Tarja Turunen Interview

Tarja Turunen, dubbed “The voice of Finland” by Tarja Hallonen herself, is back once again with Act II, following up the success of 2012s charttopping live-album/DVD Act I. Stargazed Magazine called up Tarja to have a word about the new release and her career, which now spans over 20 impressive years in music!

 

Your new album, Act II, is your fifth live album, which makes your number of live albums larger than your number of studio albums. What is it you love so much about doing live albums?

My fifth live album? It’s my second live album. After my two studio albums I did Act I in Argentina, that was my first live album, and this Act II that is coming now after three more studio albums. So after these studio albums comes the second live album.

 

I was thinking about In Concert – Live at Sibelius Hall (2011), Beauty and the Beat (2014) and Luna Park Ride (2015)…

Ah, well yes, sure, in that sense I have. Generally I have done different projects like Beuty and the Beat and that kind of thing, so yes, there’s many live albums, but as for my rock career, this is the second act!

 

How does this stand out from Act I?

As I was producing my first act in Argentina, I thought that hopefully one day I would have the chance to make a second act, and hopefully I’ll make a third act in the future, so I kept the same name for the live albums. But on the other hand, the place where we were filming this concert was a different kind of theater than the first one. The first one being an opera theater and this one being recorded in a modern theater. Also being in Europe with an european and italian audience. The first one was recorded in Argentina, so this time I’m kind of thanking my fans in Europe. The other thing is that I wanted to make this one more arty, in a way that it looks more special than the normal live video you are used too, with post production effects and more photographics because I very much love photographing. You know, everytime on my albums, I’ve used a lot of photos in the artwork. I enjoy that! I’ve been blessed to be working with many talented photographers, having their captures and to use them in my career. This time, the photos that are in the live video, they show up here and there, were taken by Tim Tronckoe, a legend photographer who has worked with me for years now. And the fan photos that are also very important! There is another concert (on Act II) completely different, filmed in Metropolis Studios in London for a handful of hardcore fans. This was the first time me and the band were playing the songs from the latest record live, before even the album itself was released, so it was really a special show for us. We were very nervous, but had such faith in those hardcore fans, media and label people and the people there in the studio act with those cameras around. It was really nice, I loved it! I loved the atmosphere, being in a studio and I wanted to capture it for the Act II and to offer something different.

 

What are your own personal favourite live albums from other artists?

I kind of enjoy still buying records in general, and enjoy also buying live records. I obviolsy very much like to see shows like Rammstein, for example, to get them in my living room. I have a very good sound system at home, so I enjoy very much listening to music in general at home. What else can I mention? The Muse live record they have done. Also I enjoy listening to Peter Gabriel, with his round stage in the middle of the audience… There are several! Of course I also enjoy watching pop artists, rock artists, and many different kind of artists. If I see something interresting I wanna check out where they are standing in this point in their career. Also for me, who is producing my own records, it is intresting so see who they are working with, the producers and the sound engineers they are using. So for me to check out live albums or records in general today is more about going into the technical side of it, checking out the people. I am also eager to sometimes work with new people and learn from new people. So it’s interesting.

 

Do you prefer playing live to being in the studio?

(Tarja laughs)

Sure, of course, definately! I breathe for my performances! If I were not able to perform anymore I’m sure I would become a really miserable person! I mean seriously, I’m a performing artist and I enjoy very much my performances. Wether or not it is in classical music where you can enjoy a different atmosphere, a different kind of audience, different kind of programs and different kinds of challanges… Or in my rock shows. I love having my fans around, getting the energy there, getting to know their big love of my music. When you are recording the songs that you wrote in the studio… Once I like the songs they become personal things because they always have something to do with my personal life. Once I get to the studio, those emotions kind of change because my musicians get worked up in the act and work at the theme real hard. We eventually go through the live situation, again a different kind of emotion. The emotions that are involved always… Not that they change that much, but they always have a different kind of life, and that’s what I enjoy very much, that when it gets to live performances there is always more to improve. That is a very important connection that I feel with the musicians I am working with today, that they really treat it the same way I do. We all want to progress, we all want to improve, and every performance is different even though we play the same songs. Emotions are changing the songs! Just like that.

 

There are two concerts on this album. So there’s one in the studio, and the other one is from the Teatro de la Luna in Italy. So if we talk about the one in the studio, how come you wanted to film a live-DVD this way?

Exactly because of tradition. I don’t want to go were the level is lowest in my art. I work really hard, also for this album I worked really hard for this live album and it took me almost a year to go through all the editing and the mixing progress, and you know, everything, because we worked in several live shows that you can see later on, other festivals we also produced at the same time. You will see them, they are coming later. But this London show, it’s very different, it’s very intimate. The whole situation with having a handful of people in London breathing together through art, and it’s really a emotional situation, getting so close to my fans and having them there… It was special, I wanted to capture that. It was also something new to me, and new for all my fans. We’ve never done something like that, so it was also for my fans to do something special. And that is also why I wanted to do it in black and white, which is also different from de Teatro de la Luna, completely different. Even though some of the songs are the same as we play in the Milano show. You can feel the difference. When the enviroment change, the emotions also change.

 

The main concert for this live album and DVD is a concert recorded in Teatro de la Luna in Italy. How come you wanted to record this certain concert?

I decided too record in that theater because I knew that theater in advance. When you are recording a DVD, there’s always a certain suspense in the air and that everybody is a little more tense and that’s because you have all the cameras around. So I had to find a location in Europe where I could get a film crew in. The film crew came from Germany, people I have been working with before. I had to find a logistically wise place, where people could get in easy and where we had not played… It’s a theater I knew before, that was basically the fact, that I knew what to expect there, and I didn’t have to be nervous because I didn’t know the place or that kind of thing. So yes, that was basically the reason I decided to go there. And basically also, my italian fans are really great and passionate people, so I knew what to expect in that sense already from the audience.

 

You include a cover of Shirley Basseys classic Goldfinger. Do you have a certain secret wish of singing a Bond song?

(Tarja laughs)

Well, I kind of always do! On every album somewhere there is always one Bond song. I love Bond so much and I love the music and I always check out the next artist to do the next Bond song, it’s really important if somebody important to me is doing the song. Everytime there is always kind of a surpise to me who is doing the song. I have recently done some myself, and I can say that the first time I heard In for the Kill on my second album it felt like In for the Kill is my Bond song! I kind of enjoy that. Also the Muse-cover I did on my last album, Supremacy, it has a glimpse of that. It has got a Bond-feeling in its music, I think it is inspired much by a lot by Queen and Bond and all that. Because it’s a theatric moment, I love the theater act Bond has in general. Of course the cinema, it has everything to do with the movies.

 

So if EON Productions were to call you, you would enjoy that?

Oh, I would enjoy that very, very much!

(Tarja laughs again)

 

It’s now been eleven years since you launched your solo career with My Winter Storm, and it now spans over four studio albums, two christmas albums, one classical album and all these live albums! Does it feel like you have fully proven yourself as a solo artist, and that you’re not afraid of getting stuck as a former Nightwish-member anymore?

I feel very free, and the freedom I am having in my career. My life in general keeps me very motivated and inspired and very productive. I can handle my schedules and there’s no one I need to ask about what to do and what not to do, so the decisionmaking is my own and obviously I need to take care so that the people I want to work with want to work with me when I need them. But I need the hard work, there’s a huge challange you’re facing as a solo artist today, to handle all the stuff that I’m having. To think of my classical performances, I’m still training a lot to get better in the lyrical theme as well, because it really helps me to sing a lot better, to feel more free. But it’s a challange, and I really feel there’s a world differences of being in a band as a singer and being a solo artist and having the career I’m having at the moment. I don’t see too much things in common, I’m in a new world which I enjoy very much.

 

Before My Winter Storm, did you ever feel like you wanted to leave the metal business and do something different?

No, not really beacuse metal, it lives inside of me. It was born very strangely, the whole metal scene was new to me when I started out in singing in a band, but the whole scene came close to me, close to my heart. I opened up my heart for it and I enjoyed it and today, I breathe for it. It’s like my root in music, that was always in classical music as I started as a little kid, but metal came into my life from a back door somehow, and it’s a very important part of me. I enjoy it extremely lot today and since I started my solo career, I was searching my own way to the music, I was looking to see if I was able to write any songs of my own and god damn, I was seriously very, very nervous and not knowing what to expect for my future. I was left alone, so in that sense I needed to find new people, so it was an open door for me that I didn’t know what to expect from when I entered in. It was really difficult, but then I had to trust my instincts and my gut and try out new things and find what I did want and what I did good. What my gut feeling said to me, and my heart! And that was the other thing: I always follow my heart. And I’m really grateful for the freedom that was given to me, there was no label peole telling me, “hey you have to do this ” “don’t do that” or “you have to do that, or we won’t work with you”… No, I was able to my make my own decisions, and that’s amazing, and that is why I think today I feel free and stronger than ever because seriously, that freedom won’t keep anything away from me. It’s unbelievable, beautiful!

 

Did you expect to have such a successful solo career?

Well, what can you expect? It could have been a complete flop, but it was not. Obviously, the whole career I did with Nightwish… I’m very proud of my work I did with the band because obviously the work I did with the band, how people saw me and how they respected me, so obviously I had done my work well. Because I could get another chance! I had a chance. People gave me that change. My fans, they gave me that chance! Without my fans and without the people that are there to keep my back every day to continue, that’s what I do, I would not be here. But I could now know what to expect, not for real.

 

You have made some albums outside the metal genre. Are you gonna expand on that, or is the metal career gonna remain your main focus?

I think the main focus is going to be there, in the metal career, in the sense that if you look at my albums, it’s not like they are very common metal albums. No, they are my albums. They are coming from my experience. But the thing is that, obviously, as I said to you earlier, I want to make progress and I want to get better in lyrical singing so I will keep on doing lyrical concerts and lyrical albums, keeping it up. Because there is only things to know, and in that sense, I can never know enough. Lyrical singing is definately a world, and if you get into that, there’s no end. But my main focus is my rock career today. It’s a challange to make everything work, schedule-wise.

 

Your successor in Nightwish, Anette Olzon, has expressed positive words about your solo career and you both played at Sweden Rock Festival this year. Have you ever thought about doing something together?

I have never actually met her, so I would love to meet her. I would really love to have a chat with her, and you know… I keep in touch with many women in metal, I’m so lucky to see those girls around at festivals and keep in touch because we have so much in common. There’s so much in common, so I would love to meet her and obviously start from that!

 

The music business has changed a lot through the years since you and Nightwish became a worldwide phenomenon, and symphonic metal is not as big as it used to be. So what keeps the crowd coming to your shows?

I think I’m blessed to have a very loyal fanbase in that sense that there are followers that has been following my career and supporting me for a lot of years now. There are people who are putting out and releasing my latest record, so it’s unbelievable, with the music that we have today, or the tools we have today to listen to music in general with the internet and all the streaming and things. They kind of take up too much of music business, from records and stuff like that. On the other hand it’s a really great tool to get to know things you didn’t know before. It’s not just what is happening to me, naturally it’s happening to everybody! You just open to get to know new music. I don’t know, we are living in new times of music business, everybody somewhere or another has to go on tour because that’s the only way to make your living now. The situation is different. If you get a gold record nowaday it is like “Wow, we got a gold record! How many albums have been sold?” – “5000” – “What?! That’s nothing!!!” You get a gold record, it’s like… It’s unbelievable how times have changed a lot. But I feel so blessed to being strong today in the business in that sense that I feel that I’ve always been respected and this is really the greatest. It keeps me very humble, and it keeps me also working really hard. People respect me and they see me as I’m something perhaps a little bit different, going my own way, you know.

 

You’ve been in the music business for 20 years now. One with Nightwish and with your solo career. You’ve toured the world and have made concerts and recordings with many of your greatest idols. What do you have left that you still want to do?

Oh god, man! I’d love to explore myself more! Songwriting for example. Now I’m writing more of my own and that world is so exciting for me, writing songs and get them played in a studio and in a live situation and I get to see my fans singing my songs, singing my lyrics. It’s unbelievable, I enjoy it so much. I really think there is a world in the future for me as an artist. That I can continue doing what I’m doing and being happy with it. Obviously there’s a challange. I’m always very eager to challanges because that they always teach something new to you. For example I would like to write a score for a movie or something like that, make a piano album one day, only playing piano… I have had such a pleasure to work with different artists and collaborations that I’ve done with different kind of artists, and those collaborations all teach something different, because we are all artists so we all work differently. The ways are different and that is interesting.

 

So you’re now planning on doing any stage opera, then?

(Tarja laughs)

No, opera is far from my talent because seriously, I’m not an opera singer. I got my education as a lyrical singer, yes, but opera is like an other world for me. I’m a chamber music singer, so obviously I can sing in front of an orchestra, and certainly I can sing an opera aria without the clothes and sing like an opera singer but I never compare myself to a professional in that field because I’m so far away from all that. My time and my concentration has been otherwhere in rock and metal for so many years, so for me to really take part in an opera production one day, that would take about two years completely and concentrating into that one hundred percent. It would require that, and if I would be ably to do it, I don’t know.

 

Tarja ended the interview by thanking her swedish fans, especially the ones who helped to make the concert at Sweden Rock Festival into such a wonderful time. Act II will be available through earMusic on 27th of July!

Photos from Tarja’s performance at Sweden Rock festival 2018 can be found here!

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Tarja Turunen Interview

July 14, 2018

Tarja Turunen, dubbed “The voice of Finland” by Tarja Hallonen herself, is back once again with Act II, following up the success of 2012s charttopping live-album/DVD Act I. Stargazed Magazine called up Tarja to have a word about the new release and her career, which now spans over 20 impressive years in music!   Your new album, Act II, is your fifth live album, which makes your number of live albums larger than your number of studio albums. What is it you love so much about doing live albums? My fifth live album? It’s my second live album. After my two studio albums I did Act I in Argentina, that was my first live album, and this Act II that is coming now after three more studio albums. So after these studio albums comes the second live album.   I was thinking about In Concert – Live at Sibelius Hall (2011), Beauty and the Beat (2014) and Luna Park Ride (2015)… Ah, well yes, sure, in that sense I have. Generally I have done different projects like Beuty and the Beat and that kind of thing, so yes, there’s many live albums, but as for my rock career, this is…

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