Editor’s Note: “From Spirits and Ghosts(Score For A Dark Christmas)” by Tarja Turunen is one of my favorite albums of the year. It takes various Christmas classics and it offers up a completely different interpretation of the music. Tarja takes joyous holiday tunes and offers up her interpretation where there is a loneliness in the air about them. Tarja sits down with Madness To Creation to discuss this album, along with her favorite Christmas traditions, and what Christmas means for the downtrodden and lonely people. Enjoy this interview with Tarja!
Madness To Creation: What came about with the idea of creating a fresh new take on some of the holiday classics?
Tarja: Yes. I totally didn’t want to work on a traditional Christmas record, since I already have released one before. That first Christmas album of mine was released only in Finland in 2006, so this time when I started working on the new record, I definitely wanted to approach it differently. Choosing the internationally known Christmas songs was pretty easy for me since I have been making several Christmas tours and my repertoire on those tours have been constantly changing. I chose the songs that could make the album interesting for the listeners and songs that suit my voice the best, obviously. My inspiration still today comes a lot from movies and sound tracks, so I wanted the album sound like a movie score. Each one of the songs could well be on a some sort of Christmas movie…perhaps even a horror one! On the album, I explored the other side of Christmas. The Christmas of the lonely people and the missing ones. The Christmas for those that do not find joy in the blinking lights and the jingle bells. That’s why the darker approach.
Madness To Creation: I absolutely love your voice, it is incredible and angelic, what training do you go through for your voice?
Tarja: Oh man…many years of education behind me! I started learning classical singing when I was 15 with a particular teacher, after that I got into a music conservatory for 3 years. Then when those studies were over, I applied to Sibelius Academy in Finland where I studied 4 years and soon after those years finished my University studies in the Music University in Karlsruhe Germany. For 3 years more. So….I am classically trained lyrical soprano specialized in Lied singing form. My training never ends. I need to practice and exercise daily in order to maintain a good singing condition. It doesn’t matter if I am on rock tour or at home. It is the same situation. My voice makes me sacrifice few things in life, but to be a singer like me, it is a way of life.
M.T.C.: What advice do you have for aspiring singers?
Tarja: If you think you have a talent for singing, it is in some point good that you go and sing for a professional in order to get another opinion about your voice. Your own ears might not be always enough especially if you want to make progress. Sometimes it is absolutely important to get a wider view in things. Music is an art form and if you can work with it, you should know you are privileged. Staying humble and working hard gets you to the place you want to go.
M.T.C.: You are touring South America, Czech Republic, and Ukraine! What can fans expect from this tour?
Tarja: In South America I am touring still with my current rock album “The Shadow Self” and after this tour I will have couple of symphonic concerts there with an orchestra and choir. These concerts are part of the Finland 100 years celebration so the program is based in Finnish classical songs. After these concerts I will start my Christmas tour where I am performing the whole new Christmas album with orchestra and choir among other songs.
MUEN: I love the video to “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”, what is your take on that song, and how did you utilize your artistry in your approach to the song and video?
Tarja: I got inspired by Enya’s version of the song actually. I loved the gospel kind of feeling in her cover, but wanted myself to make it more cinematographic. The looks on the video is connected to my love for movies as well. I created the two characters who bring you the two sides of Christmas, the lighter and the darker one. As in everything in life, there is another side of the coin in Christmas too. It is not the happiest time of the year for many of us.
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by Tarja Turunen
M.T.C.: What was the most interesting aspect about working with Emmy award winner Jim Dooley?
Tarja: For a long time I had wanted to work on an cinematographic, symphonic album like this with Jim. I know him personally already for many years, since he has always been involved on my rock records making the orchestral arrangements for them. So I know his talent and what he is capable of doing. It was anyway super challenging to make these songs sound the way they do, because he needed to think them completely through. He made amazing job I have to say. Hopefully one day we can repeat this experience with another score kind of album. I would love that.
M.T.C.: “Feliz Navidad” is beautiful, I legit teared up at the outro, what did Tim Palmer bring to the table for this album?
Tarja: Tim Palmer mixed the album. He is very talented and works especially well with my vocals, making me sound always very good. As he has been mixing my last rock records, it was the first time I worked with him an orchestral album like this. At the same time as the process was challenging, it was fulfilling.
“Feliz Navidad” by Tarja here!
M.T.C.: Further thoughts in regards to the album “from Spirits and Ghosts(Score for a Dark Christmas)”.
Tarja: Go and get it! It’s definitely a different kind of Xmas album, so it might surprise you positively.
M.T.C.: Anything else you would like to add in regards to where people can find you and a message to the fans.
Tarja: Just want to thank you all for the support and love. Hope to see you on the road one day! Love you all.
And there you have it! Tarja will be playing several shows in the Czech Republic and Ukraine in support of “From Spirits And Ghosts(Score For A Dark Christmas)”. Check out the tour dates below!
Monday, December 11th- Vystaviste Flora in Olomouc, Czech Republic
Tuesday, December 12th- Kongresove centrum Praha in Prague, Czech Republic
Thursday, December 21st- October Palace in Kyiv, Ukraine