How are you Tarja? How do you feel?

I am so fine. I’m just now in Berlin in Germany, you know, promoting my new album that is going to come out very, very soon in the beginning of September. I'm so thrilled of all this because it was such a long time, the whole production for the album and preparing it. I was writing it for three years time, so it was a long process. Finally, when everything is done, I’m so, so happy to be able to really talk about my work and to be kind of heading to the future, all ready for the future shows and everything. So I’m really happy today!

I’m happy for you too but you anticipated  a bit my question because I was asking how was the genesis of the album and when you started to answer, the first bit of it… [laughs]

I can tell you a little bit more about the album. I got the title already like three years ago. And inspired by that, you know, I started with a great number ... seriously, I started writing songs and writing lyrics. All the songs, one way or another, have something to do with my life. So, I’ve been writing songs about what lies beneath in my world, through my eyes that I see the world -- the people, society, the culture.. how difficult sometimes it is to see the absolute truth of people, or even the world that we are in.

I mean, seriously, I’ve learned sometimes to take a second look at things, to dig a little bit deeper at how the things truly are. And this is kind of a theme going through the whole album. Then again, I wrote fantasy stories also. But I’m not pointing any fingers on the album – there are negative things that I am writing but also very positive things.

First of all, I really like the cover. Really mysterious and dark compared to "My Winter Storm". It hits me very much the digipack deluxe edition cover edition. Why you have this scar in your face and what its meaning?

The whole artwork is based on photos. So what you are going to see, also in the booklet, is basically photos and they all tell you a story. They are very strong on their own and they all have a real reason to be there. They are, one way or another, really representing the stories on the album and the songs on the album. It’s a reflection of me putting the same thing what lies beneath on to the coverwork also. Perhaps you don’t even realise for the first look, when you watch my face on the cover, that there is a problem underneath. And that is exactly what I am trying to also tell with my album, that you should have a second look. You will see me a little bit in a different light, and it is just like that. I mean, I wanted to make a kind of a problem on my face this time with wearing these scars. It was a lot of fun to do and it really makes the picture. Also it’s the same thing about fashion, you know? How we see the beautiful, gorgeous-looking models of today in the cover magazines, and they are perfect because they are manipulated. The pictures are so manipulated but you forget the reality. You forget as a reader when you look at the picture. You say "wow, what a gorgeous girl!", you just tend to forget what is real. And this again, the same thing, what lies beneath everything.

All the photographers now use Photoshop it's a bad thing I think because don't tell the truth today...

Exactly! Photoshop and manipulation is one of the most important things in fashion and things like this.

The sound is really improved from "My Winter Storm" album. I think that I can define your style a mix of metal, soundtrack music and classic. What helped to improve your style?

Well, definitely the fact that I have been touring these last three years with the great band that I have. I have a quite steady line-up with me on tours already. I’ve been lucky to have these guys around, you know, supporting me and playing music with me, and having had the experience of the first album and tour when everything was new. I mean, all the people around were new to me, and I needed to start all over again ... like taking the baby steps, sort of, at that time. Now, I really feel that I took care of production myself, because I felt a need for that. I felt that there is nobody else that really knows what is in my heart and in my soul at this right moment, what kind of music I wanted to do at this right moment. So I wanted to pull the strings myself and just work. I’m so happy about the sound of the album and how all the songs really turn out to be. But one important thing is that I was never left alone so there were many people - very, very loving people around me, supporting me, helping me.

How are born the collaboration between Phil Labonte and the a capella metal band Van Canto?

It was such fun because with "Anteroom of Death" which is the first song on the album, I had them sketched and demo’d. But I was having an idea for a rich vocal arrangement and I was thinking to do them on my own. But then I heard about this Van Canto band and I got to meet them in Belgium at the Metal Female Voices Fest. I was talking to them, and I offered them this song, and they loved it and they wanted to work on it. They did magnificent work and I’m really, really happy with their work. It sounds incredible, their work!

And the other thing is Phil Labonte. It was nice to have him on board on the song called "Dark Star" because it really needed some sort of different flavour. I felt the need for a duet would be a great thing for this album now. Phil came into the picture through a singer-songwriter, a freind of mine and he was working with me on this song also, writing with me. He is such a sweet person still because he has his voice. It is very strong, very deep at times but he can really scream and shout which I can’t do! It was a great, great thing. And also there is a guitar player, Joe Satriani, playing on "Falling Awake", my first single. He played on the album version and I'm very happy to have him too.

Fantastic! I haven’t listened to the album (and to the 30 second snippets) as I want it to be a surprise…

That’s cool! I would love everybody to do the same as you. Just listen to the first few seconds so that won’t give you the complete picture, that’s right! I think I would do exactly the same as you when I was putting together an interview with somebody.

I've watched "I Feel Immortal"  video and I love it. I think that it's the best videoclip ever of your solo career. If I'm not wrong you have shot the video in Iceland...can you tell us more about the story?

Thank you! The storyboard was drawn by the director, Jörn Heitmann. And we were talking about it very closely with him, where we should go to shoot this very emotional video. And Iceland paints the picture because we wanted to shoot something immortal in the video. And what could be immortal? It was definitely this waterfall, mountains, rocks and ocean, something that is immortal. We went there, and it was incredibly beautiful country with these amazing places to visit and film. And it was beautiful, really beautiful, we were very lucky. The story is about the cycle of life. What is life about? Life is about loving somebody, losing somebody, struggling to find your way in life, the cycle of life. So that is about that. It is a very, very emotional video.

This year you have partecipated at the Miskolc festival. And at the press conference a journalist asked you if this gig will be out in DVD and you have replied that "no, because for do it you need to record at least 2 gigs and a lot of preparation." Have you in mind to record something for a DVD during the upcoming tour?

Definitely! The plan is really to make a proper DVD from my shows that I’m going to be performing here for "What Lies Beneath". I’m very, very happy that there will be lots of concerts coming up, and I know already that I coming to Milan also. It’s going to happen this year. We don’t know the dates yet but I can already tell you that it is going to happen. It’s not a surprise because I don’t even know yet the date but what I do know is that I am coming to Italy this year – you can write about that!

And again talking about the Miskolc gig : have you in mind to publish the audio recording of the Miskolc gig like has done Epica with "The Miskolc Conspiracy"?

Oh?! What conspiracy? I don’t know! I have no plan to release an audio nor a video from that show because it was the first show of the summer that we did with the band. There were a few songs that needed to be prepared and there was really a lot of rehearsing and preparation going on at that time. So I do not have a concrete plan to release an audio from that show.

I push a little bit the button : have you recorded it?

We haven’t recorded that. Me and my crew, we have not recorded that but I think the local people have done that.

After doing cover of Deep Purple's "Child In Time" with Rata Blanca, Alice Cooper's "Poison", this time you have done a cover of Whitesnake's "Still Of The Night" that will be present like bonus, if I'm not wrong. Why choose this song?

Oh, well, first of all, all of these bands that you mention have been very much influences because I’ve been a fan of them from already long ago. All these ‘80s bands have been a part of my growing process. And the thing is that "Still of the Night" is a song that I really love the melody always, the original melody, so much. But I had a kind of a conscious thought about this, about, "How should I do the song? What kind of mind-blowing orchestral arrangement and choir arrangement would I use for the song, if I dare do it?" And definitely now it has this huge orchestra and choir on it and it’s a quite a bit heavier version than the original. I love it very much.

Why is "Witch-Hunt" not present on the album?

Oh, I wrote more than 30 songs actually for the album, so there were many, many songs left out. And "Witch-Hunt" is a song that is done, and written, and left for later on. So hopefully one point of view I can have a chance to use. It was a hard decision in general for me to choose between certain songs for this album.

Last question - For starting, I want to tell you that I love your stage dresses are fantastic! Here @ Femme Metal Webzine we have always a moment that we call "The women area" and we ask always about woman things. I'll gonna ask you some curiosity about your stage dresses : who is your stylist?

Well I have a girl -- a very good friend of mine in Finland -- designing together with me my performance. Yes, as a matter of fact, they are a very, very important part of my show of course. That all my clothes are changing, it’s a visuality together with the music. It’s very important. As well as there is a designer in Argentina called Marian Marquez. From her, I’ve found very, very nice clothes. Always when I return back to Argentina, I go to check out the pieces they have. But it’s been really created by these two ladies.

So Tarja, we're at the end hope you have enjoyed my questions and thanks for your time. Just leave a word for our fans and users, if you want.

That’s very sweet, thank you. I wish you a very good day, thank you for calling, and I hope to see you in Milan!