You have to be brave enough to say what you really think.

The Finn isn't oblivious to the fact that her relationship with her Chilean followers is very special. All the contrary, she embraces that love and it strengthens her, returning the demonstrations of an audience who adores her beyond only music. That is the ambiance that awaits for Tarja this March 23 in the Teatro Teletón, in what will be her second visit as a solo artist and the sixth one including her performances with Nightwish (2000 and 2002) and the two versions of the event “Noche Escandinava”. Those who admire her as a person will be able to see her in these pages as the woman she is, in an interview where she speaks about challenges, emotions and lessons. As the title of her new album “What Lies Beneath” prays, the singer uncovers herself through the changes in her life, she ventures inside her and shares her feelings with those who listen to her. “I'm one of you!”

Tarja, it's been more than two years since you came promoting “My Winter Storm” (2007) to Chile. Which are the most permanent memories of that time in Santiago?

Oh! I remember it was really cold, we were freezing in Chile! (laughs) You know? It was still winter, a cold season, and on top of it I was very sick (laughs), I remember that! I had a very high fever during the concert! (stronger laughter) Although I had to fight to pull it through. And the concert was beautiful, the people from Santiago de Chile were so, so nice, a very agreeable experience. Of course (laughs) despite the cold and that I felt sick! I'm so glad to go back and I hope everyone will go in this time! (laughs)

Many remember that visit because you have a very close relation with your followers, a very special one. They don't only appreciate you as a singer, but also as a woman, as a human being. It's something beyond the music: they love you. How lucky do you feel with that love between you and your fans?

That communication between me and my fans is VERY IMPORTANT, you now? Absolutely vital for me as an artist, just as a human being. I really consider myself a normal person in the sense of having a close relation with my fans, and that's very important because this is the reality: I wouldn't be here if it weren't for them, it's very important not to forget it. I think that as long as you make music in a humble way, that you present your music in a humble way, people will manage to feel that passion and love [that you have] for what you do... I HAVE WONDERFUL FOLLOWERS, they are AMAZING persons.

Now recently for Christmas, for new year, I had the internet full of messages, full of beautiful videos from them! And they put so much effort and time to try to make me feel special. THAT IS ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE! I had never received so much love, from anyone else, my fans are very special people, they have given me so much love, and I return it with my music (laughs). And so many demonstrations, so many. For example, some people in Europe dedicated a song to me, they made a whole song for me! With lyrics and everything about Tarja Turunen! (laughs) And they sing it in front of me! Before and after the concerts! (laughs). You know? It's incredible! There are many like that, many people who put a lot of dedication [to the demonstrations] trying to get a smile from me (laughs), trying to make me happy. That is wonderful.

Speaking of your last performance in Santiago, I remember that the day before your concert you filmed a video for “Enough” with some Chilean directors (Abysmo Producciones, who have already worked with Kreator, Lacrimosa, Vader, Therion, Mercenary, Criminal, etc.). For some reason, sadly, that video never appeared in the media. What happened with that?

We had difficulties, technical difficulties with the “Enough” video. You know? What's his name... the producer of the video “Enough” suffered a car accident, or something like that. We got so behind schedule that we ran out of time, the material for the video would have arrived too late and we wouldn't have been able to deliver it in time, according to the schedule. After that there were some problems because Universal music, my record company, started putting pressure on us and sadly, it couldn't be done.

For the promotion of “What Lies Beneath” You launched the video for “I Feel Immortal” and only days (or weeks) later, “Until My Last Breath” was launched with the same set, same location, same filming and of course, some fans wondered why they were so “alike”. Why didn't Tarja get herself the time to make another video for one of those songs? And the curiouser thing is that after the “complains”, a second version of UMLB was launched, different from the first one. What do you think of the reactions when the original video for this single was broadcast?

Well, of course I read a lot of comments from disappointed people about the fact that they weren't different, for the fact that IFI and UMLB had the same location. The main reason was that... I mean, the truth is that I was already working on the UMLB video that you know as the “second version”, which was supposed to be the first one! I was working on it with a dear friend in Finland and I was part of the production you know, defining plans, putting the schedules together, the scripts, everything, and we got behing on schedule again and... the same! (laughs). Universal music, my record company told us, “We need the video for the first international single of UMLB!”

Since we didn't have it ready, my friends and I found ourselves in the need of filming another video in Iceland while we recorded IFI, since the international market as ASKING for it (laughs). Since the other one was already in process, we had to find another alternative to film a video on time.

In the end I like a lot the first UMLB video, I really like the story. I dive and I'm fascinated by the world under the water, which works perfectly well with the scenario. The beautiful landscapes of Iceland can't be found anywhere else in the planet.

Talking about the “second” UMLB video in which you recreate your death and the coverage of the media regarding the news, it shows photos and images not only of your career but also of your private life. And well, you mentioned that WLB is a very personal album. What is the connection between that particular video and the lyrics on this new work?

Many times when we make videos, many times they have nothing to do with the lyrics of the song. You can imagine some kind of nice story and build something from there, it doesn't necessary have to do with the lyrics. Now, I wrote this song inspired by the death of Michael Jackson. Before the king of pop passed away, many believed that his shows in London wouldn't be successful, that he'd never make it, that they'd be a disaster, and after the news [of his death] everyone was saying that he was the King of Pop, that he was the best pop artist of all times... of the whole world.

For me, writing a song like UMLB... of course it doesn't have to do with my death, it's just something symbolic to show that you must not change your opinion or, better said, THAT YOU MUST BE BRAVE ENOUGH TO SAY WHAT YOU REALLY THINK, no matter what happens! After such drastic changes we also tend to change. oh! You know, I used to think this and now I think that as if you were ashamed of that. For me he was always the King of Pop no matter his personal life or what the media published about him and blah blah, for me he was always the King of Pop! That's what inspired UMLB, happenings, everything that happens to us in life.

Yes, in this album you speak about life, you speak of the things you wanted to say, and you have used a very good metaphor to explain what you did on this CD, that you opened “Pandora's Box” as you were composing it. I understand that WLB is a personal album. What did you discover when you opened that Pandora's Box? What was inside it? What did you learn about yourself and others?

Well, the composition took about two years and it was very... it was a great adventure inside me, when I look at how my life has changed, how I have... I mean, not changed, but how I have lived through these changes. If you can open to all the cultural changes, if you can open to all the sudden changes in life, then you change, and not necessarily in a wrong path... and I have learned to live my life in a very positive way.

I have gone through great changes in my life, but I have a reason to believe that they have been good for me. Somehow they have taught me something, a lesson, I have learned my lesson and now I can enjoy my life, being someone able to transmit that joy. It's very important as an artist to write songs about what you really feel, to write songs about what you really want to say, or want to tell. Nowadays I have that wonderful freedom and I learned so much during ALL the composition process of WLB, a lot. I learned about me, about life itself and about everyone's. I'm a woman, I'm a grown up and I adore the way in which my life... (silence) with the good and the bad, and I enjoy the moment I live right now.

And you look really happy, considering that in the past you sang very personal lyrics, only that written by another musician...

Happily, now I have my own songs! (laughs)


Yes, in a way... well, it's very liberating! I feel very free singing my own lyrics and the feeling is different. You know? When I sing my own material to the audience, when I sing my own stories to the public, it's wonderful!

When you speak about personal things in an album like WLB, many fans will tend to elaborate theories about the real background of the lyrics, to relate them to what you have lived, Oh! What is she saying here? Who is she talking about? What interpretations have you heard?

Many, and very different. You know how music is in general, it's about emotions, and if you listen to music, no matter the song, you can think something about it in your own way... find something that will reach you, something that touches you... AND IT ALWAYS WILL BE CORRECT. There isn't only one interpretation in my compositions and that's what I've always said, that I want to deliver lyrics with different meanings for each person. They'll always have a special meaning for me, nonetheless I wouldn't like to be so direct so everyone will go oh, she's writing about this or that. Everyone should have the freedom to get the meaning they want, what they wish, what they see, because the emotion is what really guides us and music is able to help people with their problems even, that's why it's very, very important for many. You don't need to be a musician to believe that music is important.

I don't like to explain my lyrics. Perhaps some people would feel ashamed to hear it! I'll see if certain songs provoke a particular feeling in me. If a composer comes and tells me oh well, I think this, I think that, I was sitting on the beach while I was writing this song about my mother y go like oh! For me it feels completely... (laughs). My whole idea gets destroyed! Yes, that's the why, that's the reason of why I don't like to explain the lyrics to people, they should have the freedom to think whatever they want.

The thing that happens with your fans, as we were saying in the beginning, is that they feel a very special bond with you, of lots of love and communication. What would you say to all those who try to know you a bit better as a woman through the lyrics of WLB?

That the only thing that I'd love to get from those who listen to my music is... (silence), what they should know about me is that I'm simply one more of them. You see? That I'm simply one of you! One of them! Nothing more than that, that I'm just a woman who enjoys making music. It's a present, a gift, a pleasure to me, and they are a gift too, a blessing for me.

That's the only thing I really want, I'd love that they understood that I'm simply one more of them.

Under the care of Mike Terrana and the other musicians: I can tell they love me

This time, unlike with MWS, in WLB you were in charge of the whole production, directing every stage of the process, from composition, going through recording the drums and the bass with Mike Terrana and Doug Wimbish, until the orchestration the mixing in different studios, everything. You already pointed out that it's been the biggest production you've done in your career. How ready did you feel for the challenge?

It was a gift to work with such talented persons. All those who are featured in WLB recording or producing with me, helping me, the mixing engineers, (Colin Richardson, Tim Palmer y Slamm Andrews), mastering and sound engineers, everyone, they are all very gifted people, and I already had the blessing of knowing (and sharing with) many of them for a long time already.

And for me it was clear. When I had four songs as demos (four raw demos saved in my computer) I sent them to all the musicians and I told them “don't pay attention to the drums, the guitars, please,” because they were raw, and I reiterated them “guys, I want you in the studio, I want us to work together, to practice a bit, try different options and move forwards. Let's not stay too long in the studio and I trust you can do it. I know already how you play, I know what you do.” I have worked with all the musicians that were there recording with me for several years, so I knew what they were capable of delivering. And it turned out fantastic! They put so much effort into it and gave so many contributions. It was really marvelous!

And about the pressure! This kind of challenge... yes, it's an immense challenge to produce an album for the first time, although the pressure evaporated when we did the first take! When we went to the studio and I saw that Mike Terrana, my drummer, was in a good mood, that he had rehearsed everything, that he was very relaxed. We just needed three takes for one song and I told myself “Wow! If things keep on going this way, fantastic (laughs)!” So that was the start day, and it went the same way the rest of the production. It was very nice when I finally had the CD in my hands and I could shout “I adore my album! It's just what I wanted, even more than I wanted! (laughs)” I felt very proud, of myself and of all the people around, proud of the aspect of the production, of my music! (laughs)

You spoke about Mike Terrana, and the truth is that a big difference between MWS and WLB is that in the last one you had a very similar line up to the one you wore in your previous world tour, including him, Doug Wimbish, Alex Scholpp, Max Lilja. Did you feel more comfortable?

It was very important to have them there. I've been playing live with them for almost four years and it's been a great, great experience. Sometimes Doug hasn't been able to be with me, neither has Alex, but Mike has been there from the beginning and it's a huge gift to have guys like them supporting me, playing music. I mean, it really works, the band is at its top, very coordinated, it sounds bombastic! It's very nice to rock with these little guys (laughs)!” [little guy = chiquillo, an affectionate name calling in Spanish]. There are matters involved beyond the music and that's they key. For example, Mike and I have become very good friends and we keep in touch when we're not touring, and I can tell he cares about me [cariño = a word for affection that has no translation to English]. That's an important point.

I believe then that the March 23 show in Santiago will be a family reunion, for the Chileans and for the musicians. The atmosphere will be very positive and joyous...

Yes, I mean, this southamerican tour is something that I have really been waiting with a lot of enthusiasm for more than a year really, waiting anxious for the day to play for you again. It's a huge joy to see that tremendous passion in the audience from your countries and from Chile. You deliver so much love to the artists, so much love to the musicians, and that's why it's a real pleasure to have the opportunity to sing for the Chilean people

Jorge Ciudad
Colaboration: Winter Storm Chile