years?

Anneke: It’s great, because there’s a lot of really good energy in metal, and in playing metal. Wherever I am on stage with Devin, or any other singer I did with other people that were metal, I had the same feeling, this is epic, this is energetic. I love to put my heart and soul into that. To have my own album, to have my own band, to do this exactly my way, exactly how I love it, that just adds to the whole feel. Yeah. I can’t wait performing, singing live is the best thing for me. I love writing, I love recording, but to be on stage is the best thing for me. It keeps me healthy, and I love it. I love sharing, interacting. I’m looking very much forward.

Toddstar: Awesome. I know you’ve got a lot going on. I know you’ve got a lot to do, so I’ve got more for you before we cut you loose, if you don’t mind. Looking back professionally Anneke, including Vuur, which again has a new new album coming out October 20th, what’s the one thing that you would pin point that you’re most proud of or would like to be remembered for?

Anneke: That’s a hard question, because I did a lot of things, but also a lot of different things. Different things give me different perspective, memories. It’s difficult. There’s certain pinnacles in your life right, that push you to do new things and everything. I would say really, I’ve played for the Dalai Lama once in Holland with a Dutch band. We formed a group to make a song to raise money, awareness for the situation in Tibet. The Dalai Lama, he came to Holland for speaking, and we played that song. He was on stage with us, sitting in a chair. It was for me personally, one of the most beautiful things I’ve done. Not so much to remember me by, but that was just for me life changing. To look him in the eye while singing is something I will never forget.

Toddstar: I don’t care who you are, that’s cool.

Anneke: Yeah, exactly.

Toddstar: Listen Anneke, again I really appreciate you taking time off for us. We wish you so much luck with this album, Vuur’s new album coming out October 20th on Inside Out, and any touring you do after. Hopefully, you can pack some dates in around your appearance at ProgPower next September.

Anneke: I hope so too. We will come back, one of these days. Thank you.

VUUR LINKS:

OFFICIAL SITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN LINKS:

OFFICIAL SITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INTERVIEW: ANNEKE van GIERSBERGEN of VUUR - September 2017

Filed Under: Interviews

About the Author: ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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