Interview: Vedran Levi
photo: Paul Harries
Venia thanks to Cmar Net for consigning the interview !
Tarja Turunen Cabuli has begun her music career when she was six years old. Together with contemporary friends Emppu Vuorinen and Tuomas Holopainen in 1996 she joined the band Nightwish that reached almost incredible success culminated by the album “Once” (2004). But in the end of 2005 what became obvious was a bad situation inside the band and Tarja received a farewell letter in which the band members informed her she isn’t a part of Nightwish anymore. The whole soap-opera continued for a while, mostly stired by her ex-colleagues and some Finnish media. Her return on the scene is announced on 26th October 2007 when the single “I Walk Alone” was released followed by the album “My Winter Storm”. In the end of 2007 Tarja played short promo tour in Europe and one concert in Russia after which Tarja left for vacation on Caribbean island Antigua where we managed to get her for an interview. At the moment she is playing her Summer Storm 2009 tour that is closest to Croatia on 20th June in Petofi Hall in Budapest and on 22nd July in the Szene Wien in Vienna.
1) So, how it feels to be on Antigua?
TARJA: This is the right place to fill the batteries, I’m taking a rest a bit, I dive a bit but on the other hand I came here to write songs for my new album. To be on the island is helping me a lot, the whole ambience is beautiful.
2) The album “My Winter Storm” is recently released, I assumed its promotion will last for a while and we will need to wait for a new album.
T: Of course, “My Winter Storm” album promotion continues, I have much to do. It is released yesterday in the United States while the Japanese edition will be released in April. My agent confirmed me a new European tour in May and we’re trying to add more concerts to it while July and August are provided for South America. After that I’m coming to Europe again and I guess United States, I’ll spend some more time in album promotion, but on the other side I wanted to start to work on a new one so later I can avoid the ruck with composing and recording, I don’t want to do the snapshot.
3) I hope some future tour will bring Tarja also to Croatia?
T: I’d love to come to play in your country, I know I have fans there and I’d like to thank them for the support they showed me through the all this years.
4) Now when you’ve started your solo career you must have much more work with album promotion then when you were part of the band?
T: To me everything is different then before, from album recording to its promotion. Majority of work I do alone, because I don’t have that big infrastructure behind me as the band has. However, it is not that I do everything alone, I have around some new people that I’m getting know now throught he “My Winter Storm” promotion. There appeared many new possibilites and challenges for me. That makes me happy because I learned so many new things. I’m person opened fore new challanges and I rather go there where the path isn’t easy, I was like that whole my life. I’m challanging myself to learn new things. Also I’m openminded when it is about the music and I don’t listen to only one genre, because I think music is universal language and if it touch you, it touch you no matter what kind of person you are and that is something that makes you happier. My whole singing on the new album was a great learning. I learned the lesson from my mistakes, noone is perfect… (laughs), but I gathered enough courage to turn my dream into reality.
5) In the end of the year you had a short promo tour, how was it?
T: You wouldn’t believe how happy I was all the time. I managed to see many of my fans who supported me through all this year, and also I met many new people, the band on tour with me itself was incredible. I have to admit I never had such a great time on tour before. I played almost on each continent but I never felt so good on tour. No mater to our different origins from Doug Wimbish who played into “Living Color” rock-funky to Miko Terrane who plays only heavy metal, we all put something personal, our passion for music and everything worked great.
6) There is intresting combination on musicians with you on tour, how you managed to gather them?
T: Alex Scholpp (Farmer Boys) was playing guitar and Doug Wimbish bass on the album and we have started from there. I wanted them because of their personalities, origins because I knew what kind of music they do. I needed musicians who’d know how to play my songs that are varied and depart one from another. So they were already here while Mike Terrano, who I met in 1998 and we hanged around together during the tours when he was still with the Rage, told me if I’d ever need a drummer he’d gladly play with me.
7) On the album the drummer was Earl Harvin, what happend with him?
T: I was talking to him about the upcoming tour when we were recording drums in Ireland but he is a really busy guy and already then he was booked for some other project so he couldn’t. When Mike Terrana ‘came into the picture’ I was very happy because we are doing ok. There wasn’t a need for a change anymore, everything works as it should.
8) You are trying to look special on stage.
T: That is very important to me. When we see all in general, album, play, me as an artist, it is important enough like music itself. I have always given lot attention to preparations, not only because i am a woma. In my normal life, outside of stage i don’t put make-up on when going shopping. I don’t care for that, but on stage when i perform i want to look like music i perform. I want that my look goes along with music i play. In Nightwish nobody told me the way i should look, what to wear. All my look came out of myseld, from my ideas. Most of my dresses have i designed, one my friend in Finland made. Look is very important thing for continuence of my career. I love to take care of myself, it helps me to feel better.
9) This should be my next question, who designs dresses which you wear on concerts?
T: I design most of that, with help of my dear friend in Finland, she makes them. She is very talented person who made most of my clothes i wear on gigs.
10) You are singing from childhood, and in music classical and rock music are crossing over, can we say that one is main, or it is impossible to separate them.
T: That is all music in whose crossing over i find many advances, i am like songwriter new in all this. This is first album for which i have done the music. I was writing something later back in past, but nothing serious. Now i want to explore possibilities in this was, now when i write songs alone. Somewhere in near future i would like to do movie music, i would like to be part of that kind of projects. I have met some people in Los Angeles, during album recording, who do film music only. I like that kind of advance, and i am wondering will i be able to do something like that, i would be happy to try. My whole life i wasn’t an artist who can you categorise in some genre, i don’t do only rock or classical music, i try to put them in one pack, what is not easy.
11) Many artists put more genres of music into one, is there any band you like to listen alot?
T: I like to listen many kinds of music. It really comes with my mood and in this moment which music will i listen to whole day. If today i feel lack of energy then i will listen to rock or metal music, something i will go throught the day, and from the other hand i relax with Craig Armstrong’s film music, like the one for movie “Elisabeth (The golden age)”, while i listen to their music i sometimes go emotional…(laugh).
12) When you are not on tour, do you practice your voice and how much?
T: Yes, and a lot. That is my life and i have to take care of it, practice every day. I don’t sing every day when i’m on holidays, because voice and body sometimes need a break. What for tour, what for new album release i was pretty nervous and intense, and now it is time to relay. During tour i practice and on days-off, if i’m not too tired, and on the other hand sometimes relaxing the voice is very important. I still study and i have singing teacher in Buenos Aires, sometimes i visit her, still i miss control. I can’t brag that i’m a professional singer, because there is so much more to learn about singing, and what is my greatest motivation. Now older albums sound funny to me, which i have recorded with nightwish or songs i have sang to other musicians. Not i can see clearly the difference and i love to know that i have gone few steps further. I hope that day when i will go step backwards, insted of forwards never comes.
13) Last years there are restirctions about smoking on public places very popular, how does that effect you and concerts in your sorrounding?
T: I like it more. Now i can enter the restaurant and person next to me won’t smoke while i’m eating. When i would go to some nightbar i would know what to expect, and that is OK, because you know the way it has to be. I don’t smoke but i would sometimes have a headache before going out, not because of alcohol, but becuase of high concentration of somoke in club. In some situation, forbidding is funny, like for example in Finland you can in winter have temperature even to -30 degrees, and people in this kind of situations have to go smoke outside, and then you can se few tens of people coming out in short sleeves, going out to lit a cigarette. I have one interesting story about my first concert in Amsterdam with Nightwish. Everybody knows that Netherlands let free consumation of some drugs, so people don’t smoke so much cigarettes, as much as something lese. I think i was singing thrid song and when lights on stage started to move on a weird way, and people somehow looked weird. In one moment of performance, i passed out because i have “smoked” all smokes from drugs that people have used right in front of me. Well, that can happen too. Now all situation is funny to me, but then it wasn’t, because i was throwing up during concert, and i felt really bad, but i made it till end.
14) Do you plan to be a guest star on someones album like Beto Vazquez’s “Infinity” or you maybe prepare some project of classical music, or you are devoted completely to your solo career.
T: Now the main thing to me is promotion of “My Winter Storm” album, and if we will be fortunate enough i will continue with recording of my second albuim. Second part of my life is important and it is classical musci, and i will continue to perform on classical conterts and i hope with my friends i have performed in project “Noche Escandinavia” (Scandinavian nights), we should gather and do some concerts in Asia, so that for now i won’t participate in any other project. On the next album i will probably do duets and some similar collaborations.
15) Not so long ago, you finished recording video for “Die alive”, how did it all go?
T: It was nice, but intense. We were recording in Berlin in one interesting location of torn house in totally creppy atmosphere. Shooting lasted about 22-23 hours, so i wasn’t sleeping the whole night because we were shooting. It was amazingly cold, we were all freezing. So that the climate in Germany was an advance, but it was fun to record a video with all those dogs in creepy atmosphere in dark. I am happy with video idea, which for we collaborated with director. Theme was about stories from the album, and i gave idea for all those animals using. I love animals and i do well with them, but for video it was made on pourpouse that they bite me. I don’t want people to think that i hate animals.
16) Since your husband is from Argentina, where do you live now, here or in Finland?
T: That is a good question. To be honest, i travel all the time. Last few years i am somewhere on theroad, but when i say i’m home than that would be in Finland and in Argentina in Buenos Aires. Those are two completely differetn places, but in both i feel like home. Sometimes all those traveling gets me tired, and i hate airport waitings, constant sourounding and climate change, and when somewhere i came on longer time, i make that place my home, like now on Antigua, i am here for few weeks and i feel great.
17) What can you say to your Croatian fans?
T: I want to say thank you from bottom of my heart on support you have already given me, during, now only, “My Winter Storm” album, for all last years that are here. I am flattered with knowlege that in your country there are people who love me, what feels freat and i am happy because of it. That kind of support makes me go further. I would like to see you all, to have a concert in Croatia. To all promotores i want to say: “Aloooo, I’m here, knocking on you door.”
18) Tarja, thank you very much on time and i hope we will hear again!
T: Thank you alot, that would be great!