Interview: Tarja Turunen

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Tarja Turunen (simply known as Tarja) is one of the most recognisable female metal voices. Hailing from Finland her vocal range reaches 3 octaves, and she is also classically trained. She is known for her stint as the lead vocalist for Nightwish, which she occupied from 1996 – 2005. Since then Tarja has forged an extremely successful solo career releasing 7 studio records across different genres and 3 live albums, including the recently released Act II. We were lucky to have a chat with Tarja regarding the live album, how she maintains her success as a solo artist, and her desire to be back on Australian shores to play. Ladies and Gentlemen Tarja Turunen

H2Z: Hi Tarja, thanks for your time today. Act II is your second and most recent live album. Do you feel that doing live albums help you get across more emotions in your songs that sometimes get lost in the studio environment?
TT: For sure. There is a certain emotion involved when I am writing a song. That emotion changes when you get in the studio, and then it changes once more when you get to play the song live. There are always different emotions involved, and I do enjoy the communication I get with my fans when I play live. I really breathe for my live concert. I love the fact I still get to tour and play live today, and I enjoy the fun I have with my band and crew. I feel I am at a very beautiful place both in my life and artistically, so it makes me very happy to bring this album out to show where I am, which is very important.

H2Z: With the songs on Act II, did one song particularly stand out, telling its story more than others?
TT: Act II, basically represents my last 3 studio albums. So, if you have Act I, you really have all my studio albums, scattered around a live setting. That is why I chose the particular concerts I recorded. One was in Milan, one was in Metropolis Studios in London. They were two very different kinds of concerts. The one in London was only for a handful of hardcore fans and very intimate, where as the one in Milan was one of my bigger shows, and I have played in that theatre before, so I was well aware of it and that is why it was chosen.

H2Z: I have also read how hands on you are with artwork and you have a media booklet with the album. Tell me more about that?
TT: It took a long time to be honest, to work on the artwork. I enjoyed making it for different formats and also enjoyed involving my fans. I asked them to send me their favourite photos. I gathered thousands of live photos from the last tour, sent to me by fans, and it was beautiful to select the ones to make it into the media book. It’s always important to make all my artwork look great, everything goes through my hands these days, and while it’s a long process I would rather be involved and put something out that is only the best quality for my fans.

H2Z: I love the fact you have the cover of the James Bond theme “Goldfinger”, as your voice is suited to the anthemic songs like that. If you got asked to record your own bond theme song, would you do it?
TT: Of course (laughs). I am such a huge fan of bond movies in general and I am always so eager to check out who the next artist will be doing a Bond Song. But the whole Bond theme has been around in my music for a long time, and I myself feel I have already written my own Bond Song with two Swedish writers for my second album. It’s called “In for A Kill”, even the title sounds like it’s from a Bond Movie (laughs). So “In for A Kill” is already my bond song, it’s so melodic and anthemic and when you check it out you will understand why it’s my Bond Song (laughs). I first sang the song a few years ago on a TV show and I really did not feel comfortable singing that song, and it bugged me for the longest time until one day I just said, “Goddamn it, I’m ready to do this again” (laughs)

H2Z: When you went solo, did anyone give you any specific advice about going solo? And what things do you still want to achieve as a solo artist?
TT: After being in a band for a long time, once going solo, all I could do was learn, as there was so much to learn. In Nightwish I was just the singer, I was not writing the songs, certainly I was arranging my vocals, but I was not writing. Going solo I did not even know if I was capable of writing songs.  When I was younger I was writing songs for myself, before having a career. For years I also learnt and studied music, but that was classical music. So, the song writing itself has been a huge, no enormous learning process for me. After all these I feel I am finally celebrating my work. After 22 years of making music, it still feels wonderful to sit in front of my grand piano and write songs. After 22 years I am not nervous anymore. I don’t need to think about anything else except writing the songs for myself. It’s a liberating feeling. Its freedom I have around. That freedom is the most beautiful thing actually. I have myself who decides where to go and what to do in my career, and it consists of two things, the classical music activities, and the rock music activities, and finding that harmony has been one of the hardest things to do in my career, but when it happens like it does now it’s the most beautiful. So, it’s been a hell of a lot of work, and my fans would call me a workaholic, but if you enjoy it, it’s not really work. And so, in that sense I wouldn’t change a thing, because where I am, I am happy with what I have, and the people I have around me, and working with me.

H2Z: Do you feel that because you were in Nightwish that you get locked into a metal genre by people, and is that frustrating?
TT: I have always been one to break the rules with my music (laughs) or kicking down the borders in the sense. When I became the singer in Nightwish, I had already started my musical education at university, so when the metal fans and metal public heard my voice I was something different. My voice was operatic, and they hadn’t heard the combination of metal and operatic, so it was new to them. Thankfully they embraced me as a society and a genre in general. They thoughts I was different, but I was honest with them by saying the genre was new to me. But by being honest between each other worked for many, many years. So then after I started my solo career, I naturally had to find my own way, to write music and find what I wanted to say with my songs. So, it was obvious to me that as I have not done classical music 100% in my whole life and I was very young when I started in Nightwish, so I lacked the experience and the knowledge of being an opera singer, or a classical. So, when my career stopped with the band it was not my option just to start doing classical music and forget about the metal or forget about the rock. Rock already lived inside of me. I did what I was doing within the band and I loved the whole life it gave me, and the music that opened up in me, and that’s what I always tell people “There is always music around, and if you open your mind you can find so much beauty in it”. I’m not the kind of person that can lock myself into some sort of box and listen or perform one type of music because I have never done it. I have always been a classical singer, that is singing rock. I always do the classical singing, and the classical activities, when I can. But you cannot box me in, and you will not box me in, I don’t like that! I just do what I love, and when I know its correct for me, I know it is correct for my public.

H2Z: One final question, and while I know Act II is still brand new, what are you looking to do in the next 6 to 12 months
TT: (laughs)There are a lot of tours to come. Right now, as we celebrate summer in Europe, there are still summer festivals and I am doing a few of those. At the end of August, I am hitting the toad with my band, we have a lot of shows. We will be on the road until the end of the year. I am also writing new material, already for a new rock album, that is going to be released next year, so you can expect a new album from me next year, and I really hope, really, really hope (laughs) to find a promoter to bring me to Australia, because it would be a dream come true for me seriously. It has been too long since I have been there, and it was only once, with Nightwish, so I would really love to come over, and the fans are so supportive and so patient, but I need to find a promoter willing to bring me over. It’s not easy. But lots of tours and music coming from me, I’m keeping myself busy.

H2Z: Excellent Tarja. That’s all the time we have for today, congratulations on Act II and we hope to see you in Australia soon.
TT: Thank you so much I really hope to see you soon, Goodbye.

“Act II” was released on July 27th, 2018 on earMUSIC as 2CD digipak, 3LP Gatefold (180g, black), DVD, Blu-ray, Limited Mediabook 2CD+2BD (incl. two full live shows filmed at Hellfest in France and Woodstock Festival in Poland as bonus) and Digital.

A wide variety of exclusive, limited fan items and bundles can be found on Tarja’s official web shop: https://tarja.tmstor.es

Following up the worldwide top 10 video chart success “Act I”, Tarja and earMUSIC are happy to announce the release of the long-awaited follow up “Act II” this summer.

Filmed during Tarja’s world tour “The Shadow Shows”, during which the influential heavy rock singer circled the world for 7 ½ times with over 300.000 km travelled and played over 200 shows in 40 countries in front of 1 million people, “Act II” consists of the singer’s very intimate 75 minute set filmed and recorded live at the Metropolis Studio in London, UK and the breathtaking live performance of one of her shows in Milan, Italy, and previously unreleased interviews and photo galleries.

The theatrical rock adventure “Act II” combines two incredible, yet slightly different live performances on video:

The first chapter, “Metropolis Alive”, has been filmed two months prior to the release of Tarja’s 2016 success “The Shadow Self”. 20 winners from all over Europe were lucky to witness Tarja’s intimate yet rocking 75-minute set at renowned Metropolis Studios in London, UK where the singer performed songs from her then unreleased album – for the first time in front of an audience.

“Act II’s” second chapter has been recorded on November 29th, 2016 at the magnificent Teatro della Luna Allago in Milan, Italy and includes numerous hits from all four Tarja albums such as “Innocence”“Die Alive”“Until My Last Breath” as well as an incredible cover of Muse’s classic “Supremacy”. That night’s set list also enchants the soprano’s long-time fans with a medley consisting of the distinctive Nightwish evergreens “Ever Dream”“Slaying the Dreamer” and “The Riddler”. All topped off with a remarkable acoustic set which presents Tarja classics in a brand-new way.

Even though the shows deliberately differ in look, sound, approach to the music and adrenalin, both have one thing in common: from the very first to the very last tune, the state-of-the-art production displays Tarja’s energetic performance and her graceful, charming presence.

Following up the worldwide top 10 video chart success “Act I”, Tarja and earMUSIC are happy to announce the release of the long-awaited follow up “Act II” this July. 

Filmed during Tarja’s world tour “The Shadow Shows”, during which the influential heavy rock singer circled the world for 7 ½ times with over 300.000 km travelled and played over 200 shows in 40 countries in front of 1 million people, “Act II” consists of the singer’s very intimate 75 minute set filmed and recorded live at the Metropolis Studio in London, UK and the breathtaking live performance of one of her shows in Milan, Italy, and previously unreleased interviews and photo galleries. 

The theatrical rock adventure “Act II” combines two incredible, yet slightly different live performances on video:

The first chapter, “Metropolis Alive”, has been filmed two months prior to the release of Tarja’s 2016 success “The Shadow Self”. 20 winners from all over Europe were lucky to witness Tarja’s intimate, yet rocking 75 minute set at renowned Metropolis Studios in London, UK where the singer performed songs from her then unreleased album – for the first time in front of an audience. 

“Act II’s” second chapter has been recorded on November 29th, 2016 at the magnificent Teatro della Luna Allago in Milan, Italy and includes numerous hits from all four Tarja albums such as “Innocence”“Die Alive”“Until My Last Breath” as well as an incredible cover of Muse’s classic “Supremacy”. That night’s set list also enchants the soprano’s long-time fans with a medley consisting of the distinctive Nightwish evergreens “Ever Dream”“Slaying The Dreamer” and “The Riddler”. All topped off with a remarkable acoustic set which presents Tarja classics in a brand new way.

Even though the shows deliberately differ in look, sound, approach to the music and adrenalin, both have one thing in common: from the very first to the very last tune, the state of the art production displays Tarja’s energetic performance and her graceful, charming presence.

Live videos became more and more mere documentations focusing on a band’s performance in a remote, distant and technical way. The lightshow and the LED’s only support the band’s performance but have no significance of their own.

With “Act II” it is different. Here everything has a significance, every little detail is important because it is not only a live-recording, a live-documentation.

In the video, every song was treated in order to transport the feeling I wanted to express live at the show. As close as possible to the way the audience might have felt it that night. We used additional footages, used video snippets, photos and graphics and worked with lights, framings and reflections, changed colours and created moods, distorted pictures and inserted slides. And sometimes we kept the pure picture because itself it transported everything we wanted.

“Act II” is not a live-video, it is a live-art-video and you are free to discus it very controversially; what is exactly what I want.”

Act II” will be released on July 27th, 2018 on earMUSIC as 2CD digipak, 3LP Gatefold (180g, black), DVD, Blu-ray, Limited Mediabook 2CD+2BD (incl. two full live shows filmed at Hellfest in France and Woodstock Festival in Poland as bonus) and Digital.

A wide variety of exclusive, limited fan items and bundles can be found on Tarja’s official web shop: 
https://tarja.tmstor.es 

“Act I”, Tarja’s first ever live release, charted Top 10 all over Europe as well as almost all over the world, with a sensational #5 in Germany’s General Charts. The video version even remained for over two months at the peak of the Finnish music video charts.

“Act II” keeps the energy and aesthetics of its predecessor, but adds a new chapter to the live saga in a brand new way.

“Turn of the lights, volume up and dive into the show!” – Tarja
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TARJA – ACT II: TRACK LIST

2CD
CD1
No Bitter End / 500 Letters / Eagle Eye / Demons In You / Lucid Dreamer / Shameless / The Living End / Calling From The Wild / Supremacy / Tutankhamen – Ever Dream – The Riddler – Slaying the Dreamer

CD2
Goldfinger / Deliverance // Acoustic Set: Until Silence – The Reign – Mystique Voyage – House of Wax – I Walk Alone // Love To Hate / Victim of Ritual / Undertaker / Too Many / Innocence / Die Alive / Until My Last Breath  

3LP + Download Code
Side A
No Bitter End / 500 Letters / Eagle Eye / Demons In You

Side B
Lucid Dreamer / Shameless / The Living End / Calling From The Wild

Side C
Supremacy / Tutankhamen – Ever Dream – The Riddler – Slaying the Dreamer / Goldfinger / Deliverance

Side D
Until Silence – The Reign – Mystique Voyage – House of Wax – I Walk Alone

Side E
Love To Hate / Victim of Ritual / Too Many

Side F
Undertaker / Innocence / Die Alive / Until My Last Breath

BD // DVD
Filmed at Metropolis Studios, London, UK, 6th of June 2016
No Bitter End / Eagle Eye / Sing For Me / Love To Hate / The Living End / Medusa / Calling From The Wild / Victim Of Ritual / Die Alive / Innocence / Until My Last Breath / Too Many

Filmed at Teatro della Luna Assago in Milan, Italy, 29th of November, 2016
Against The Odds / No Bitter End / 500 Letters / Eagle Eye / Demons In You / Lucid Dreamer / Shameless / The Living End / Calling From The Wild / Supremacy / Tutankhamen – Ever Dream – The Riddler – Slaying the Dreamer / Goldfinger / Deliverance // Acoustic Set: Until Silence – The Reign – Mystique Voyage – House of Wax – I Walk Alone // Love To Hate / Victim of Ritual / Undertaker / Too Many / Innocence / Die Alive / Until My Last Breath
Bonus Material
Interviews with Tarja and band members

PhotoGallery 1: Through the eyes of the fans
PhotoGallery 2: From stages and streets by Tim Tronckoe

 

Limited Mediabook
BD1
Filmed at Metropolis Studios, London, UK, 6th of June 2016
No Bitter End / Eagle Eye / Sing For Me / Love To Hate / The Living End / Medusa / Calling From The Wild / Victim Of Ritual / Die Alive / Innocence / Until My Last Breath / Too Many

Filmed at Teatro della Luna Assago in Milan, Italy, 29th of November, 2016
Against The Odds / No Bitter End / 500 Letters / Eagle Eye / Demons In You / Lucid Dreamer / Shameless / The Living End / Calling From The Wild / Supremacy / Tutankhamen – Ever Dream – The Riddler – Slaying the Dreamer / Goldfinger / Deliverance // Acoustic Set: Until Silence – The Reign – Mystique Voyage – House of Wax – I Walk Alone // Love To Hate / Victim of Ritual / Undertaker / Too Many / Innocence / Die Alive / Until My Last Breath

Bonus Material
Interviews with Tarja and band members

PhotoGallery 1: Through the eyes of the fans
PhotoGallery 2: From stages and streets by Tim Tronckoe
BD2
Filmed at Woodstock Festival, Poland, 16th of July, 2016
Against The Odds / No Bitter End / Demons In You / 500 Letters / Ciaran’s Well / Supremacy / Calling From The Wild / Tutankhamen – Ever Dream – The Riddler – Slaying the Dreamer / Innocence / Victim Of Ritual / Die Alive / Until My Last Breath / Over The Hills And Far Away

Filmed at Hellfest, France, 19th of June, 2016
No Bitter End / Never Enough / Ciaran’s Well / Calling From The Wild / Supremacy / Victim Of Ritual / Tutankhamen – Ever Dream – The Riddler – Slaying the Dreamer / Die Alive / Until My Last Breath

CD1
No Bitter End / 500 Letters / Eagle Eye / Demons In You / Lucid Dreamer / Shameless / The Living End / Calling From The Wild / Supremacy / Tutankhamen – Ever Dream – The Riddler – Slaying the Dreamer

CD2
Goldfinger / Deliverance // Acoustic Set: Until Silence – The Reign – Mystique Voyage – House of Wax – I Walk Alone // Love To Hate / Victim of Ritual / Undertaker / Too Many / Innocence / Die Alive / Until My Last Breath

www.tarja-act2.com

 

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