Interview with Tarja 6

Source: Rockpages

We met with Tarja Turunen at her hotel, the very next day after her gig in Athens. A lil’ bit after breakfast and just before the… Parthenon visit, beautiful soprano talked to us about the tour, the next tour, her solo album, the new label, Metal and Opera. The “Voice of Finland” was so cool, we had some great laughs and we also were so jealous of Mike Terrana, who gives her a hug every day before practice! We’d do it three or four times… every hour! Our sincere thanks to Alexandros and Konstantinos from Universal Music.


Interview by Costas Koulis & Dimitris Kazantzis
 : How’s the tour coming so far? Satisfied with your performance?

Tarja : Very much! To be honest, very much. It’s very different than the previous concerts and I feel I can get in more contact with the people… Now I’m much more relaxed, I’m happy and I also think that people can see that. Of course, the music is also very different… It’s funny; I was looking at the audience last night, very young kids but also grown people. The tour has been really good. There have been ten concerts and only two left from those ten… I’m so sad that everything ends… : We read you’re going to be back next year.

Tarja : Yes, yes. We start in April… I can’t tell you yet where we’re gonna play first, cuz the organization planning is going on now… you have to wait a lil’ bit longer… but yes, I’ll be touring next year and the following year (laughs) and the process for the next album will also start next year. : Let’s talk about the new album… I think it’s excellent! Is it exactly what you really wanted to release?

Tarja : It’s exactly telling about me. It’s a very personal album, it’s about my interest in music, it’s about my passion, it’s about my dream. It’s a very honest album and a very innocent one. I didn’t spend that much time on production… everything was ready in three and a half months. The planning took one year. I was thinking, thinking, processing… It was easier to call the musicians in the studio and play… the feeling in the studio is captured in the album. : So, is the next album going to be that way also, are you going to follow that road?

Tarja : I’d love to discover a little bit more about the cinematographic sound, because I have great people that work with me. : I’m gonna take that a little further. The “I walk alone” video you did… A boy and a girl and an evil character… like Hansel and Gretel.

Tarja : Yeah, yeah! Exactly! : That was your idea, right?

Tarja : You know… I was working on the script with the director… I gave him the four characters… there are four characters on the album. It’s like a short movie… fantasy meets spookiness! So, the whole album is going that line. If you put a movie, it would be a fantasy movie with “scary” elements. : How did you feel playing the dead boy?

Tarja : (Big laughs) Great! Seriously, there were people coming to me asking “Are you THAT”? I love to act, I love to play, I have many actor friends, I have been in contact with the theater life all my life, I have been there, I tried some musicals, I have been doing it but not that much, of course. I’m not a professional in that field at all, but I would love to explore a bit more. : I’m gonna go back to the album. It became Number 1 in the Finnish charts. How did that make you feel?

Tarja : It’s my album… it’s very personal… the success… I was very happy about it! I remember we were shooting for a TV show on that day… when the charts came out, the record company people went like “No 1! Wow”! Very, very happy! : In the new album you did a cover of Alice Cooper’s “Poison”. How did you decide to do that? It’s like a separate thing…

Tarja : Yeah, totally different… it’s a guitar-based song, with a trillion of backing vocals. In my album, the guitar solo changed into a cello solo (laughs) and yes, it still has a lot of backing vocals, but very different, the spirit in the song… and that was my goal. I wanted to have one cover for the album. And, believe me, it was so hard to make my decision… the record company, my friends, my family, we were all talking about it. Then, one day, I was driving my car, in Finland… Spring time… April or May… alone… hundreds of kilometers… relaxing, listening to Rock on the radio, keeping myself awake (laughs) and then Alice Cooper’s “Poison” came… and it stroke me! I thought about how I should make the song if it was mine and I was having such a good time in the car, thinking about it. When I went back home, I checked the Internet if there was another cover of that song. It was a dance band, with a girl singing… I called the record company and I said “What do you think if I do Alice Cooper’s “Poison””? And they loved the idea! Of course it’s a classic song, very important, even for Mr. Cooper himself! : I would like to ask you about December 6. It was a very special day for you, because you got to perform for the 90 years of Finland’s independence.

Tarja : It was very beautiful. I was very honored for the invitation to perform that day… If I was considered as the voice of Finland…  it was fantastic, but on the other hand, it was a very big event, because it was a big arena with thousands of people and the symphonic orchestra… I thought that I would be a lot more nervous, it went so fast… and everybody seemed to be happy. The orchestra, the conductor, the people… It was so fast, I didn’t have the time to feel nervous… I was very honored to be able to be part of that. Finland is a good country… I have another home country, Argentina and, to be honest, all the problems in Argentina make me feel more differently about Finland. : Speaking about Finland, it has become one of the biggest European scenes, with a lot of good bands. What’s happening in Finland? Is it a secret?

Tarja : I would like to be able to answer you (deep breath)… the thing is… unlike Sweden, where the government is helping regarding music business… that does not happen in Finland. Finnish musicians struggle to make money, to be successful. I have done it with Nightwish… we struggled a lot. Even though success came very fast… On the other hand, there are many radio stations supporting Metal and Rock. It’s like a country of Metal! There are so many bands already touring abroad, being successful… it’s fantastic! Also, many bands from abroad, when they come to perform in Finland, they feel the difference. : Symphonic Metal with soprano voices is very popular today. Your opinion about the future of this kind of music?

Tarja : Well, let’s see… you never know… trends are coming and going, like in music. People are getting tired so easily… sometimes it’s just a hype that comes and goes… I have no idea how this would be… I hope it lasts. : Are there songs-all time classics?

Tarja : From these bands? : Yeah.

Tarja : That’s a good question… In general, I would like to work with Liv Kristine, she’s a good friend of mine, she has a great solo album. I’d love to work with her. : You have signed with Universal. Are you satisfied with your label? Are they treating you the way you expected they would?

Tarja : I was nervous in the beginning, when there were many record companies approaching me… I was very nervous… If I made a deal with somebody who had no idea of who I am, as an artist, what kind of style I have, what kind of image I have… I wouldn’t like to have somebody to work with me, who would want to change me. That was my concern. If I start to work with people that I don’t know before… hmm… would they want to make me like Britney Spears, you know… but, in Universal Germany there were people I have already been working with. And that made my decision. It was a more personal contact. Yes, I’m happy with them. : Have you ever thought “What am I doing here, I’m an Opera singer” and leave Metal, focus on Opera, become the "new" Maria Callas and that’s it?

Tarja : Focus on Opera… it can happen, you know, it can happen… in fifteen years… : It’s in the back of your head, right?

Tarja : I don’t have it in the back of my head, because I have to be very realistic. I’m not ready as an Opera singer. I haven’t done classical music seriously ever, because I was in a Metal band, finishing my studies at the same time. I haven’t taken five years off, saying “Goodbye Rock, goodbye Metal”, because I wanted to do only classical music… I haven’t done that, I’m still not doing that… So, classical music and classical education and training has helped me so much to sing my own music. To sing different kinds of music. I enjoy being in front of a classical orchestra, singing, but it’s not telling the whole truth about me. It’s not completely me. It’s part of my interests, but not completely. This is my interest now (e.n. points at her album), at this moment. And how will it last? Till the next one comes, hopefully. But if I’m healthy, with the right mind to perform at the opera one day, I would love to do that. I would love to see if I’m able to do it. Because I’m not sure if I could. : Do you believe that your voice is a gift? Or is it the result of hard work?

Tarja : I believe… both! I had a lot of training, but to be able to touch the people… you have to have a gift. There are trillions of singers, that can correctly hit every note, that – technically – can sing a million times better than I can. But they can not touch you, they can not move you. : Are you planning to release another single?

Tarja : Yeah, we shot a video a couple of days ago. In the middle of the tour. : Which one is it? (e.n. Tarja is not answering, she’s just smiling to us) Oh, but you can tell… it’ll stay between us!

Tarja : (Big laughs) I should ask the record company people (e.n. they are sitting a few feet away from us. She is shouting)… Is it a secret? The new single? Can I tell? (e.n. laughs – the label people go like “Sure”!)… Okay… we shot a video for “Die Alive”… : Is it the same style?

Tarja : It’s spooky! There are some rats… they are trying to hunt me… it’s a very spooky video. It’s about the storm. Actually, the storm – my winter storm – is helping me in that video. : The new direction in music business today is downloading. Do you agree with that “system”?

Tarja : You know, the music business is changing a lot… it has changed a lot… and I, as an artist, also have to adjust to that, some way or another… the business turns to “song business”, for downloads… so I feel that the albums have more value today… it’s not easy any more! The business supports the songs, not the albums. We, as artists, have to do things differently or have to have something else to offer to people, to get them to buy the album. In a way it’s very sad… that is what makes me sad! : Do you feel that something is missing, regarding your career?

Tarja : You know… (e.n. pause) it’s very hard… I have gotten very much in such a short period of time. Many things have happened. Many good things… People tell me “Tarja, come on, this is great, you must enjoy all this”! I have great things in life, I have great people I work with and, seriously, I have to think about it every day… that I have to enjoy this, because it feels good. : Do you feel walking alone sometimes?

Tarja : Last night… I was telling the people… I’m not walking alone, I’m walking with you! : Thank you so much for your time!

Tarja : Thank you, thank you so much!


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