Right Of Reply   

To ask or not to ask the question… THAT is the question !

Philippe Bouvard: « Whenever I interview someone, what I want to do is make them say what they had not planned to ».

Well, one can say that this interview of Tarja has drawn everyone’s attention. This was not due to the mere content of it, more to the first four lines which Metal’O Phil wrote. The four lines in which he criticized the bypassed way that the Finnish diva answered his questions. Nothing mean really as will say those who can keep distant enough from the matter. Yet, the actual reactions which resulted from that were the consecutive invasions of neurotic fans and angry Finnish people on the Radio Metal website. This was probably a consequence of the article published on the information website called iltalehti.fi-which is obviously popular in Santa’s homeplace- about our interview. In the first place, we’d sincerely like to thank italehti.fi for writing about Radio Metal’s work. We already knew that some Brasilian information websites were interested in our columns and even went so far as to translate fragments of our interviews or even whole ones, but now we know that Radio Metal also has a significant impact on Finland. Here is the evidence that our tone – which is sometimes quite sharp – doesn’t leave our readers insensitive and our work is getting recognized far across the French borders.

On the other hand, it is clear that the debate about this interview – and more particularly about those four fatal introductive lines- is going too far. As an illustration, we received en e-mail from a so-called Finnish journalist (I know…That type of  » journalists  » in between brackets can be found everywhere) who was quite aggressive. We even considered sharing this attack (this missile?) with you, because, to be honest, we had a real good laugh out of it and you all know how we like to share the funny things we get. We eventually decided not to share it, as we would not show any lack of respect to this beautiful country which is Finland or to the Finnish people, who have proved to be majoritarily friendly, by publishing a xenophobic, arrogant and irrelevant email written by one of their fellow citizens. If we had done so, we would have understood the grudge against us. But the fact is that others have expressed their indignation while remaining polite. We perfectly get the fact that the fans want to defend their idol and that the Finnish seek to protect what they consider a national pride/ the prodigal daughter. Yet it’s not a reason to excuse the loss of objective criticism.

Criticism is not a synonym of animosity. By the way, how could we act aggressively in this particular interview? Tarja is a really friendly and nice person. She was even greatly amused by Phil’s foolish request to sign an autograph on a pack of ham. And she can be proud of her as she was the first of quite a lot of artists to sign an out of the ordinary object, a habit thanks to which most of you guys are having a good laugh. The latest was done by the diva’s fellow citizens of the band Stratovarius. Opposedly, all of her sympathy doesn’t prevent us from being honest and from denouncing some already made generic, unspontaneous answers. And I’m not talking about questions which were asked about the delicate topic of Nightwish but about other questions -at the beginning of the interview- such as the one about her cover songs about which our interlocutor talked evasively, giving an automatic speech (which we can also read in many other interviews for some varied questions). Tarja is an intelligent woman, and a professional one and we’re certain that she understands and appreciates the honest criticism. All the more so as very few of her supporters dare to reproach anything to her.

Some have blamed the fact that we posted the whole, raw interview. OK, we could have cut off the unanswered questions, those asked purposely twice to get a more relevent answer or matched some of our questions so that they’d fit the answers. By doing so, the readers wouldn’t have been aware of anything and all the debate would not have come into being. But we made a choice -which could perhaps be discussed- to show the interview how it really took place. Apart from providing for information and being transparent, we think important to bring to light the personnality of our interlocutors, the way they deal with the topics and, as far as we can, we try to wander away from the formal  » questions/answers  » interviews to get a more precise idea of the living persons they are. Whether you want it or not, we’ve got some material here.

Others have vehemently reproached us for having introduced the Nightwish issue and more generally for making our interlocutor uncomfortable, she didn’t seem that upset though. On that point, we won’t possibly agree. First of all, written discourses usually seem -for many reasons- more  » aggressive  » than they are actually. After all, we were there and you can trust us when we say that the interview took place in a relaxed, laid-back attitude. Then, a media like ours is NOT a comfortable promotionnal support for artists. Interviewing is an exercise which seems a bit like a contract: the journalist promotes artists and expects from them that they play their part of the game and answer the questions sincerely, as long as those are -of course- not insulting ones. In this case, the questions about the sensitive issue were here justified by the fact that water had flown under the bridge. It was the opportunity to get objective, detached answers. Not the passionate ones we could read when it was still fresh.

We’re not going to explain the definition and rules of journalism, as the cheap-we-know-better people on the internet strive to do. Yet, we can tell you what our job is, in the editorial office of Radio Metal: digging deeper. Indeed we dig to look for the information and for the artists to express what they haven’t already explained. Our job doesn’t consist in asking comfortable questions, even if -and that’s paradoxical- we need to make our interlocutors feel at ease so that they dare to reveal a bit more. Whenever we obtain a politically correct answer, we consider that it is our job to insist and seek to get the other answer, the sincere one.

More than ever, the results are confirmed (for instance, we can direct you towards the interview of the most nice, talented and eminent Glenn Hughes and the delicate question about Chad Smith). Besides -there’s no doubt about it and even if they won’t admit it- those who made a scandal would probably have claimed we were geniuses if Tarja had actually answered the questions about Nightwish objectively and sincerely, without necessarily speaking ill of her former band behind their backs. But it’s also a journalist’s work to be portrayed as that bastard who’s revealing the disturbing reality. We don’t worry about it, as it is a proof showing that the job is done.

Most sincerely, without willing to appear as pretentious or arrogant, we are aware that some progress is yet to be made but if there’s a field that we’ve nothing to prove about, it will definitely be that of interviews. The facts speak for themselves: one only needs to check out our former interviews to become aware of the amount of work we achieve for those. There is also the number of artists who gave us marks of gratitude or congratulations, those who were even a bit surprised or those who thanked us for daring to ask them frank questions: that is always a pleasure but above all, we give thanks to those artists who played the game. It is not by accident that a certain British band -well known for their highly sensitive music- asked us to write their own biography… But further than those considerations, we are astonished to see that only four misread/ misinterpreted lines can take such great proportions when they were not expected to. But that is how the internet works: the culture of the quickly-consumed in which one only pays attention to what is  » shocking  » and in which one doesn’t take the time to read correctly, to think straight and to understand.

I’m already expecting loads of off-track reactions coming from internet users who will have once more only skimmed through this post. But we’re now used to it and we’ve accepted it. After all, we made the choice of this media: the internet. We’re all the more astonished to notice that an interview which is far from being the most interesting we had within our columns – and I’m saying this without meaning any disrespect towards Tarja- should spark off so many reactions when some other interviews with really remarkable content have not. We’ve had moving, dense, deeply sincere, prestigious interviews, some of them breaking down prejudices, some almost providing for some educational interest thanks to their historical, philosophical dimension , and others which tackle burning issues of our society. We did interviews which fans enjoyed thanks to the personal anecdotes or to their almost biographical aspect. This is the work which has enabled us to face (and share with you) the true nature of the artists who once sat in front of us or that we got on the phone: proud, ferocious, humble or serene.

Anyway, the day hasn’t come when we’ll stop digging, being honest and criticizing. This is the way our editorial behavior is and we can’t but notice that you are everyday more numerous to adhere to it. To all those who adhere to our approach and to the way we function, we’ll meet again. To the others, please, don’t let this note prevent you from spitting your venom, we’re thirsting for it!

Transcription : Younz

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  • Greetings. It’s understandable that the news got so much attention but it’s very interesting to see you doing a clarification.

    I don’t object the whole « trying to uncover the truth » deal, since that’s your job. The main problem, I think, is that the interview kicked off with a negative introduction, giving it an unpleasant voice for the rest of the reading.

    It logically didn’t sit well with many readers, and of course, then Finnish media got a hand on it and blew it out of proportion.

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