Tarja has just celebrated her birthday and her new album “In The Raw” is due out in little under two weeks. For this occasion, we’ve dug through her website and social media and collected all bits and pieces where she introduces and comments on new songs and their creation. Prepare for the long-awaited release; read the track-by-track guide and watch behind the scenes video from the album photo shooting with Tim Tronckoe below.
Track by track commentary
“The only direction that I gave to Alex Scholpp before we started working on the composition of “Dead Promises” was, that I wanted to have a song on the album, which would make people (and myself) jump in my shows. Like crazy 🙂
He came up with this guitar-based great tune and I liked the mood of it since the first listening. I also decided already then to have the guitar very present in the song. The raw sound of rhythm guitars in general gives me the energy that I need in order to feel relaxed while I sing. I have a powerful voice which needs support from my band so that I don’t feel like left alone. Precisely this raw, aggressive, edgy sound was common to other demos of the album too. I started to think that I didn’t want to loose that sound this time and while we would have orchestration, choirs and lots of rich elements all through the album, the guitars and the band will need to be the main thing this time. And the complete “Raw” concept started to take shape.
I loved adding a few operatic vocals on the song, which has become my trademark since the beginning of my rock career. Before my own vocal recordings began, I thought of the possibility to have this song as a duet on the album. Björn “Speed” Strid from Soilwork is a talented singer who I have been admiring for a long time. When he accepted to take part in my song, I knew it would be just amazing. He did a great job where you can hear his amazing vocal range.”
“The search of the raw sound in a song found its best expression with Goodbye Stranger. For me, who is used to have keyboards, orchestra and other elements on my productions, it feels super different to write a song where the power comes from drums, bass, guitars and voice only. But that’s how I love it! The song has a special airy, light, spatial, floating feeling on it despite being very heavy at the same time.
It had been on my mind for a long time that I would like to sing along with my friend Cristina Scabbia. My dream became a reality on this one. I am honoured to have her voice on my record and on this particular song, where I could have her very well present. In general, I like to give my guest vocalists a lot of space in my productions so the collaboration becomes a lot more enjoyable experience.”
Tears in Rain
“Johnny Andrews can make me fly with his ideas for new songs! It has always been a pure pleasure to write with him. After years, he also understands my voice and music taste better, so the writing process is easier in every way. Even though this time we didn’t sit in the same room while the song was shaped, still I have to say this one makes me very happy and proud. When we had finished writing the song, I already felt it as one of the strongest songs from the album. It just has the energy that drives me onward.
We used a very famous quote from Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner. A classic that sets the tone for the story in the song ‘All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain’.”
“Apparently, it seems like I wrote weird lyrics, yet I pulled inspiration from one book. Paulo Coelho is a very important writer, and I have discovered a lot about myself through his texts,” recalls Tarja. “In ‘Aleph’, he goes on a train journey through Siberia, and he writes a book based on his experiences on that trip. I wanted to go beyond everything and think about myself and my own journey. The whole album is a journey, in a way.
The funny thing is, ‘Railroads’ is a very old song which I have had on demo for years. It always felt like a train ride and I even named it like that before having any lyrics or before ‘Aleph’ was published. It’s so old I can’t even remember when I started writing it, for the first or second album? And I’ve only finished it now.”
You and I
“I often wonder what happened in the world of music that I can hardly think of recent great ballads like the ones from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. I miss those big ballads a bit, so I decided to give it a try myself with the help of my friend Matthias Lindblom.
I love the piano as an instrument. I started my musical studies with piano playing when I was young and nowadays I write my songs with it. I felt that I needed to have a piano song on the album. I love the simplicity of this song, even though the massive sound of the orchestra can make you feel the beauty of life. It almost feels like a celebration of life! The story on this song could mean a world to so many.”
The Golden Chamber
“This song doesn’t have any rock band feel in it, but it also represents who I am. How much I love working with film composer Jim Dooley!!! When it comes to orchestra and choir, he is the one that I want next to me. He perfectly understands and shares my love towards film music. Film music still today is a great inspiration to me when writing songs. I love the freedom of expressing emotions in simple, but effective ways.
“The Golden Chamber” is a journey to the dark cave where I dived in with having hope of finding something brighter. It feels like a self-discovery journey once again. It was nice to write few lines in Finnish for the song, which I hadn’t done in years. It all made sense when I had the general idea for this orchestral song ready. It is an unusual path in a heavy metal album, but I had to return to my roots and express my passion for the film music with a core song in my new album.”
Spirits of the Sea
“It is lovely to be able to work with people that inspire me. Bart Hendrickson is one of them. I have been writing quite many songs with him in the past and our songs have always had a special and unique touch. Bart is involved in the film music scene as well as in rock, so you can imagine that magic happens when we two get together to write a song. He sent me a demo with the seed for Spirits. It was dark, sad. I thought initially that it was not going to fit the album and the other songs that I had at that time. A sad song needs a sad story. When I composed the melodies, one line came clearly to me: Spirits of the Sea. I couldn’t take it out of my head. And then I remembered reading the news of the incident of the ARA San Juan submarine from Argentina. It disappeared leaving uncertainty about the 44 members of the crew. Suddenly the whole world was hoping that this ship could be found and the impact was huge. I have lived in Argentina for many years, so I felt the connection and inspiration to write a story about it. I loved writing these dreamy, but dark lyrics on this particular song as a reminder. I envisioned what these men and woman of the crew and their loved ones might have gone through. A sad and unnecessary loss.
On the brighter side, I am very happy to have Carlinhos Brown, a super famous Brazilian artist that is a great percussionist. He definitely helped to shape the tribal sound for the most successful Sepultura albums. He gave me the flavour I was looking for the song. Now my listeners can take the deep dive and embrace the memory of the spirits of the sea with me.”
“I had a simple piano demo of this song when I handed it over to my guitarist Julian Barrett. We worked together on the song to get it heavier and rougher. The story on this one is very personal to me and it took courage to get it out, but I am happy I did it because now I feel liberated. It feels like breathing fresh air again.
Guest singer Tommy Karevik just blew me away with his vocal abilities! He sang the song super emotionally and made me weep like a baby. I loved working with him on this one.
I borrowed from Shakespeare the perfect text for some spoken words amazingly enounced by my mixing engineer and friend Tim Palmer. Pretty much in synch with the album theme, it starts with the famous: ‘All that glitters is not gold’.”
“This song was in the making from the sessions of my previous album. I felt the strong guitar part was perfect for ‘In The Raw’. ‘Serene’ has a deep connection and bond with the fact of me becoming a mother few years ago. Songwriters of my very first single ‘I walk alone’ Mattias and Anders, are involved on this one again. It is nice to see the progress of how people that have been working with me throughout the years, grew together with me.”
“I have always loved theatre and drama. Writing a story about a marionette’s life was inspiring and beautiful. I wanted to write a song that had a massive orchestra to finish my album with a bang. This song is perfect for it and I love the final result with Jim Dooley’s arrangement.”
Photos in the Raw
Once again, Tarja teamed up with Belgian photographer Tim Tronckoe to breathe life into her vision of gold and its raw state for the album artwork.
Tarja says: “We had a fantastic photo session for my new album ‘In the Raw’ at St. Michael’s Cave in Gibraltar, together with my friend, Tim Tronckoe. The session was very successful and at the same time a huge challenge for all of us.
I like photography, so that’s why I have always used photos in my album artworks and this time was not an exception. I do love photos that have something to say, that tell a story. In the new artwork, the music is represented through the photos.”
Check behind the scenes video from the shooting:
Tarja’s fifth studio album “In The Raw” is thematically and aesthetically inspired by gold and the saying “not all that glitters is gold”. She explains: “Gold, we think, is something polished and perfect, sophisticated, a luxury – but in its natural state it’s a raw element”. This time, Turunen focused on the raw feelings, both musically and lyrically and joined forces with three guest vocalists – Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil), Tommy Karevik (Kamelot) and Bjorn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork). “In The Raw” presents Tarja in a new light – exceptionally honest, personal and raw form. Don’t forget to pick the album up when it’s available on August 30.