Interview with Madeleine Liljestam of ELEINE

Interview with Madeleine Liljestam of ELEINE
By Dark Juan

Hello, dear friends. It is I, Dark Juan. I trust I find you well and all preparing yourself for the festival of the birth of the False God’s equally false son? Anyway, I have been a good little soldier and behaved myself in my past few reviews, so our Lord and Master, mighty smiter, metal king and surprisingly tolerant editor (when faced with my rantings he is never less than gracious and understanding, notwithstanding just how many times I use the word fuck. Which is a lot) Sir Richard Tilley has taken off my leash and allowed me to emerge, blinking and shellshocked from his basement into the drab and reedy light of a gloomy British winter day. After several fortifying cups of Yorkshire’s finest brew, I immediately have cast about for devilry to commit, preferably indoors because this Hellpriest doesn’t like the cold, and I have been permitted to (in flagrant disregard of the panic and fear I caused myself the last time I spoke to somebody famous and popular – I am famously misanthropic and awkward around people. Clearly Rick and I have learned NOTHING from the previous experience) interview Swedish symphonic metal stalwarts Eleine, who have recently released an absolute STONKER of an album in “Dancing In Hell”. Add the fact it appears that I am suffering from puppy paralysis as the Dread Lord Igor Egbert Bryan Clown-Shoe Cleavage-Hoover (no, there WON’T be more of that later) has settled happily next to me and is snoring gently and emitting the kind of smells that should be banned under the Geneva Convention and you will understand that this has made me utterly unable to move and has led to a period of lightheaded, bonehead confidence due to oxygen starvation (but pleasingly NOT paradoxical undressing)  which has led in turn to this collection of questions, of which the fabulous Madeleine Liljestam from the Scandinavian symphonic superstars is now obliged to answer.

Shall we dive in? After you…

Dark Juan: Greetings and salutations. I am Dark Juan, incumbent enfant terrible of Ever-Metal.com. Please do tell whom I have the pleasure of addressing today?

Madeleine: You are talking to Madeleine, the vocalist and one of the founders of ELEINE.

DJ: Thank you for consenting to be part of the nonsense I write and congratulations on a spectacular and wide-ranging record. Could you please tell me about the process of writing and recording the album? Who writes the lyrics and does the music come fully formed from the mind of one person or is it all a group effort? Also, even though it is a bit clichéd and overdone, who are your influences and musical heroes?

M: Thank you, and thank you for reaching out, it’s a pleasure. I’m glad to hear you enjoy our new album. I am very proud of its early success. You can never really know what to expect when releasing something new. But what you can do is create what feels true to you, and that’s the important part We write what we know, what we see and what we feel. There’s a huge piece of ourselves in this album, so it really warms our hearts hearing how appreciated it is.

Rikard and I write all the music/lyrics and we’re influenced by many various things. Games, movies, life. We get this question a lot and never seem to be able to give something short like naming a band or two. There are many bands that inspire us. I feel that good music is good music….and we listen to good music.

DJ: When I listen to Eleine’s music, although it is in keeping with the gothic/symphonic metal genre, I find it much more exciting because it appears to have a much harder edge (Rikard’s guitar work and vocals especially) than Nightwish, Within Temptation, After Forever and the like. Is this a conscious decision of the band or are there members who harbour a (possibly not so) secret love of extreme music?

M: Who said that symphonic metal can’t be heavy or even extreme sometimes? As I mentioned before, we only write and create what feels true to us. We’re going with the vibe we have during the time of writing, you know? I’m glad you like it, thank you very much. Yes, there is a heavier sound on “Dancing In Hell”, and it’s really not a surprise since we like heavier music. I mean, it’s certainly no secret that I myself enjoy listening to black and death metal. I would also like to add that although many seem to believe so, we don’t listen to other bands in our genre and try to write like them. That would be redundant and pointless since they have their sound and we have our own sound.

DJ: It appears to be becoming more and more difficult for bands to draw attention to themselves, especially during this current COVID unpleasantness, and to make a living from their music. What does Eleine do differently, in your opinion, which makes you stand out from the crowd?

M: I don’t think we’re the ones to answer that question, the fans and you should, right? We continue to work the way we’ve always done and I take it as a compliment that you actually ask that!

DJ: As I write this, I am watching Eleine videos, which are richly filmed and produced in a very lush fashion. How important is the visual aesthetic to Eleine, and who comes up with the concepts for videos, and does this transcribe easily to your live shows?

M: Very nice, thank you! We produce, direct, film and edit all of our music videos on our own. Rikard does most of the camera work and when he needs to be in frame it’s often I who film him. In editing it’s all Rikard with cutting things together and creating that extra depth with his mad editing skills. I of course also help out when he gets stuck and needs a second pair of eyes. The visual aspects are very important for ELEINE. I, myself, visualize so much in both stills and moving pictures when creating music. This extends into live performance and also music videos. Everything you see with ELEINE, is an extension of ELEINE and what we do. Choosing to have the sunset behind us in ‘Ava Of Death’ wasn’t a coincidence. Choosing to have the fire and some subtle facial expressions in ”Dancing In Hell” wasn’t either. there’s so much thought behind it all and I’m glad you like them.

DJ: Madeleine, obviously, you are a woman fronting a heavy metal band and the visual focal point of Eleine. You may not be aware that there has been something of a scandal involving a British produced heavy metal magazine recently displaying outrageous levels of misogyny regarding female musicians and using language and terms which a lot of others, myself and the ENTIRE staff of Ever-Metal.com included, found totally unacceptable. What are your experiences of reading or hearing about yourself in the wider press and have you found anything unacceptable or outright sexist? Have there been occasions where you have not been treated with the same respect as a male musician? How did you deal with them and what can us writers, reviewers and interviewers do to improve our coverage of women in metal?

M: That’s terrible! I am aware that idiots rage the earth, but I haven’t heard of that specific idiot. Well, since you bring it up – I do not appreciate reading that ELEINE is a ”female fronted metal” band. What the hell is that? It’s not like every band with men as fronts are called “male fronted metal” bands, right? “female fronted” isn’t a genre. I FULLY get the idea why you’d want to empower women. There is a lot of shit going on. But we are all humans. Sure, we can’t claim other than it’s a mainly man dominated world of metal, but at the same time it is so incredibly wrong to hear that some festivals book 5 bands with female front figures just because they need to hit their quota of equality. Bands should be booked because of their music and delivery when performing, not because of what’s between their legs.

A band is a band. Metal is metal. No matter sex, skin colour or whatever. Don’t judge a band before you’ve actually listened to their music. I can’t count the times I’ve recently heard: ”I usually don’t listen to bands with a female vocalist but hey, I was recommended to listen to ELEINE and now you have a new fan”. It’s GREAT that people go out of their comfort zone and listen to new music. It’s like I’ve said before…good music is good music, and crap music is crap music.

I stand up for humans and animal rights. Regardless of gender. We need to be equals in this. It really pisses me off to be put in a box that says ”Female fronted metal” and not even being given a chance to show what we got. Don’t get me wrong, you can of course call a man a man and a woman a woman etc. But instead of “outing” it with labels such as “female fronted”, just call them metal bands and add the actual genre.

But, as always, I know what we have, I know what we do and I am proud of it. Instead of seeing myself as a victim I’ve always chosen to switch it up a gear instead and make sure I make myself and our fans happy.

DJ: What news are you receiving about the reception of your latest album? I personally rated it as 9/10 and “Sumptuous, richly produced, expansively written and an essential purchase if you enjoy the beauty of female vocals offsetting metal power.” Are you getting many positive reviews?

M: What a great rating, thank you very much. The reception has been absolutely fantastic. I am deeply grateful for this. As I mentioned earlier, this album is a huge part of ourselves. I can’t thank everyone enough for buying it, appreciating it and sharing it <3

DJ: What do we have to look forward to from Eleine in 2021, assuming all the COVID restrictions are done with? This year has truly, truly sucked for live music and surely it has affected Eleine as well as everyone else involved with live music. Are you going to tour sooner rather than later or are you going to wait a bit longer for the sake of increased safety?

M: TOURING! My unholy Satan, I’m starving here. 2020 was rough for everyone and we need to work together to get through it. Even though the year was dark, there were shimmers of light. One very good thing was the release of “Dancing In Hell”, both for us and for our fans. It has been an absolutely devastating year in so many ways, but we will make it. From everything there’s something to learn. I’ve learned to have way more patience than I’ve ever had.

We will tour when it’s safe and allowed, of course. We care about our fans

DJ: Do you have anything to say to your fans and people just discovering Eleine? This is your chance to say whatever you wish about whatever you like!

M: We are aware that we wouldn’t be anything without the beautiful fans we have. We are grateful for each and every one. We have a really close contact with our patrons and our Patreon has also helped us out tremendously. Thank you all so very much, keep on buying music from your favourite artists and we’ll see you soon.

DJ: Please allow me to thank you very much for agreeing to spend your time answering these questions, and may I wish you every success for the future. I truly hope your new record brings you an outrageous amount of success. The only reason this wasn’t done through Zoom was because I am far too much of a coward, having scared myself rigid the last time I did that! Tack så mycket för din tid, jag hoppas att vi snart ses på en brittisk turné och lycka till och framgång för er alla. God Jul!

LINKS:

Read Dark Juan’s album review here:

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