Interview with Tarja 2

Source: Sonic Cathedral
28 April 2009, New York City

Written by Jason Levine

Jason Levine sits downs with Tarja

Jason: This is your first time touring solo [without Nightwish] in the United States. What made you decide to come out here finally?

Tarja: You know this is my third try I think already (*laughs*) to come here so I’m actually really, really happy it finally came true. My wishes were fulfilled. You know I have lots of followers here in the United States and they have been supporting me a lot in my solo career as well as in my previous career with Nightwish. So it has been really marvelous to get their support and now it’s very important for me to give my best for them. Back to them somehow. This gratitude that I have.

Jason:  
Speaking of Nightwish. You were let go in a very bad public way. It’s been a few years since the letter and you seem much happier now. How have things been for you after going through that experience?

Tarja: 
Well many things have changed. Actually the whole career as a solo artist is radically different than being a member of a band. I mean everything is different. The whole organization around me. I have to be deciding more things on my own. I mean there is so many things. Also the responsibility that I’m carrying on my own is of course very different than before. But the thing is that I have learned so many things. Every day is such a different day and I’m also writing songs on my own today so I’m really happy to be able to do that. To have that sort of freedom to explore what is inside of my soul and my heart. Then let people hear that. What’s really there. That has been a really beautiful thing.

Jason:  
So you’re doing a lot more writing. What is it like to be more involved in that process rather than just being the singer?

Tarja: 
Of course it gets more personal. That’s what it all is. I mean it gets really personal and you know it’s just very rewarding. I have to be so honest with the music today that’s because I believe in that. I don’t know if this is a very naive thought in a way but I believe if you are honest with the music then people can reach the message easier and the music touches them. I mean music is the emotion for me and that’s all about it. I want to deliver emotions for the audience. For the listeners. That is it. That’s the beauty in it. It’s so lovely to be a musician. It’s a privilege today to be an artist.
Jason:  You have a second album you have been working on called What Lies Beneath.
 
Tarja:  Yes.

Jason: 
How has that been coming along and when can we expect it?

Tarja: 
Well I have quite many songs already (*laughs*). Actually I wrote around 20 songs already which are not all going to be the album of course (*laughs*). Otherwise I need to make a double album again (*laughs*). But I mean that there are lots of good songs. Kind of a same continuance process from My Winter Storm to the next one but the radical difference is the variety of songs that will be offered but more or less radical with the heavier guitars and with overall heavier songs. Then also some moody sounds...So I still want to keep on the same line but make a radical difference to the songs even more than My Winter Storm.

Jason: So you’re going to stay in the heavy metal genre for this one?

Tarja:
Yeah of course. Of course. Come on (*laughs*). It’s part of me. But you know part of me (*laughs*).

Jason:
Yeah. Because you also did a Christmas album.

Tarja:
Yes.

Jason:
Which is a completely different style.

Tarja:
It’s a side project. Yeah.

Jason:
Have you thought about doing anything more in that style?

Tarja: Classical music. I think that I will still continue making classical music of course. Hopefully able to do a classical album or something like that as a side project again. But nothing concrete has been planned yet. I have been planning some tours with one tenor and doing classical music concerts is definitely again some Christmas concerts in the end of this year in Finland. It’s a tradition there. But you know classical music definitely is very important for me.

Jason: With touring you’re doing these shows in the United States right now. Where do you go from there?

Tarja: United States. Canada. Montreal. Toronto. Then to South America. Mexico and Venezuela. Four concerts in my hometown Buenos Aires, Argentina. That’s about it.

Jason: And then.

Tarja: Then back to Finland (*laughs*). Some summer festivals during the summer in Europe. I’m have planned to do quite many festivals. On the other hand also some club shows of my own. Then again the storm hits through Europe for the last time before my next album recordings in the end of this year. So there will be still one more European tour.

Jason:
You’re one of the largest names in the female metal scene. Last year you headlined the Metal Female Voices Festival. How was that experience?

Tarja:
Very nice. I mean I’m so honored to be there among all the other girls and ladies in metal. It has been amazing to follow how many female fronted bands exist today. There are lots of them. When I started my career with Nightwish there were not many of us (*laughs*). It was very exciting to be able to do what I did and then to explore what is there to come. Now when I see all these bands around me I am like “wow, where are all these coming from” “what has happened” and it’s wonderful. It’s a really cool thing.

Jason:
I understand you’re going to come back again this year?

Tarja:
Come back as what? (*laughs*)

Jason:
To headline the Metal Female Voices Festival in Belgium...

Tarja:
Yeah. Sure.

Jason:
How did that come about?

Tarja:
Well the promoters are very, very friendly people. They are actually friends and they wanted me to be part of the festival again. I’m really honored. It will be a big pleasure to do that festival again... Luckily we had our tour planned around the festival so it was easier because it’s not easy for me to organize the tours and have all the band present. As session musicians they have their own business going on. They have many artists they’re playing with so it’s not easy to match everybody’s schedule together to be all available. This time we were lucky.

Jason: You’ll get to play with a lot more female bands again.

Tarja: Yeah.

Jason: Since you were one of the first female vocalists to do metal, people always said “she has the voice, she’s the voice”. Now there are many bands that emulate your work and look up to you. How does it feel to have many people use your work as their inspiration?

Tarja: I’ve been lucky to be able to talk to many girls that as well they see me as kind of their idol. Which is for me really something I’m really honored to be able to be in that position. It is really real (*laughs*) because for me it’s like “how’d that happen” (*laughs*). I mean where and when. I have just worked so hard for the voice I have... I have been working so hard. I’m still doing it every day. Rehearsing a lot. Working a lot. It’s like two steps ahead. Three backwards. Two steps ahead, three backwards (*laughs*). It’s really a stony road. You have to keep those stones away from your road and be patient with the voice because it’s an instrument that you’re carrying in yourself. You have to take care of it. So I’m very honored to be able to see that these girls really look up for me and see me as that. As their role model. Well thank you (*laughs*). What can I say.

Jason: Your fans as well. You have a really good connection with your fans.

Tarja: That’s very important.

Jason: You’ve done contests where your fans can win phone calls from you and other such things. What has it been like to bond with them?

Tarja: Well the truth is. The reality where I’m living is that without them there wouldn’t be me as an artist. That’s the basic thing that keeps my feet on the ground. I mean I love my fans. This thing is such a bond between me and them. I call them my winter storm as my first album. So they are definitely a whole lot to me.

Jason: Recently you have taken up playing instruments and doing other things.

Tarja: Trying to at least (*laughs*).

Jason: Trying to.

Tarja: Yeah. Trying to (*laughs*).

Jason: You are playing keyboards in concert now. How long have you been interested in playing music as well as singing?

Tarja: Well I started playing... I started with piano when I was five years old. So my parents wished me to take private piano lessons and that was it. I started playing early so I’ve been studying piano 15 years at least. Classical piano. Until the university. I’m still doing some exams in university. As well as church organ & Flute. Those are the main instruments sort of. I play a bit of a guitar but very badly... But in a way that I survive. I mean if I need to try some riffing in my songwriting process I can hardly ever hit the correct notes (*laughs*) but at least I hear what it should go like this in a guitar for example. Piano is definitely the strongest instrument of mine.

Jason: Can we expect to continue seeing you play keyboards in concert?

Tarja: Yeah. For sure. Definitely.

Jason: When it comes to Nightwish I know it was rough the way you were let go. Now that a couple of years have passed how would you feel if they approached you about a reunion?

Tarja: I think at the moment the feeling is I see it very hard. I see that it’s not really possible to happen. I mean things were really bad how it ended. It was so bad. I think that no matter what so many things should really change. I’m so happy on my own today as a singer so I just want to see what is there for me in my future as a singer and as a songwriter if I can call myself that. So I don’t see it coming but I am not closing doors either.

Jason: On your own you seem much happier as a person.

Tarja: Yeah. I’m really happy. So happy. Because you know how is it. I can choose the people to work with. I have this amazing freedom around me and inside me that I have really understood what it is to be happy. What it is to be healthy. What it is to enjoy all the days you have. Because you never know when all is going to be taken away. You see some sad stories time to time. All the time here those things. You have to live when you have a chance to live and you have to love when you have a chance to love. That’s what I have understood that no matter how bad the things are out there, there is always a door where there is a light coming towards you.

Jason: So no matter what we will hear much more of you in the future?

Tarja: I hope so (*laughs*). I hope.

Jason: What would you like to see in that future?

Tarja: Wow. Next couple of years. I would like to go to Tahiti to dive (*laughs*) instead of music. Forget the music now (*laughs*). I would like to go scuba dive to Tahiti. That’s my dream. It’s far away. Anyway and then I would love to maybe. Tick tock, tick tock. Think about a family. Maybe in a few years time. If we have a sort of balance already in our life at that time (*laughs*) because there isn’t anything like that at the moment (*laughs*). But you know some sort of calming down even though the new album and the touring and all that will still be happening in two years time. In a way looking for the future always.

Jason: What about teaching?

Tarja: Teaching. Yeah, definitely. That is something that I wish to do and that is something that I’m also wishing to have more time for it. I mean I’m teaching in Buenos Aires in my home in Argentina. There are many people requesting to have lessons from me and I’m really wishing that I can take the time to give all those people to make it happen.

Jason: What do you have to say to your U.S. fans that you will see starting tomorrow night?

Tarja: Gee. I’m nervous (*laughs*). It’s New York, New York. New York (*singing*). I mean come on. It’s my first time here. I’m so excited about it. I really want to thank you all for making this happen. I’m so grateful and I love you. See you tomorrow. See you soon.

Jason: I think they feel the same way.

Tarja: Thank you for the interview opportunity with Sonic Cathedral (*laughs*).


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