"I am busy as a bee, but I love it this way"
There is no doubt that Tarja Turunen is one of the most prominent figures in modern rock and/or metal. Between her solo rock recordings, constant touring, collaborations and a variety of projects she's a part of, the Finnish star has managed to establish her name in the scene. A few months after the release of her latest album and ahead of her shows in Greece, she gave us her view of creating "The Shadow Self", its collaborations, and talked about the importance of classical music.
The new album features some stuff you've never tried before. Were there any major changes in the creative process?
Not really. The creative process was just very nice and I ended up writing too many songs for one album only, that’s why we released two albums during short period of time.
Prequel albums aren't exactly common. How did you come up with that idea?
I guess I just answered this in your previous question briefly! I don’t think I in general fit to the picture of common... I always work on my way on things and I usually come up with things that are not super common. This was just another surprise I worked and created together with the talented people I am lucky to work with.
"Innocence" is one of my favourite songs on the album, but it's not the typical single-material. Did you face any opposing opinions upon releasing it for promotion?
Not at all. The label agreed with me about this song, because they felt it represents my art as good as one song can.
How was the collaboration with Alissa White-Gluz?
Even though I was not present during her vocal recordings since she worked on it in Canada, I feel this collaboration was really a success. We talked about the song and the arrangements and I wanted her to use her growling vocals together with her beautiful, clean voice.
My song "Demons In You" needed Alissa’s voice, so I am very happy she agreed to work on it with me. She also fits to the lyrics on my album, as being the opposite of me as a singer. I am talking in my lyrics a lot about the opposites in life, for instance “heaven/hell”, shadows/lights, love/hate etc…
Alissa is a wonderful and talented lady in metal.
"No Bitter End" has an '80s hard rock feel to it. What was the aim when composing it?
I wanted to write a song that kicks ass! I also wanted to have a song on the album that gives me a good energy and goes from the top until it’s end with this energy. Majority of my songs are complicated and more progressive ones so I wanted to have a song that is easy way of going.
In "The Brightest Void" version of "Eagle Eye" Chad Smith features on drums. How did he get involved and why the two versions of the song?
I have the freedom to choose with who I want to work on my songs and I decided to work on this song twice. Each of the musicians I am working with has their own sound and way of playing. That’s why I wanted to use two different drummers, two bass players and two guitar players in these versions.
My aim was to see what they can come up with and how the same song sounds different when they are different people involved. I love doing these kinds of experiments.
One of the tracks from "The Shadow Self" that hit me from the very first listen was "Diva". How did you create its theatrical atmosphere?
This song was inspired by "Pirates Of The Caribbean" movies and soundtracks. I wrote it together with my Swedish songwriting friends Mattias (Lindblom) and Anders (Wollbeck) in the Caribbean. We had the actual ship that was used in the movies of the "Pirates Of The Caribbean" anchored in the same harbour where we lived, so it was very inspiring indeed! I wanted to create very orchestral and cinematographic song.
After two years in "The Voice Of Finland" you made a song with Michael Monroe. Can you tell more about it?
We became friends with Michael during the Voice experience. That is the reason I wanted to seal our friendship with a song. That’s why I asked him to write one with me and it worked out super nicely. He came up with the lyrics on one night!
I think that "Supremacy" shares the same feeling with the rest of the album. Was that the reason why you chose it to feature in it, instead of "Goldfinger" and "House Of Wax"?
I felt "Supremacy" was the cover I wanted to have on my actual album. It felt as strong as the rest of my album.
So far, you've covered quite a few songs of other artists. Is there any one in particular that stands out for you?
I love working on cover songs, even though it is always a big challenge as I want these songs sound like one of my own and at the same time respect the originals. I am all the time thinking about the future and projects I want to come up with, but at the moment I cannot mention to you any song I want to work with. There are several great artists and bands that I am following and supporting.
Between your rock album releases you worked on a number of other projects. Is it difficult to maintain a balance between them?
As you can imagine, I am busy as a bee, but I love it this way. As I have very broad activities in my career, it is never getting really boring! I have found the balance between classical and rock in my life. I just need to plan things super early in advance to be able to finish all that I start and have time to work on them in a professional level.
Last year you released "Ave Maria - En Plain Air". Given your classical background it's not that much of a surprise, but how did you actually decide to do a full-length release of that sort?
I never had enough time to work on such release before even though I had wanted to. Another reason for it was that I started to feel ready as a singer for an album as serious as this one is. I just needed time. Now I wish to work on a second project similar in the near future!
My "Ave Maria" album really shows who I am as a lyrical singer and how seriously I take classical music in my life. This album is super important in my life, as it is a living proof of my abilities as a singer.
You also released "Live From Luna Park" last year. I was kind of surprised by it, as I was expecting the sequel to "Act I". How did that come up?
"Luna Park Ride" was released in 2015, as we are already in 2017. The "Act II" DVD was recorded in Milan in the end of last year and will be released in 2018. I had such a fun in Luna Park, Argentina at that night of my concert and when I knew that there won’t be any live releases for a long time before the "Act II" release, we decided to work on this live release. The whole concert actually is filmed by my fans so it is very different kind of live release from me.
Are there any significant changes in "The Shadow Self" tour in comparison with the previous ones? What can we expect from the shows in Greece?
I am coming to Greece to present my latest work, "The Shadow Self". Of course we will be playing you songs from my whole career as well. The band is the same I have been using in these last Shadow tours and the concerts are emotional, rock concerts. The band sounds better than ever and I am super happy about it.
Thank you very much for your time! The last words are yours.
I would like to thank all my Greek fans and friends for the support and love. I am celebrating my 20 years in music business together with you! It has been a marvelous and emotional joy ride for me. Thank you for being (there) and see you very soon in your beautiful country! Can’t wait to rock with you again!