Dianne Van Giersbergen, Xandria/Ex Libris interview

dianne van giersbergenWith Xandria’s new album, Sacrificium, due out on 5th May, Planetmosh spoke to the band’s new singer, Dianne Van Giersbergen.

You joined Xandria late last year after Manuella left the band.  How did you come to join – did they approach you?

Dianne: They knew me via the producer Joost Van Den Broek who is a Dutch producer who knows me through my other band, Ex Libris.  He knew that Xandria was looking for a new singer and recommended me, so that’s how it all started.

As well as being the singer for Xandria you’re still going to remain in Ex Libris.

Yes I will be in both bands.  Ex Libris was founded over ten years ago and the music style is very different – Ex Libris makes progressive metal, and for me I feel that being in two bands that make such different music is ok.  I could never be front lady in two similar bands, that would be strange.

Vocally it’s a different approach, a different style of singing – Xandria is way more classical and the beauty of the voice, and with Ex Libris it’s much more about outing emotions.

Xandria’s new album, Sacrificium is due to be released at the start of May.  Were you involved in the writing for the album or was it already written when you joined?

They had got pretty far.  They sent me the demos with some vocal lines on them but there was still room for me to change some things to the way that is more suitable for my voice.  Not changing too much the feel of the music – it’s important that the music stays true to the view of Marco who writes all the songs, but the vocal lines and my voice need to benefit from each other and I think we’ve managed that with the new album.

What about the lyrics – had they been written before you joined?

The lyrics hadn’t been written, so we’ve gone back and forth with ideas and we’ve ended up that I wrote the lyrics for two songs and Marco who writes the songs and has the bigger view about what the album should be about, wrote the other lyrics.

Planetmosh: Two of the first tour dates you have after the album is released are London and then the Dames of Darkness festival.

For me the Dames of Darkness is the second time around.  I did it last year with Ex Libris and I’m very much looking forward to coming back to the festival.

It’s looking like a great lineup at Dames of Darkness againt his year.

We’re also bringing our friends from Stream of Passion, my fellow Dutchies.

It’s noticeable that the Dutch bands do seem to support each other a lot.

Yes that’s true.  I’m very much into supporting.  I don’t believe in criticism, I prefer to support each other.  Everyone has a unique selling point.  I think all the bands in the Netherlands are very supportive of each other.

After the UK dates you’ve got some shows in Germany then a couple of festivals at the end of May.  What are the plans for the rest of the year?

We’ve got the tour with Sonata Arctica and Delain in the North of America and Canada.  There are many dates in that tour so we are looking forward to that already.  After that we have some shows lined up but they aren’t published yet so I can’t tell you about them.

Earlier this year you played 70,000 tons of metal with Xandra – how did you enjoy playing on a cruise ship?

That’s such an amazing festival.  if it was up to me I’d play that every year.  It’s almost like a holiday but we have to play too.

Before your first shows with Xandria, how long did it take you to learn the songs?

It took quite a while, but due to my classical studies I’m used to studying large amounts of music.  If you’re studying Opera you have to prepare three hours of music so as Xandria headline shows are one and a half hours it wasn’t something that I was worried about doing.  For me I love the process of getting to know the music and getting to learn who I can be in this music.  I can’t really put a timeframe to it, it has to grow on me or it wouldn’t be real.

I imagine you have to learn the music and the lyrics, then learn how to perform them live with the rest of the band

Yes true, but when studying I always imagine being on stage or in a rehearsal room with the band, so when I am it comes naturally to me.

You’re going to be busy being in two bands with touring and recordings.

Well the recordings are done luckily – I’ll never do that again, recording two albums in the same timeframe.  When I was studying the Xandria songs, I was also studying the Ex Libris songs for the recording, and also the recordings for someone else, so there was a lot of work.  It’s not exactly sitting back and relaxing now but I can take a step back and enjoy.

The Ex Libris album was recorded after an Indiegogo campaign.  How did you find that experience?

It worked really well actually.  What we decided on doing was not doing a campaign where fans could buy a dinner or private show, we really wanted to pre-sell the album to get the money first and to then spend it on making the album, so we set a low number and made sure people knew we were also going to be investing in the album.  That way it wouldn’t be “Please come and pay for our album so we can make music”, I think up to a certain point you have to invest yourself, and that was made clear to the audience.  The packages we had were all album pre-sales, T-shirts, Merch, stuff like that.

I’m guessing you got support from all ove the world with the campaign.

Yeah that was pretty cool to find out.  We weren’t expecting to be sending CDs to Japan, Canada, America, Mexico.  That was when we found out where the fan base actually is.  We had a supporter who ordered the CD through the campaign and then took it with him to the 70,000 tons of metal cruise so the CD had been sent by us to Australia and then travelled to 70,000 tons of metal where I signed it and it then returned home to Australia with its owner.  That’s pretty cool.

It must be good to find out where you have fans like that, as it’s useful information when planning tours.

yes of course.

What I found very heartwarming was that when the Xandria news came out, I saw people asking who I was and then I saw other people recommending me and telling others who I am and what I do with Ex Libris, so it was nice to see people speaking up for me.

It must help Ex Libris too because fans who like what they hear of you with Xandria might check out Ex Libris too.

Yes of course that is also what Ex Libris hopes for, that me being in Xandria with help.  We lose some flexibility of course with me being in two bands but they support me big time and we’ve been friends for so long.  They see the Win in this, that Ex Libris gets more attention.

Are there any Ex Libris live shows planned?

We have to shows planned in the UK. We play the Robin 2 as support for Imperia, and also headline the Valkyrian fest.  We should have more shows coming up too.

About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.