Tarja has moved on

Tarja Turunen is not easy to interview, as you sometimes need to ask a question several times before you can get an honest answer, instead of rehearsed wooden language that doesn’t have much to do with the question. By the way she talks or acts, by her harmless answers, much too positive to be credible, the vocalist reminds us of some exasperating politically correct pop artists you might see on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”.

Apart from that unpleasant feeling, the interview (ending with the signing of a ham package, which started our collection of weird objects with artists’ autographs on them) happened to be interesting. Tarja is talkative and happy to tell us about personal anecdotes like her encounter with the Scorpions, or her musical tastes (did you know she was a Slipknot fan?), etc.

Though she is open to being once again part of a band, one thing is sure: with Nightwish, it’s over (as if it were still possible to doubt that) and, by the way she avoids the matter, she really doesn’t want to get into the whole media warfare her former band mates have been waging against her, and she refuses to have anything to do with them from now on.

« I have found my way. Music is a journey, it is like life. We treasure all the experiences we all have, they are part of us. Today my music is everything that I know, everything that I love, everything that I want, so of course Nightwish has been  part of me, it is a huge part of me.« 

Radio Metal : At the beginning of the album, (before) the title « Anteroom of Death », we can hear what sounds like violinists tuning their instruments, just like before the beginning of an orchestra concert. The album ends up in a grandiloquent way as well. The rest of the album is however resolutely modern, by virtue of some specific sounds and riffs. Why those references? Is it to remind us of where you come from?

Tarja Turunen : Of course, it is a very huge part of me, it is still important to me and especially as an artist. Classical music, metal music are completing me and it would be very difficult for me to leave one of them. It’s the sound of my life! The whole new album is a kind of a journey, I was preparing it over the last two years so it was a journey governed by all the experiences I had in music. I tried to make very clear where I was going with this album. So there are metal elements on it, there are rock elements on it, there is classical and feelings on it, all of that is my passion.

It is a summary of all your influences then…

Of course!

What is surprising is that the album offers some really « metal-sounding » riffs, and even some grunt on « Dark Star ». And yet, you made clear a few years ago that « extreme metal » wasn’t really your cup of tea… have you changed your mind?

My album has definitely nothing to do with extreme metal (laughs).When you listen to the songs, they are pretty different from extreme metal. My album is having elements and songs related to metal but it is not a metal album. So yes I do not still today listen to extreme metal. Slipknot is one of the hardest bands that I do listen to and that I do like very much  today but still my music is quite different, it is a little bit behind normality if you could call it like that.

Did you compose those titles yourself, including the ones with the metal elements like « Dark Star » or « Little Lies »? I doubt that your fans were expecting these kinds of influences…

I have been composing all the songs whether on my own or with somebody else that I wanted to work with.

On this new album, you make a cover of « Still Of The Night ». You already covered « Poison » by Alice Cooper. Is it going to become a tradition on your solo albums? Do you have an idea of what you are going to cover next?
It is always very difficult to make my mind about a cover but it is also a lot of fun to do covers. The thing is why hard rock covers? For me of course it is like going back in times. I was seven years old and my brother was very much into this style of music so I had my share of it. It was very difficult to cover up these songs. Every time when you cover something you know that you won’t be able to do better than the original. My reason to cover something is that I want to do it different, I want to do it in my own way. Of course songs like “Poison” or “Still Of The Night” are sung by  male voices so when I’m covering it is absolutely different.  I always thought that if I covered the song « Still Of The Night » up I would like to have a quick orchestra arrangement and choirs. The result is very fine, I’m really happy with it.

But the question was is it going to become a tradition to cover songs on your following albums?

No, I don’t think so, at least I can’t think of that now, maybe the next album would not have any cover in it, you never know really. It was how I felt, I wanted to do this now and maybe next time… I don’t know.

Since the covers are really different from the original songs, do you think that Alice Cooper’s fans would like your version of “Poison”?

No idea! But Mr Cooper invited me to be part of his tour, which is a really nice thing! He talked to me very kindly, he is a very kind man. He was always telling me good things, he is a living legend, he has been in the business for so many years, he has seen so many artists, so many bands, and to hear something positive from a man like that is of course a very big honour.

[Note : about her bandmates] « These guys are not just session musicians with me, they write with me, they do arrangements with me! So my new album would not have been the same, the songs wouldn’t be as they are without these guys and without their input. It is not like me giving them demo and saying “play like this and do not do any changes”, actually they change many things and that’s fine!« 

Musically, even if people can’t help comparing your project to Nightwish’s, it stills remains really different and less accessible. Did you already have that kind of compositions in mind when you sang for Nigthwish? Did you suggest them to the band then?

No. I have found my way. Music is a journey, it is like life. We treasure all the experiences we all have, they are part of us. Today my music is everything that I know, everything that I love, everything that I want, so of course Nightwish has been  part of me, it is a huge part of me.

But that’s not all of it.

No, of course no!Because it is not any more, Nightwish is still there, the music is still alive, it will never die. But my music is different since I compose myself. I hear what it is here, it is wonderful.

So at the time you didn’t suggest them songs or anything like that?


When you were in Nightwish did you suggest them songs ?

I was not writing in Nightwish, Tuomas is the writer.

This time again, there are very distinguished guests on the album, like Joe Satriani, or Mike Terrana, who has been following you for years. On stage, you are surrounded by very good musicians, like Mike for instance, who has a very visual and demonstrative playing. Solo vocalists’ projects often have the tendency to relegate the instrumentalists to the background, to enhance the voice of the singer. Is it something you wanted to avoid?

I am so lucky to have these musicians working with me, seriously. They are not only talented musicians, they are also really lovely people. I’ve been having such  lucky stars upon me! For example Mike has been there from the start, working with me for all these years! It is not only Mike, there is also Max Lilja on the cello,Alex Scholpp on the guitar, Doug Wimbish on the bass guitar, Christian Kretschmar on keyboards. They are all magnificent artists who are working  very hard, practising everyday as well as I do. So we share same interests, we have the same mentality for music, we work very hard. These guys are not just session musicians with me, they write with me, they do arrangements with me! So my new album would not have been the same, the songs wouldn’t be as they are without these guys and without their input. It is not like me giving them demo and saying “play like this and do not do any changes”, actually they change many things and that’s fine!

« I want to work on it, to love it, to put all my guts in it! So a band? Yeah! Why not? But if you asked me now, it would be very difficult since I don’t have time, but it would be fun.« 

Can you tell us something about your collaboration with the Scorpions on a song from their last album? It looks like it happened by accident….
I don’t know if it is an accident (laughs) for me it is a very good accident! (laughs)  It was very nice! The request came from Scorpions management and right after Klaus Meine called me directly so we spoke a lot on the phone, I heard him telling me that they have been following my career, that they liked my voice and that they liked  me to be part of their album. They even gave me two songs to chose from which was amazing!

Two songs?

Yes two songs to chose from, I could choose which one I preferred and I chose “The Good Die Young ».

What was the second choice?

Don’t ask me because I really don’t remember the song, it was obvious for me, immediately  when I heard it: “No! Next! This one? Yes!”  I loved the project, it was such an honour to be part of it.

The Scorpions recently released a new edition of  Sting In The Tail with a second version of « The Good Die Young ». I imagine you prefer this version, since your singing is quite unobtrusive/discreet on the original one…

I did what I was requested to do by their producer, what the band wanted me to do and it’s very nice that they released the other version as well. Of course it is up to them.

And which one do you prefer?

Well, the one I’m singing the more of course. (Laughs)

Do you consider doing a guest appearance at one of their gigs to sing « The Good Die Young »?

It would be lovely!

Do you intend to invite Klaus Meine at some point?

That would be wonderful.

Nothing is scheduled yet?

We have been talking about it many times and it would eventually happen before they stop everything.

Is it completely inconceivable for you to get involved in a band again?

No, nothing is impossible. It is just that I want to be happy with everything I do today musically. If I’m happy, I’m 100% in it, I want to work on it, to love it, to put all my guts in it! So a band? Yeah! Why not? But if you asked me now, it would be very difficult since I don’t have time, but it would be fun.

« What I’ve heard… I wish all the band [note : Nightwish] all the best and lots of happiness, that’s all I can tell you really.« 

Out of curiosity, did you listen to the album Dark Passion Play?

I have heard some songs on the radio at the time it was released. I did not listen to the complete album.

What do you think of Anette Olzon’s work?

I am not the right person to answer this question! I’m so sorry! (laughs)

I am just asking you what do you think of her way of singing, it is a simple question…

What I’ve heard… I wish all the band all the best and lots of happiness, that’s all I can tell you really.

Did you break off all contact with all of the members?

It got broken by how everything ended.

Do you think you could go back on stage with the band when time will have passed?

No… (laughs)

Tuomas and yourself have both talked about this eviction. People could listen to both versions and make themselves an opinion. It however looks like people tend to be on Tuomas’ side. According to you, why do people stick to this version?

I don’t know what people think. People have always freedom to think and make their mind. I never wanted people to take any sides because for me all of this is very childish… So I keep myself as I am.

Are you upset with the people who « chose sides »and don’t listened to your music just because of what happened with Nightwish?

As I said, I really believe that everyone of us has the freedom to think and feel what he feels. I am doing music for different reasons. I love music, I love singing, it is the love of my life. I judge through music, I don’t judge any other ways.

Were you verbally abused following this? Via mail, post or during gigs? Anette, for instance, got insulted several times during Nightwish gigs…

I have been very respected by my fans, beautiful fans! I never had a bad experience with my fans, they are really wonderful.

Don’t some fans take this story a little too seriously? After all, it’s only music and those relational problems are none of our business…

“After all it is only music” that’s right!You said it. (laughs)

You’re going to take part in a Christmas Tour at the end of this year with several Finnish musicians. You also released a Christmas album a while ago. It looks like you have a taste for Christmas, can you tell us more about it?

I think for me it is just a wonderful way to end a year with this completely different atmosphere. During this period of the year, I go and sing in churches and in front of different kind of audiences. The atmosphere is wonderful and warm. The songs, whatever classical or international Christmas songs, talk more or less about the same thing: Christmas and the meaning of Christmas. For me it is wonderful to end my year like that. It is like working very hard the whole year and then finishing with a quite music, it’s nice!

Are you just like a kid who loves Christmas, in particular for the presents?

My family has always given great importance to family. We did not really buy too many presents, it was more important for us to be together and that’s what I still feel today. I don’t have my mother any more, she died few years ago so that time of the year has become even more important. Family is important.

Do you already know what you want for Christmas?

(laughs) You know what I want for Christmas? Vacations!

A letter of apologies from Nigthwish for washing your dirty linen in public? (laughs)

(Laughs) No, I want peaceful, beautiful Christmas with my loved ones, that all that I want. That is seriously what I want. It would be very nice to be with them again.

Tarja signing a ham package !

Interview conducted on november 18th in Lyon.

Transcription : Isabelle
Tarja Turunen on myspace: www.myspace.com/tarjaofficial

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  • From what I recall, both parties (Tarja and co. and Nightwish) signed an agreement stating they would not speak ill of each other in the media. This is probably why she didn’t really want to discuss what happened, too easy to let something slip.

    She conducted herself well I thought, of course reading it and hearing it firsthand is quite different. The questions weren’t that great, pretty standard and as others have pointed out, have likely been asked a million times.

  • Il me parait difficile de ne pas parler de Nightwish lorsqu’il s’agit de Tarja ! L’association de sa voix et presence sur scène alliée à la composition de Tuomas et le jeu quasi parfait des autres musiciens faisait quelque chose de réellement MAGIQUE!!
    Et donc, n’en déplaise à certains, on ne peux pas s’empêcher d’être nostalgiques, surtout quand on considère la carrière solo de l’une et le nouveau style des autres : oui c’est bien, mais je ne ne peux pas m’empêcher de penser que c’est pas ça ! Tarja est dans une phase que je ne trouve pas très inspirée (ça manque de feu) et nightwhish sonne un peu trop pop-rock. Je me demande s’ils ne devraient pas pacifier leurs désaccords (et pas seulement prétendre avoir tourné la page) pour aller réllement de l’avant !?
    Bon c’est mon avis (je peux me tromper), mais bon…

  • Funny enough, people who like to bash her also insist that she is a bad actress. So how is it possible that she has managed and still manages to deceive most everyone about her true cold-hearted diva nature? LOL

  • Oh, finally somebody else also noticed, that she’s a big pretender!

    • Oh come on, do you have ANY ability in reading comprehension? Or are you just a moron troll?

  • Congratulations, Metal’O Phil! Your fabulous interview has become the stuff of tabloids.

    Good work also in asking her such ORIGINAL questions, and a great job in making her feel uncomfortable. Wow, you are an outstanding journalist!

    Honestly. What were you expecting her to do? To open her heart and wounds to you, since you obviously inspired in her so much trust? Don’t blame your interviewees over your own faults as a professional.

  • Tarja on rehellinen eikä suostu vilunkipeliin tai muiden haukkumiseen. Parempi ihminen kuin nää haastattelijat 🙂

  • no voi jeesus sentää heti pitää haukkuu

  • Hello. I think story is stupid. She was nice she don’t want to talk bad of her exband and you are a bad reporter and make her take guilt because of you are bad with questions and pushy. You need be proud, Finnish media is all over this bad article. Tarja is a lady and I am sorry for your bad interview skills.

  • I guess the « unpleasant feeling » was only for you, because that very same day, in the very same restaurant, MagicFire usic WebZine interviewed her and this is what they say about her:

    « Contrairement aux rumeurs qui disaient qu’elle a pris la grosse tête et qu’elle a un sale caractère, hé bien moi je peux vous assurer que c’est absolument tout l’inverse. Je crois que c’est la personne la plus gentille et agréable qu’il m’ait été donné d’interviewer jusqu’à présent. »


    So I really think you were rude and quite frankly, naive if you thought she’d answer you questions she has been avoiding for five years.

    • « Tarja Turunen is not easy to interview, as you sometimes need to ask a question several times before you can get an honest answer », heh, what is your problem hard job maybe (radio person), how about school?, maybe some another job is better to you…. 😀 Tarja Rules, another solution, try to ask your boss, if he of she pay you some money, maybe you are ready to ask few questions more 🙂

  • Tarja gives a lot of interviews – that’s where those wooden and rehearsed sounding answers come from. She gets a lot of the same questions all the time, so she’s developped quite some routine and has prepared replies.

    Most people do not realise it, but she is a shy person and nervous around strangers.

    Another factor may be that she is currently immersing herself in a new language, Spanish – now that she has fully moved to Argentina and committed herself to acclimatising to the new environment. So English (a language she’s always found expressing herself in somewhat difficult, it seems) is on a back burner.

    There are many possible reasons why she may have been stiffer than usual. Perhaps she did not trust you, felt pressured, or simply had a bad day. To be frank, some of your questions were not overly original, smart or full of potential, like « duh, of course ». What should she have replied to them? I can understand that she was a little impatient or bored. 😛

    Rest assured that she can be quite politically incorrect when she is around trusted friends and colleagues in situations where she feels comfortable, and feels comfortable with dropping her professional mask – she’s a well mannered and educated classical musician, after all, but she’s also got a dark side that is necessary for a heavy rocker. I’ve heard that in private, she’s got quite a temper, cusses like a sailor, cracks raunchy jokes, and indulges in schadenfreude; and if you REALLY piss her off, expect physical retaliation (i. e., a broken nose). Yep. I’ve personally witnessed her hissing « Arschloch! » (in German, no less!) at one of her bandmates (apparently Christian, or perhaps Alex) in Miskolc, apparently playfully, with feigned indignation, in reaction to some provocation or prank. I don’t doubt that you can have a lot of fun with her and being around her, having her participating in all kinds of mischief.

    For example: http://www.tarjaissuchadiva.com/2010/04/fan-report-tarja-is-complete-dork.html#more

    She’d never admit it, but some of her lyrics on WLB (not to speak of « Enough ») clearly sound like they mock her old bandmates.

  • Come on, it is obvious she didn’t want to talk ill about her ex-band, who, unlike her, have taken any opportunity they got to put her name under the mud.

    I think it’s rather admirable from her instead of being an « unpleasant feeling ».

    Thanks a lot for the interview and translation.

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