Interview with Tarja 3

Source: BW&BK
May 2009
By Carl Begai.

“For The Wish I Once Had…”

Tarja Turnen doesn’t miss being the voice and face of Nightwish. If she does she’s hiding it from everybody with an Oscar winning performance, but giving her the benefit of the doubt it’s clear the split was good for both parties and not just Turunen’s former bandmates, who have gone on to bigger and better things with Anette Olzon in her place. Instead of slinking off into the shadows after her high profile firing from Nightwish in 2005, Turunen returned with a solo album entitled My Winter Storm in 2007 which was well received in spite of not being geared in a direction her fans are used to. Whether it warranted a bonus-laden re-release earlier this year is debatable, but it was Turunen’s call, and judging by the amount of touring she’s still able to do almost two years later it was a good one. Things are slowly but surely winding to a close, however, giving her time to reflect on My Winter Storm’s success and how it has affected her future.

“It’s very nice, and it’s actually been quite amazing,” Turunen says of the buzz surrounding My Winter Storm. “I did a warm-up tour of eight shows in Europe just to see how it would go and how people received my music, and it was before My Winter Storm was even released. It was fantastic for me to see that there was a whole new audience as well as the old Nightwish fans at my concerts. That was very emotional for me and it gave me the confidence that everything was going to be fine. There must have been some lucky stars above me because the musicians that are working with me are really kind people and very professional. There’s nothing that lies between any of us. Even though they’re session musicians we truly feel like we’re a band. Everybody tries their best to make sure they can perform with me even though they have other bands and artists to work with. They’re all very keen to work with me and that’s a very nice feeling.”.

“I have a great band with me,” she adds. “My Winter Storm actually lacks the power that we have in our live shows. The shows we do are very emotional for the audience because the atmosphere changes from song to song with heavier tracks in between. Those live shows complete me and my character and artistic views as they are today. I have a great musicians supporting me and we have a lot of fun together.”

My Winter Storm was a victory for Turunen on several levels. As well as giving her the option of performing on her own terms, it enabled her to write her own material. Within Nightwish her performance on CD was at the mercy of keyboardist / founder Tuomas Holopainen’s vision. As a solo artist she had a lot more room to move and used it.

“It was my first time ever writing songs on my own, and it was such a good experience that I’m really keen on doing more of it for the second album,” says Turunen. “I have over 20 new songs written already. It’s wonderful to step into something undiscovered in life, and composing has been that for me. I’m learning new things every day, and to be brave enough to tell people the stories that are going on in my life is absolutely amazing as an artist.”

It’s fair to say My Winter Storm surprised a large portion of the Nightwish faithful. They should have known better given Holopainen wasn’t part of the equation, but the mix of metal and classical based songs – two well documented sides of Turunen’s musical personality – left some people scratching their heads.

“There were all kinds of reactions to the album, as in everything,” she agrees. “Some people had expected me to do a complete heavy metal album, others had expected me to do a classical album, and there were others that had expected exactly what I did. That’s the reality of being an artist; you can’t ever make music for everybody’s tastes. My Winter Storm was a wonderful success for me, because I’m not well known and I don’t have that background as an artist as Tarja compared to a band like Nightwish, which has an established name and is very successful. Okay, I was a big part of Nightwish for nine years and it was a great experience, but in many ways I needed to start over. It’s been a great learning experience, and the responsibilities that I’ve had to learn to take have been really good for me.”

And then there’s Turunen’s cover of the Alice Cooper ‘80s hit ‘Poison’, the only song on My Winter Storm she was concerned about with regards to the fans’ reactions…

“They actually really enjoyed that,” Turunen laughs. “I see people at the shows singing along with a smile, so it goes over really well. It’s a funny coincidence, but I was in the UK a year ago at the Golden Gods Awards and Alice Cooper’s manager was there and he told me that they’d heard my version of ‘Poison’. I think I blushed about 10 different colours (laughs), but I asked him what Alice thought of it anyway… and then someone came along and took him away so I never got the answer. That really sucked (laughs).”

Once touring for My Winter Storm is complete, Turunen returns to the studio to cut her new solo album. She has a definite idea of where she wants to take the new material, using My Winter Storm as a guide for what works and what not to do.

“Like in everything I think there are different things that you want to change or try out,” Turunen admits. “The biggest struggle on My Winter Storm was making people understand what I’m trying to do, like the people at the record company and others behind the project. It was recorded in different studios all over the world and I don’t want to go through that hassle ever again. There are going to be international musicians involved on the next album; musicians I already have and others that I would love to work with. The thing is, at home here in Finland I have a studio of my own so I have a place to sing my vocals. I don’t have to run around to a million different studios anymore, and now the band has the chance to record in one of two studios.”

“The other thing is, even though I’m very happy with My Winter Storm artistically – it was done as I wished – I wasn’t so happy with the sound of the guitars. The songs I’m composing now, when the guitars come in they have to blow your mind. That’s what I want for the next album.”

Turunen has no plans to revisit the realms of Nightwish on the next record, but she hasn’t ruled out the possibility. Particularly since the band still plays a large part in her career as an artist.

“Nightwish songs are part of my setlist. They bring the importance of my past out. I’m selecting songs that I either never played with the band or wasn’t able to sing well live at that time. The material sounds and feels very fresh and free, and I feel good singing those songs. I never had any problems with the music we did. I've spoken to some of my fans and they’ve said they kind of deserve to hear those Nightwish songs, and they’re right. I’ll keep on doing them because it’s fun for me.”


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