Entertainment Focus was invited to hear Tarja Turunen's new album What Lies Beneath and Tarja herself was there to answer questions about her new album. This is part one of our interview.

How is your stay in London ?

This city is so pretty in the Summer. We arrived yesterday. So we had a show in Wacken (Wacken Festival in Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany) the day before yesterday and I was feeling a little bit tired. We just returned from Buenos Aires where I'm living in Argentina.

What was Wacken like ?

Wacken was amazing. I think it was my best show so far ever in my career. It was 80,000 people this year. Beautiful show. Really nice people. After the solo thing started, everything was open. There were no real answers given to me. And now for the second album its really been great. I feel like this is the best place to be. So Wacken was a really important show.

You produced the album yourself. How did that feel ?

Yeah it sounds crazy huh ? Its a big word Producer. its a huge step for me as well.  Definitely it was a learning experience from the start. But I felt after the first album that this was needed to be done. I needed to take control in some way, in the production. Since I knew all the people already. My band was there and we'd been touring together for a few years. And the whole package was ready. So it was alot easier for me to start directing people and seeing how to work. The first thing for me was to make the demos sound as close to the final songs and the final production. So it was a kind of a long demo production for me. We started in February the recordings so the whole Spring went into production. And finally now the album is ready. But it was fun. I mean really a lot of fun. I'm so excited about it really.

Can you take us through the songwriting process ?

That was around two years of time. Altogether I was touring and whenever the hell I was stopping, I wrote songs wherever I was at the time. Of course writing for me is still very new, fresh. You step into somewhere that is still unknown. There are so many things that you learn everyday when you write songs. About yourself, about the world how you see. But Its so exciting for me to be able to tell you myself. Put it in writing or put in music. How I feel. What I feel. This has been huge, huge. Again I say the learning because its definitely that. In music there's so many things that you learn everyday. There's always somebody better than you coming. And its not bad. But I dont want to stop. This is my thing, that I just can't stop. Because progress or making progress or developing myself is the most important thing. And writing for this album was a really long journey within myself and I've been writing songs aboutWhat Lies Beneath and the world around me so all the songs are one way or another somehow connected under the title What Lies Beneath. So Whether its under the surface of the water since I'm a scuba diving lover. Or what lies beneath in us as human beings.  How sometimes it would be good to look twice in things. I've seen that many times. Sometimes you see something and the next day you the same thing but it doesn't look like it. Its how scary how things are in the world. Let us have the time to look at things (properly).

You're a diver. What do you find so amazing about being underwater ?

Oh its so hard to explain for people that havent tried. Seriously you should all (laugh) I find its absolutely fascinating the underwater world. The colours are really beautiful. If you see that kind of colours in the water. its like sparkling three times more bright. Its a dream world. Its silent. But the fact is my life is on the road all the time. Its been many years like that. There are just few moments when its really quiet. I live in Buenos Aires which is a huge city like London, alot of noise.
Its hard to get a place that's really quiet. So scuba diving is something that I hear my breathing whilst I'm diving. I concentrate into my breathing and I get really good within myself. its so relaxing. Everything else that was there yesterday or even the same day, its gone. I forget that.

Its inspiration definitely. I think its important for everybody to get their escape wherever that is.

Have you always had natural vibrato in your voice or is it something you've learnt ?

I never learnt to sing with a vibrato (laughs) I've always have had it. I've always had my vibrato. It comes with the breathing and the correct technique. Studying so many years at singing. So there is definitely this thing that, breathing is the core of us. Then comes (if you are a singer) the muscles and if your muscles are free for breathing. Its for the breathing, then comes the voice. Its just the way, the natural way with me. And then comes the vibrato just naturally. I never think about it.  I never think about my vibrato when I'm singing.

When you're in an environment like festivals. Is it hard playing there, do you avoid all the late nights ?

Sure its not the easiest thing for me to do. I have to have place to warm up the show. I've always found my way.  Whether I've been singing a bit late running for the shows. You have to find a way. Sometimes conditions are not the best. Seriously if you put an opera singer in the conditions I've been in, they probably wouldn't be able to handle all of that. (laughs) I tell you. Thats life. You have to get adjusted into things. Rock and roll is definitely hard but I'm still used to the same technique.  I'm still trying to make the best out of my voice.

We heard you covered Whitesnake's Still Of The Night.
Is Dave Coverdale aware ?

I have no idea if he has. I'm too scared (laughs). I was a big fan of Whitesnake since I was a teenager.  Alice Cooper's Poison was on my first record, Now Whitesnake. Its not going to be on the record. its going to be on a deluxe version, a bonus record. It was so fun to do. I wanted to make a really great orchestra arrangement. Something massive. The original has some space for it. So I said Hmmm...I will explore it a little bit more further *laughs*  Yeah there is a huge choir as well. I think there are over 200 people seriously singing on the track. The national orchestra of Slovakia.

You did a cover of Alice Cooper's Poison on the last and you're touring with Alice Cooper fairly soon ?

This is like 'what the hell is happening with my life!'. I mean there are so many surprises. Happy surprises. I'm really thrilled about this chance. Its going to be November touring with Alice Cooper.

Would you do a duet of Poison with him ?

I dont think so (laughs) no! no! no! I think there will be some tomatoes coming to the stage. No I wouldn't dare (laughs)

What if he asked you ?

Well that is a different thing! (laughs)

When you're writing this new album. Did you want to make it more heavy or more melodic ?
Was there any conscious thought how you wanted it to sound ?

I wanted to make this album sound like what I would like myself to listen to. What are my preferences in music today as a music lover. Since it was a long writing process, I ended up writing I think around 30 songs. So I needed to take the best out of them. But I never had any subsconscious thing that I should write a heavier album. That this is what I really wanted. Except for the the orchestra. And the love for the movies that I have still today.

You do a 007 Spy Song, in For A Kill. What made you choose to do that ?

James Bond. It started as a kind of a joke I think. There were these two writers in Stockholm. And I went to their place and I said lets write it. It came as a joke to write that we should write a James Bond song. We started to brainstorm about it. Then the story, the song was very radical, way out of the James Bond attribute. And more about us as human beings. And I'm talking about sharks. Again a kind of a water theme here. About sharks.That people we think that sharks are hunting us but really we are hunting sharks. That is the whole concept of that song, How sad it is.The misconception that we have in life in general that we think all the sharks are killers and we need to be afraid of sharks. I saw a documentary called Shark Water. I cried so much after that. It was so awful. You should all see that. It was terrible.

Tarja Turunen

How did u get in touch with Joe Satriani. He plays on the song Falling Away ?

Doug Wimbish, bass player of Living Colour. He's been working with me for a few years now. He recorded the bass on the album and Doug is a friend of Joey. They toured together in the USA. I got to meet Joey when I went to work in Los Angeles for the mixing of the album. And I had an idea for Falling Wway to have a guitar solo. I have all of Joey's albums and it was a really huge honour to have him on the track. He said yes and he was listening to the song and he loved the song. He said yeah I'll do this *laughs*

You have quite a lot of collaboration on this album. How did you pick the artists ?

When the songs were demo'ed, the feeling was there that I needed some kind of special flavour. I wanted a special flavour for certain songs. I called in for example, these group of Germans Von Canto, an acapella group. They did magnificent work for the opening track (Anteroom Of Death). Its a very aggressive freaky song to open up the album. I wanted something really inspired like Queen's vocal arrangements. It was a very crazy thing to do with them. They're a really talented heavy metal acapella band from Germany.

Then Wil Calhoun came to play drums for some of the songs. Wil is again a different kind ofdrummer that I have known from Living Colour with Doug again for some years. He's an unbelievable talent. Really amazing. So I thought about every song, the need for every song. I chose the players. Since I'm an artist,  I dont need to have an album like this. I feel that I'm not that kind of artist that can be boxed in a certain category. I feel what comes it comes because I'm very, very free today. I feel that having that freedom I never give any hint of it away.

You guested on Scorpions Good Die Young song ?

It was a very strange moment when Klaus Meine called me *laughs* It was wonderful. Seriously such an honour. At the time they sent me two songs. And I could pick or choose the one I liked the most. and I recorded the song and after recording I heard that this was going to be the last studio album. I didn't know it earlier. I was completely shocked. LIke wow I'm going to be on the last record *laugh of disbelief* Its such an honour. I got to meet the guys and we played on a song together on a music program in Austria. Nice gentlemen. Very nice people.

You also worked with Doro Pesch ?

Doro...what a lovely lady. She's really such a lovely lady. We met her day before yesterday. We did do something together.
She asked me to sing one of her songs for her album and I apologised I didn't get a chance to ask her to sing on one of mine.
I hope we can work out and do something. She's been in the business a long time, 30 years.

Who do you like to work with ?

Peter Gabriel *laughs* No seriously. I love him. I really love Peter Gabriel. if I had an idol, he's my idol.

Is there a reason for that ?

His music *laughs*. Also the way he does. The way he's representing in his music. The way he is as a person. I got to meet him a few years ago and I was trembling like a little girl. really nervous. I wish to remain as he is today. I wish that there is no reason to start flying around. He is such a great personality. Musician. Great artist.

You've got a gig coming up in Shepherds Bush. What can we expect to ? are you bringing a lot of musicians ?
Are there going to be any special guests ?

I will be bringing my band. I havent even got that far in my thoughts yet because the album is coming out. Definitely its gonna be based,the whole tour on the new album we're gonna play lots and lots of cool songs. There will be some surprises as I'm always willing to refresh the setlist. There will be a new bass player with me *laughs* and I can't tell you yet who he is but hes from America. Doug Wimbish won't be there. More or less the same line up.

Of these eleven songs, which of these are you the happiest with.

Ohh don't ask me this. One...bah..thats tough one! There is such a diversity so it would be very difficult for me today to tell you one song. Maybe tomorrow it will be different *laughs*. Seriously. It is a metter of emotion. the whole album is about that. I wrote the songs triggered by certain emotions. I would say that its been wonderful to play live In For A Kill for example. Its the range of vocals. Its a huge range. It demands a lot of power but also really a lot concentration from me. its the third or fourth take you hear. More or less all of the recordings are done without headphones, barely ever when im recording, just having a microphone, live room with acoustics and a monitor just in front of me and I sing live. Thats how I feel to record. As a listener you can really hear me. its not bits and piece. I hate that. So kind of that song today. Tomorrow it could be totally different *laughs*

I heard that the record company wanted you to redo one of the songs.
What was your reaction ? Were you frustrated about that ?

Yes. I would lie if I said I wasn't frustrated. I was a bit frustrated. There is a song called I feel Immortal and its going to be on the album. It was delivered to me very late. Everything else was done. But I made my decision. Of course since I would not be working with the label if I did not need them. So of course I understood their points and since they gave me free plans to work in the song. So basically what you hear in the song today its only the chorus remains the same. The lyrics all different. Since there was a kind of freedom, I decided to work on it. I tried my very, very best. There's a beautiful video done with that. I went to shoot it in Iceland. The landscape of Iceland. Oh my god. Such a pretty country.

The video for Falling Awake (the next single) and it has a segment where you put some make up with a scar on your face ?

Its exactly about that. When I received the first pictures of the album cover. And I showed it to people "so what do you think ?" "oh you look very pretty!" and thats it. and I said yes! Because that is exactly the same. The whole album, booklet are all done with the same idea. You should look twice in life, in general. Certain things you dont see at first sight. Then after the second look, you see different. It was just inspired by that. I wanted the whole artwork to be based in photos which I love photography. I really like that kind of art. So its very in a way traumatic but it was such fun to do. To make things look on the surface different then What Lies Beneath.

On the first album you had a number of different characters. Is it the same for this one.

No. There are no characters. there is only me talking about my life, talking about stories talking about some fantasies as well. its just how I feel today. very healthy.

Tarja's new album What Lies Beneath will be available on September 3rd. EF will be bringing you a review of the album shortly. Stay tuned!