Fireworks

Tarja Turunen Studio Report

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Forged from a dynamic mix of opera and newfound, metallic grit, Tarja Turunen’s forthcoming album already looks set to rival her critically acclaimed debut. Featuring the mixing talents of Colin Richardson, this groundbreaking project is rapidly nearing completion. Faye Coulman from Fireworks Magazine stopped by the studio for an exclusive dose of the Finnish soprano’s latest findings.

 

Nestled in a rather dingy, urban back street, Camden’s prestigious Miloco Studios prove that appearances can be deceiving. Further surprises unfold as Tarja presents genre-defying cuts from the hotly anticipated ‘What Lies Beneath.’ Uniting influences from metal to James Bond movies, the singer’s first steps in music production have yielded breathtaking results.

 

“There are so many things that I’ve learned during this process,” Tarja enthuses with a warm smile. “I don’t know whether you can call me a producer, but producing my album from scratch right until the end has left me facing a lot of tough decisions. It was hard to draw a line at times and decide whether it was good enough. You know… Is this right? Is this the end? Is this the take? But now it’s great to know that the songs are there and to see them come alive. During recording, each part had to be complete within three to four takes because I am a perfectionist in that, by the time I arrive at the studio, the songs are already half done. And I have to live with it,” she laughs.

 

While her first solo offering remains an indisputable breakthrough, Tarja’s trademark sound has since dramatically matured. “I feel that ‘My Winter Storm’ lacked something in production, because of course I was not the one making decisions. But that doesn’t change the fact that I will always love the album. It was a new beginning for me in so many ways after a long career in a band, and then suddenly being around all these new people who I didn’t know in advance. I was so shy and unbelievably nervous, but now I’m finally doing my thing. It’s a huge step forward for me and Colin is absolutely the right person to mix the album, especially given his experience in the field of heavy metal. I’m a big fan of his work and particularly love the material he’s done for Slipknot. Alex [Scholpp] is also a very good guitar player so it was really easy to put the guitar tracks down straight away. The results are definitely speaking.”

 

Courtesy of metal aficionado Colin Richardson, ‘What Lies Beneath’ does indeed deliver a whiff of Iowa’s infamous nine-piece, showcasing explosive grooves and multi-textured shredding. Perhaps Tarja’s heaviest outing to date, ‘Little Lies’ is a particularly riff-laden affair, co-written with guitarist Alex Scholpp. Accompanied by a 40-piece choir, guest appearances and an improvised piano solo, ‘…Beneath’ demonstrates an unmistakably mature, fearless approach to songwriting.

 

“It’s been really important to be crazily brave on this album. I think for many people it’s hard to think of me as a professional and also working in heavy metal. The whole picture of me doing music on my own is pretty weird I suppose. But I’m realising that I want to learn more and more from other professionals like Colin. When people listen to the album, I think they will hear a more mature side of me, as a very strong, confident woman in rock. This will definitely be coming through in the music for people to hear and get touched, so ‘What Lies Beneath’ is all about my love of music and life, which is such a gift. There’s also a lot of personal stuff on this album for the very first time, which was kind of scary, but it was all part of the creative process. I think that ‘In For A Kill,’ captures my current sound particularly well, with its heavy riffing and orchestral influences. These are the elements that I will definitely continue using for future productions.”

 

Complex in lyrical and musical terms alike, ‘What Lies Beneath’ was born from an intriguing concept. “I actually came up with the title two years ago from a song about a water nymph named Naiad. I made up a fantasy story around the character and her underwater kingdom. The idea became so important to me and it was very inspiring to write not only about what lies beneath the surface of the water, but what lies hidden in each and every one of us. For example, ‘River Of Loss’ is about a very powerful man who everyone respects, but is in fact a child abuser. It’s possible to live with a person for many years and suddenly discover a dark side that you never knew existed.”

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