Tarja (Tarja)
Tarja is definitely an unstoppable artist: after releasing the first live album of her side-project Harus and warming the wintry atmosphere with her unmistakable voice, our Christmas Queen is sharing a lot of surprises with her fans: a new solo album, a collection of "Ave Maria", a live DVD and a special concert in Milan... Don't waste your time: come read this exclusive interview and enjoy Mrs. Turunen's Season's Greetings!
Article by Marco Belafatti - Publish on: 24/12/11

Hi Tarja! Nice to hear from you!

Nice to hear from you too!

Can you hear my voice clearly?

Yes, I’m on the way in a car going to the next concert now, but I can hear you perfectly.

Great. First of all welcome to SpazioRock, and greetings from your fans in Italy!

Thank you! Pleasure on my side!

You're currently touring your home country and promoting your new project Harus. Can you tell us something about it? Was it born as a side-project or was it a secret wish you had?

You know, with Harus we had been performing already since 2006, we have been performing only a year in Finland so far. We started in an international organ festival in 2006, and then after that it was like... Something happened! Something very magical happened that we all wanted to continue with this. And so we have been performing in many churches and concert halls in Finland, and it’s been magnificent! And we had the opportunity to film and record a Christmas concert in 2009 in Finland, and eventually get it released this year so that we could finally come also to perform in other countries. That is our wish, our biggest wish. Of course I’m still doing a lot of rock, and I’m preparing my new rock album, but classical music is a very important part of my career.

How did you choose the songs for Harus and how did you arrange them?

Well, this release, as it is a live release, is a concert that we did in Finland, actually part of a tour that we did in Finland, so we were performing some of my favourite Christmas songs and some international Christmas songs, some very classical known pieces and even unknown pieces. This have been a selection that we had already been working on for quite many years, and we’re still doing some of those in this tour we’re doing in Finland in this year.

You also wrote a classical aria for the album. What can you tell us about this experience?

Ave Maria”, yes! Well, it was something that I really felt I had to do. Somehow the timing was right for it. In 2009 I sat down in front of my piano and said “Well, I’m really looking forward to the next concerts with Harus at the end of the year and I want to write an Ave Maria”. It took me 3 minutes actually, not more than that, to come up with it, so it was a mind flow. I’m a very big fan of Ave Marias. My first “Ave Maria” that I was singing myself was Schubert’s “Ave Maria”, one of the most known in the world that many people know, but there are several hundreds, even thousands of Ave Marias that many people won’t ever know and get to listen. That is my passion, and actually I ended up recording an Ave Maria album a couple of weeks ago with Kalevi Kiviniemi, the organist, here in Finland. So we don’t know when this album will be released but eventually...!

Are you still into music studies? I guess it must be hard to find some time to train your voice while touring so much...

Oh, I’m training all the time, believe me! I am doing that all the time, and actually I am really into it nowadays. I have my singing teacher in Buenos Aires, she’s my vocal coach, and I’m training a lot. It’s vital for me, for my progress and development as a classical singer, because it helps me sing other styles. It’s really my passion to become a better classical singer, because it really gives me a voice that is healthy, stronger, and gives me confidence in general.

intervista_tarja_2011_03You were training to develop a typical operatic voice when you joined Nightwish... Eventually you were led to a different genre and to a different vocal style, especially on “Century Child” and “Once”. How did you manage to grow and adapt your voice to both dimensions?

Well, it was only my own work that I did. I always have worked on my vocals alone, there haven’t been any teacher teaching me how to sing for the albums or with the band. It was a very long work that I did. It was really difficult, it took me many many years to feel comfortable with my voice, I was having a troubled time in the studio, but not only in the studio, also in shows. It was really tough, because you know, I was still in the beginning of my classical singing studies, and I didn’t want to lose that, because it gave me the whole base for my vocal technique. It was a little bit of a struggle, but eventually I think it was around 2003 or 2004 that I started to feel more confident and comfortable. And I’ve been really lucky that I haven’t destroyed my voice! I’m always very careful in every breath I take and everything I do. I’m very very careful and professional, when it comes to singing I want to do and work very very well. Voice is a very delicate instrument, it takes everything on it – climate changes, smoking people... everything!

After being the lead singer for many years in the same band, you’ve started a whole new chapter on your own, working with a lot of different musicians, writing your own songs, and showing your own identity without Nightwish. How would you describe this musical and personal journey?

Wow... It was a magnificent dream come true for me, really! The whole world opened, the musical world, for me. I had to find my identity, I had to find me, myself, through my music. I started writing my music. Everything was different! Finally there were all those new people willing to help me, willing to support me... I was never having that kind of support before. It was something like “Wow!”. I had to be very brave and in the beginning it was really difficult for me, but when I took those first steps I started realizing that there is a new world for me as an artist and perhaps I’m able to do it.

So it was rewarding...

It was very, very rewarding! And my beautiful fans, what would I do without them? [Laughs] They’re such beautiful people, all around the world, and that is a great blessing.

What about your inspirations? Besides music, where do you get inspiration from? It seems like winter is a big inspiration for you and I would dare say that your new album is the kind of cd you would like to play on Christmas Eve...

Well, if I look at the scenery now while I’m travelling in a car in Finland, we hardly have any snow here, there is not such a winter wonderland! Well, hopefully for Christmas, in a few days, we will get to see some snow! As for my inspirations, I’m travelling a lot, I see people and how they’re living their lives in other countries, I get inspired by other cultures, to how we struggle with our problems, even though we can live in another side of the world people still have the same problems as people here in the north. That kind of things inspire me. If I see something sad or bad I want to write about it, or if there is something that makes me so happy I want to write about it. There are different things, but people are mainly the biggest inspiration for me, people in general, their stories and experiences.

I know that you're a big Paulo Coelho fan and “Outlanders”, the song you wrote for Paulo Coelho Day was inspired by his books. What do you like the most: his philosophy, his writing style, his characters or his stories?

I like his style, his way of writing about dreams in general, he writes to keep fighting for your dreams... It’s been very vital for me to understand that I’m really living in my dream and I want to fight for it. No one can really take away your heart, no one can do that. There are many bad people trying to destroy you, but they can never take away your heart. And that’s what you have to fight for – your dreams. And Paulo Coelho is writing about these kind of things, that you should take risks in your life because without taking those risks you’ll never know what would have been and if you would eventually be happy.

tarja_intervista_2011_02I know this is not the kind of question you would like to hear from me and I don't want to sound too impolite or intrusive, but I just wanted to know if you have ever heard the new Nightwish albums and if you still like their music...

No, I haven’t, not yet.

You often play a lot of Nightwish songs during your live shows. While I'm sure you still love those songs...

Yes, of course!


...is there also an emotional downside, that is, does it hurt to recall your past on stage?

I think I have been taking those songs to a different level, my own personal level. With my band, my musicians, we are rocking them differently, you know! There is a new energy around in my band, and this also helps me take those songs in a different way emotionally. So I’m happy to perform them, because I also see the reactions from my fans. They’ve been there, some of them have been there since the beginning when I started with Nightwish. So it’s a funny feeling in a way. There are some songs that I want to keep on performing, maybe... for the rest of my life! They are part of me in a new way.

You're coming back to Italy in March and this will be a special show since you're going to play in a theatre. Why did you choose this venue and what kind of show should we expect this time?

Well, my dream has always been only to make tours in theaters. I love theatres, it’s a different situation, the atmosphere is different. I love to perform in theaters. This show in Milan will be part of a tour and it will be a very important tour this time, it’s called “The Final Tour” so I will be performing very important songs from my first album, from my second album, and also a couple from my future rock album! It’s something very special also because I will be filming a DVD, perhaps Milan and my fans will be part of it in one way or another. We’re filming something during the whole tour, so for this rock DVD I don’t know yet when the complete concert will be filmed. But it will be very important for me, because it’s the first one ever so far in my career. It’s a very rich concert emotionally, and I’m happy to be able to perform in this beautiful theatre.

You said you’re working on your solo project, should we expect a new Tarja album next year?

After this “Final Tour” finishes in mid-April, in the end of May I will be starting to record the new album. So if everything goes fine I’ll be composing new songs all the time, I started writing songs already last June. There have been lots and lots of songs coming up, and I’m really quite positive about how the process has been going on so far, there are some really great songs! I’m very happy about it. So hopefully I will have the recording done at the end of the summer, all the production and everything, but I don’t know yet about the release. I hardly believe it can happen next year, maybe in 2013 at the beginning of the year, hopefully. And the DVD will definitely come out next year.

Ok, this was my last question, thank you so much for this interview! Please, leave a message to all your Italian fans and SpazioRock readers.

Hi everybody! This is Tarja, and I really miss you guys! I am so happy to come back to Milan very soon in the beginning of March. I hope to see all of you at my beautiful show! Merry Christmas and a very very happy new year for all of you!

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