Interview with Tarja Turunen: weird sports, health issues and Nightwish
Soprano Tarja Turunen has spent over two decades merging the worlds of metal and classical. She made a name for herself as the singer of Nightwish and, following her very public dismissal in 2005, launched her solo career. Last year she released her first book, Sing in my blood, and featured an electronic side project, Outlanders. There’s very little Tarja can’t handle, but now she faces her biggest challenge: your questions.
Have you ever smashed a wine glass with your voice, deliberately or accidentally?
Kelly Trueman (Facebook)
“I did it with a lamp. I was in a music school and I was vocalizing in the rehearsal room. There was a light that had a problem; when I touched certain frequencies, it started [makes a high buzzing noise]. I started playing with it, going up and down at a really loud volume, and it just popped. I was so happy that I ran down the stairs and shouted to my friends, ‘Oh my God! I just broke a light with my voice! Come and see, it doesn’t work anymore!’”
Who is the most surprising person you have found a fan?
Debbie Bone (email)
“The writer Paulo Coelho. I’ve been a fan of his books ever since I discovered the alchemist, his first book. I wrote to him because I was interested in using his text for Outlanders. His response came back like a boomerang, and he said, ‘My muse! Oh my God!’ We have stayed in touch ever since. »
You revealed in your book that you had a stroke in 2018. How scary was that incident and did it have any lasting effects?
Marie Guest (email)
“Luckily it didn’t have any lasting effects, but it did have an effect on me. It took me more or less a year to recover. Seriously, I was scared. Every morning I got up and every night I fell asleep thinking about it. This fear is horrible because it made me realize in this fraction [of a second], I could have lost everything. I sought help, talking to a mentor every week. It was such a shock that I had this stroke because I thought I was leading a healthy life and taking care of myself.
What was the most memorable or unique place you performed in?
“I was playing with a symphony orchestra in Plovdiv [in Bulgaria]it was in an outdoor amphitheater [The Roman theatre of Philippopolis], a very historic place. I get gifts from my fans and there are a lot of talented people among them. One of them sent me a painting that was from that concert and they captured it; my face, my hair, this amphitheater. I have it on my wall in my work room.
If you could give someone an album that best illustrates Tarja Turunen, what would it be?
Sam Peterson (Facebook)
“I would go with my last album [2019’s In The Raw]. That tells you who I am
the moment. Right after the stroke, I started writing the lyrics for the album and that’s why I chose this album – it’s absolutely raw. The whole process was very therapeutic, I thought I was not able to do it. When I first sat down with my computer, it was just a blank screen in front of me. I had all the doubts in the world, but I succeeded.
What’s your favorite flavor of Monster Munch?
“What is Monster Munch?”
Hammer: During all the time you toured in the UK, nobody bought you
a packet of Monster Munch?
“I need to Google this. These things have gluten, don’t they? I’m allergic to gluten. My diet is pretty boring but there are a lot of gluten-free products today. I don’t suffer from gluten. all.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you want to sing in the Eurovision Song Contest final?
Billy McGivern (email)
“If one is not at all, and 10 is absolutely, I would say less than one. I’m not at all interested and have been asked several times [as a solo artist]. I participated in Nightwish once [in 2000] – it was not my wish, but we did it. We reached the final in Finland, but the jury eliminated us. The song was called Somnambulist. It really wasn’t something I dreamed of doing, but it worked out well for the band. We got the votes from the Finnish public, they liked us, so the band gave it good publicity.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you on stage?
Billy Gibson (Facebook)
“It happened in Nightwish. Very early, maybe 2000 or something. My pants were this PVC material, non-breathable, really horrible. I was sweating like a pig in those pants. The zipper went off. completely open in the front and I kept singing like ‘What am I doing, what am I doing?’ until the song was over. I ran backstage to find some duct tape – seriously, duct tape – to match my shiny PVC pants. It didn’t stick, and I returned to the stage and I sang the rest of the concert with a towel in front. My panties were yellow. Like really? That day, I needed to put on yellow panties?”
What is the hardest song to sing live?
“deep purple, he has such a range, it is very demanding. I really need to concentrate when I sing this song. It’s been a long time since I’ve sung it – it was on the setlist many years ago. But I should take it just to see where I stand vocally. I kinda appreciate the fact that not everyone can sing my songs!
Kitee is the moonlight capital of Finland. What shocked you the most about moonshine?
Mr Stuff and Nonsense (Facebook)
“In fact, I’ve tried – tasted – it only once in my life. It’s a very strong alcohol, like a vodka which was illegal at the time.
Hammer: So you never got screwed on moonshine?
What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever read about yourself in the press?
Jan Opie (email)
“There are plenty! The one that touched me the most was being called ‘diva’.
I don’t feel like a diva at all, and people who really know me are hopefully with me on this! I may have been misunderstood. »
Hammer: When did you see yourself described as such?
“When I was fired from Nightwish, from my former colleagues. I was able to do a lot of TV work in Finland [Tarja is a judge on Finnish version of The Voice] and people have really seen who I am, there’s no wrong when the cameras are around you all the time.
[Nightwish leader and songwriter] Tuomas Holpainen told metal hammer he was grateful to you for emailing him after his father died. Have you exchanged Christmas cards this year?
Sally S, via email
“He did say thank you but no, we didn’t write Christmas cards…”
Hammer: Do you have a friendly relationship now?
“I sang with [ex-Nightwish bassist] Marko Hietala for many years and he apologized to me in person. He is the only one to have done this. We have to clean the table. But with Tuomas, it sends e-mails from time to time, but not more than that.
According to the internet, rubber boot throwing, swamp football, and woman’s carry are all real sports in Finland. Have you tried any of them?
Dave Mardwell (Facebook)
“People attend these events and it’s cracking, but I’ve never been to them. Of course, I’ve done these things with my friends at parties. We carried each other, women carried women and men wearing men… And I’m a football fan. I support San Lorenzo, an Argentinian football team… but not in a swamp.
Will you still be doing this when you’re 70, or will you be retired by then?
Sami Nieminen (Facebook)
“Absolutely yes, if there is no serious health issue. I love music and I am a performer, those moments I share with my audience are the moments I live for. Look at artists like Paul McCartney. They don’t need economic support, but they still love touring and making music. It’s in them, making them breathe. I want to be there too one day and say I lived a happy life, with music because music gave me life.
Sing in my blood is out now, published by Rocket 88