Interview with Tarja Turunen

Tarja Turunen (Credit: Tim Tronckoe)
Tarja Turunen (Credit: Tim Tronckoe)
Tarja Turunen (Credit: Tim Tronckoe)

Hi Tarja! Nice to virtual meet you. It is with great pleasure that I interview one of the most prominent female voices in the history of music. (And my favourite metal singer!!)
Thank you!

The first question is obviously why the prequel to the album and not (perhaps) the most traditional double CD or an EP, for example?
Double CD would have been too much to bear for my listeners and it would have gotten unbearable to listen all the songs without loosing the intrest. I was suggesting an EP release for the record label, but since I had so much material in my hands, even songs that were born during the same time period than the songs I was writing for my album, we decided to release another album. An album that can represent the album before it’s own release. I didn’t want to give my songs away as bonuses or b-sides for different territories nor wanted to wait for their release for years to come with my next album.

Since the “The Shadow Self” is out due August, 5th, how the “The Brightest Void” is being received by the public?
I have done a massive amount of promotion during this summer time for both albums and performed songs from both albums in my festival concerts. It’s been great to see how people are following my creativity and supporting my work. I have very loyal followers. It is a blessing!

Seeing the covers we see that these two albums are not independent. Can we consider that one is an extension of the other?
The Brightest Void is bringing you a glimpse of the sound world of TSS and the songs written, were written for one album only during the same time period. I ended up writing too many songs for one album only, so the decision together with my record company was to release two complete albums. They complete each other. Usually it is common to release a bonus album after the real album release, but this time I decided differenly.

Listen to both albums I dare to say that the “The Shadow Self” is heavier and darker than “The Brightest Void”. Do you agree?
I agree with you. I made it so, intentionally.

… Starting with the open track: “Innocence”. I think it is the best track from both albums, love the intro and that piano interlude in the middle. “Innocence” has a strong message and just for curiosity as I watched the video with my 10 years daughter, the first thing that kept her attention was precisely the image and not the music. She then ask what was all that about. I said, I don’t know… think and then tell me. The quick answer was “Domestic Violence”. She like the song, though!
Is this the message that you pretend to pass?
I think the video talks on it’s own.

The video is absolutely fantastic and complements the song perfectly. That twist in the end blows me away. Is there any special meaning when you grab the man’s arm and he turns black and white?
The idea is that you as a listener could find your own meaning for it.

In these two albums you have some very special guests: Michael Monroe, Chad Smith and Alissa White-Gluz (Among others). How did the opportunity to work with them come true?
I got to know Michael through our “The Voice” of Finland TV-production experience. We became friends and worked in the program during the last years as star coaches. We wanted to seal our friendship with a song and wrote and recorded “Your heaven and your hell” together during the second season of The Voice. Chad Smith is a friend of my bass player Kevn Chown and already many years ago Kevin told me about the chance to work with Chad but only now I had him on mind for the production. I was truly glad that he accepted to play on my record. When I finished recording my own vocals for the song “Demons in you”, I missed Alissa’s growling vocals in it. I have no knowledge about growling and would not even dare to try it with my voice, so I was happy that Alissa came on board. The song needed that extra energy push that she gave to it.

Another thing that I quite like is the versions: Sir Paul McCartney’s “House Of Wax”, Muse’s “Supremacy” and Shirley Basseys’ James Bond main theme “Goldfinger”… but with a twist. Why this songs in particular? Are any of these artists an influence to you?
I have been a fan of James Bond movies and music for a long time. I sang “Goldfinger” many years ago in one TV-event and found it very difficult at that time. Now finally I felt I was ready for the songs and performed it several times during the last South American tour with my band with the same version you can find on the record. We had a great time on that tour and soon after I decided to record the song for the record itself.

I found curious the two versions of “Eagle Eye”. Why was that?
Since I have many brilliant musicians working with me, I wanted to show how the songs are changing with the input each one of them are putting into my songs in general. According to their sound and style of playing.

In the “The Shadow self“ website – http://www.tarja-theshadowself.com/ – there is some lyrics (a poem perhaps) that share some words with “Eagle Eye”. Do you wrote that?
Yes, I wrote the song and the lyrics for the song together with my friend Pauli Rantasalmi.

Is your brother that sings with you?
Yes, Toni Turunen, my brother is singing with me in “The Living End” and “Eagle Eye” songs.

I have to be complete honest: As I think that “The Shadow Self” is heavier, the version from “The Brightest Void” should be in it. 
Cool, I appreciate your opinion. As I have been saying, all the songs from The Brightest Void could be in The Shadow Self, but it was my decision to choose the songs for both of them.

I was thinking for a couple of minutes in which artist or band that could mix classical and (Heavy) Rock the way that you do. Some are classical and less heavy, others are the other way around but always in the perfect “quantity”. Do you see yourself doing an album without the classical part? And why, by the way.
I have found my sound and identity as an artist, so I would not like to change radically the style of my productions. The knowledge I have in classical music helps me a lot to work on the orchestra arrangements on my rock records among many other things. While I am writing the songs, I am always getting inspired by the movie soundtracks or classical music. I need to have the melodic “arc” in my songs to support my lyrical voice. I am happy to rock few songs only with my heavilly sounding and grooving band, but surely I would miss the symphonic support if I would not have it.

The way that you see and do music changed after your daughter was born?
Obviously my life is my biggest influence when it comes to my music, since my life is filled with music daily. The birth of my daughter has made me super proud and happy mother and for sure that happiness you can also hear as confidence on my records.

Do you think that she will follow your footsteps as a singer?
I would love to see her finding her passion in life, what ever that might then be. I got an opportunity to choose what to do in my own life, so I definitely want to support my daughter to do the same.

You will play in Portugal on 4th of November and I hope to be there (with my 10 years old daughter  She have to listen good music…  ) What could the Portuguese fans expect?
I will be presenting you my new The Shadow Self-album, but also playing songs from all of my albums. The production is a bit bigger this time with screens and colorwise the show is also presenting the colours of my latest album. It is going to be very emotional and atmospheric rock concerts as my concerts usually are that.

If you have to choose between Rock or Classical, which one you choose and why?
These music styles complete me. I would not like to choose between them, because I have been working on both camps for a long time already and found a beautiful harmony with them artistically.

For me my favourite classical composers (or the ones I like to hear the most) are: Mozart, Verdi, Bizet and Wagner. What are the ones that most influenced you? (Or your favourites?)
I like many classical composers, but singing wise I love Puccini, Schumann, Sibelius, Rachmaninof among others.

Thank you so much for this opportunity to interview you. I have to be completely honest and say that both albums took me a few listens to completely enjoy them. However, “The Shadow Self” is already in my 2016 Best Of list!
Thank you. Take care. See you in Lisbon in November!

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