TO HELL AND BACK AGAIN
It just happened that ELEINE's frontlady Madeleine Liljestam and guitarist/growler Rikard Ekberg did a live Q&A session one day before we got this interview back. During that live session, fans could ask Madeleine and Rikard mainly about the new video for the title track of ELEINE's new album 'Dancing In Hell' (out on November 27th) and, of course, anything else. But since we had a lot more questions for Madeleine and didn't want to be pushy, we present you this exclusive interview with her...
For starters, please tell us something about your background and how you ended up in the music industry?
MADELEINE: I’ve always wanted to work with music, and the dream of having my own band and do our own take of metal started when I first heard Dimmu Borgir when I was 13 years old. In 2012 I met Rikard and we both had the same goals, and in 2014 ELEINE started as a band.
From the very beginning, the main themes on your albums (‘Eleine’ in 2015 and ‘Until The End’ in 2018) have always been death and hell. Where does this fascination come from?
MADELEINE: Ah yes, but really it’s about living life to the fullest. Staying true to yourself and join others that strive for the same goal as yourself. Persevering through rough times and having something to lean on. Our inspiration comes from life in general actually. We’re all struggling with our own stuff in live, just as you yourself are doing I’m sure – and the feedback from fans over the years has been that our music is empowering and strengthening. I’ve heard some fantastic stories from fans of how they’ve managed to improve their lives with aid from our music, and it’s pretty surreal to hear that. One of the greatest compliments for our music that I can imagine.
So far, you have always worked your way ahead: first a couple of singles and then the album, not vice versa. Except for one track: ‘Hell Moon (We Shall Never Die)’ from ‘Until The End’. That was also on the EP ‘All Shall Burn’ in 2019 as a symphonic version. Why did you put it on there?
MADELEINE: I’m not sure I get the question. ‘Hell Moon‘ was 1 out of 2 singles for our album ‘Until The End’. It’s a business standard to release singles first then the album, because you promote the album with singles ☺. But yeah, we also had it on our EP ‘All Shall Burn‘ in 2019. We did that mainly for us and that we wanted to do something special with it. EP’s give room for the artist to do stuff like that, and also like doing the Rammstein cover ‘Mein Herz Brennt‘, which was a small thank you towards Rammstein for being something to lean on through our lives.
You did a Q&A session with guitarist Rikard to celebrate the release of your newest single ‘Ava Of Death’ on October 2nd. How did that go for you?
MADELEINE: It went very well. We had a great time and a fun live chat with our fans about the new single and upcoming album! Rikard and I love doing those Q&As (as mentioned in the intro, both did another Q&A session on November 1st, 2020 – editor).
By the way, ‘Ava’ is pronounced as ‘Aah-va’ and not as ‘Eej-va’. That needs some explanation. What is the song about?
MADELEINE: Haha yes, you got it! The word Ava (pronounced Aah-va) can mean a number of things. The translation we went with is ”voice” or more correctly “the voice”. So the song title translates ‘The Voice Of Death‘. We always knew it felt like the song should feel like ‘The Voice Of Death‘. But the wording didn’t sound right. That’s when we found the word ‘Ava’, and it instantly felt right. Our own sentence that is ours and all can chant. ‘Ava Of Death‘ is the ultimate anthem and fight song. It’s empowering, and it’s a reminder for our fans to remember that whatever they’re going through, they can lean towards the ELEINE Legion and count on it to always be there for them.
For the video of ‘Ava Of Death’, you and Rikard practically took control of everything: directing, filming, editing… Do you feel more comfortable doing these things yourselves instead of hiring a crew or was it a ‘money thing’?
MADELEINE: We’ve never had big crews and have always made all our music videos ourselves. It started as a budget thing back in 2014. We liked what we created and now feel very comfortable with creating our own videos from idea to finished video. I mean… we wrote the songs and we know what we want the music video to reflect in a video. Sometimes with a bigger story, sometimes just a more simple video with a lot of power. But, it would be nice to collaborate with someone one day that share the vision we have in our minds for ELEINE, but until then we will continue like this ☺.
‘Ava Of Death’ is a pretty heavy song. Is the new album much heavier than ‘Until The End’ and is there room for a resting point in the form of a ballad?
MADELEINE: This album is both heavier and darker than previous releases. But still maintains that certain ELEINE sound. I think we got a good balance throughout the album.
‘Dancing In Hell’ is the title of your upcoming album that will be out on November 27th. Dancing with Mr. D. sounds like fun, but how do you see hell?
MADELEINE: Haha, I’m an atheist. So I don’t believe in neither heaven nor hell in a religious sense. It’s not about dancing with the devil. The hell we portray is your own personal hell. We all have either been there or are there right now. ‘Dancing In Hell’ is about how you need to learn how to navigate in your hell, whatever it may be, tame and dance around the flames and don’t let them burn you too hard. If you do this, then you will come out the other side, with a smile on your face feeling stronger than ever before. Now it’s you….and the entire ELEINE Legion by your side.
The album will be out on your own label Black Lodge Records again. What made you decide to start your own record company?
MADELEINE: I think information has been mixed here. Black Lodge Records is not our own label… I wish, haha! Our own label is called Algoth Records, where we released ‘Until The End‘ and had distribution through Sound Pollution Distribution. The EP ‘All Shall Burn‘ and this full-length album will be released through Black Lodge Records who have been working with great bands like Sabaton, Twilight Force, The Hellacopthers, etc. earlier.
Looking at the song titles, it’s not a ‘bed of roses’ on ‘Dancing In Hell’. Let’s pick out 3 tracks and then you tell us what they’re about:
‘Crawl From The Ashes’
MADELEINE: This one is about standing up to those that rule with greed and fill our minds with lies. We need to make them burn and fall.
‘Where Your Rotting Corpse Lie (W.Y.R.C.L.)’
MADELEINE: A song of ultimate deceit and retribution.
‘Die From Within’
MADELEINE: This track is very close to both Rikard and myself. It’s a song about loss. In 2019 I went through a personal hell. My best friend, my dog, my other half since I was 13 got a tumor, a mean one. It was placed so badly there was nothing to do. I fought, for months, trying to do everything we possibly could, but in the end – there was nothing left to do. To me, the moment I had to decide to let him go to forever sleep, and the moment I saw and felt him take his last breath has been traumatic in a way. I would never undo it, because I wanted to be there for him and with him. But the scars it has left is still a hell. I couldn’t write anything the first month, I could barely do anything. Rikard has been through kind of the same thing but a bit differently. He knew my pain. He came to me one day showing a song he had made, just the basics but still… it had the calm and chaos that I’ve felt and still feel about all of this. He finished the melody, and together we set the lyrics when the time was right.
On November 7th, ELEINE will play at The Tivoli in Helsingborg, Sweden. Are you looking forward to that after such a long time and how much did you miss live gigs?
MADELEINE: Unfortunately that show has been postponed since Rotting Christ won’t be able to make it to Sweden. I really looked forward to it so it really sucks that it has been postponed, but it’s for the best. As I’m writing this we’re 2 hours away of releasing the news about our own Covid-19 adjusted releaseparty we’re gonna have and the tickets are about to be released too! I’m really looking forward to this in November 28th ☺.
In February/March of 2020, you had to cancel your tour with Myrath due to COVID-19 restrictions. Are you going to pick up that tour again in 2021 to support your new album?
MADELEINE: We were on the tour and had been for 3 weeks out of 5, so it really hurt to cancel and go back home. The tour was great and it was a huge success for ELEINE. Who knows what happens next year, we’ll see.
In the past, you also did some modeling for magazines. Are you thinking of doing this again next year? Perhaps for a tattoo magazine?
MADELEINE: Still do when there’s time! ☺ It’s always about the time, haha. Hoping to have time for more this upcoming Winter, but as with everything else.. we’ll see.
Thanks to Johan Haller at Sound Pollution for making this interview possible!