LIV SIN – her new band, writing process and more! (Interview)

Liv Sin JagrellLiv Sin, former frontwoman of Sister Sin and current frontwoman of Liv Sin, sat down with us to discuss the debut album Follow Me from her new band. She shared with us her writing process, the inspiration behind the new songs, and plans for future tours.

Rachel Leigh: This is Rachel Leigh from Decibel Geek and I’m here with Liv Sin, how are you today?

Liv Sin: I’m very well thank you!

Rachel: Now your new album, Follow Me with your new band Liv Sin was released on April 28th. How have the fan responses been so far?

Liv Sin: I think they’re been very good, mostly positive comments and reviews too, so far I’m happy and just working on reaching out to more people of course. Most of the responses have been positive so I’m pleased.

Rachel: It’s really heavy which is great, but there’s also some softer elements to it as well. I’ve heard you say that you wanted to go in an even heavier direction than Sister Sin.

Liv: Absolutely, I’ve always been a bit more into heavier music and with Sister Sin we got a bit heavier with every record, but I’ve also wanted to try playing heavier music and to experiment with the vocals of heavy music. I’m not a growler but I feel it’s fun to try those elements even though it’s not my focus. It was fun, we played around with it a little bit and I explored that heavier, faster side of me and that became the album.

Rachel: You’ve released 3 singles from the album, the most recent being a cover of Fight’s “Immortal Sin” with Jyrki 69 of The 69 Eyes. Why did you choose to cover this song out of all the Rob Halford material?

Liv: First of all, if you’re gonna cover a Halford song, you have to choose very carefully, because I mean you’re talking about a metal God, I mean, Rob Halford, it’s very hard to sing and it’s not gonna be better than him anyways, so, first of all, you have to choose carefully and not pick “Painkiller” because it’s very hard to make something new out of “Painkiller”; it’s fantastic how it is, it’s amazing, it’s just stupid to try to cover something like that. So it’s maybe better to try to find a song that is kind of underrated and I think that maybe not everybody knows he had another band when he left Judas Priest for awhile, but he had Fight and maybe people don’t know about this band and haven’t heard this song. I really love the guitar riff to “Immortal Sin”, it’s really simple but it’s really heavy. It was me and Stefan Kaufmann (ex-Accept, ex-UDO), we were listening to a lot of Priest and Halford and the song came up and he said maybe you should cover it because it’s an underrated song and a lot of people haven’t heard it……and of course “Immoral Sin and Liv Sin so it could be a good song to cover. We tried it out and we actually liked it.

Rachel: It stays true to the original song but I think you guys made it even heavier if that’s possible.

Liv: [Laughs] Maybe a little bit yeah.

Liv SinRachel: So you had said that this is the first time that you have written your own lyrics for an album. How was that experience?

Liv: Absolutely. I’ve written lyrics when I was younger for the smaller bands I had before Sister Sin etc…In Sister Sin it was Dave (Sundberg) that wrote the lyrics and I got it kind of served to me so I had to dig deep back into my heart and soul to find that again, and I’m sitting there thinking “What am I gonna write about?” looking at this white piece of paper and it’s like “ugh!”. It took a little while to get started to actually write something, but I mean, I take a lot of experience from things that are happening around the world and how we treat each other and how political ways are going etc… Things that make me upset and are frustrating are easy to write about because you have a feeling in your body and you write it down and develop it and so I had a song. So a lot of those songs and some were self-experience lyrics…. it was also kind of therapy to write it down. It’s harder to publish them but its therapy to write about those things I have experienced and sometimes you can get over them better if you write them down.

Rachel: Yeah, I definitely agree with that and I’ve actually heard artists say before that it’s not how fast you can play or how heavy the music is that makes it extreme, but it’s how much emotion you put into it.

Liv: I agree.

Rachel: In terms of your music writing process, was it more the guys showing you some riffs and you writing melodies over top of that or did you kind of come up with a lyric idea first and they would come up with the music for that, or was it sort of a combination of both?

Liv: Combination of both I would say. Sometimes I had an idea and I tried to sing the guitar riff [laughs] to Patrick (Ankermark) who writes with me or as when I had the song “Godless Utopia” I had that idea that I wanted and we had the drums then we put on the guitar. Sometimes Patrick sent me his ideas and riffs and I’d sing melodies and write lyrics to what I thought fit the feeling of the song, so it’s a little bit of both.

Liv Sin Jagrell - The Meister
Liv at Sweden Rock 2013 with Sister Sin – photo by Rich “The Meister” Dillon

Rachel: Ok, cool. Now, you had said that a lot of the material deals with your disappointment in the way that we treat each other and things that are going on in the world and you’d said that writing was therapeutic, so do you think this album helped you deal with the breakup of your previous band?

Liv: Yes, for sure, absolutely. I wanted badly to write a song about Sister Sin but I think it was too close still. I’m still a bit sad over it and I think it is the same as if you break up a long relationship, even though you know its right to do it, both parts know its right, it still takes awhile to deal with it and put it down in words. So maybe I’ll write a song on the next album about my wonderful boys in Sister Sin or about that time. I didn’t manage to do it – it was too hard – the pen was stopping every time. So sometimes we need a little bit of space between I think to make that happen. Instead I wrote a lot about other things but it definitely made it easier still because I had something to look forward to – I had a new album, new music, new stuff to look forward to. So it made it very much easier actually.

Rachel: Definitely, yeah, it’s understandable that the wounds are still fresh from that experience, but people are very excited that you’ve got the new music coming out so that’s really great! Kind of along the same lines, you were answering some fan questions and you were talking about your tattoos. You had said that a lot of them are inspired by ancient Egypt so I was wondering if you incorporated your love of Egypt into any of your song writing on this album?

Liv: Hmmm…. I was going to do that [laughs]. Let me think…did it happen…I know I had a lot of ideas about that but I can’t think of any of them….. No, none of them are about Egypt actually. I was working on it but I think there were so many other things that took over. But I’m still very influenced by ancient Egypt and it might happen on the next album.

Rachel: I had seen that you actually started off listening to grunge and that Courtney Love had kind of inspired you to purse music, so what was it that eventually drew you to the heavier music?

Liv: It was Pantera. I think I was 15 or 16 and as you said I listened to a lot of Nirvana and I thought Courtney Love was pretty cool and then someone played at a party – I still remember it – they put on the record Far Beyond Driven and I was in love at the first riff. I was like this guitar, it’s so heavy it’s so cool, then I was hooked on Pantera and from there it led me to Rob Zombie, Slayer, then I got into more kind of darker music, more black metal for a couple of years, but it was mostly Pantera was the first that got me into metal.

Rachel: Do you still listen to a lot of grunge?

Liv: Absolutely not! [laughs] No I don’t. As soon as I got into the metal I left the grunge. But very grateful to Kurt Cobain and to Courtney Love for getting me into music. And I also still that that Nirvana did some very good songs but I don’t listen to it so much anymore.

Rachel: The metal kind of took over in that aspect [laughs].

Liv: It did. I mean, I love the guitar and I started to play guitar and if you just listen to cool things on guitar then grunge is maybe not the best style for that, metal is more cool guitar.

Sister Sin Sweden Rock 2013
Sister Sin Sweden Rock 2013 – Photo by Rich “The Meister” Dillon

Rachel: Very true. So you’ve obviously got your career as a singer a songwriter, but you’re also very passionate about fitness and keeping your health in check. How do you keep up with your fitness clients while you’re out on tour?

Liv: They wait for me [laughs]. My poor clients, sometimes when I tour so much they wait a long time, but I have some really die hard clients that I’ve had for over ten years that still stand me so that’s cool. But you always lose some when you go on tour, when you come back they don’t want to train anymore, they’ve moved or gone to a gym so it’s hard to go on tour and you come back and have to start over but some of my clients they wait for me.

Rachel: That’s good. Do you try to get the other band members into the fitness thing too? Or are they kind of out doing their own thing while you’re training?

Liv: It was like that in Sister Sin, they were drinking beers and I was working out, but this time I have found myself band members also like to work out. There’s one who doesn’t like to work out but he has no choice, the rest of us we are gonna work out so we gotta drag him with us and he’s already worried about that, “I don’t wanna get fit on tour, I wanna drink beer! I’m going to be fitter then when I’m home!” and it’s like yes, you are! [laughs]

Rachel: I think it’s great that you’re into that. You see a lot of younger bands posting on Instagram and stuff that they’re out partying, drinking beers every night, and who knows what else and I feel like that got played out in the 80s and you see that a lot of those guys crashed and burned because you just can’t keep up that lifestyle, you know?

Liv: Definitely. When you’re in your 20s, yes its fun to party. But you’ve gotta understand that when you’re in a touring band, playing live is gonna be your profession and you have to act like you are a professional. You are actually going to work. For me that’s very important and I chose my band members very carefully for the fact that I want band members that see this as work. It’s fun work, not fun all the time, but it’s fun when you’re on stage etc… But it’s still work and you have to be professional. You can’t get yourself so drunk that the next day you make a fool out of yourself. For me that’s not acceptable anymore. When you’re 21, okay, but not when you’re in your 30s. And if you want to make money from playing music, you have to act like it’s a job.

Rachel: Exactly. Things are a lot different now. Most of the money is from going out and touring it’s not necessarily from album sales anymore so bands really have to be at the top of their game.

Liv: Exactly, they can’t be drunk onstage and playing badly, because people won’t pay to see them anymore. It was okay in the 80s because you’re maybe seeing the band once a year or once every second year but now that there’s so many bands playing all the time, if a band plays badly, you don’t go to their concerts anymore.

Rachel: Exactly. Do you have any sort of top pieces of advice for anyone who is trying to get a band started or break into the music industry?

Liv: Work really hard. Very, very hard and also believe in yourself. It’s easy to say, I don’t do it all the time either, but there’s a lot of people that are probably going to try to screw you, and put you down etc etc… so you have to be really sure about what you wanna do and believe in yourself, and also as I said, work really hard and be prepared to do sacrifices. Because if you want a band, you have to put your whole life into that band, it’s gonna be your baby. So you will miss weddings, birthdays, holidays with your family and friends, you will be only with your band most of the time and you will have to be prepared for that, and the people around you will have to be prepared for that, otherwise it will not work. You will always not have enough money, that’s also one of the points. But if you’re fine with that, I say go for it! Because I still want people to try to do it but it’s good to know that it is a hard way and you have to be prepared that it’s not very glamorous.

Rachel: You’ve got a couple festivals coming up in Scandinavia in the summer and it looks like a tour of Spain in October and then maybe more of Europe in the Fall. Do you think you guys might come to North America at all?

Liv: We are thinking about it. We are thinking about how we will do it. It’s harder for me now because we don’t have an American label, we have a Swedish label, which makes it harder to get over. It is very expensive for a European band to get over to America but we are thinking ahead and we’re working on hopefully coming over to America. If we can find a really good support slot that would really make it worth it I think our label would help us so it’s not impossible. I can’t promise anything, but we are thinking about it.

Rachel: That would be really cool to see. It would be interesting if you could get a couple female-fronted bands together.

Liv: That would be really cool, like Kobra and The Lotus or Butcher Babies or something. It would be amazing.

Rachel: I’ve seen that some of your influences are heavier stuff, like Pantera, Rob Zombie, Children of Bodom, which are actually one of my favourite bands as well….

Liv: Oh yeah I love them!

Rachel: I’ve seen them twice and I actually almost got crushed to death in a mosh pit but it was totally worth it! [laughs] Are there any bands besides the ones you just mentioned that you would like to tour with in the future?

Liv: I would love to tour with Arch Enemy and Amon Amarth, both Swedish bands. I love them both. Children of Bodom is one of my top choices too.

Rachel: You’ve had offers to work in more of a pop rock vein and things like that, do you think in the future you’d ever explore any other music styles or do you think you’re going to stick with metal mostly?

Liv: If I can I would love to do something totally different. Maybe funk or soul or reggae. But something totally out of the rock, something totally different. I like the older style soul, 60s & 70s soul divas….I love that. I think that’s missing today, so I think it would be fun to try something like that. But I probably wouldn’t do pop rock, I’d keep to my metal.

Liv Sin Let Me OutRachel: I’ve just got one final question. I was wondering what the influence is behind the single “Let Me Out” from the new album.

Liv: For the music it was the guitar player. I think he had the influence because that was the first riff he sent me. I sent him a lot of Arch Enemy so I think maybe the riff is inspired by listening to them. But the lyrics for that song… a lot of people think it’s let me out from Sister Sin but it’s not. I found the inspiration from the lyrics from a tv documentary or the news, it was in Sweden when the refugees were coming to Sweden and there was a lot of news about people coming over in tiny boats over the Mediterranean Sea. They risked their lives, and a lot of people died trying to escape. I was thinking if this is the only way out, that sometimes we make choices that can be fatal for ourselves or other people, but we can’t see another way out so we take the risky way out. People think, I put myself in this situation and I need to get out of it, there’s no other way out but maybe I’ll harm myself or harm someone else. It can be people who have escaped, or people who are caught in a religious sect, it can be people in a harmful relationship that in the end they do something very bad or fatal, but they can’t see any other way out. So that’s how the lyrics came to me with “Let Me Out”. It’s like what people are willing to do and sacrifice.

Rachel: Wow, that’s a really deep theme there with so many different angles to it.

Liv: Yeah, that really got me thinking when I saw that…when you start to think about it, if you’re a Mom and you put your children in this tiny boat and you really can’t see any other way out that must be a hard choice, they risk everything but they can’t see any other way out.

Rachel: Wow!

Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me today and I hope you have fun out on tour, hope to see you in North America!

Liv: I hope so too! See you on the road!

Decibel Geek Follow Me Album Review

BUY: Follow Me

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