HardRockChick: Your voice could fit into several genres of music- why did you go with metal?
Tarja Turunen: Today as a solo artist my music is not only heavy metal, but a kind of fusion of metal with contemporary classical music elements. I don’t either feel only being a heavy metal singer, because I am still working a lot with classical music and I got involved with metal quite late stage of my classical music studies. I have done metal and classical music for many years already and I want to keep on doing it because I love the combination of the beauty and the beast both in metal and in classical music. My voice requires a lot of work and I am constantly training it, because even when I sing metal, my vocals are based in lyrical singing techniques. I believe that I am good at doing what I do and I feel that people have accepted the fact of me being a different kind of singer, crossing and breaking the borders of music in general.
HRC: Did you listen to hard rock / metal growing up, and do you still listen to it? Who are your favorites?
“Guns ‘N Roses, Alice Cooper and Whitesnake, Queen and Madonna were the bands that I loved to listen at that time.”
TT: I have 7 years older brother who was very keen on listening hard rock when he was young. I had my part of it naturally when I was just a little girl! But since I started my classical musical studies when I was 6, my interest was more in classical music at that time. I was still listening various kind of music actually, from pop to rock, but not too much of metal. Guns ‘N Roses, Alice Cooper and Whitesnake, Queen and Madonna were the bands that I loved to listen at that time. My growing up was not much to do with ideas of rebellion, but I knew since I was very young that I wanted to become a professional musicians having supportive parents, they helped me to find my way.
Still today I listen various kind of music, it just mainly depends on my mood what I want to listen. I have a huge collection of classical music, film soundtracks and especially American metal at my home.
HRC: Who is your biggest influence musically, and who do you think you’ve influenced?
TT: I love Peter Gabriel, he is a genius. Especially I love his way of producing his records. He is putting a lot of love and passion into his art. Also Brazilian writer Paolo Coelho is a great inspiration for me. I love the way he writes about dreams.
I have been told many times that I’ve been an influence for female singers in metal genre. For example Simone Simmons from Epica has told me directly herself that she wanted to do something similar when she heard and saw me singing. It’s honesty quite flattering to think that some one could think of me being a role model for her, since for me there hasn’t really been any woman that I could have followed or learned from when I started singing metal. Instead of course the beautiful vocal couches that I have been blessed with during my studies in classical music.
HRC: What challenges have you faced transitioning to being a solo artist?
“The biggest challenge was for me to be able to be brave and start writing songs on my own, since I didn’t write songs for the band.”
TT: The biggest challenge was for me to be able to be brave and start writing songs on my own, since I didn’t write songs for the band. To find what I wanted to tell, why and how. There is also a lot more responsibility involved while being on a solo career, since all the answers are expected to be coming from me, but I don’t feel that as a pressure. It’s actually quite liberating. I feel very free today as an artist and that is truly a gift given.
HRC: What do you miss about being in Nightwish?
TT: I wouldn’t say I miss being in Nightwish nor anything from that time that I don’t have nowadays.
HRC: What is your favorite song from your new album and why?
TT: All the songs are my “babies”, so it’s really tough to mention only one of them as a best song. They all have a reason to be part of my album and they are all connected with the theme of an album “ What Lies Beneath”. Depends a lot of my mood which song I would like to hear and when. Now for example when I feel that I should get some energy for the day, I would go and listen “Dark Star”. It’s really rocking and energetic!
HRC: You’ve done a Christmas album in the past and do a yearly Christmas tour; what is the allure for artists like yourself in putting their interpretation on Christmas material?
“I love performing in churches where the atmosphere is completely different than in rock clubs and where I can hear my voice reaching the listeners.”
TT: It’s very common in Finland to see many local artists making Xmas albums and tours every year. So I am not an exception! Xmas for me means a time of a year when I can be with my family and friends and that there is no need to work, but stay quiet and enjoy the love of my closed ones. I don’t live anymore in Finland, so it’s very important that I can share some time with my family at times and Xmas definitely is the time for it.
I enjoy performing classical music, since I have been studying it for many years. I started with my musical studies already when I was six and since then I’ve been following classical music genre closely. Christmas music contains surely songs outside of classical music, but my idea of performing Xmas songs, is more or less linked with classical music. I have quite steady line up in Finland with whom I am performing again in the end of this year. It consists organist, electric guitar player and percussionist. I love performing in churches where the atmosphere is completely different than in rock clubs and where I can hear my voice reaching the listeners. Maybe also is a fact that after a long, exhausting year, it’s nice to start thinking about the end of it with relaxing spiritual music.
HRC: How did your guest appearance on the Scorpions album come about?
TT: I got the invitation from the band and their management did the contact. After only few emails, I already received a phone call from Klaus Meine and it was thrilling to talk to him directly about the song and hear the band’s wishes having me singing on their album. At the time when I was recording the song, I was not aware that the song was going to be their first single and that the album was meant to be the bands last studio album. I got totally shocked afterwards when I got to hear about it! I am very honored to be part of their album and very thrilled by their recognition.
HRC: Do you ever feel like being an attractive woman in metal detracts focus from your talent?
TT: It’s very funny to see and hear that people think of me being an attractive woman, because to be honest, it’s a quite tough job to keep myself in good condition! I am constantly doing exercises. I have been really respected in metal and classical genre since I started long time ago, so I have never been treated bad or considered only because of my looks.
I am a perfectionist when it comes to my vocals and my voice requires a lot of work from me daily so I really believe people are fully aware of it.
HRC: What’s something totally unrelated to music that’s been on your mind lately?
TT: Scuba diving and holidays! Oh, I am really looking forward that in next January I will be diving into crystal clear blue waters somewhere in the world with my husband. It’s been a while since we had our last holiday, so it’s worth to wait.