Interview with Elina Siirala of Leaves’ Eyes & AngelNation

Interviewed by Joshua Becker & Jessica Clingempeel
© Ethereal Metal Webzine

As you know, Liv Kristine is no longer with the band. How do you feel in terms of filling her shoes? Are you scared about competing with her legacy, or are you confident you can make a name for yourself?

It’s now been two years already since I joined the band but even in the start I didn’t think of it as competing or trying to fill someone else’s shoes. I knew my voice is completely different and I needed to bring my own personality on stage. For me the most important thing is always to do the best job I can do. The fans have been extremely supportive and the feedback I’ve had from live shows has been amazing. I’m very grateful for how everything has panned out over these two years!

Did you ever listen to, or hear of the band before joining?

I knew the band of course but I wasn’t familiar with their music apart from a couple of songs.

How did you apply to become a singer for Leaves’ Eyes?

I didn’t apply, it happened a bit differently. I was supporting Leaves’ eyes with my own band AngelNation back in November 2015 in London where we briefly met and said hello. After a few months I got a call and invite to Germany, where I flew without yet knowing what it was about. I then found out it was in fact about Leaves’ Eyes and that they were interested in me becoming the new singer. So it was a surprise to say the least!

Since you are from Finland originally, and the band is based in Germany, did you have to move to Germany, or do you still reside in Finland?

I am from Finland but I’ve been living in London since 2008 and I’m still living here.

What is the future for the band AngelNation (formerly known as EnkeliNation)? Will you be continuing the journey with them as well or are you moving forward with Leaves’ Eyes?

We released our second album “Aeon” in October and did a tour in Europe so we’re still continuing the journey.

What are some musicians you would love to work with if given the chance?

I already joined Battle Beast on stage on our US tour but it would be great to record some new music with Noora as she has a killer voice!

Are any of your family members in bands, and/or music teachers?

All my family are classical musicians and also teachers. My mum is a violinist and you can hear her playing on the track ‘Music Plays’ from ‘Aeon’. My brother and dad are both pianists.

To you, what are the best and worst things about touring?

Best things are playing great shows, seeing all the new places and meeting so many lovely people. Also meeting fellow musicians and forming friendships.

Worst is definitely to get ill and having to perform night after night when feeling very bad. Touring is demanding for sure so as a vocalist it can be extra challenging when you have to try and take care of your voice.

If you could change one thing about the Industry, what would it be?

It would be great if everyone realized that being a musician is a job and no matter what the circumstances or music genre, we also need to get payed. You wouldn’t expect to get any other service for free, so it’s sad that so many people still think it’s ok to ask musicians play for free.

Have you always been a fan of metal and want to make a career in that genre or did something/someone sway your interest that way?

I grew up with classical music and only got more into rock and metal once i moved to London. I really loved performing that style and liked the power of the music. Through friends I got to know more and more and all that lead to the formation of Angel Nation.

If you could sum yourself up in just a few sentences, who is Elina? What are her likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses? What makes you, you?

I’m very genuine and down to earth person who doesn’t take themselves too seriously. There’s definitely an inner child in me, I love to laugh and be silly and I’m a total sugar addict. I obviously love being creative and I would describe myself as a strong person but also very sensitive. I work very hard and can be a bit of a perfectionist which makes me stressed often and maybe because of my Finnish roots it can take a while for people to get under the surface with me. I can be a bit shy and I’m the worst at promoting myself which is definitely a weakness in this industry! 😀

I dislike egoistic and rude people, unfairness and faking/pretending.

Apart from Leaves’ Eyes and Angel Nation, are you taking part in any other projects?

At the moment I’m very busy with the two bands, teaching and a job but hopefully there will be opportunities in the future to take part in other projects too.

Musically, where is your vocal range and how many years have you been studying classical music?

That depends a lot on the song and other factors but I have a soprano range. I can’t sing very low as I rarely use my chest voice. I studied a degree in Finland which took five years and then I studied contemporary styles a further year in London

As a vocal coach, have you or do you think about opening your own music school some day?

Never say never but with the schedule I have currently it wouldn’t be possible.

Given what you know now, not only about the band, but also yourself, where do you see yourself in about 5 years?

That’s a difficult question as I don’t tend to plan things so far ahead. I’ve definitely learnt that very unexpected things can happen in life. I hope I’ll be happy in both, my professional and personal lives

What operas have you partaken in and what was your favourite?

I sang in Nozze di Figaro (Mozart) and Almira (Händel) plus in many other opera fragments during my studies. They were all great experiences but one of my favourite was being Despina (Cosi fan tutte/Mozart) in a scene where she’s pretending to be a doctor, I had to sing with a funny voice etc.

Would you say you are more of a leader or a follower, and why?

I would say that I’m in between and I can be in both roles. It depends on the situation completely. It’s the same with working alone or in a group: sometimes I find working alone much more enjoyable and productive but other times it’s much better to get the support of others.

What is your most prized and treasured possession you cannot live without?

I don’t think I have anything I couldn’t live without. I’m not very materialistic person in general but if i have to say something, it would probably be a backup drive with all my files (music, pictures). I’d be very sad if I lost all those memories and songs I’ve written etc.

In regard to fashion, are there any particular designers you wear or do you just throw something on?

I just buy clothes I think look good and fit me. I really couldn’t care less about designers. I have a sewing machine so I often alter clothing and make my own stage outfits by combining several pieces together.

If you could change one thing on earth, whether it be in your own life, or any past event, what would it be and why?

The way technology has changed the world in relatively short time is quite scary. It would be great if people stepped back a bit from their virtual worlds and started living in the present. The gap between rich and poor has grown bigger and I feel like world has become a bit colder place, people caring less about others and interacting less.

In a world devastated by so much tragedy recently, what would be a message of hope if you were asked to be a peacemaker for the entire planet?

It’s again the extremes that have really soared in the past few years. If people would have a bit more patience instead of this attitude of everything, right now. If they would have more consideration for others instead of everyone being out for themselves it would make small changes. We are the biggest enemy after all, but unfortunately people rarely change.

What was the most difficult thing you ever had to experience? How did you handle it?

I would say that putting down our family dog and getting over a heartbreak were some of the toughest things. As cliche as it is, time is the best healer. And I had amazing support from my family and friends which was absolutely crucial. I also channeled a lot of it into being creative and writing music. Even now, over ten years later, I wrote a song about our dog which is on the new Angel Nation album.

If someone were to ask you what our purpose is on the earth, what would you say?

Wow, what a deep question! I guess it would be to fulfill whatever dreams we have. The richness is that our dreams are very different so that makes the earth very diverse place.

When you need some time away from the world, is there a special location, song, or anything you have to reflect and feel better?

There are a lot of songs that bring back very strong memories. I love nature and if possible, going for a walk into a forest is a great way to clear your mind. Sometimes it’s nice to switch off the phone and laptop and maybe do some exercise.

What is the best advice someone has ever given you, and do you still follow it today?

In relation to the world that’s obsessed with looks and superficial things, my mum said one time that “at the end of the day it all becomes about what kind of life you’ve lived.”

I try to keep things in perspective and remember what really is important.

If a little girl came up to you and asked you how she could become a musician, what is the best advice you could give her?

Find a teacher who you feel good with and get to know your instrument. Be persistent even when you feel there’s no progress happening. Be open to opportunities but be prepared to face disappointments and pick yourself up. Help others on your way up!

How do you show your altruistic side?

I hope in small ways every day! I’ve learnt that it’s impossible to make everyone happy but small things can go far.

I recently discovered you’re Tuomas Holopainen’s second cousin. Were you ever involved in Nightwish in any way? Did you ever meet the band and/or the former members?

We’ve only met with Tuomas when we were much younger so I have never been involved in Nightwish. I’ve never met any of the members either, hopefully someday there will be an opportunity to do that.

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