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Never Say Never: An Exclusive Interview With ELINA SIIRALA Of LEAVES' EYES

By Larry Petro, News Monkey
Friday, October 30, 2020 @ 11:40 AM

"I’m one of those who just likes songs from different bands so I don’t have any specific favorite band."

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Interview By Anyssa Gomez

Viking Metal experts LEAVES' EYES have done it again. In this the year of many new albums, they have released their own masterpiece: The Last Viking. The album tells the tale of the last Viking King Hardrada, and the battle of 1066. It’s an epic, powerful and majestic soundscape that will sweep you off your feet. It has all the things one would expect from an album about a mighty warrior and his last historic battle.

Naturally, I was excited to get the opportunity to speak to the band’s stunningly beautiful singer, Elina Siirala, on behalf of KNAC.COM. This Finnish soprano has made a name for herself in the metal world, first with her band ANGEL NATION, and now with LEAVES' EYES. “I got into metal when I moved to London in 2008.”, she elaborates, “I was doing my music degree and I met people who introduced me to the metal world in London, the clubs, the underground scene and I really loved it.”

She seems to have quite a varied taste in music, “I’m one of those who just likes songs from different bands so I don’t have any specific favorite band. I really love 80s rock and metal though, like my friends from Finland: BATTLE BEAST. I love classical music as well. It’s hard to pick and choose a favourite because I enjoy many different types of music.”

Her extensive training, experience and versatile taste is well portrayed on their latest album. Listening to it, one can’t help but feel as though it was written just for her. Her voice shines and she seems right at home with the musicians. “I mean when you’re a singer and the musicians get to know your voice, they will try to cater to that because it doesn’t make sense otherwise,” she says. “But it’s not just that. We are all flexible as well. Some songs we had to work on, change the key because it wasn’t in the right key for my voice. There is always room to try different things. But you’re right, I felt very comfortable working on this album, and it was cool to experiment with everything.”

Listening to her, one would get the impression that it’s effortless. Don’t be fooled though, even experts have challenges. I can’t help but wonder which was the most difficult song for her. “I wouldn’t say there was one that was more difficult than others. Some just have challenges of their own, like "Serpents and Dragons", where the chorus has those high notes and fast lyrics, so I had to get all the words in there. It was a bit tough to sing those fast lyrics like that. Then on some songs, the notes were lower but I needed to find a way to bring the feeling and punchiness of the words into the song. For example, "Two Kings One Realm", I wanted to create a specific tone to suit it. So it’s all those little details that can be tricky,” she chuckles a bit at that, “but it’s also really cool, I like that work in the studio.” It would seem, as the saying goes, that the devil is in the details.

Speaking of details, Alexander Krull, the Viking expert of LEAVES' EYES, has weaved a beautiful tale lyrically speaking. “Yeah that’s all Alex’s area. It was his concept idea and he is the Viking guy of the band. He is very immersed into the saga and history and the re-enactment scene as well. He did a lot of research to write the lyrics and of course he knew about a lot of these things before.” Alex’s enthusiasm for all things Viking has rubbed off on Elina just a bit. “It’s definitely fascinating what they do. It’s a huge scene and they are very passionate and talented; they practice a lot and of course the history is great to learn about, I find that interesting. It’s always cool to learn about these things and they fit so well into the music, which is the most important thing.” There are many strong and inspiring female characters within Norse mythology. Elina finds all the characters fascinating and is quite happy that the new album includes many of the female ones. “I really loved portraying the Valkyrie on the album cover!” she says ecstatically. Hopefully we will see her as a Valkyrie in a music video too. Hint Hint!

Along with the album, a short film called The Viking Spirit will be released as well. You will get this DVD if you purchase the hardcover artbook package. Only 1066 units to be released, the number being symbolic of the year in which the story of the album takes place. The film takes viewers on a journey into the modern Viking re-enactment scene, which is a thriving subculture on its own. It made me reflect on the fact that I have many friends who have turned away from secular beliefs and back to paganism. Many have taken quite a deep dive into it, even outside of re-enactments and such. Elina shares her thoughts on why this shift towards the old may be occurring, “What comes to mind right away is that it could be due to the modern world being so fast paced. People have endless choices yet more people seem to be unhappy. Everyone is consumed by this world and the demanding way of life, social media and all those things. Maybe people just want to strip all that away and get back to the basics, live a simpler life, find their roots so to speak. That’s how I see it myself anyway.” Unbeknownst to her, she echoes my own conclusions about that topic. I often see this consumer driven world as somewhat soulless. The old traditions and beliefs have more substance, more connection to nature and give us a greater sense of purpose. “Definitely,” Elina continues, “and it allows for truly connecting with people as opposed to being stuck on your phone all the time.”

Connecting with people is the one thing we haven’t been able to do for a lot of this year. That tiny virus certainly brought the world to a screeching halt. But luckily for us, it didn’t stop LEAVES' EYES from recording their album. “It was good timing actually, because lockdowns happened while we were in studio,” explains Elina. Naturally nobody knows when they will be able to play live for large audiences again, despite having such an upbeat album that’s sure to have the crowds dancing. A livestream would be great, but nothing beats that in-person, perfect performance. Elina is hopeful for that, just like we all are. “It’s quite an uncertain time now. We would love to bring the album live to people. I think the guys have been in discussions with the booking agent, but we must wait and see. The regulations change very often too so that makes it difficult to plan anything. But let’s hope that something will be possible!” We all hope so, meanwhile the world has changed quite a lot and it seems that creative juices are flowing for a lot of metal musicians. “It’s all forced people to slow down,” Elina adds. “Of course it’s been hard too, but we all had to find ways to cope. Creativity is one of them.”

She’s quite the creative one herself, with her band ANGEL NATION. Their last album was released back in simpler times, namely 2017. Elina plans to release more music in future. “ANGEL NATION is my first baby, where everything started. I really love creating music and writing lyrics. For a long time, I wasn’t feeling the inspiration for writing…I was frustrated about it to be honest. Then it came back and I was writing quite a lot. And then came the pandemic, like a hurricane in my life, so that’s put a stop to it. But I hope I can find a way to bring those songs together because there’s always going to be music in my life. I don’t think I can live without it.” The same can be said for us passionate fans, certainly of myself. This year has been hard, and music got me through a lot of it. Seeing so many new albums from great bands was amazing. Elina elaborates on how it’s been for her. “I have to say that I’m grateful for what the band and I have been able to do this year. Recording an album, filming several music videos, continuing my vocal coaching. I can’t complain to be honest.” Keeping busy is one of the best ways to avoid being affected by the things we cannot control, such as current events and the future.

“Who knows what the future holds. "Never say never,” Elina says, after I enquire about whether or not she will ever move back to her northern homeland. “In 2008 I moved to London and now for the past two year I’ve been living in Germany. I love Finland and I love visiting my parents. We have a great summer house there and it’s always a pleasure to go back there.” I visited Finland back in 2018…oh those simple times. It’s a lovely place, with so many more trees and lakes than people. It’s not hard to see why many great bands and singers hail from there. Like all you readers, I look forward to the day when I can visit again during the summer of festivals. Maybe even catch LEAVES' EYES live. Elina is very much looking forward to that. “I am always grateful to the fans for supporting us and following us and leaving such kind reactions and words. I hope you will all love the album and that we can play live very soon!”

It was an absolute pleasure to chat with her. She even left me with some haircare advice to share. “I try to use shampoos without parabens or sulphates, and of course hair oils to keep it moisturized. Other than that, I don’t do much. Eating is a big part of it because the right foods and vitamins help your hair as well.”

There you have it folks! Be sure to catch The Last Viking on October 23rd.

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