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Interviews : “The songwriting process, it’s so fantastic” – An interview with Tarja Turunen

By on August 11, 2019

The likely prospect of talking about Disney’s Frozen with a globally renowned heavy metal vocalist is hardly related to topical subject matter such as touring and the most recent album.

But there is only one Tarja Turunen.

Alongside Within Temptation‘s Sharon Den Adel and the ‘Godmother’ of heavy metal, Doro, Tarja inspired a generation of ladies to forge careers as vocalists supreme in Wacken approved metal outfits.

What about that link to Frozen, then? If you’ve got young daughters as Tarja and I do, then you’ll understand. Frozen is the Alpha and Omega of on-screen and audio entertainment. Why bring it up with Tarja though? Idina Menzel did a beautiful job on the original recording, but there are moments where her delivery lacks the power the songs theme demands. That’s why I put to Tarja that the song’s producers could have asked her to sing the tune and truly bring it to life.

“Oh, wow. I would love to work on something like that! There was a discussion some years ago with a Finnish game company, to have me involved in some of their productions but since I’m not there and I’m travelling so much time is my worst enemy,” she says.

For heavy metal fans, that bodes well. Tarja is committed and focused on bringing her brand of metal to the people, something she’s been doing for almost two and a half decades.

“When it comes to collaborations, anything like that, everything takes time. I’ve been even asked to sing in musicals and like great, great job offers. But I haven’t been able to take advantage of them because of my career activity.”

That activity has its focus on the new album for 2019, In The Raw. A potent mix of the heaviest music of her career spliced with her signature operatic scores.

The album openers feature guest appearances by Speed from Soilwork and Christina Scabbia from Lacuna Coil, respectively, on “Dead Promises” and “Goodbye Stranger.” Tarja says her long-time collaborators drove the decision to dive into the heavier territory after she decided to take her music in that direction.

“I wanted to go this time that way,” she says, with apparent conviction. “The songwriting process, it’s so fantastic, it has become easier for me. It’s an enjoyable process nowadays.

“I have two guitar players that I write music with Alex (Scholpp) and Julian (Barrett), and they’ve been working with me for many years. So, these songs were born in a very natural way because it’s been like the years passed by and all the work we’ve done together, we understand each other very well already.

“When I received the first demo from Alex, they sounded very raw and rough and like unpolished, but the guitar sounded excellent in those demos. They were in your face and really powerful, very energetic. So, I said, no, I want to keep this. I want to keep this sound on the album, that is the thing that I had missed on my album productions, that kick, that heaviness!”

The only other thing missing is for the world at large to recognise Tarja’s brilliance. Maybe that Frozen collaboration could change that!

In The Raw is released on August 30 via Napalm Records.


Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of Queensland. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @andymckaysmith