Author: Silvia Deurwaarder
There are moments in life for which you are longing, no matter how short they give you a feeling you want to hold on to forever. This is the case with the interview with Nightwish; who literally showed me another world with the release of ‘Over the hills and far away’. The success of the band from Kitee, Finland seems as much of a fairytale as the world they create with their music. They established themselves with early adaptors with the release of ‘Wishmaster’, but the commercial success came with the album ‘Century Child’. This album was in many ways the turning point for the band and with the release of ‘Once’ they have reached yet another height in the fairytale called Nightwish.
The interview with Tarja will be a moment of pause to look back but also forwards. Don’t expect a elaborate background story, but a emotional story of singer who still dares to dream. Tarja walks in hastily and apologises for arriving to late. There were some trouble with the van which was to drive the band form a signing session in Nijmegen to the festival. Still she looks fit, no thanks to the tensions concerning the show of that evening. “This festival is very strict and we have only one hour. Too much fireworks have been ordered, so all songs will be full of it.” The show on Dynamo Open Air this evening will be the kick off for the ‘Once’ tour which will last until the end of 2005. They will play many familiar songs but also some new ones to see how the audience reacts to them.
The singer of Nightwish has a very clear opinion about performing on festivals and speaks about it energetically (she even takes her sunglasses of for it). “Of course we prefer concerts, but they both have their plus points. Especially with concerts you can rely on the technique. With a festival there are loads of people to see you, you loose time with the sound check and uncertain about how the show will go you enter the stage. Still, the first song has to be perfect, but it is always nice to see so many different people have come to see us. It feels great to see familiar faces in the audience; that is fantastic”
Tarja talks soft to save her voice. She has picked the corner of the dressing room farthest from the stage but still the sounds from Children of Bodom reach us, we can clearly hear they are finishing their show at this time. She moves closer to be able to keep speaking with such a soft voice.
Regularly she apologises to either blow her nose or take a sip of water. “No, I don’t have a cold but my voice is my weakness, because it is my instrument I have to be very careful with it.” Now and then band members walk in, they all seem very busy. Tarja explains that their will be another signing session at the festival later on and their not really looking forward to it because they expect a huge crowd."
With ‘Once’ the band has proven again to be able to easily extend the famous Nightwish sound with new elements. Tarja smiles proudly after this remark. “Yes of course we will stay the Nightwish you’re used to, but I think the band has more of a live sound with these heavy guitar riffs. It is more grand as well, due to the cooperation of the ‘London Symphonic Orchestra’ with which we created an entire new world of sound. There’s les keyboard in the songs now but on the other hand it is still easy to listen to”
After a silence in which she stares pensively she ads: “I think it’s amazing, hopefully we’ll grow more and more in the future."
With this said, the dreamy side of Tarja surfaces. With passion she talks about the classical world she is in now. “Since our start in 1997 we have been able to reach more people with each album and that is great. Al of a sudden we have so much success you almost don’t dare to dream anymore”.
Choosing her words carefully she continues: “It may be funny to say but it really is a dream come true. It all went so fast and we’ll just keep on going following our dream one way or the other.”
Still everything has it’s downside. Tarja also feels there are two sides to all things and she obviously has trouble getting used to the fame: “it is hard to handle the success. In Finland for instance I can’t walk down the street without being recognised or being stopped for an autograph. It is funny that we sell more over there than Britney Spears. It is hard for it is an honour of course but it is not easy to live with these two faces. Oh well I can’t complain, it is my profession and I’ve got the chance to make music.”
What keeps her going? A smile appears and without any doubt she says: the classical music and Nightwish. After this there is no holding her for she really wants to tell about her enthusiasm for the combination of these two styles of music.
“Those two go hand in hand. When I grow in classical music, I grow in Nightwish and the other way round. It is the same media but still in two different worlds. With classical music I have no sound amplifiers and I feel totally naked, then I have to give myself more because you hear my real voice. You’re a singer every day, you get sick easy and there are many things I have to take care of, it is a lifestyle.”
Still the conversation leads us back to ‘Once’. Tarja dampens her voice and Is careful about the message the album is carrying. “Actually there is no message for all songs, more than on the other albums, are separate songs. They are mostly songs which come from the diary of Tuomas. He is no big fan of a concept album or telling people how to live their lives. It is about sharing emotions. If you listen to the radio these days there is hardly any music which touches me and I need that. We really want to share our emotions.”
According to Tarja the source of inspirations is the inner world of Tuomas, who is sitting opposite of her and doesn’t want to say much about it. The question comes to mind whether it is not hard for him to translate his emotions in to a song. Tarja thinks about this and then nods.
“He is very open in his music. He tells what he really feels. You can read the lyrics and that will be enough. I try to feel that and reflect these emotions. Some songs are easier than others of course, but I interpret them in my own way. It is the soul of everybody in the band.”
When making the album these emotions surface again: “Everybody makes their arrangements for a song. We all talk it over with Tuomas and usually I am the last one to go to the studio, but the rest of the band really works hard together. We have a very strong connection.”
According to Tarja the contribution of the new bassist Marco, who first appeared on Century Child, has to do with this as well. “We are really close now and you notice this when you see us on stage.”
Tarja laughs at the question to take a peek in to the future. “We are booked full until the end of 2005. Tuomas will keep on writing, he is probably thinking about his musical ideas now, for he is very close to his lifestyle now and we will see how tired we are when we get back. Of course the story continues … If we don’t get sick of each other during our tour” she ads laughing.
We'd like to thank Tarja, Nuclear Blast, Janis of Mojo concerts, Ewo, Toni and Nightwish.