Interview with MADELEINE LILJESTAM & RIKARD EKBERG from ELEINE was held  on 26 October 2023, after the concert in Zagreb held with Pain and Ensiferum.

Q: The concert just ended, what are the impressions of the Croatian audience?
RIKARD: Just as great as the last time
MADELEINE: Yeah, absolutely great, they were wild!
RIKARD: Yeah, we got a lot of happy faces and the classic stank face, which is a recognition on its own.

Croatia was full of energy!

Q: Can you compare the feedback from different countries you visited, what are the differences in mentality and atmosphere at the concerts?
RIKARD: There’s always a lot of joy at our concerts
MADELEINE: And appreciation. It varies a lot. For instance, in the Netherlands all were so polite, they just liked standing there and clapping:) They would enjoy it but not shout as much. But we know that and we love them for being who they are. After that we went to Paris and they were fuckin wild!
RIKARD: France is crazy!! In a good way! And, Croatia… Croatia was full of energy!
MADELEINE: Each and every country has their own kind of crowd and they participate in their own way. We know that and all is OK:) They are as much as decided as others and we appreciate that. They show their appreciation in their own way. We learned how they are and they are perfect just the way they are.
RIKARD: I’m super boring at shows.
MADELEINE: Me also! I just stand by the mixing table and watch:) But, again it was a great crowd tonight!

We are supposed to be kind, flirty and I say: fuck that!

Q: Can you tell me something about your impressions about the woman in metal? Advantages or disadvantages and have you encountered any prejudice?
MADELEINE: Wow, that’s a big question! There are so many things one can choose to discuss- I’m not one of those people and I don’t like when people talk about female fronted metal bands as a genre. That’s a no go for me completely. I’m a musician, a songwriter, and I produce music. I am part of the metal community as well as a musician and a vocalist. I happen to be a female and I sound like a female, but I don’t put more thought into it. Of course, within a business I notice how people can treat you. I can not speak for everyone, but unfortunately, I have noticed there are people that have a problem when a lady speaks up for herself. Like its expected that we are supposed to be kind, flirty and I say: fuck that! I’m sorry, if it has to be that I have to be somewhat of a rebel, so be it! I will always speak up for myself and I encourage everyone to do so, no matter what gender they are. Luckily, it’s not the majority. Only the ones with ego problems. Majority people in this industry, in metal, are kind and professional. There’s a minority that is in this business to fulfil their ego. And I always say: “just go fuck yourself”!

Q: Have you ever encountered prejudice during your career?
MADELEINE: The only thing I think is a shame for others is eg. If they see a photo of ELAINE, us as a band. They just think: “Awwhh, its just another melo-band” and it’s a shame as I experienced so many people coming in after the show saying “I fucking love black and death metal, but I fucking loved you guys! Holy shit, it was good!”. Usually they express that they didn’t expect that and that is fine! It’s a shame that people just see a picture and decide they don’t like this. There are also so many reviews for which I believe that they didn’t even listen to the album!

Q: Because of prejudice?
RIKARD: Well, they just think it’s a certain type of music and don’t wanna explore further. Not a prejudice as such.
MADELEINE: But we cannot say that we sound like this or this band as we are doing our own thing. We have different influences and our biggest influence is not symphonic metal! It’s trash, black, death metal and so on and we really have our own kind of thing. We will continue to do our own thing but it’s up to people to maybe think ahead and think: “Maybe I could give this a chance.”. It’s not up to us.

Q: Do you have a special thing, we could call it “my precious” thing? Something that you always bring on tours?
MADELEINE: I have my shower sandals. That is one of the most important things as I am not stepping into a shower without these shower sandals on my feet. And the particular pair I have now, I think they were with me on 4 or 5 really long tours.
RIKARD: Now everyone in the band has this flip-flop for showers and that is now our thing:)
MADELEINE: My mom is a podiatrist and she always said: “Never step into a shower that you don’t know. If it’s not your own- have sandals.”. Fungus is horrific. They are holy, the sandals- you know?

Q: Now that we are at these medical issues; that brings us back to corona times? How was that overall experience with the lockdown and everything for you? Did you realise something more about you or something pushed you forward even more?
MADELEINE: We realised how important the relationship we have with our fans- how really important that is to us! We can only speak for ourselves, we cannot speak for other bands. We valued our fans before, we always did that, but we grew even closer to them as we have put a lot of work into a new album at the time and we just came closer to everyone. This legion we are talking about. This legion we have, our fans call themselves the legion which is really fuckin cute! They grew so much that I just felt that we grew closer. That is something that I will always have with me from that time, from Covid era. We promised ourselves that we have to stay busy to stay sane. If we didn’t do that we would probably lose our shit and become depressed. And we did. And in that way we stayed closer to the fans. We stayed busy and we managed to push through. We practiced every week. We didn’t have a lock down as it was totally different in Sweden. We were able to rehearse once a week and we were very thorough about how we did it. But also, we kept the spirit alive. We imagined the fans in front of us and always felt that we are ready whenever this is over. And we were!

Q: People are talking about post-Covid area and the new renaissance ahead of us? What have you noticed in post corona time that is different from before?
MADELEINE: There’s less phones in the crowd. Before Covid people were just standing and filming for a very long time or entire time. And now they just film a bit and then enjoy the concert. And I think the audience is wilder and more present in the moment!

Q: How is the tour going? Did you expect such a large audience? As the concert switched from a smaller venue to this larger one?
RIKARD: We have been on tour from last year, like for fucking nonstop:) We are just continuing as last year we started with Sonata Artica, came back and then went on a tour with Camelot in Europe, before that we did 70.000 tons of Metal. We recorded a new album and then we went to North America with Moonspell. Afterwards we finished the festival season and now we are here. We’ve been on tour since last year and it feels good:) Going great!
MADELEINE: Honestly, all these bands and their crew…it’s such a great touring party! We work so well together, we work as a team. No ego problems with their bands, they are very humble, down to earth kind of people and I have the utmost respect for guys like Peter (Tägtgren), who is a great businessman, great musician, songwriter, everything. I really appreciate these guys. I will miss all of them!!

Q: This all sounds perfect, but how do you manage to have a private-work balance in order?
RIKARD: Private life on tour is an altered private life. You have your moments when you can be alone.
MADELEINE: As you said. It’s gonna be a private MOMENTS. Not actual time for yourself. But, usually you find your way. We’ve been touring for so long that you manage to find your moments. Eg. just now I sat outside and just felt the breeze and looked at the tall building and just thought to myself: “Yeah, I’m such a tiny thing in the universe” and gained a new perspective and here we go!
RIKARD: You also have your private time in the bathroom
MADELEINE: Bathroom time is holy time!!

Q: Did you have time to explore the cities
RIKARD: Sure! First time in Portugal, very nice. That was a great experience.

Q: It sounds perfect! You also don’t feel that your private life back home is affected by the absence?
MADELEINE: Much more like you find your way because this becomes your everyday life for a couple of weeks. It is just how it is. It’s all about making the time to call back home and making this your everyday life. We chose this as our profession and every profession has its ups and downs. You just have to manage and find your own way of dealing with things.

Q: What is your best and worst show you had?
RIKARD: Even if something bad happened, such as technical problems, I wouldn’t call it the worst gig. I don’t think of it in that way.
But, the best show we had on this tour is definitely Paris because the audience was insane, and of course Croatia:D
MADELEINE: Yes, we haven’t had this…shit shows. We’ve had challenges but the good thing is that whenever shitstorm started like technical issues, we had a good team response and that was perfect and valuable as we always managed. I cannot even think or remember that one show went to fucking hell or something like that. Of course, there were times we thought that we didn’t do well but people appreciated it and it was OK. But the show never went to shit.
RIKARD: That is more of our too high standards that we did think that we did poorly but in reality: it was all good. Yes, we are lucky in the aspect of not having shit shows!

Q: How do you manage keeping track with the online critics and critics in general?
MADELEINE: It’s individuals that write these things and some people suck. Like you cannot read a bad review and think that you need to do everything completely different as its just one guy. I don’t mind, I only mind that he didn’t really listen before he wrote it. There are good reviews also, but in general I believe if you do not have anything good to say- just continue to scroll. That is just their opinion and I don’t have to care. Constructive criticism is always welcome but when someone is saying- “This sucks”- it is not constructive.
If you go to our YouTube channel, the majority is positive. But those negatives are incredible, eg. if they don’t know what to attack- they attack the way I look. But honestly, I don’t care.

Sometimes you step down, sometimes you hold your ground. Pick your fights!

Q: Can you tell me something about the creative process in the band? How do you create and come to agreement about the direction you are headed to?
RIKARD: We always create what feels right. That is our starting and our end point.
MADELEINE: Our moto from the start.
RIKARD: Madeleine and I create everything, music and lyrics.
MADELEINE: Like we said, no one is coming to a band with a sense that they have an ego they want to fulfil. Because they would never fit. Leave that outside and focus on Elaine and what Elaine is all about. I’ve had ideas I thought were great, but you didn’t like it and it was also the other way around. It just came to a point we had to sit down and discuss: “Is this Elaine? Is it really good?” and then, one would step down and accept the other ideas also. Leave the ego outside of the band and you will have less headaches.
RIKARD: And it’s gonna be rough sometimes, but you have to be able to say: “Sorry” or: ”I was wrong” sometimes and you have to be able to come to a mutual conclusion. Sometimes you step down, sometimes you hold your ground. Pick your fights! If you have an ego maniac in your band- kick them out of the band!

Q: How did you recognize each other and knew you are going to work so well together? How come you function so perfectly together?
MADELEINE: Communication and being a start forward.
RIKARD: And it’s never perfect and as Madeleine said: communication!
MADELEINE: We have to remind ourselves every once in a while: “The goal is Elaine!” and we did have people that didn’t quite fit and had to move forward.

Thank you so much!
Thank you!

The interview has been conducted by PH-Pit representatives: Pavao Hodap and Kristina Hećimović.

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