Interview

TARJA (2019 - English Version) - Tarja Turunen (Vocals)

Hello Tarja, how are you, aren’t you to tired answering questions since this morning ?

Not at all, these are nice conversations, and it’s my second promo day, I was in London yesterday. I enjoy having the first comments, feedbacks, feelings about my work, it’s fantastic, it’s very interesting how people react or feel so different about songs in general or about the album, because it means something to me, but it can mean something totally different for you as we are different individuals, in our unique way, and that’s the beauty of music.

I suppose you’re surprised sometimes by some interpretations that are made of your songs ?

Yes, that’s perfect, that’s all fine, because one song that means something for me can mean a world for another person. It’s how it should be ! If you think about a painting on a wall, when you look at the painting… You can only talk about if you like it or not, why… I like to offer experience to people with my music in general, of course it means something to me but there are no rules, I like breaking boundaries with my work, starting with classical music and entering the world of metal, having all those beautiful people following me… After all these years I still have the same fans, that have been there since the beginning of my career and that’s unbelievable that they can relate and find my work inspiring. And that’s why I have given them the freedom to feel the way they want to feel, you know.

As you said, many of your fans followed your work in Nightwish and are still behind you today. Do you feel more free now in a solo project ?

Definitely ! You cannot imagine me in a band where I was the voice, the face, but I was just one part, one member of that family, I mean it was not my music. And if you think of the situation where I’m alone at home, with my grand piano, creating my songs from nothing, from my heart, from my soul, already that gives you an idea of how different the world is in front of me nowadays. It was a different world at that time, and I’m very lucky I was able to see that world ! There are no many artists, I can mention Sting, Peter Gabriel, that have seen that, being in a band and being a solo artist, and being super successful, and surviving in this industry… It’s not easy for me, it’s not easy for anybody, I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to live those different situations, but everything is very different nowadays. Freedom you said, absolutely, I am free, I have a great label that gives me the freedom to do what I want, he can tell me his opinion, but I’m free and it’s priceless. You can’t put a price tag on your freedom !

You said you felt more bare and exposed, especially in the lyrics, in this album ?

Super exposed. It’s very personal, in a way that it left me very clean, after the project was done, after I finished all the lyrics and the pain was gone. At the end of last year I found myself exhausted, so tired… I have always been the woman that shows up strong you know, my musicians have seen me as the powerful woman, they can rely on me, everybody ! I have been there for my family, for my daughter. I am the powerful woman, but one can only handle a certain amount of energy, and then when you find yourself exhausted it’s too late already… I knew I started to write the lyrics, I had a deadline and a huge team of people was waiting for me, so I was I need to do it, I need to do it, can I do it, can I do it ? I had huge doubts but when I started writing I lost the fear, I thought fuck it, I do this, I do it for me, I need to do this. And I went very deep, that’s why it’s very personal. But it was good, I feel I don’t need any words to explain that. I needed to go through that, and it’s not scary anymore, I’ve gone through it, the album is in their hands now.

It’s like music therapy finally, for you as well as for the people who will listen to the album ?

Yes ! That’s music, it helped me, I know many people that are healed by music, it has this power.

How do you work and compose, in which order do you write lyrics and music ?

Music, first. It would be interesting to do the other way round sometimes, I should try, but I always write music with my piano first, if I write alone, and then I deliver demos for my musicians, we start working, but if I write with someone else, my guitar player for example, we start, he writes the chords, then alone I write the melodies, the lyrics… When I work with someone or when I write alone it’s a very similar kind of process, music always first and then the stories.

There are three duets in this album, including the first title released. Do you work differently when you work with other people, and how do you choose your collaborations ?

It’s funny because every time I write songs, I write them for my voice, I didn’t feel these songs as duets at all ! I was struggling with the idea, wanting to have a duet on this album, but I wasn’t sure… Then I started recording my own vocals, to receive tracks from other musicians, the songs started to take shape, and there was the feeling that a female or a male voice could be added… For example Cristina’s voice (Cristina Scabbia, from Lacuna Coil, ndlr), we’ve been friends for years, I was so happy to have it on the song, that keeps a lot of space for her, it’s a song which has only guitar, drums, and base so there is a lot of place for Cristina’s beautiful voice. And the other duet, with Björn (“Speed” Strid, from Soilwork, ndlr) and Tommy (Karevik, from Kamelot and Ayreon, ndlr) is the same thing, I’ve been a fan of their voices, but I’ve never met them, still I never met them personally, it was just a Skype conversation, and I said I’d be so flattered and honored to have your voices on the record if you like the song, and then I gave them a lot of freedom to work on the songs, because it’s how I’d like to work on a collaboration, give the best of me, everything I can, and the guys did an amazing job, on songs written for my voice, which is a huge challenge for a vocalist, and I know they struggled, because it’s obvious, but they did fantastic, both of them. Tommy made me weep like a baby, I cried when I received the song. And we didn’t meet, it’s crazy how things are done nowadays many time, in the old times when I was with everybody in the studio, sitting next to the mixing engineer, it’s so different nowadays… Everybody records on their own, it’s just sending files… It sounds boring but you can be connected, Internet gives you the possibility to follow the recording, live, I don’t need to be there, I’m on the computer and I’m there. If you’re working at home there is no pressure, I can make a coffee, cook a lunch, I’m not checking the time, “Oh the studio is closing, I need to finish this now !”, you can work at home peacefully.

Do you think you’ll eventually be able to have Tommy, Björn or Cristina on stage with you as guests for those songs ?

I’d love that, but everybody is touring like crazy, Lacuna Coil is touring, Soilwork is touring… Hopefully we’ll find each other encounter, during festivals, it would be wonderful.

You’re going to perform during many festivals this summer, and then you’ll be touring in Russia.

Russia in September, and then South America in October, in November and December there will be a long Christmas tour in Finland, and one date in Moscow at the end of the year. Then next year, in February we’ll start touring in Central Europe, and I hope, definitely, France will be one of the first, I love this beautiful country, and I miss it.

Ok, so we can already have in mind an approximate date, at the beginning of 2020. The words “loneliness”, “madness”, “meaning of life”, that are quite dark and serious, come back several times in this album. Do they reflect what you’ve been through during the writing phase ?

The word “loneliness” is a very sad word, there are people that look for solitude, that live in solitude, I get that, I am not one of those people, I’m a lion, I love being by a good company, I love sharing my life, my moments with good people. I’m passionate about people in general because they inspire me, I like talking to new people, because I get to hear their life stories, it’s good for my art, it’s good for me. About the meaning of life, this is something I ask myself on a daily basis, am I on the right track, do I do what I do for the right reason, because I love it. I feel very privileged to be able to do that, but still in my lyrics I’ve been talking about the meaning of life, how we only have a limited amount of time, and how if you don’t use it well you might find yourself losing, and many times when it’s already too late you discover that you have regrets. It sounds like a cliché but it’s very real that we only have a little bit of time here. I suffer seeing people not realizing their dreams, or wasting their talents…

In an album axed on gold, the words “darkness” and “shadow” come back several times, and your previous album was called The Shadow Self. Do you have an attraction for the underwater part of the iceberg, for what cannot be seen at the first glance ?

There are so many things, you know, that we don’t expose, so much that we want to keep in general, how much courage it will need to expose yourself, and for me, talking about my art and being an artist and being a public person is linked to how much I want to expose, and it’s natural that we will keep some parts of us in shadows. But when that darkness becomes something that is not anymore positive, in a way that we cannot live with it, we struggle with it, it can become a problem, so that’s about the self discover that was the starting point of this album. With it I went very deep, where I found that golden chamber. I had to start the journey, and to go very very deep down, in order to make that discovery, that I can shine again – that’s the link with the gold, the raw connection, that made all clear to me, that what is seen as very polish, shiny and luxurious can be so raw, bare.
That could represent us, there, deep down. And there’s this connection between the shiny and the raw in my music, in how you see me, in my outfits and all that…

I imagine there are golden outfits, accessories and scenery props especially for this tour ?

Yes, everything has been done already actually. Gold and black, beautiful, gorgeous designs and pieces I designed with my friend Julia, who’s always been there, she’s my only childhood friend that I have, she’s been with me since Nightwish, and has made all those beautiful and colourful dresses you’ve seen me wearing ! She knows me perfectly and knows what suits me, I totally trust her, it will be wonderful.

I was very touched by the song “Silent Masquerade”, I found it very powerful, and I was wondering who reads the intro and outro ?

Oh, that’s Tim Palmer, my mixing engineer, he’s a British guy, and I asked him if he could read a text of Shakespeare ! I wanted that accent there, he did it very very well, I’m happy.

There are very different parts in this song, some parts are calm, some other parts are very strong, with the vocals, and evoke torment, suffering ; with the end that comes back to a more melancholic atmosphere. I found it quite surprising, and almost progressive.

Yes, it is like that ! I am happy that I am getting out of the one way of thinking to write the songs, what is correct or what is incorrect, my husband was the one that helped me see the things this way, he was saying “Why do you find this difficult, you know music, you’ve always known music, so if you write this, go there and don’t even think about it”, I had a huge discussion with him while he was trying to get me out of my misery box, as a writer. He said “Come on, be you, get out !”, and it worked, as I wrote those songs for myself. During the writing process I was so lucky to actually have that, my husband encouraging me, so that now after all these years when I write songs it comes so easy ! And I love being progressive, I love this side of music. I’m a progressive music lover in general, I love progressive rock, I love Genesis, Tears for Fears, there are so many bands I could mention… Peter Gabriel, I’ve always loved him. I found myself struggling, but now those fears are gone, and of course there is a certain amount of pain involved everytime in a creative process, I think you need that, also, in order to be real.

Your song “Shadow Play” is very intense as well, with parts that are very different one from another, some very delicate, other ones really strong, and I thought this album followed a kind of evolution in sophistication and intensity from the first to the last song, becoming more and more refined. Is it linked to gold, raw at first and then more polished ?

It’s a journey, I would say. If you start listening the album, the order of the songs has a meaning. The journey starts like, a bit bold, heavier than ever, and then, deeper you go, you find that golden chamber, and then you stop going back to the surface. That’s something I enjoy in my music, the diversity, that out of the box thinking actually. That defines me, I cannot be defined in one little box. I’ve never been that ! So if you listen my records, all are very versatile, diverse, all of them, but I think this one is so personal that it very much defines me.

A very different question to finish, that would be useful for many people : as a lyrical singer, what would you advise people to do when they have a sore throat or a voice loss, do you have a magical tip ?

Oh wow ! Ginger, lemon, and warm water. Lemon is a great antioxidant in general. Gargling. Put water in a half glass of water and blow bubbles with a straw, it makes your throat relax. You mustn’t speak directly after, blowing bubbles and then making some melodies, first in the middle range, then getting higher, or lower… No joke, you should do it, in private. But there are certain tricks, obviously you must keep quiet as possible, because speaking is even worse than singing, when it comes to lyrical singing of course. Keep yourself in physical condition, wear warmer clothes than actually needed.

Thank you very much Tarja !
 
Critique : Elise Diederich
Vues : 74 fois