Tarja: I live here, it is my home. It is lovely, very warm today. I live here and in Finland. I am still Finnish and have my Finnish passport. I am living partially in Finland and in Argentina. It is two different environments. I like the change.
The Gauntlet: Do you speak the language in Argentina?
Tarja: Yes, well a little bit. They speak Espanol. I speak it badly, but I try. Hopefully I will be touring in South America, as well as touring in the US. We are working on a US tour for this July. Let’s hope I will have some news on that soon.
The Gauntlet: Your solo album was just released in the US.
The Gauntlet: When you were with Nightwish, you never got a big push in the US. Did that make you nervous releasing the album in the US where you might be a bit unknown?
Tarja: I can’t believe how happy I am with Fontana and Universal. They really worked the album a lot before it came out in the US. Things really didn’t work well with the distribution in the USA for Nightwish. It takes time and it’s not easy, but now I am very very very very happy about the things to come. I need to tour the US and we are trying to put all these things together. I am so happy I got to work with and play with such amazing musicians on this album. Everything is working fine for me. It is really the beginning for me. The situation is very different for me here and now. I obviously don’t have as famous a name as Nightwish. There are many territories where I don’t have the name that Nightwish does.
The Gauntlet: Is it strange being this far along in your career and still referring to things as ‘the beginning?’
Tarja: In a way it is not strange. I am really happy as I am brave now. As a person I have learned a lot about music in general. As a musician it is great to learn new things. I have the knowledge of many things. In a way I can consider myself as a new artist, but the record company doesn’t consider me as a new artist and they don’t treat me that way. But in a way, it is a beginning for me. I am doing music that is new to me. It is now very personal. This is the first time my fans can hear me on the album and my music. It is also the first time for me to come up with songs on my own. This is big. It is a big difference and is more major in a way.
The Gauntlet: With Nightwish, you were pretty much told what to sing.
Tarja: Yes, in Nightwish I was not writing the songs, just arranging them and handling the vocal arraignments. Definitely “My Winter Storm” is a different thing as I had been there writing the songs themselves and the lyrics. In a way it is a newborn thing inside of me. I have been very shy to make music and to put out my melodies. It is a very new thing in my life and musical career.
The Gauntlet: Do you feel people will finally get to know you now that you are on your own now?
Tarja: In a way, I wasn’t nervous about it, but I was anxious to see if I could do it. I needed to prove to myself that I could do it, not to other people. I needed to prove I was able to do it. If I had been doing this all along, I don’t think I’d be afraid. Fortunately there were other songwriters supporting me and kicking my ass saying “c’mon girl! You are talented. You don’t need to be afraid.” I needed that kick and the support. That shyness inside me just disappeared. I let myself be open in my singing. In my personal life, I am a very sensitive girl. When I feel something, I feel so strongly. I am always thinking with my heart than with my [laughs] other things. I am always thinking with my heart. It is my life, and my life is music; I feel so much for it. It is fantastic to be able to play music. It is a bravery everyone needs to have.
The Gauntlet: I am a huge Alice Cooper fan. It always concerns me when I hear an artist is going to take a song that to me is a classic and put their spin on it.
Tarja: You know, crazy enough if you consider a woman singing it, it makes you wonder.
The Gauntlet: Yes, it becomes a totally different song.
Tarja: It was kind of a coincidence. I was alone in a car driving in Finland while listening to rock radio. I think the radio station played the song several times on my trip. It happened at a time I was thinking of covering a song. There were so many songs I was thinking of covering as you can imagine. So many different styles of songs too. Then it hit me, Alice Coopers “Poison.”
It brought back memories of being a teenager. Alice Cooper was important to me growing up. The song is a really special track and a legendary song with kickass guitar riffs that drive you. I started to play around with the crazy idea of me covering the song. I thought about leaving out the guitars and using cellos. Instead of a guitar solo, I’d have a cello solo. It would be a more spooky song this way. It was just me thinking in the car alone at night in Finland. The next day I called Universal Records in Germany and asked what they thought of me covering the song and they loved the idea. I was the only person trying to kick everybody’s ass. I could hear the sound I wanted from the musicians. And then it just happened. They just needed a little push. It was a great thing to do and I am very happy with the song.
If I were to do a cover for my next album, I am already working on the next album, I might do a duet. What is important to me is the song needs to reflect who I am. Even though the song has been done already by someone else, it must reflect who I am at that time. I need to do it the way I feel at that moment. Sometimes I listen to covers and they are just the same as the original.
The Gauntlet: So you identify with the lyrics to “Poison” as if it was written by you?
Tarja: Yes, spooky, it is very spooky for me. It is perfect for the concept of the album.
The Gauntlet: Being a classically trained singer, you must always keep your instrument in shape. Are you still training to become a better singer?
Tarja: Yeah. It’s quite like you said. I have a singing teacher here in Buenos Aires. Two days ago I had my last singing lesson. MY life and living is a singer so every day I must work hard to keep it in tune. It is a way of life for me. It gives me a lot to go on. I would never say I can sing without any mistakes or problems. Everyday my voice is different. It is very exciting though to be a singer. I am also a teacher. I have students here in Buenos Aires and I also learn a lot. The ages range from 16 to 38. I discover a lot of myself from teaching.
The Gauntlet: After seeing the video for “I Walk Alone”, I was expecting “Die Alive” to be a nice cheerful fantasy video, however it was much darker. You could have gone either way for the song though.
Tarja: I was working closely with the director. I had the story in my mind already with the animals. I love animals and didn’t like putting them in a bad light though. I had this crazy story in my mind and the director came up with the first proof and we worked on it together. I think the song tells about my life philosophy quite well because it is about how you really live your life every day. If you die tomorrow, you die alive as you have already been following your dreams and living life to the fullest. This is what I would fight for. I fight to live my dreams. The video was just a spooky story. I like the change to have the freedom to be able to have the stories in the videos, even though if it doesn’t match the real story of the song.
The Gauntlet: If you were to give your replacement in Nightwish, Annette, any advice, what would it be?
Tarja: Woah! I think she is doing pretty well of a job. I don’t know her as a person. For me, to give my advice to someone who took my place would not be clever. She is going to be facing many new things and challenges. She is at a moment where I was at that time. She knows what she does and that is the best thing. I wish her all the best from the bottom of my heart. I wish her all the love, success and health.