Interview by Miriam C. and CriX
I’m not able to express with words what’s happened when I’ve received by email this interview. It’s hard trying to explain your feelings when one of your FAVORITE singer ever takes time to reply to your humble questions ’cause at the end of the day, you’re merely a fan that loves metal music. But the only thing you know is that all your sacrifices that you have done were worth for it. Personally, Tarja is the ONE that, back in the day, make me discover the metal music throughout my adolescence. I can still recall blasting my ears at 6 AM during my daily trip by train with Nightwish‘s “Devil & Deep Dark Ocean” on my way to the High School . And this words are still resounding in my ears (and forever they will):
“We shall come to set the dolphins free
We shall wash the darkened bloodred sea
Our songs will echo over the mountains and seas
The eternity will begin once again in peace”
I would like to close this long and special intro by thanking, from the deep of my heart, Eleonora Pedron from Outlanders Productions because without her nothing was possible. So without further ado, here we come at the interview. Enjoy!
Ciao Tarja, thank you so much for taking the time to reply to this interview! I hope you’re allright and everything’s fine. First of all congratulations for winning the 2015’s “The Voice of Finland” edition. So, on September 11th your first classical album called “Ave Maria – En Plein Air” will be released, would you like to tell us more about the idea behind this project?
Ciao and thank you dear! I am fine, -my whole family is just fine. We are working with Tim Palmer at the moment with the mix of my new rock album and I am preparing myself for the next shows in Central America. Basically I am keeping myself busy, as a bee. The idea to record this album was born already many years ago with the help and support of organist Kalevi Kiviniemi who has been working with me for a long time. He was suggesting me to record this kind of album, because he, among my audiences in my classical concerts have always deeply appreciated me singing Ave Marias. I have always loved singing Ave Maria‘s since I started taking lyrical singing lessons. I think my voice sounds as it’s best in chamber music and that’s the music style what I have been mostly studying as a lyrical singer. Through years I had almost always included Ave Maria songs in my traditional Christmas concert programs, so I decided to write one on my own few years ago for my forthcoming tour and this Ave Maria is included on the album as well.
I’m thrilled about Gounod‘s “Ave Maria” and I cannot wait to listen to it. Personally it is one of my favorites Ave Maria‘s songs and back in the day I had the chance, while I was singing in an local church choir, to listen to and it being performed by one of my colleagues. It’s breathtaking and at the same time quite high. Beside this one, I know that there are a lot of songs dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was it hard to make a selection and on which parameter you have decided the current tracklist?
I was the one who chose all the songs for the album. It takes months to get ready for this type of recording. I needed to make a serious research before finding the pieces I wanted to have included on the album. There are more than 4000 Ave Marias written, which I got to know myself during the process of searching the songs. I chose the ones that I felt connected with as a singer and the ones that make this album interesting. I wanted to choose known and not known songs with different styles. I also needed help from different people to provide me the scores of different Ave Marias. I listened several existing recordings and also recorded pieces that never had been recorded before. It was a very interesting process.
I read in the press release that “Ave Maria – En Plein Air” was recorded in a real church, the Laukeuden Risti Church in Seinäjoki. What are the logistic difficulties when you record music in a such peculiar and different environment?
We needed to ask permission for the recordings from the church parish and vicar and agree the dates in advance to reserve the church for me. The church environment differs a lot from a studio environment. All the musicians performed the songs together with me without an audience and we chose the best takes afterwards. Nothing has been edited nor any studio tricks have been used, so we cannot say that there has been any post production happening after the recordings were finished. So what you hear on the record, is purely how the songs sounded in Lakeuden Risti Church during the recording session.
The visuals have always played a pivotal part on your music, as we can see from the cover of the album “Ave Maria – En Plein Air”. The more I look at your outfits the more I fall in love with them, I’m not exaggerating if I say that you’re (probably) one of the best dressed and most elegant female metal singer. I know that you’re currently collaborating with a fashion designer and so I was wondering how your dresses are created, in particular referring to the magnificent one that you wear on the album cover…
As the whole concept of the album artwork is inspired by the style of Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, so is my dress. I worked the design ideas together with my taylor friend Sirja who executed the dress. It’s easy to work with someone that knows your style and size perfectly, like Sirja knows mine.
As your fans knows, you are a multi-layered artist and we have learnt during the years to appreciate every facets of your career. In 2014 you have performed (I might use the word triumphing – mostly in the East Europe) with the project called “Beauty and the Beat” that involved the drummer Mike Terrana. Taking a trip down memory lane, on which prerequisite you were able to choose (and then consequently train on it) the classical repertoire?
I know my instrument better than anyone else :). I was talking with my singing coach about the programs in these shows and then later decided the pieces to perform. I always want to work hard with my voice and make progress as a lyrical singer, so many times I also consider performing songs that are a challenge for me.
Also if “Beauty and the Beat” has to be consider an hybrid that embraces both your metal and classical sides, how we must consider this new album in your vast and prolific career? And personally how the approach has changed from “Beauty and the Beat” to this solo classical album?
This is my first purely classical album and it is very important album to me as an artist. It represents my long background in classical music and my knowledge as a lyrical singer. I am blessed to be able to make a career as a lyrical singer, because classical music was truly my first love since I was a little child. I have worked a lot to become accepted as a lyrical singer, so I hope this album helps a bit in that aspect. It has been produced with it’s highest standards. This album is not a live album performed for an audience as “Beauty and The Beat”-product is, but instead an album recorded live without an audience.
Back in May, you have released a brand new live DVD called “Luna Park Ride”, do you mind spend some time in give us some details about the genesis of “Luna Park Ride”? In addition to this, when did you realize that you were in possession of all this unreleased material in your archives?
I loved my concert in Luna Park, Buenos Aires. It is a venue where I have witnessed great, important artists like Scorpions, Alice in Chains, Roxette, Tears for Fears among others, so to have a chance to play my own show there was a pure pleasure to me. The concert showed the love and acceptance of Argentinean audience towards my art and me as an artist. The idea to ask the fans to send us the filmed material and photos they had from this show, was born only long after this tour. I thought it was a great idea to make this type of a product with my fans, to have them included in my work. Because I didn’t think of filming nor recording this show in advance, I didn’t prepare any bonus material either for it. I needed to figure out something! That’s why I contacted all the promoters that actually have been working in the last couple of years with me and who I knew had done some recordings, and asked their help. Luckily they all accepted to help me!
Tarja, last year you joined as a coach the show “The Voice of Finland” and it’s official that you’re confirmed for the next season too, without any doubt it was a positive experience but in hindsight how did it feel to sit on that chair and consequently being a mentor to some promising musical talents? I still remember your expression during Paolo Ribaldini‘s first performance, your jaw was completely dropped, hahaha.
Taking part in the program has been one of the best experiences in my life so far. Fantastic opportunity and a challenge at the same time, to use my knowledge and experience in the field that I love very much,-music. I loved helping the young people and mostly I loved the fact that my help went through! I am delighted to be present in the next season too. In the beginning of the show I was very nervous of what’s there to come, but later on I already could relax a bit and enjoy more.
Besides, how was the atmosphere with the other coaches (Olli Lindholm, Redrama and Michael Monroe) during the show? There was a goliardic but positive attitude or there was some nasty fights going on?
No fights at all, nothing even close. The atmosphere was all very, but very positive during the show and off- camera not only with the coaches, but also with the whole production team. They are all very sweet people and I loved to get know and work with them. I think we just respect each other, that’s how it should be. Of course we were joking a lot and making silly things when cameras were around, but that was part of the show.
Also, I loved how you and Miia Kosunen sang “Never Enough”. There’ll any chance that this version will be released in the future?
Oh, I haven’t really thought about it. Maybe you just gave me an idea…
Last but not least, do you have any news to share about any of your other projects, like Outlanders?
I am about to write the last bits of lyrics for one of my songs from Outlanders project tomorrow 🙂 and recording the song a day after with Torsten :). Outlanders is getting ready with an album filled with beautiful, relaxed and surprising songs. I am happy to be able to finalize this project soon, not that we have been in a hurry with the production, but it’s good to move on finally. We still don’t know any details about the release itself, but you will get to know about it when the time is right.
So, Tarja, it’s time for your parting words – I really thank you for your time – please greet freely our readers and your fans. Thanks again and lots of love from Italy!
I want to thank you for the love and support! It’s been amazing journey so far, so I am glad and honored that you are exploring all this with me. I hope to be back in Italy any time soon with my concerts! Love you all!!