Shortly after her four concerts in Buenos Aires and the collaboration with Rata Blanca in Luna Park, Tarja Turunen told us how she is preparing for the Metalway Festival and her expectations of “What Lies Beneath”. At the Obelisk of Buenos Aires, she was interviewed by Cesar Fuentes Rodriguez. Pictures taken by Fernando Serani.
First of all, tell us how it felt for you to end your tour in Buenos Aires. You looked very emotional when you presented the band especially during the last concert.
Tarja: Yes, of course. Especially that my conciousness has grown in Buenos Aires and the people have realised my condition as an artist here, and the band was also very happy about finishing the tour here. We toured in many cities in South America, and I think that all of them would agree with me that we like it best here, the people are very nice, we feel safe on the streets, so playing one week in Buenos Aires was a good idea. On the other hand I was very happy with the shows, and everything went well, there will be many things to remember and keep in mind for the future.
You are heading to Metalway now, how does it feel to jump from a small and intimate place to a big festival?
Tarja: I am very excited because it will be the first show with my new album there. Since one and a half years since it was released, we didn’t manage to combine the dates. And I am very eager to return to Spain, I have many fans there, I usually get in contact with them and I know they are looking forward to this concert and the ones in September. Of course that we will arm ourselves with a great setlist and we will clearly think what to do to please and entertain such an important audience. There will be many bands and their fans, and when there are so many people it’s difficult to please everybody.
Last time you told me that you were to Ibiza. Would you like to spend more time in Spain?
Tarja: We were in Ibiza recording My Winter Storm, for a month, more or less. Before that I imagined Spain as party, party and party again. I didn’t intend to go there before because that story of people dancing and partying all night didn’t attract me much, but it was only in my imagination. I found an island of natural beauty, simple people and enough places to get lost. We rented a house, we recorded, had a good time, we were diving and traveling… very nice. Moreover, Barcelona is my favorite city from Europe. I love going there. As a matter of fact, I would like to live in Barcelona one day, a very beautiful city indeed.
About the band, I was surprised to not see Kiko Loureiro tehre, but it is obvious that it has consolidaded..
Tarja: Yes, I am working with Alex Scholpp on some songs for What Lies Beneath. Doug Wimbish is also helping me, even though he has many commitements and his position in Living Colour, Mike Terrana always tells me I am the first for him and to call him any time, Alex will be a father now, lots of things.. But yes, we really feel like a band, and I am very lucky to have these musicians with me, and eventually also Kiko.
With respect to your new ideas, do you intend to bring guests to interpret?
Tarja: Yes, I plan to have guests. There some songs that need special elements at times. The idea is not to make just a heavy metal album, but all these musicians that I have been working with come from different schools, which is very good because understanding the music with an open mind always benefits the result. Of course that before each song one starts to think about what the musician inteprets. I contacted some of the musicians that I like who were working on the album.
When will the album be released?
Tarja: The idea is to release it the following year. I finished about 18 songs, the lyrics are almost ready, and now I don’t know when it will be released. I am very happy about the songs, the material is very mature in the composition but also in the lyrics, it feels very good to make it this way, with so much freedom and many people who understand me around.
Will there be any cover, like there was Alice Cooper’s Poison on the first album?
Tarja: It was very difficult then. [laughs]
But it worked very well, so…
Tarja: I don’t know yet. There could be a duet, I have the perfect song for that.
Some people were very surprised by the fact that you sang a cover of Seru Giran’s “Desarma Y Sangra” at La Trastienda. You’re not planning to record it, are you?
Tarja: No, definitely not. It’s a nice song, and I sang it my way. Every time I do a cover I try to do it my way, but without ruining the original. I like the band and what Charly Garcia does. And besides, I like surprising people. [laughs]
And when you change your outfit on the stage, what is the reason behind that? Is it purely theatrical, or is there another idea?
Tarja: Since I was playing with Nightwish, I was trying to show to the audience how the songs “look like”, to become in the same way the songs are. It’s a part of the concert, for mi, I never got any comments from the band about what they saw. But I think that the people somehow expect me to do this. And today I think it is fantastic to chose my own outfits and to have this unbelievable artistic freedom to plan my concerts how I interpret them. I like the theater, I like the dramatic parts in my songs, and to show this in a theatrical way.
Do you feel different or weird singing Nightwish songs with a new band?
Tarja: [makes a face like”should-I-answer-this?”] I have a great band and the songs sound very powerful when these people play them. For me it is wonderful to be able to sing these songs now, that I couldn’t sing properly at the time. When we recorded some of them I was in a learning process, and I couldn’t give the best of myself for these songs.
Oh, you mean Passion And The Opera…
Tarja: Of course! For example. But now I can sing the songs I recorded with Nightwish a lot easier. I am a more mature singer and I know my instrument a lot better. And being with these musicians does nothing but help me.
At the moment you are preparing for the concert with Rata Blanca, that will be a special occasion. How is that working?
Tarja: Yesterday afternoon we had the first test, and I really had a great time with them. We will sing three songs, and two of them will be with Adrian [Barillari]. i think Walter [Giardiano] liked it, and I am also very happy about it. I like working with him.
When did this idea of working together emerge?
Tarja: Oh, actually a few years ago. but we never had the chance. Now we agreed on a big concert in Buenos Aires.
How was it to do a duet with Doro for her new album, “Fear No Evil”?
Tarja: It was great to know her better. When we recorded the two songs and talked on the phone and did the shows it felt very good because she has a very big career behind her and i respect her a lot. The things that I can do with my voice are nice, this is my characteristic and mixing it with a very different voice can be very difficult, but in this case it turned out very well. I can’t make my voice more rough, it doesn’t work, but when the completion is suitable, there is a chance that it will sound very well.
Then a duet with Angela Gossow would be out of the question. [laughs]
Tarja: I don’t know.. Well I never thought about this before, but she could get a role with her voice in a certain song, telling a story, perhaps. But I think that it would be too much for my music, I don’t know if I could go so far from the edge [laughs]. Many times I listened to her on the radio and I admire what she can do with her voice. There is no way I could do that with mine.
What thing? Forcing her throat so hard without ruining it?
Tarja: Yes. I really think that’s admirable.
Some last words for the people who will come to see you at Metalway?
Tarja: That I am very happy to go there. And so is the rest of the band. returning to Spain is very important to me. I had a great time there and teh fans always keep in touch. I’m sure we will have a great time there.
Note: I just translated this interview with Tarja. Credit for the original text goes to the Spanish Kerrang! magazine (July issue), for the scans goes to The_Riddler, and the beautiful pictures were taken by Fernando Serani.