Nightwish: Singer on a stage
How does it feel to stand in front of screaming mass of people, Tarja Turunen?

"Moving to the venue is nowdays quite hard. There are fans all around the hotel and in the venue the most enthusiastic fans stand in a queue ever since 7 AM. I always go to the venue from backdoor, with little timid mood.

First time when we went to South-America four years ago, we almost couldn´t believe that it was true. We thought, that first of all who knows us here? And then: there are thousands of people screaming in the streets and following our car. They run after our car for many blocks and they shout and howl. Sometimes we stop and there are 150 people outside swinging the car, licking the windows and beating the car. They´re amazing people there. They can show their feelings.

In South-America I don´t move with two security guys but twenty of them. There I have been so afraid more than in any other place before. It´s just totally upsetting. People try to get as close as possible and to rip off the last hair, at least one. They´re swearing and fighting. Daughters faint and fathers faint.

When this lasts too long it gets laborious, especially because I´m a woman. Guys are able to sneak away from the situation quite often. But I can´t. It´s that eye on me."

"I usually have my own room at the venue. I start to do my gig make-up. The boys say: "Ah you go to that magic box again, you always come out with different looks" ha ha.

Then I start to think positively. I think that everything is clear and today is a good day, no matter if I had a bad day. To get the brightness and the purity of the voice out needs alot of positive spuring. For example: today I can make it and the people will hear that I can sing. Or: last night it wasn´t so great performance, tonight will be one.

I focus on my eyes alot. I sing from my eyes. That means, that the audience sees my every gesture. It´s play of expressions. In singing it´s extremely important that the face is not dead. Eyes make the face more lively, those things I think alot.

My breathing eexercises last usually something like ten minutes. Then I start to warm up my voice, nin-nin-nin-nin.

Everytime I go through every song in my mind, no matter if the setlist would have been the same for 15 gigs. I repeat the lyrics or I sing them in my mind. I walk around the room nervously.

Sometimes I forget the lyrics. A huge panic strikes me: how that song goes? Then I concentrate and concentrate, and then it comes. But that panic takes me over very badly: that if I didn´t remember it in backstage I won´t remember it on gig either.

Straining for the gig is different than if you forget the lyrics. The straining for the gig is very positive strain. If we´re having a big gig, then I´m nervous since the morning. The stomach is indeed working! Also the boys must run to toilet at least 30 minutes before the gig.

I actually try to provoke myslef like, damn the gig is now. I go my feelings through in my mind, the people are ready there. If I´m not nervous fifteen minutes before the gig, the concert will be bad.

Once I wasn´t nervous at all and I said that to the guys. They said that damn Turunen, now go out that door and hear that noise. I only had to listen to it for one minute. I came back to backstage: Wo-ho! I´m nervous now.

So this is positive straining but forgetting the lyrics is panic. It begins when I start to shake and my fingers tremble - this is not fun at all, please help me fool. I go to say to guys that hey, do you remember the lyrics. They very rarely do. Then I have to do it myself.´"

"Just before the performance we´re a moment together with the band. We go through where we are now and will there be any changes in the setlist. If I´m sick we discuss in early phase if should we leave some song out. Bassist and guitarrist are twanging their instruments.

And then we hug.

It´s really wonderful thing that we are so close. It´s always a warm moment. And if someone has a bad day, we spur that person more.

Manager comes to show that now we´ll start. Intro starts to play. Drummer goes to stage first, crowd starts to scream and the lights are striken to drums.
Drummer starts to play and the others go to the stage.

My turn is the last. I try to give myslef positive energy: they will like it. The mood is amazingly great. I´m in one kind of ecstacy.

When I come to the stage, the acceptance of the audience is awesome. I feel it inside myslef, that I´m warmly welcome to sing there in the middle of the stage. The noise is loud as hell! It´s always some kind of narsistic growing of an ego.

When I put the microphone on, I think if everything is working fine, is the sound okay. And if the sound is crap we must change it. The first song goes like in fog: hello, here we are, how does the crowd look tonight.

The second song goes in totally different mood. If everyone in the audience are having their hands in the air, it makes me feel better. But if only first six rows do so, I have lot of work to do.´"

"During the gig the feeling developes with the songs. I try to sing Tuomas´ songs with the meaning he wrote them. So I don´t only sing, I tell a story and do music.

All music is coming from emotion. Tuomas have said when he was composing, that he can´t make music without emotion. We are such emotional persons, especially Tuomas who writes this music.

It took me many years to learn how to sing with Nightwish: unfinished classical singer stepped into heavy metal and to a stage where you must move all the time. I can´t stand in front of the microphone stand all the time and to concentrate to the technique: does the breathing come out in right way, do I do the technique in right way and does the voice come out in right way. Practising that took many years.

I´m sensible in this thing now: I haven´t start to sing whatever I want. I have always wanted to do right everything I do.

I try to drink water between the songs. But sometimes I have drunk too much. I should be able to control that. If I would vomit on stage, my image would go down right away. Usually we have two gigs in sequential days and a day-off. Is physicaly very hard for singer.

I have been such a theater person since I was a kid so it´s easy for me to be on stage. It´s not acting, I really feel what I sing. I can´t say that it´s a role. Of course I´m the singer of Nightwish, but it´s not done by force. All that, what I look on stage is coming from me. No-one has revised that.

Voice is a huge part of my identicy. I get into the feeling with my voice. Just what I think at backstage: think positively. That the most beautiful voice would come out - it feels cheesy to say this - the most pure voice, my own voice.

The energy of people helps alot. I concretely change energy with the audience. I take contact with my eyes alot. I guess I´m some kind of perverse conceited because I enjoy it so much. I wouldn´t do this if I didn´t.

Sometimes I say to myself that tonight I´ll give little less that 110 percent. But that´s just impossible when I see how people react and what expectation they have.
If the audience doesn´t react so much, I must exert more. If the audience reacts I can just enjoy the mood. That usually begins in the middle of the gig: my voice and body start to warm up, it´s easyer to sing, it feels easy. I don´t have to work so much.

During the ballads and lighter songs people hear my voice when I just stand in front of the microphone. I feel that people are watching and listening. Those are great moments. I enjoy very much the situation where I don´t move at all and I sing.

I feel the warmth in me, in the audience and in the guys: this is our thing. In that point I have deep self-confidence: no-one does this thing better than I and we do.
If people really enjoy, if I for example see a thouched person in the audience, I really feel that with this I can carry on next two weeks. That I want to be a singer.

When we get to rock after a slower song we are in totally different mood. I never imagined before that I would be there headbanging and waving my hair, a classical singer! People ask that where does that come from. Of course it comes from me."

"When we go off from the stage you can see the disappointment of the people. I´m totally dead already then when I walk the stairs down – there are always stairs. I´m like high, I need someone to carry me and receive me so I don´t roll down the stairs. I start to change clothes, totally sweaty.

There we have three and half minutes break. It´s very important mentally and physically. Then back to stage. People are quite happy in that stage. We play few songs, hit songs. Those very typical Nightwish-songs. After the break my singing is more confident than in the beginning of the gig.

After that I thank the crew, the audience, maybe tell when we´ll come back. Then I take the earplugs off and I hear that noise. It´s something unbelievable! Many times I have thought that this may make me deaf. That noise is really so loud: screaming and crying. I feel that we have made good job.

We gather in front of the drums, grab each others hands and bow. The feeling is awesome in that point. Better than sex!

Many times I start to cry. That feeling is so deep: can this be possible that people react like this? There are so many of them, as far as eyes can see. I´m so full of energy on joy. It feels that I will never want to go off from this stage."