Ahead of the release of her seventh solo album, In The Raw, on August 30, we spoke to operatic powerhouse Tarja Turunen about collaborations, why she chose to get personal with her lyrics and much more.
Thanks for your time Tarja. You're about to release your seventh album, what can fans expect from it? Tarja: "Oh my God, that sounds like a lot, a lot of numbers [laughs]. It does sound pretty nice though... the seventh album... You might think that, when you listen to the album, that this is the heaviest album she has come up with so far but, the further you go within the album, you might find the most orchestrated album as well in my career. It's a very versatile album and very personal album so far for me as well. I'd go as far as saying it is the most personal album from me. I feel pretty confident with it, it was a task to deliver. It felt like a serious birth to deliver because afterwards I was so exhausted and I didn't know if I was capable of writing another song every again [laughs]. I feel full of energy again and I've played the first song at some festivals already and people have received it very well so it gives me a good vibe."
Here's Tarja with the dramatic video for the album track "Railroads":
Seven albums into your solo career, what did you want to achieve with this record that was different from the previous albums ? Tarja: "I actually don't think like that. I live in the moment so, when I write my songs, they come out like they do come out. They might be songs that, when I start crafting those songs, I go back into those demos or those ideas and, who knows, maybe just leave them on the side. Then it is about my personal feeling, the moment I'm living and what I want to say. Then it just comes together and starts to form. I never really go back to what I as doing before. I really, really live in the moment."
On this record you worked with Bjorn from Soilwork and Cristina from Lacuna Coil. Whaat was it like working with those guys and what do you think they added to their songs? Tarja: "A lot! Also Tommy from Kamelot. They added a lot. All of them are incredible singers. They are very unique with unique, recognisable voices and I've been a fan of them which is why they appear on the album. I feel very honoured, flattered and lucky to have their voices on my album. Always when I work on a collaboration I tend to give the singers a good space in my productions otherwise making a collaboration doesn't make any sense. They need to be well presented so I hope that I made that possible and they are happy about their songs. Tommy for example came up with 48 tracks of vocals and I couldn't believe it. I was crying like a baby listening to them. Everyone of them really poured their souls into my songs which I appreciate a lot. These songs wouldn't be the same without their contributions."
Tarja's seventh studio album "In The Raw" is out on August 30, 2019 and here's the dramatic artwork for the album:
What criteria did you have for people you collaborated with? Is there anyone else you would like to work with in the future ? Tarja: "I had these people in mind when I had the songs. Like the song "Goodbye Stranger", it's very different for me - it's just guitar, bass and drums - no keyboard or orchestra so it's very raw and as it is. I had Cristina in mind for a long time to do a song and this song was just written to be done with another woman. This kind of song talks to you and that's the reason you start thinking about who you could sing it with. Some songs, for example "Silent Masquerade", I did not write it as a duet at all. I wrote the song and didn't feel it as a duet at first. When I was in production with the orchestra and choir I realised that this needed to be a duet as that would make it fantastic and now it is."
You've described this album as very personal lyrically. Why did you choose to go down that path for this record ? Tarja: "I was never ready before. It wasn't the time for that. I needed to do it on this record. It was just that."
What did you get from opening yourself up on the lyrics of this record ? Tarja: "I kind of started the journey on the lyrics for my previous album. I started self-discovery and started to think can I be a better person or why I am such a perfectionist. Questioning myself. Why do I take so much stress about the future for example. Why? Why? Why? Everything is great! My life is filled with love. I am loved, I can love, I'm healthy, I cannot complain but why am I questioning things? It was about time for me to really look in deep and music was there for me and we are so god damn lucky we can do this. We have the exit whereas the majority of the people do not have an exit. It's a moment of life, the way i feel and where I am at."
It's been three years since your last work. How do you feel you have changed as a singer and a person over that time? Tarja: "As a singer, I am way better now [laughs]. Well, I am! I have been training like crazy. I do not know if turning forty has something to do with it. Since I turned forty, I kind of left the misery behind. I started living. I always remember when my mother turned forty and I was a little girl thinking she was so old but so beautiful at the same time. Now I am forty-two soon, I am thinking I am so young and vibrant and full of life but way more clever than before. I don't want to worry about things like before so I feel more confident for sure and I feel as a singer also that hitting those high notes has never been as easy as they are now."
You've worked with the likes of Bjorn and Cristina, do you keep in touch with the heavy music scene ? Tarja: "Unfortunately not so much. When you work so much in music as I do, you tend to lose track of what is happening. There are bands who I follow and, yes, I like to get their music or their news. For example bands like In Flames and Rammstein or Lacuna Coil. I follow their social media to keep track of what is happening with those bands but, as for new bands, don't ask me... it's very hard for me to get to know about new bands."
The album is out at the end of August, what are your plans after that ? Tarja: "The touring starts straight after the record is released and I go on a long tour. First in Russia in September, then in October in South America. November and December is classic concerts or Christmas concerts in Finland and in some other European countries and Russia. That's a long tour. January there is another tour and February is a European tour then March continues European tour and then it gets into festival season. A lot of touring then."
Thanks for your time Tarja and good luck with the album. Is there any final message to your fans ? Tarja: "Thank you so much for the support and the love and thank you for being there for all those incredible years. You've been there during the good and the bad and that's really amazing! See you all soon!"
While she may not follow the metal scene, Tarja still knows how to rock out as you'll hear on the track "Dead Promises":