Getting to the point

Firming her solo career, Tarja Turunen sees the result of working always with the same band, announces a Brazilian tour and celebrates artistic freedom.

December 20th, 2010

With more experience, Tarja considers her new work really pesonal. It's not quite hard to find Tarja Turunen in this time of the year. The singer is usually traveling with other classical singers and visiting European churches with Christmas concerts. She doesn't even look like that metal singer who got known as the Nightwish frontwoman who, as fate decided, became a solo singer "by chance". At least at the first moment, as now security is Tarja's second name, as her 2nd recording, What Lies Beneath, sounds as a real band, for real.

That happened because she could keep around her the musicians who joined her on her concerts around the world. And what a great bunch of musicians! Alex Scholpp (Farmer Boys, guitars), Doug Wimbish (bass, Living Colour) and Mike Terrana (Yngwie Malmsteen, drums), as well as astonishing guest artists as Joe Satriani, the drummer Will Calhoun (Living Colour), Phil Labonte (All That Remains frontman), and many orchestras and choirs, of course. Tarja still bets on the fusion amongst classical music and heavy metal, but starts to notice how to do that without something crucial: the good compositions Tuomas Holopainen (Nightwish) doesn't share with her anymore.

On this exclusive interview, early in the morning and by phone, Tarja reveals an attitude of someone who doesn't feel as big as she really is. She gets embarassed when she talks about Alice Cooper - for she covered one of his famous songs, Poison -, tells how she didn't believe when Scorpions's frontman Klaus Meine called her and reveals how she brought Joe Satriani closer. At the same time she reveals the self-confidence of an artist who is consolidating her work in the industry , getting to the point with her usual enthusiasm. Ah, she was at Luxemburg where, the next day, she would sing Christmas songs. Check it out:

Rock em Geral: Last time we chatted you were really excited about the beginning of your solo career, as that one was the first album. What about now, are you keeping that level of excitement?

Tarja Turunen: Of course! I'm really excited, it has been a great journey... (sigh) There's been five years since everything started, it's a long time. A lot of experience gathered, two very beautiful albums and many many concerts, many appointments, so much fun... Everything's been so good. I had the possibility of working with great people. Everything's been so good, everything happened so fast to me, what makes me get really, really excited.

REG: In a general way, can we say that you feel immortal now, as the song says?

Tarja: Yes! Freedom is something really.. Well, I'm not immortal! But having freedom to do stuff gives me this formidable sensation.

REG: Hpw do you compare the process of making both your albums, What Lies Beneath and My Winter Storm?

Tarja: This second work took me for two years, I was always composing, working on the material.No matter where I was, I always took a time to work, alone or together with other composers. Everything that is shown on every song is a kind of image of myself, of my very soul, it's a very personal album for me. For the first time I could kind of open my own Pandora's Box and search for everything I love about music. Everything I have to say is on the album, which means it's a very important album.

REG: This album sounds more like a band's album, while My Winter Storm seems to be a soundtrack...

Tarja: The point is that my band, all the musicians who started working with me, are together with me until now, and they've put so much effort on the songs, compositions and also on arrangements. That's what shows up, sounds much more direct, more clear, the entire visualization of work inside the songs. And I wanted the album this way. There's a diversity between the songs, it1s not just a metal album because it's an artist's album. And today I feel free to compose songs the way I want and the way I feel it better. That's why there are so many different styles of music. Having a history inside metal and classical music, I'll always have both things together and now I can blend it with anything else I want.

REG: Anyway, What Lies Beneath is heavies than My Winter Storm...

Tarja: Yeah, let's say so, if you want an overview…

REG: It's a cliché to say that, but do you consider this album better than the previous one?

Tarja: You know what? My Winter Storm was the beginning of everything and every new beginning is hard, but I really like this album. Those were my first steps, I'll always have a special feeling for My Winter Storm. Of course What Lies Beneath is much more, let's say, energetic, it gets to the point, 'cause this is what I'm living at the moment. I want to get to the point" Because I feel more confident as a woman too...

The singer opens her own "Pandora's Box"

REG: This is one thing we shouldn't ask a woman, but do you feel more mature now, mainly?

Tarja: (ROFL) Yeah, we grow up, life is always measured by growth, for the learning experience. Everything you see, you learn, you carry along with you. And I must say lately I have learned a lot.

REG: How was Joe Satriani's appearance on Falling Awake?

Tarja: I've always wanted to work with him, I have all of his albums. When we had all the tracks recorded, there were almost no guitar solo on the album and I said oh God! I love guitar solos, how did it happen? I was chatting with my bass player, Doug Wimbish, and he suggested me to get in touch with Joe Satriani. I said: Are you crazy? He probably doesn't even know I exist! But I've met him at the United States some time ago, last year. When I showed him my song, I was too nervous to see how he would react, but he loved it, and two days later he was there to record, without asking for anything, he did me a great favor, gave me a gift. He's an extraordinary person, I've seen his work, his passion, he really likes what he does.

REG: So it was easy to work with him, because sometimes guitar players are trouble...

Tarja: It was easy, he asked me to show him exactly what I wanted because he didn't want to keep on trying stuff, he wanted to get to the point. I've given him some examples, shoewd the violin solo that has been made to the song and he recorded it happily, everything was so easy.

REG: You've recorded an Alice Cooper's song (Poison) for your first album and now recorded another on from Whitesnake (Still Of The Night) as a bonus track for this album. How do you choose these songs? Does it depend on the lyrics?

Tarja: Ah, I'm a cool girl, I don't think too much because I always have fun with these songs. I did a tour together with Alice Cooper in Europe, it was fantastic, he's really kind...

REG: Did you sing together at the concerts?

Tarja: (shows embarassment) No! I didn't sing with him! But Still Of The Night has always been a song I wanted to record. Even when I was on Nightwish I suggested them to play it, but they didn't like the idea. This time I had everything available - choir and orchestra - at Los Angeles, and it turned out to be what I wanted: heavy and more modern. It's definetely my version of the song.

REG: Do you think it is important to have a cover song in every album?

Tarja: No, it's not necessary. It's always hard to make covers, maybe the next albums won't have one, I don't know, it's too soon to think about it! And to be honest Still Of The Night is a B-side, it's not even part o the official album.

REG: And Phil Labonte's male voice, how did you choose it?

Tarja: I was looking for a voice like that, someone who could scream, a steady and, at the same time, clean vocal. Something that would also give a drastic contrast together with my voice. My voice always sounds the same, I cannot scream and make something different. It is what it is. I talked to a composer, Johnny Andrews, who composed Dark Star together with me, and he suggested Labonte. We had a Skype chat and I told him what I wanted him to do in the song. Technology helped a lot, shortened the distance. He recorded in NY while I worked in Europe. Later on we've put everything together.

REG: Keeping the "collaborations" subject, you also sung in a Scorpions's song (The Good Die Young, from Sting In The Tail album)…

Tarja: It was a big honor for me, they invited me, first by e-mail to my manager, then Klaus Meine himself called me directly! We chatted, he's a very nice man, sympathetich and he told me they follow my career. Meanwhile we all met in festivals - for example, in Brasil, São Paulo (Live'n'Louder 2005) -, but we never had a chance to chat about life and stuff. They wanted me to chat in the album, what he didn't mention then is that it was the last album of Scorpions's careeer.

REG: It was like "it's now or never"...

Tarja: Yeah! When I went to Buenos Aires to record, the producer told me it was the last one, I was chocked. They are in a tour now, we met, talked about playing together someday.
They are very nice people. We had a concert with them in Austria, it was filmed for a TV channel, they are really nice guys.

REG: In your website there's a Latin America tour in March, but Brazil is not included...

Tarja: But there's a concert already confirmed in São Paulo on March 12th and two more in Brasil are being negociated in other cities. But I promise I'll be back. I need you!

REG: What do you remember about the brazilian concerts?

Tarja: You are crazy, I love the passion you show, that's not like that in any other place in the world. South America is, in general, the continent where everyone should play because people are really passionate, and it's not different with us. It's really fantastic, I have beautiful memories from the Brazilian concerts. But that happened a long time ago and I definetely want to come back!

REG: But are you going to leave Rio aside, huh?

Tarja: I hope I can come back, I have a really beautiful fan club in Rio, which supports me a lot.

Tarja confirmed she's coming to brasil on March, for three concerts in her new album's tour.
At this point the interview had to be interrupted by the record company's determination.


Source: Rock em Geral

English translation by Ferrr Barone