Interview with Tarja Turunen

Former Nightwish singer Tarja is about to issue her first live release – Act 1.  Available as a double CD or as DVD/Blu-ray its a great album that we at Planetmosh have reviewed – check out our reviews here – CD review:     DVD review:

Tarja was kind enough to spend some time answering our questions about the album, her new Beauty and the beat project, her next album and touring.

Planetmosh: Your new Live album, Act 1 is due to be released soon. What made you decide to do a live album?

Tarja: After two studio albums I felt that the time was right for a live album. I already had enough material and experience for it.

Planetmosh: Why choose South American shows for the album?

Tarja: Argentina is my “new” home where I have been living permanently more than 3 years already. I have always been very well received there as an artist. But the decision to film the DVD in “Teatro El Círculo” was the beauty of the theatre itself. I got to perform there one year earlier with my band and fell in love with the place.

Planetmosh: The title “Act 1” suggests that you have more similar releases planned – act 2 for instance? Are there definite plans or is it just planning ahead?

Tarja: Well I truly hope that after couple more studio albums I can come up with my second live release, ACT II. That would be just awesome!

Planetmosh: What’s the progress on the next studio album?

Tarja: The production for it has already started. We have recorded drums and guitars completely and at the moment working with bass recordings. The musicians recording are same who have been working with me already in these last years. I am really excited about the album progress so far and producing it once again on my own.

Planetmosh: When can fans expect to see it released?

Tarja: There isn’t a release date yet, but I hope I can get everything ready until spring 2013. Then the release should happen around August-September 2013 if all goes well.

Planetmosh: What’s the song writing process in the band – do you write the songs yourself or is it a collaborative thing?

Tarja: I write songs on my own and with my guitar players Alex and Julian. They have been so far more participating in the song writing process than any other of the band musicians. I have other writers as well that I like to work with.

Planetmosh: What are your inspirations for the lyrics that you write?

Tarja: My journeys in general are a great inspiration. What I have seen and heard while I’ve been travelling and listened the stories from people that I have met. Ocean and sun are inspiring me to write music a lot and even though it might be hard to understand how I can write dark music under the sun, that is just the best way for me.

Planetmosh: You have a new project – Beauty and the Beat. It sounds an interesting combination – You, drummer Mike Terrana, a choir and an orchestra is an interesting combination. Can you tell us a bit about the project and what fans can expect? For instance is the music going to be classical, rock or a mixture?

Tarja: We held our first Beauty and the Beat concert in Bulgaria last year and it was a huge success. We performed in an old amphitheatre for 4000 people. The program consists purely classical music with hits that people could easily recognize and some of my own songs arranged for an orchestra and choir. Now we are scheduling a world tour with the same concept and starting with the concerts in April 2013. It’s incredible fun!

Planetmosh: You’ve announced 2 Tour dates in Czech republic in 2013, will this be touring across Europe?  Will there be UK dates?

Tarja: We wish to do as many concerts as possible and many are already under discussions. These concerts will happen in Europe and in South America. Unfortunately I cannot tell you more about it since nothing is 100% sure.

Planetmosh: If you play the UK will it just be the usual one date in London or will you play more UK dates? Fans regularly complain about bands only playing one UK date in London and nowhere else due to cost, distance etc.

Tarja: I would love to do a complete not only in UK, but also Ireland. But we go where the show promoters offer to promote us. I know that is hard for people to understand, but if it would be up to me, I can easily mention a list of places that I would love to visit, but promoters are not interested enough.

Planetmosh: Touring must be quite disruptive to your life being away from home for long periods. Is this hard to deal with?

Tarja: I like touring in general even though in every tour there is a point when you get tired. You cannot avoid getting tired of travelling, not sleeping well, etc. That tiredness many times comes along with flu and that is the worst that can happen to a singer. To catch flu and stay on the road for many days still singing. It is a nightmare! Anyway, my tours are pretty well organized, the hotels and busses where we live the most of our time are great and the shows are held in beautiful venues so I don’t suffer while being on road.   Actually just the opposite. But if the tour is long, home is the place you miss the most.

Planetmosh: On tour do you get much time to rest and relax or is it a concert almost every night?

Tarja: I tend to do only two shows back to back and then have one off day. That way everybody in the band can get enough rest and stay healthier for longer. On my off days I usually go out to run and do some sightseeing if I haven’t been in the same place earlier. Shopping is also always welcome!

Planetmosh: Do you have to take special precautions to look after your voice, particularly on tour?

Tarja: Already months before the tour I am training a lot my voice and body to get the best condition for the tour. Is part of my daily being at home. While being on road, I do my vocalising and breathing exercises every day as well, except on the off days when I try to relax and even speak less. Drinking 2-3 litres water per day is vital, eating very well and trying to catch some sleep when ever is possible are the tools. There are no other secrets or magic tricks.

Planetmosh: You’ve worked with various artists including doing two songs with Doro. Whose idea was it for you to work together? How did you enjoy working with Doro?

Tarja: She is a wonderful person and I admire her career. She asked me to sing a song for her album and I thought it would be lovely to have her singing with me on one of my songs as well. So we did two collaborations at the same time! It was a lot of fun, even though we worked in distance.

Planetmosh: Your voices are very different – was it a challenge writing songs that would work with both voices?

Tarja: I don’t think she wrote her song thinking about my voice nor did I. It was challenging for me to sing a song that is out of my vocal range or not within the usual range I am singing on my songs, but I somewhat managed! I remember Doro telling me exactly the same thing. My song was a tough one for her, since it was too high for her range. That is always a challenge when you work with other singers.

Planetmosh: As well as the rock music you also do some classical such as your Harus project. Is it difficult vocally to switch between the two?

Tarja: I have to have enough time in between my rock concerts and classical concerts to get my voice relaxed, but after a classical concert I can immediately sing a rock concert. Not the other way around. The training for classical concerts is heavy and time consuming. For rock concerts I usually train more physically my body long in advance to hold longer healthy on tours.

Planetmosh: Looking at the cover versions from your albums and live shows – Poison, Still of the night, Livin on a prayer, Heaven is a place on earth, I notice they’re all 80s songs and mainly 80s rock. Is this the sort of music you like to listen to in your spare time or are they just chosen as they seem like a good fit with your show?

Tarja: Who does not love the 80´s? I was heavily influenced by the music of 80 when I was young and listening all these bands and artists at that time. Now I am just having a great time with my fans playing covers in the shows. They give totally different mood to the set list and I love doing them.

Planetmosh: Do you think there will come a time when you stop doing Nightwish songs in your live shows and only do your own solo material, or do you think fans will always want to hear you sing some of the Nightwish songs?

Tarja: Maybe on my next tours I will do some obscure songs that the band never or rarely played live, just to have fun. Maybe I won’t do any; maybe I’ll do four. To be honest, I don’t think that much about it as you might imagine.

Planetmosh: When you buy music, which do you prefer and why – CD or legal mp3 downloads ?

Tarja: I still love buying real CDs. I have a huge collection of CDs at home and I am still waiting to get an album in my hands from an artist I like. Sometimes it is not possible to find any CDs anymore in record stores, so I end up ordering them through websites like Amazon for example. I know how much time it takes to plan an artwork for the album, to design it. It is very important part of the whole album production to me and I love that part. I always put a lot of love and take time in designing an artwork for my albums, so I love to have an album in my hands.

Planetmosh: What was the last album you bought?

Tarja: Batman: the dark knight rises soundtrack.

Planetmosh: Thank you for your time.

About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.