“I grew up on classical music” – interview with Elina Siirala from Leaves’ Eyes

Elina Siirala has been in the music industry for many years. Music has always played an important role in her life, for example, she formed the English melodic metal band Angel Nation (previously known as EnkElination) a few years back. In 2016 she joined the German symphonic metal band, Leaves’ Eyes. The band had a tour throughout Europe with Kamelot during autumn 2018. In Budapest, we had an opportunity to do an exclusive interview with the beautiful Finnish singer.

Well, it’s always hard to be “The New Singer” of a well-known band. When you scroll down the comment section you might see some cheering ones, but most of the comments are usually quite nasty. However, Elina didn’t have any negative experiences. “Actually, it wasn’t difficult, it wasn’t hard at all, because for me the whole online thing is a separate thing. And I didn’t get involved, I mean I know how it all went, what happened and what didn’t happen. I knew that for me the most important thing is to learn the songs and do a good job on stage because I didn’t have much time.

So, of course, it was a lot of pressure on me back then. But when I met people I’ve never had any problems.

People have always been very nice and supportive and I think most people understand that it’s a big change and it’s okay not to like changes sometimes, and I’m a very different singer and performer. So you don’t have to like or hate something, you can just say that ’well, it’s just different’ and then you know… Some people prefer, and some people don’t, so… For me, it hasn’t been bad at all, actually. I received really nice comments and everything.”

Photo: Péter Tepliczky / MyTouche Blog

But let’s back to the beginnings – for Elina it wasn’t a question at all, which road is hers because her family is full of musicians (did you know? Elina is the second cousin of Tuomas Holopainen who is the leader of Nightwish). “My both parents are teachers. My father is a pianist and my mom is a violinist and my brother is also a pianist. To be honest, it wasn’t really a decision. I always loved music and singing. I grew up on classical music. I started to take lessons when I was 17 and it just kinda happened – I went to an audition for a music school and was very happy to be accepted. The next five years I was studying for a degree in classical music.

When I’ve finished school I actually I didn’t see my future as a classical singer. So I moved to London and I’ve studied there for a year. After that, I founded own band because I really loved rock music and I knew people, who introduced me to the metal scene – and then it just went on its own. In my family pretty much everyone is musicians, so they’ve always been very supportive.”

When we asked her what was the wisest advice what has been ever given to her, she replied:  “Of course, you constantly meet people and they tell you things… Like I said, my parents have always been very supportive so even though they knew how difficult it is to be a musician nowadays and make a living out of it and kinds of stuff, so… But they’ve always really wanted me to do what I love doing.

Photo: Péter Tepliczky / MyTouche Blog

So even when I’ve been feeling down and I worked really hard for the past 10 years, they always really encouraged me to just keep on going and helped me in many ways.

And of course, there’s a lot of people who probably given their opinions or advice but sometimes you shouldn’t really listen too much what other people say as well. Because otherwise you will be influenced too much and then you can’t find your own way.”

Photo: Péter Tepliczky / MyTouche Blog

That was the moment when I decided to ask her a quite strange question: if she would have been an instrument what it had been? “Oh, wow! It’s quite difficult, but…  I used to play the violin for 7 years when I was younger and there’s something similar about the voice and violin in a way that it’s quite a delicate instrument. It needs the resonance of the body and it’s difficult to master. Like you know, the violin part can sound horrible if you don’t know how to play it. (laughs) It’s a funny thing because when I started singing I remember what happened in one concert.

It was my second concert and I was so nervous. And people told me – even though I didn’t notice it – that I started playing violin with my arm, like I was still using the bow,

and they asked: ‘Didn’t you notice it?’ And I said: ‘No!’ (laugh). Maybe I had been a violin because I can identify violin in many ways.”

“I mainly use on my skin just natural essential oils, without all these chemicals and stuff. And it seems to work quite well”  – replied Elina when we asked about her beauty secrets. Photo: Péter Tepliczky / MyTouche Blog

Not only music, but sports have always played an important role in her life as well. “When I was younger I was super active. I was doing athletics, I was doing ballet, I was doing riding… Everything! But then I guess during the past years I kinda got busy with working stuff, and I made the big move to London and everything… It wasn’t a routine enough for me. Now, for 6 months I’m really back to the gym and maybe that’s why people are noticing that. (laugh) Because I grow muscles quite easily. But it’s really important to me, it makes you feel better in so many ways, it gives you energy, makes you less likely to get ill which really occurs on tours. Overall it just makes everything better. Of course, when you get older as well you got backaches, harms and stuffs like that. (laughs)

Before some shows, I go to the gym, because sometimes I have time for that too. When the bus comes around at 11 in the morning, I go to the gym and after that, I do the soundcheck. Then, of course, I have my routine of warming up my voice. I don’t really have to do a workout every day, it’s impossible anyway. It’s too tiring. (laugh) I do stretching every day and warming up.

When we asked about her favorite sport, she told us, she loved watching almost every kind of sports. “When I was in Finland I used to watch ice hockey. But I like a horse riding a lot. But I don’t really watch that much. I don’t really have a TV. (laughs) But the guys are crazy about football.”

Artwork by Fausto Dalla Chiara

And what about eating habits? “I don’t really eat so much meat. I just don’t really like it so much. And it also digests really slowly. If I have a lot of meat, for example, before a show I feel really heavy in my stomach. But of course, you need to get the right amount of protein and stuff. I just like eating, so… (laughs) I definitely appreciate anything nice.”

Don’t forget to check out the full gallery of  Leaves’ Eyes gig at Barba Negra.

Interview: Afrodite Szeleczky
Photos: Péter Tepliczky
Art: Fausto Dalla Chiara

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"I associate heavy metal with fantasy because of the tremendous power that the music delivers." - Christopher Lee

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