Interview Ivar de Graaf (Kingfisher Sky)

“We label ourselves as progressive with a hint to gothic”

(October 2010, text by Henri Strik, edited by Peter Willemsen, live pictures by Miranda Bril, band picture by Richard Hilgeman)

In 2001 drummer Ivar de Graaf left Within Temptation to start a new musical adventure with singer Judith Rijnveld. They named their new band Kingfisher Sky. In 2007 they released their debut album Hallway Of Dreams. Three years later the band released its successor Skin Of The Earth (see review). Founding member Ivar de Graaf, who plays some additional guitars and keyboards as well on the second release, was willing to tell Background a bit more about the band and their new album.

Can you tell us something about the origin of the band and who came up with the band name?

Ivar de Graaf : “We started the band in 2007. At first Judith Rijnveld, our lead singer, and I wrote and recorded seven songs by ourselves. After we got a record deal based on that demo, we formed a band. Judith and her mother came up with the name Kingfisher Sky. Her mother also designed the artwork for both albums. A kingfisher is a small, but colourful bird with a very large and sharp beak to catch fish with. That contrast between colourful and beautiful, but yet sharp and vicious are elements we put in our music as well. Judith had a mental image of a sky full of kingfishers, hence the name Kingfisher Sky.”

How would you label yourself? Does Kingfisher Sky play progressive rock, gothic or metal?

“I think our music goes more towards progressive rock rather than gothic or metal. Many people have described our music as ‘gothic metal’, but personally I think that’s not accurate. We label ourselves as progressive with a hint to gothic.”

When did you start working on Skin Of The Earth? Was it difficult to make a follow-up for Hallway Of Dreams?

“We never stopped writing after Hallway Of Dreams was released. It took us a while to find out which direction we wanted to go with the second album. In that sense it was difficult because at first, we felt nothing could top our debut album. After a rather long period of gathering ideas and writing songs the second album was assuming a definite shape. After that it was easy.”

Would you please introduce the musicians who played on Skin Of The Earth?

“We have Edo van der Kolk on electric and acoustic guitars, an extraordinary player and a friend of mine since high school. Bass player Eric Hoogendoorn, formerly of Orphanage, was also essential in the mixing and mastering process of Skin Of The Earth. Maaike Peterse joined us on cello. David Gutierrez Rojas is our new keyboard player and Chris Henny the new guitar player. They joined after the writing process and in the middle of the recordings, but they played on the album anyway. We have some guest musicians too: Ruud Jolie (Within Temptation) plays mandolin on two songs and Maaike’s friend Erika van der Berg plays the flute.”

Why did you invite Maaike Peterse to join the band and why did some of the musicians who performed on your debut album quit?

“At first we asked Maaike to play one song on a live stage as a special guest. After that we found that she added a whole new dimension to our music and so we asked her to stay. Our former guitar player Daan Janzing left, because he couldn’t combine Kingfisher Sky with his other band My Favorite Scar.”

Was it difficult to include musical parts from all band members while writing the music for the new album? Do you write songs with the cello parts in mind? How does it work?

“When we write songs the different parts for different instruments come naturally, so it’s not difficult once an idea takes form. We let the song lead us as it progresses. So the song comes first and the cello parts are arranged later on, that is, if they fit the composition.”

Some members have a classical background. Did it influence the recording and writing sessions for this album?

“Judith is classically trained, but she’s also a progressive rock fan and that’s always influencing our song writing.”

The press info mentioned that the first album dealt with water and air and the second with earth and fire. Is that correct?

“Yes, that’s correct and that’s also the overall theme. Not as much in the lyrics, but in the mood of the songs. Skin Of The Earth isn’t a concept album, but we feel like it’s a musical journey that goes in another direction than Hallway Of Dreams.”
Judith Rijnveld (lead vocals) David Gutierrez Rojas (Keyboards) Maaike Peterse (violin, cello)

Do you agree that the new album has more folky elements and is less heavy than the debut album?

“Actually we feel it’s heavier than Hallway ! The folk elements will always be present, because we love that style of music, but we don’t feel it’s more or less present than on Hallway.”

Who made the incredible art work for the album?

“Judith’s mother Joke Rijnveld did all the artwork. She also did Hallway Of Dreams. Maaike’s boyfriend Richard Hilgeman did the photography and the layout.”

Do you ever get sick of being compared to Within Temptation all the time?

“That’s something that people will always do. We have a female singer that sometimes hits the high notes and, yes, I once was a member of Within Temptation and our guest musician Ruud Jolie still is, so it’s seductive to make that comparison. We don’t really mind. We know we sound completely different. Trust me, I know!”

Eric Hoogendoorn (bass) Edo van der Kolk (guitars) Chris Henny (guitars)

When I heard Skin Of The Earth, a couple of songs reminded me of the early line-up of British band Renaissance with Jane Relf on vocals. Do you know this band and has anybody before made this comparison?

“People told me before and I know Renaissance by name, but I’m actually not familiar with their music. We are influenced by a lot of bands from that era, though. Kate Bush, Jethro Tull, just to name a few.”

On your website I noticed a video featuring a great version of Kate Bush’s The Man With The Child In His Eyes. How did this happen?

“Once we played that song live and we thought it would make a nice ‘Christmas present’ for the fans because quite some time elapsed between the two albums. Kate Bush is a big influence on our music and we wanted to pay tribute to her.”

What are the future plans for Kingfisher Sky?

“We would like to tour and reach as many people as possible and of course, writing more songs and growing as a band.”

Thank you for giving this interview and answering my questions.

“You’re welcome!”

More info about Kingfisher Sky on the Internet:
Kingfisher Sky Website
review album 'Skin Of The Earth'

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