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TARJA (MAY 2019)

At a crossroads in her life as an artist and mother, the now serene Tarja returns to the genesis of her new album, very personal, in an interview of great sincerity.
PROGRACER - 09.08.2019
Last time we met, you told me to go to hell when I asked you one of our traditional questions, promising to do homework for the next time. Well, here we are: What is the question that no one has asked you and to which you would like to answer? 

(Laughs) (Hesitant)... Maybe: "Do you want to have lunch with me?" (Laughs) 

So let's go... What changes in your professional life have you made to enjoy your life as a mother and an artist? 

Actually, there's been a big change. When my daughter was born, she was a child on tour. I had no choice but to take her on tour with me for several years. During these four years, I got used to having her around all the time. And she got used to having me around. Now that she is in school, we can no longer live like this and there has been a void in my life for two years. But she's fine, she's perfect. She goes to school... 

But how do you feel about it?... 

I'm not fine. I miss this life but she lives a normal child's life, she loves her school, her friends. Life goes by quickly, especially with children. 

What have you changed in your life? 

I've written a lot about that, about my feelings, about my life. And "In The Raw" is a very personal album for me. It has everything to do with my family, my life, my love, my career, everything I am and where I am in life. Before I wasn't ready to expose myself so much, to put everything that makes up my life in an album.  

Often, the most personal titles are the strongest, the most intense? 

Yes, that's right. I think it was exactly this album that was supposed to come out. 

What was the turning point, because the last time you told us that being a mother didn't really influence you in writing? 

In fact, it is the case, because I write alone and I realize today that it has a huge impact because I write according to my feelings, my state of mind, what I experience, the impact is very strong. 

What have you changed in your professional life, tours etc.?

I don't want to go on tours as long as before anymore. I make sure it doesn't last more than two and a half weeks at most because I need to go back to my family. As a result, I rarely do more than 10 concerts without going back because I don't like being separated from them for too long. Of course, there is all this technology that can make you believe that you stay in touch with people but it's not like being with them and living together. But I would certainly suffer more if I knew my daughter in a worse situation, but everything is fine, she is happy and the world is ours. She's an amazing little girl, creative, and when I see her at home I thought, "um, at least I've done one amazing thing in my life." 

Still, are you missing something? 

She understands things, she tells me she doesn't want me to leave but she understands that I have to leave. 

She could influence your future as an artist if she asked you to stay close to her? 

It would make me very sad to have to stop. I'm a mother, but I'm an artist. This love for my daughter and my family feeds me every day. But not being an artist would really hurt me. I certainly wouldn't be the happy mother my family deserves.  

Have you ever talked about all this with Sharon (editor's note: Den Adel) who is experiencing something similar with her husband who no longer tours with Within Temptation to stay with their children? 

Yes, we have already talked about this and these are complicated situations.  

In your case, I suppose you must feel frustrated that you can't do what would be best for her. 

In a way yes, but it was still an excellent entry into the world to be able to bring it everywhere with me at first. This life has given him a lot of knowledge thanks to this. She is now so open-minded. Meeting people of different nationalities, different cultures has made her what she is today and I am happy to have been able to offer her this. 

With "The Shadow self", your previous album, you surprised your audience with original contributions in your songs, piano, growls, strange atmospheres. Are you still so satisfied with these risky choices? 

I started this introspective journey in me with "The Shadow Self". However, I hadn't dug deep enough into myself. Because at the end of last year, I felt very tired from all the tours, I was so busy... I was already writing the songs for "In The Raw" at the end of the tour and I was fine with it. But it was starting to get a little too much, physically and mentally, I felt exhausted. Just after Christmas, I wrote all the lyrics in January because I was unable to write on tour. 

How do you manage to write part of the album in the autumn and the rest three months later? 

The problem is, I have a crazy schedule. Everything is planned over two years, generally, a month here, a month there, it never stops!

Aren't you afraid of burnout? 

Yes, of course I do. I even have the feeling that I was even close to it. Having to write the lyrics in January was a form of pressure I felt, and I didn't like it at all.  

We imagine that in your position, you should sometimes be able to slow down and take some time to do things at your own pace... 

I wish it were that way!

But you make these choices? 

Yes, that's right. But on the other hand I need to have deadlines otherwise I tend to slow down too much. However, this fatigue made me realize some things I hadn't realized until now. It's an evil for a good thing, actually. 

We felt a darker atmosphere in this new album. Do you think that everything we have just mentioned is the reason? 

Yes, and somehow, that record cleaned me up.  This catharsis is paradoxical, because what puts pressure on you and exhausts you frees you, ultimately. While I was writing, I never went back on my texts. Everything flowed in one go and became obvious to me as soon as it was written. The same applies to production or recording. The drums were finished in only two takes on all the tracks... he's an excellent drummer, right? (Laughs). Everything was obvious. But I must say that once the writing was finished I felt like: "Never again will I write a song..." so much it emptied me. Since then I haven't approached my piano to compose anything. But that time will come back, I'm sure. Simply because you need a certain amount of pain to be able to create. 

It's paradoxical because it's probably your most personal album but also the darkest, isn't it? 

I have written a lot about time, the time we have left, not wasting our time, etc., and this principle strikes me in the face, in a very personal way. If my health deteriorates, what do I have left? I could lose everything. I want to feel good in my personal life, in my life as an artist. For that I must remain in control and remain free at the same time. This learning process is essential to progress. 

"In The Raw" will be released in August, as it's a very personal album, aren't you afraid that the audience will take it over less than the others? 

I have no more problems with that, no pressure. Now it is in the hands of the public. I'll leave it to them. Of course I hope it will please and that people will find my work inspiring. This is the joy of being an artist and of being open to people. There is always this madness of the artist who exposes himself to criticism and is afraid of it.

Have you gotten used to it? 

No, it's always interesting for me to hear people's opinions on my work, my albums, my songs.  

The album has a particular structure with three very metal tracks at the opening and four others much softer and more intimate. Is it important to you and does it illustrate that not everything that shines is gold? 

Yes, it's a journey. How I wrote the titles and the order in which they are presented is part of this journey. It is a whole, as illustrated by the cave of the cover, The cave Saint-Michel is the same story, everything is very connected to the story itself. Up to the very powerful intro riff that should shock and set you in the story. As for the heart of the album, it's not rock or metal but it has everything to do with me, my love of music and who I am. 

This aspect of your music is very cinematographic, would you be interested one day to write for the cinema? 

In fact, there have already been several opportunities of this type but they have not been successful because of the production of the films in question. An independent company approached me for this purpose. I think I would really like it, to spread my wings to another musical horizon one day, to do something with choirs, that would disconnect me

"You and I" is a more refined track where the instruments are there to highlight your crystalline voice. Do you realize that this unique voice differentiates you from all other artists? 

Wow! Thank you! You know, when I record in my own studio, it's usually in three or four takes maximum. As a composer and performer, as a storyteller, I have to put colour and emotion into my songs in order to convey the emotions I want. There is this moment when the voice is exactly what I was trying to express. The previous or next versions on stage are never the same. For this song, on stage, I am alone at the piano in order to restore exactly this emotion to the audience. It is indeed a particular and very intimate song and it is very important for me to share this connection with my audience on stage.  

How do you find this balance between power and emotion? 

It's very easy for me, almost natural.  

Since you started? 

No, now it is. When I was young, I was afraid that I would no longer be able to use that voice as I wanted or lose it temporarily. I no longer have this worry and I can give all the emotion or strength when I want. I lost that fear of not being perfect.  

Is it because you know you no longer have anything to prove with this great career? 

No, it's not that. Music must speak. I say to myself, "That's what I have, that's it! Take it or leave it!" (Laughs) 

You invited famous singers like Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil), Tommy Karevik (Kamelot) and BjornStrid (Soilwork) What motivated these choices? 

They are great singers. And besides, they're very beautiful people. Thank God, I am very lucky to have many friends in this business! (Laughs) Because they're friends? No, except Cristina who has been my friend for years and we always talked about how one day it would be nice to do something together. After recording my voice on the song (Editor's note: "Goodbye Stranger") I thought it would be perfect for her too. I contacted her and explained what I was looking for, that it was a very raw song with just guitar, bass and drums. Fortunately, she understood very well and accepted. As for the boys, I've been following them for years, as fans. They have very beautiful and distinctive voices. The story of "Dead Promises" is so dark and direct that I found that his expressive voice (Editor's note: BjornStrid) would go very well with his growls, which I am unable to do.  

Why doesn't it appear in the video version that was released in June? 

I had many discussions with the label about this. When they heard my voice on this track they loved it and convinced me to release the clip with only my voice. Bjorn's is only on the version of the album.  

Are you afraid of loneliness and do you need some space in this business where you are very exposed, to keep a cool head? 

It's the concept of loneliness that I don't like. Too many people suffer from being alone. That's also why I've already made a Christmas album (Editor's note: "From Spirits and Ghosts" in 2017) for single people, especially during this period. No one should be alone. Some people choose to live in solitude, but I don't. I am a Lioness, I like being with people, they inspire me. So yes, I felt lonely, but this album was born from the sparks and the strength I can have to come back into the light. This is the gold I'm after.  

Thank you very much. 

Thank you to you.

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TARJA: New video

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At a crossroads in her life as an artist and mother, the now serene Tarja returns to the genesis of her new album, very personal, in an interview of great sincerity.

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In The Raw (2019)
"In the Raw" is Taja's most personal album. He exposes the artist and her raw talent through his personal writing, a beautiful authenticity and an extraordinary melodic strength.

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