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Interview with Tarja Turunen (ex Nightwish)

30 Noiembrie 2005
de Horia Diaconescu, Ioan Cora, Mihai Plamadeala

"There will be a day that I might understand better 
 the value of all those amazing awards that Nightwish 
 has achieved during nine years of career.

Despre Nightwish se poate vorbi ca despre cel mai bine vandut grup rock al Finlandei. Nu ne referim numai la numeroasele discuri de aur si platina primite in Europa, America de Sud si Japonia. Ci la initierea si sustinerea trendului care a relansat exportul muzical pop al tarii celor o mie de lacuri. Recenta despartire a grupului de soprana Tarja Turunen este unul din principalele evenimente comentate de presa rock din Europa. La sugestia noastra, Tarja a fost de acord sa evitam acest subiect, de altfel prezentat in conferinte de presa oficiale si mediatizat in consecinta. Cu ajutorul artistei, am dorit sa schitam un profil al Tarjei Turunen, care in curand se va afla in Romania, de data aceasta cu un recital de Craciun, la Sibiu (din program: Mozart, Bach, Abba, Schubert, Sibelius, cantece traditionale, Nightwish etc.). Multumiri si domnului Marcelo Cabuli (manager si sot) pentru asistenta acordata in realizarea acestui interviu.

Ne-a facut placere sa discutam cu Tarja si pentru faptul ca ne-am amintit ca rock-ul cu accente metalice poate fi sexy sau inocent. Ne-a bucurat si alegerea piticului favorit al Albei ca Zapada. Chiar daca Horia pariase pe Mutulica si Ioan pe Morocanos...

Discografie Tarja Turunen

NIGHTWISH - Angels fall first (1997)
NIGHTWISH - Oceanborn (1998)
NIGHTWISH - Wishmaster (2000)
NIGHTWISH - From wishes to eternity (live, 2001)
NIGHTWISH - Over the hills and far away (ep, 2001)
BETO VASQUEZ INFINITY - Beto Vasquez Infinity (2001)
BETO VASQUEZ INFINITY - Battle of Valmourt (ep, 2001)
BETO VASQUEZ INFINITY - Wizard (ep, 2002)
NIGHTWISH - Century child (2002)
NIGHTWISH - End of innocence (dvd, 2003)
NIGHTWISH - Once (2004)
TARJA TURUNEN - Yhden enkelin unelma (single, 2004)
MARTIN KESICI with TARJA TURUNEN - Leaving you for me (single, 2004)
NIGHTWISH - Highest hopes (best of, 2005)

Tarja Turunen - pagina oficiala
Muzici si Faze / Nightwish la Bucuresti

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Descarca mesajul Tarjei Turunen
pentru cititorii Muzici si Faze



01. Many people appreciate you as the voice of Nightwish, others simply know you as a rock diva or a feminine star. Who is Tarja Turunen behind or beyond this public image?

          I am a person that is trying to be honest to myself and to my affects. People around me, even the neighbours, know that I am a quiet shy woman. I enjoy listening to people rather than being in the middle of attention. I love to perform and to be on the stage but that stardom is very far away from me when I am living my life in private. As a Leo that I am, I enjoy good company, great food. I am always trying to make things happen the best way possible so that the people close to me could enjoy and be happy.

You had the major role in creating the musical success of Nightwish, which turned to be a real "trademark" if we may say so. Not to mention the good publicity Finnish rock scene had through your work. What have been several of the most important musical achievements of your career? 

          It was a couple of years ago when I realized that I could sing the songs of Nightwish without major problems. It took me many years to learn how to use my voice in that kind of music and mostly the problems at the beginning existed on stage while I was performing with the band. There was no one to help me with the technical problems, so I needed to find the solutions on my own. 
          The whole career of Nightwish has been a long learning process where I was trying to make progress as a singer. It was very challenging and interesting.
          It felt great to receive the first gold record award from Finland in 2000. There will be a day that I might understand better the value of all those amazing awards that Nightwish has achieved during nine years of career.

You started your musical career at a very young age (18) and rather inexperienced. Will you please point several specific high-points and major experiences that turned to be very important for your personal becoming as a professional musician.  

          When I was in a music high school, I got from my first singing exam excellent degree. I was the first student in that conservatoire of music to achieve that. My first singing teacher saw a talent for classical singing in me and she was pushing me to continue with it after the school. She encouraged me and I made my decision to continue my singing studies. 
          After the high school I got in the only Music University of Finland, Sibelius Academy and that was my dream come true. I knew that there was no turning back; I was studying to become a professional singer.

04. Could you tell us which direction is your solo career going to take from now on. You already tour with classical repertoire for some years. However, should we expect you to release (on a regular basis) albums  oriented towards pop music, for example, or will you continue in the "rock / metal" world?

          I see myself as a singer, not a particular cathegorized singer doing only one kind of music style. Now many people are thinking that I will be only making Opera since I have been doing classical music for so long, even before Nightwish and also during the band’s career. I will definitely be making classical concerts or taking part in Opera productions in the future, but this doesn't mean that I will be making ONLY classical music.
          Nightwish gave me a huge life experience in many ways. It introduced me into metal music and I was accepted in this genre, as myself, no matter what my background was. I learned to like some bands, sounds and elements of metal in my long career with this music style. This means me so much that I just cannot throw it to the garbage. I will use some elements, sound wise from metal in my solo albums. This doesn't mean still that I will be making a metal album! By combining these elements with my voice and a classical orchestra I will reach a bombastic sound and that is something I would love to hear. That sound does not exist in a music market nowadays. 
          Production wise my goal is very ambitious and I will need help from many musicians and producers.

a.  Two years ago when we talked backstage after a Nightwish concert in Münich, we recall you feeling great with the “voluptuous heavy guitar sound” (as you described it) and telling it actually took you some years to learn enjoy this properly. What does a guitar sound and a head-banging crowd offer to a musician who also says its favourite composition is Von ewiger Liebe by Brahms? 

          It was amazing to perform with Nightwish. Even though my voice is not common in rock scene, it has been always me singing through my heart and soul. We were making a show where you could see all the differences of our personalities. The fans and great concerts gave me the energy to perform the way I did. I felt connected with the head-banging audience and founded myself on stage following the same habits!
          The people gave me huge support and love during the concerts and this was easy to feel. I have sometimes thought that there was an amazing magic between the people and me. We were just exchanging energies and feelings. Those concerts with Nightwish I will mostly miss in my future.
          The electric guitar and full sound of bass and drums are very welcome in my life, as well as a lied piece. Both, in a very different way can suit me. Maybe is easier to understand that a lovely tune, very calm and relaxing is close to beauty, but I have learned to find the beauty in both music styles. And not all rock is fine for me and not all classical I like.

As long as there is Bach, Brahms, Mozart… does it really matter what happens in the rock world?

          It really matters me a lot. I love classical music, works from many composers but rock music is a different scene. I have been a big part of a rock scene in the last years and the experience was great. I have always liked to listen various kind of music styles, it only depends on my mood what I want to listen and when. These great classical composers from our early days are part of our history and they will always remain there. 

a. It is premature to ask you now about a future album as Tarja Turunen. But your public may be interested to know what kind of composers and musicians you intend to collaborate with. 

          It is too early to mention names for musicians. I am starting to work for my first solo album next year and this will be a time taking process. 

b. However, will you also attempt to develop into the composition field?

          I am going to search songs from different composers, but not composing myself because I don´t have an experience from that field and it feels too far away thought. I think this time I will be doing lyrics in some songs and of course arranging the songs. The album itself will be a very ambitious project.

07. Something that many of your fans wonder about: what is your vocal range?

          I am a lyrical soprano, with 3 octaves vocal range.

08. It is known that F’’# is the most challenging note for sopranos. How do you cope with the F’’# and how long can you hold it?

          I am not a coloratura soprano and this F# is very way too high note for me. I can only just sing it when I am vocalising.

09. Does the name of one of Romania’s biggest voices, Viorica Cortez, tell you something?

          I know that she is one of the most known singers from Romania, but I don´t have any of her recordings at home. Maybe this is a great chance to get some of them when I am coming soon to Romania to perform! 

10. Definitely... We would like to know how do you generally select the compositions you will sing and what are the lines of your choices: promoting works, putting your vocal abilities and personal note into evidence, thematic choices based on certain moods, ideas or concept? Please also comment the repertoire for the  concert you will soon have in Romania.

          It depends a lot of the time of the year the concerts are going to be held, but for my Christmas concerts, I chose songs that are Christmas orientated. I wanted also to think about my audience that there would be many people from kids to among them. There should be something for everyone in the program. Christmas is a time to be with the family and friends and also it is good to remember the real meaning of that special time. The songs that I am going to sing, are telling about all those things. Of course I wanted to create a program that is challenging also for me as a singer, because I want to develop and make progress in singing. Then I decided not just to include Classical pieces, but also some more pop and very known Christmas songs. 

11. It is believed that it’s hardly possible to succeed both as a pop-rock star and as a professional soprano. Not because the “genres” might be incompatible, but because being a classical performer requires full commitment in time and energy, while the competition in the field is incomparably harder. Rock scene virtually offered no rival to Nightwish as far as the female fronted bands are concerned. On a personal level, how do you handle this when trying to achieve best on both scenes? 

          In the beginning of Nightwish career, it was very hard for me to do both as good as possible. I was at the Music University studying classical singing and at the same time I needed to learn how to sing with a heavy metal band. There was no vocal couch to help me with my problems to sing Nightwish´s music. I needed to find the way on my own and that took many years. Nightwish got more successful after each album and during that career I continued taking singing lessons and making my own concerts. Nightwish was always the priority for me, so I made my concerts whenever I was not having tours with the band.
          In these nine years of career with the band, I grew as an artist and started to realize what kind of different things I can do as a singer. 

12. You have toured on four continents. Two “extremes” are notorious for their special attitude towards rock music: crazy Japan and fanatic South America. Will you please analyse and sketch the portrait of public from these two extremes, as seen from the musician’s perspective? 

          People in Latin countries in general are very emotional. They show their emotions so openly in concerts by singing, crying and with a great love and respect. For bands since ages, has been great to have a chance to perform in Latin countries, because the people are giving so much confident for them. Many countries of Latin America are very poor, so the local people don’t get many times chances to see bands from Europe, but when they do, they really show how much they are appreciating that.
          In Japan the people were great too. The funny thing what happened there during the concerts was that the people were singing and clapping during the song, but got totally silent after the band finished playing each song. Firstly we thought that they didn’t like us, but the same seemed to happen with many bands, so we realized that this was their way. The people in Japan are very polite and loyal to the bands.

13. If you accept a little game, that our readers enjoy, we will propose you a brief questionnaire in which we will ask you to choose solely based on your subjective inclination (or preference if the case). It is not a matter of hierarchy...


- Floria Tosca or Violetta?

          Floria Tosca.

- Dior or Kenzo?
 Or if it sounds more challenging… “classic” or “modern”?


- Beatles or Abba?


- Moonspell or Therion?


Your favourite Snow White's dwarf?


14. Is this the end of the beginning?

          In a way it is. Now I depend on myself. Let’s see what the future brings…

Thank you and good luck!

Interviewed by Horia Diaconescu, Ioan Cora, Mihai Plamadeala
November 2005


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