Interview by Cristina Gregori
Cinematic metal band Dark Sarah are back with a new album, a new storyline and a new protagonist. After “The Chronicals” [which chronologically are the albums “Beyond the Black Veil”, “The Puzzle” and “The Golden Moth”], in which Dark Sarah portrayed the main character, now it is time to meet Luna and enlist in the bunny-rabbit army to fight Mörk! We had the pleasure to chat with mastermind of the band, Heidi Parviainen, and delve into their third full-length “Grim”, the protagonists, the guests, the music videos and the new record deal with Napalm Records.
Hi Heidi, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine! How are you?
Hi! At the moment I’m really busy working, even my home looks like warehouse because of all the CDs, LPs and the campaign material. But this is good because I have been waiting to be busy with Dark Sarah!
Your new album “Grim” has been released on July 17th via Napalm Records which marks the beginning of a new journey. In fact, after “The Chronicles”, in which Sarah was the main character, now the story is about Luna, would you mind to tell us more about this new story line and its protagonist?
I would say that this is a transition album in both way, story and musically.
At the end of “The Golden Moth” album, Dark Sarah dies, and she transforms in a golden moth, the Dragon try to save her by turning the time around but they both end in a time loop ending up in different times. The golden moth flues into this city called Grim where the witch transforms Dark Sarah back in human form. However, she is just like an empty vessel without soul, so, they put her to sleep under the willow and wait for the right time, when the moon is in the right position it is time for her to rise. So, both Dark Sarah soul and Dragon ended to Grim. In this album we get to know to what happened to them.
There are songs that are the same mood like in “The Chronicles”, but there are new kind of songs that introduce a new modern Dark Sarah sound. I think, it is a good album in that way to start a new storyline so it doesn’t rip everything off immediately, it gives you a soft landing. Luna is the new soul of Dark Sarah because she was born from the moth that Dark Sarah turned in, it is a kind of metamorphosis. If compared to both Sarah and Dark Sarah, Luna is a different person. While were both victims of circumstances and they ended up being abused by the men in their lives, Luna is a little more peppery and determined and she is there to save the people of Grim from the monsters.
For “The Chronicles” you also wrote a book whose online version is available on your website, will it be again published a companion book from this storyline too?
Yes, this time I wrote a poem-book. I wanted to express the same mood present in the lyrics, that’s why I chose to opt for a poem instead of a novel. It has been released on the same day as the album and it’s available digitally. You can get from many places like Amazon and all the major of digital book stores. Additionally, the physical version of the book is avalaible exclusively from our webstore.
Instead if we solely focus on the musical aspect, if compared to the previous albums, which are the main differences? Moreover, you have recently stated that “Grim” introduces a more modern sound and a taste of what’s coming in the future, so what the fans should expect?
Actually, if compared to “The Golden Moth”, there aren’t many differences in the writing process. Considering that’s a long time for composing music, I started to write songs for “Grim” 2 years ago. The first songs I wrote were in the same mood as “The Chronicles” but at the end of the writing process, I realized that my musical and writing style was changed a little bit. However, I tried to stick the typical trademarks of Dark Sarah. This time, our producer Mikko P. Mustonen, who has been working with me from day one, has been featured as a co-writer and he has penned one song.
I’m really happy about this album and I’m proud of where I come so far, I can write my own songs and I have to thank Mikko for all his help because he’s a really good producer. He composed all the arrangements for the band, because if we exclude the fact that I play just the piano, I cannot play other instruments. Of course, he listened to my instructions very carefully and all the arrangements turned out the way I wanted. He is a musical wizard and I love working with him.
Throughout this time, Mikko has been like a tutor for me. When I work together with him, I always get feedback for my compositions and he guides me through on that. Since he’s been working with us from the first day, he is really involved into the story and he’s trying to achieve the best with Dark Sarah. If I should a comparison, I would say that Mikko is a painter who paints with music.
Instead for what’s coming in the future, I think we are going to continue our conceptual albums and with the stories for sure. Nonetheless, during the years you develop and change as person, all your surroundings change, and naturally these factors affect the musical work. Due to the nature of these events, I can’t say where we are musically directed to, but I can perceive that some changes in my song-writing have already happened. In my opinion, the change brings always improvement.
In “Grim”, they are featured two guests: JP Leppäluoto as Wolf and Jasse Jatala as Mörk, what lead you to choose them?
In a way, JP was a really natural addition to this album because I wanted to some closing to what happened to Dark Sarah and Dragon. Though, he was an official member on our last album and a really good friend of mine. Unfortunately, it was sad that he has left Dark Sarah. Even though, he wants to concentrate on his solo career, I think in the future that he’ll sometimes comeback on stage with us.
Concerning our second guest Jasse, I saw him on television last year while he was participating as a contestant in The Voice of Finland. While he was performing metal songs, I was completely and positively surprised by his voice. After I watched his performance, I gave him a call with the pure intent to ask him to portray Mörk. Luckily, he was already familiar with Dark Sarah‘s music. I couldn’t have chosen more rightly because I wanted a singer capable to sing both clean and growl.
The video of your second single “All Ears!” is really interesting because you look like a dictator, what can you tell us about its making-of?
Actually, it is weird that people say that I look like a dictator, because when you go to a gothic shop you can buy that stuff, so, I don’t see the similarity at all and also this podiums were used before. Even if, the song itself has nothing to do with that kind of stuff, I find it awkward that people have this kind of image. Probably, I was just so into my character during my filming [laughs].
In the video, you see Luna that has used a magic power called La Folie Verte, which is a green orb that seduces people. However, this power can help the population of Grim to fight the evil forces because they are really scared of monsters.
Due to their fear, they don’t have the courage to do it, so, Luna is there on the podium delivering an empowering speak to Grim‘s population. In truth, when the listeners will check out this song, they will understand that it is about believing in yourself. Of course, a war will happen against Mörk and she will partecipate together with Grim‘s inhabitants. Actually, that explains also the choice of that dress and the decision that she wants to be the leader of the bunny-rabbit army.
Truthfully speaking, all your music videos are all really nice. But, which one is your favorite and why?
It’s a difficult question because they are all a fixed timeframe in my life and they recall me a lot of kind memories that are important in different ways. Though, visually I think is “Trespasser” (watch it here) that was shot together with JP in Maspalomas. It was really complicated and tough as it was shot in 1 week. So far, the director for all of our videos, Markus Nieminen, got the idea straight from my imagination. It was exactly how I did it conceive it: JP was in his uniform, the clock and everything that descended from the top of the sand-hill.
In retrospect, there’s another video that I love and it’s “Dance with the Dragon” (watch it here). In this one, me and JP, we needed to practice a lot because for the first time, we attend dance classes. We had weekly lessons for all the summer every week to those classes. Besides, that lessons helped us to perform in “Trespasser” the scene at the desert which was coordinated by a modern dance choreographer. So, both videos were really fun to shoot and, visually, they represent our best music videos ever.
With the publication of “Grim”, it marks also the beginning of your collaboration with Austrian power house label Napalm Records, how do you feel about it?
Of course, I am really excited and we are all excited. We have been independent band for many years and throughout this period, we have released 3 albums. Typically, there are always pro and cons to be an self-produced band but mainly, there are positive facts such as the freedom to experiment with your musical style and the creation of a stable and loyal fanbase.
Naturally, what I have previously mentioned can happen even while you are signed to a label too although I’m feeling proud to have committed on that completely alone. Be that as it may, now it’s time for a new story, new character, a new musical evolution and a new adventure with an interesting label.
Even though, all the live activities are in standby due to the COVID 19 pandemic, had you any plans for a tour? And which is the location that you looking forward to tour the most?
This pandemic hit us in a quite delicate moment for us because we were just about to begin the process for booking the shows, in consequence of this event, all the agency started to cancel gigs and nothing was left. Unfortunately, we don’t have anything planned for the next fall and that’s a bit worrying because I was really looking forward to tour in Europe and finally, fulfil the dream of meeting my fans.
Despite all, on August 7th, we have scheduled an album release show in Helsinki at On the Rocks. Fortunately, this show will be live-stream and with this, we’ll partially satisfy our fans’ request to play live. Currently, we never toured in Central Europe, Germany or US where we have a lot of fans
How do you get inspired to compose such good music and stories?
I don’t know [laughs]. Firstly, I always had a wild imagination. Then, when I begin to writing something, my main goal is write something to which everybody can relate to but it can turn into a fairy-tale.
I think you must be true to yourself and appreciate what you are good in. Personally, music is mainly visual and when I listen to music, backdrops of stories start to materialize. Essentially, it’s what I’m doing with Dark Sarah. It is just how my imagination works.
We are at the end of this interview, thank you for your time! Would you like to say something to your fans?
Yes, it is really lovely that people are still finding Dark Sarah. I would to say if you want to know more about Dark Sarah‘s universe, I recommend to do throughout all the 3 phases which includes reading the story, listening to the music and watching the music video. Additionally, the photos provide a great help and they are also to the story. Last but not least, an important space has your personal imagination. It is a great combo.
Well, if Dark Sarah is completely new to you, a good start might be represented by “The Chronicles”. Thank to this collection, you’ll go straight-to-back from our debut to the third album. Furthermore, I advice to check out our story published in our website, it’s definitely a good way to get to know us. Thank you for this nice interview!