When Earsplit PR asked me if I wanted to interview Tarja Turunen (BIG thanks to Liz over there!), of course I jumped at the chance. As a singer myself, it is always a pleasure to talk to the greats, especially someone who has the body of work Tarja does. I mean, come on, just learning what she does to keep her voice in shape is worth the price of admission, right? Well, she called in from her home in Buenos Aires and we had a lovely chat about her one-year old daughter, the new album Colours In the Dark (go get it!!), and what’s going on tour-wise. She was also thrilled when I delivered a message of love from DORO who I spoke to a few hours earlier. Tarja really is a sweet lady, so without further ado…
Amps: Firstly, how do you like living in Buenos Aires?
Tarja: Actually, I really like it down here. The city has so many bright colors, and I love that. And there is this freedom to be who I am. In Finland there was kind of a lack of privacy, so I can just do my thing here like a normal person, and it’s beautiful. I also love the people and the culture very much, it’s very nice.
Amps: Also, congratulations on your baby girl!
Tarja: Thank you, thank you. She is now one year old already, my God! The time goes so fast, I can’t believe it!
Amps: I spoke with DORO this morning, and she wanted me to send you love, and big hugs, and congratulations, and she is so happy for you.
Tarja: Oh, thank you so much for that! You made my day, that was very nice of her.
Tarja: Oh, really? That’s very nice to hear that you like it. It was a very important album for me to do, and everything went really smoothly. It was very natural for me to come up with the songs, and it took a long time. I was writing for two and a half years, and I got pregnant in the meantime, and was in the recording studio during the last month. So many things happening at once. But it was a very productive time. The album has kind of a new depth to me; music has taken me to a very comfortable place, and I think you can hear that confidence and happiness on the album.
Amps: let’s talk about album closer “Medusa”….The build-up, everything about it is just this epic-type song, and it was right away my favorite. What’s yours?
Tarja: Of course they are all my babies, but there is a song for every mood. You have to listen to the whole album to get to know me (laughs). You know my background in classical music is there, and my background in metal is very present, so I love where I am at the moment in that I’m comfortable with writing this type of material. There’s a progressive element there, and I can get out of always having to be precise, and just go with it.
Amps: What are the tour plans in support of the album? Will you hit U.S. soil?
Tarja: I will start touring Europe in October, and then I have a classical music tour at the end of the year. Next year my biggest wish is to come to the United States with this album. It’s just a matter of finding the promoters willing to bring me over there. (Mock pleading) Please! Let me come there! (Both laughing) My band is amazing, and I have been working with them for many, many years, and we really want to come to the U.S.
Amps: What do you do to keep your voice in such great shape? Do you have any restrictions?
Tarja: I still take singing lessons. I am always working on technique. I will never see the day where I say, “Oh, I don’t need improvement”. There has to always be something to work on, and make better, so you can progress. Also when you go back to my earlier work, even in Nightwish, there are a lot of different elements. And because of that I am training daily. My body is my instrument, so I have to keep it conditioned. There’s no real rock and roll life for me if you know what I mean. I can’t really have too much fun when I’m working (laughs)! But one time, I was recording in Dublin, Ireland, and the cook made red chili, and a short time later I was like, “Ahh! Ahhh!” but I discovered that day that red chili is not good for my voice!
Tarja: It’s absolutely amazing, and I feel very proud to be one of those ladies that is still there. I think that it’s been really incredible, and when I think of my journey when I started in Nightwish, there really weren’t any ladies around. And then there was an explosion, and now we have a festival, Female Metal Voices, and I am very happy. I feel very proud to be here, talking to you now about this. I was trained as an opera singer, and I made my choices and I don’t regret them, because they made me who I am today.
Amps: What’s next for Tarja? Some time off after the European tour?
Tarja: What’s that?? Time off? What is that word “time off”?!? I have a baby girl, okay (laughing). She is traveling with me and my husband. I am blessed that my family travels with me, and she is very aware of the road, and this life. But for the future I am definitely going to keep busy between the classical and the rock shows. There will also be a classical album coming out next year, and I will be promoting that as well.
Amps: You’re a very busy lady!
Tarja: Yes, I am abroad about eight months of the year (laughs).
Amps: Tarja, thank you so much for taking some time out to speak with me, and best of luck with the tour.
Tarja: No problem. Thank you very much, talk to you soon.
This was a really cool interview because not only did I get to know a little bit about Tarja the artist, but I also got to see Tarja the person, wife, and mom. She truly has one of the most amazing voices I’ve ever heard, and to be such a nice person on top of that just makes me want this album to do all the better, you know? Like I said, I enjoyed speaking with her immensely and I can’t wait to do it again next year.