Dianne Van Giersbergen joined Xandria last year, after Manuela Kraller left the band. The band was already in the process of making their sixth studio album titled Sacrificium. Van Giersbergen, who is also a founding member of progressive metal act Ex Libris with whom he released two studio records: 2008′s Amygdala and this year’s Medea, talked with Prog Sphere about hew new role, touring with Xandria and future, among many other things.
What was the biggest challenge for you when you joined Xandria last year? Have you had any time rehearsing their song prior joining the band?
Before we could release the official announcement that I was to join Xandria, the guys and I met up with each other. When you set out to make a decision that will influence the balance of the band but also the course of your own live then its only logic that, before embarking the adventure, you want to learn if there is a connection there. But I can reassure you: in our case, both musically and on a personal level, there surely was! Me joining Xandria has been nothing short of a dream. I have been received so very warm by their fans and followers, have had the honour and pleasure to immediately start touring (Spain/70.000Tons of Metal/Mexico City/etc) ánd last but not least have recorded our amazing new album: ‘Sacrificium’. I cannot really say if there was ever a challenge in all this. I take each day as it comes and am open to new experiences. Everything I do so far I fully enjoyed!
This style that the band creates is emotionally quite demanding, I would say.
I would not say it is demanding since it’s in my nature to really connect emotionally when I sing. Not to say that I will dive into my own emotions and personal feelings and let them have the better of me!
With Xandria almost every song is from a narrators point of view. With that I tell the story and lure the listener into the song, into the fantasy created in the lyric. The emotions I will portray when singing these songs resemble the colour of the landscape in the song, and with that the audience will feel if it’s bitter, filled with hope or with anger.
Funny that you say that Xandria has a more classical approach, I have also heard it the other way around. For me I think it’s a bit of both. There is much more to the profession of classical singing then only using vibrato on a tone. Xandria and Ex Libris feature a different style of singing: while Xandria is more lyrical, Ex Libris has more of the expressionism influences. But both bands have me as their lead singer and I will always approach a vocal from a classic point of view, mix it up with the more popular vocal techniques and blend them together so that it becomes the perfect sound for the band.
From what I understand, the new Xandria record Sacrificium was almost completed when you joined the band. Were there any space for you to implement your creative input to the whole process?
Yes, I have wrote two lyrics to the album Little Red Relish and Sweet Atonement. Next to that we were able to change some vocal lines a bit so that my voice could blossom.
Have you managed to make any new discoveries in terms of performing or songwriting with Sacrificium?
This is also something I take on with an open mind. Performing with Xandria is different then from Ex Libris and I think the more shows we do the better I will come to understand what this difference is. But of course both bands need a enthusiastic leading woman up front and that’s something I can give them. Whenever I hit the stage I am there for the full 100% and more!
In terms of songwriting I cannot give a clear answer. With Xandria, Marco Heubaum is our main songwriter and since all the songs were already done when I joined I did not get to see them grow. With Ex Libris every song is a combination of the talent, skills and ideas of the 5 musicians that form the band. It’s not written upfront but born through improvisation and jamming whenever we meet up.
What evolution do you feel Sacrificium represents comparing with everything you’ve done before?
Ask me this in another year and I hope I can answer it for you then. At this point, just 2 weeks before releasing the album I dare not say.
Although the album is not released yet officially, it received some quite good reviews from the media. Are you satisfied with this response so far?
Every positive review is a compliment and shows appreciation for the music that you make. I feel very blessed with all the positive reviews we have had but can also rely to some of the feedback from the negative reviews we’ve had. Having studied music for 7 years at the conservatory makes me a good judge of the work I sing but has also thought me that not all is about technique and virtuosity. Sometimes the only thing that counts it that it touches your heart.
You have an extensive tour scheduled after the album is released on May 2nd. What can fans expect from Xandria’s live performance?
We really look forward to start our “Sacrificium” tour this May and perform our new songs live for the first time! But fans can surely also expect our hits from the ‘Neverworld’s End’ CD ánd some of the older songs with especially ‘Ravenheart’ that will have its 10th anniversary this May.
Do you feel that your joining Xandria in some way represent a new beginning for you?
No, I would say it’s a new chapter to my life and carrier. Saying that it is a new beginning would be denigrating to the studies, performances and collaborations I did before. It’s important to not forget that I wouldn’t be where I am now, front woman to Xandria, if all of those past accomplishments weren’t there.
What non-musical entities and ideas have an impact on your work? What do you hope to accomplish at the end of the day?
I have always felt the need to give people ‘something’ when singing. This can be comfort, companionship, sharing grief, etc. I love reading books, watching series and movies. Diving into these stories makes me want to portray them in a lyric or song on stage and share what I’ve felt in the moments special to me.
What does the future hold?
I don’t know and that’s the best part about it! I can try to foretell what will happen and try to live up to that but then I will only be busy with chasing this goal and not enjoying all the steps in between. I take live one day at a time, try to enjoy what is to come but most of all: value everything I have, have done and am proud to look back at.
Xandria’s new album Sacrificium is out on May 2nd on Napalm Records. Get it here.