With “Vehicle of Spirit“ coming out at the end of this year, Tuomas Holopainen, Marco Hietala, and Floor Jansen traveled to Helsinki on September 29th to promote the upcoming DVD to the Finnish medias, of which we are one. After the screening, we were given the opportunity to chat with Floor Jansen about the DVD, life as NIGHTWISH‘s vocalist, and a few other personal experiences.
Well, we’ve just watched the new DVD, “Vehicle of Spirit” – how do you like it compared to “Showtime, Storytime”?
There are a couple of years between these two shows. These were our own shows, unlike a festival… of course that is also ‘our’ show, but this is our stage, our setup, everything. I don’t want to really compare too much, because I think it’s nice that both DVDs [show] a different kind of work, a different kind of vibe, a different moment in our history. This is a documentation of this world tour, so we have two shows and [quite a bit of] footage from other places as well, which is also really different from the concept of “Showtime, Storytime.” That had a show, but it also had a large story part with hours of documentary. This is only live footage, so it’s really different.
What’s your favorite moment from the DVD, or do you have a favorite memory from either of the shows?
For me, one of the highlights from the Tampere show was doing “Sleeping Sun” out on that catwalk that we had into the audience. It was really scary. I had the most… challenging shoes [laughs]. They’re awesome! Just like every woman, you want to wear something that’s really great but it’s really not practical, especially when you have to go down a slope and it’s slippery. A song such as “Sleeping Sun” is only beautiful when it’s sang perfectly. You can’t be off with it. The dynamics, everything needs to be there, and to do that while walking on a catwalk in the midst of 23,000 people was a challenge [laughs] but I was very happy with how it turned out.
For the Wembley show, I think the moment that Richard Dawkins spoke and when he had that little break at the end, “Where endless forms most beautiful… … … and most wonderful…” I remember how nervous I was! “Is he forgetting his words? What’s happening now?” Then he continued and then the reaction from the audience, which we now saw on film, got to see even more than when I was standing there. It was breathtaking. When I watched it at home for the first time, I had tears rolling down my face, like man! And the reaction that came from the audience! People with tears on their face and having their hands like this [see photo] listening to him. It was unbelievably cool that they felt what we felt, what we hoped we could share.
On the Endless Forms Most Beautiful Tour, you’ve had quite minimalistic stage props as compared to, for example, the giant organ prop from “Imaginaerum” or the boat from “Dark Passion Play.” Who designs the props and how did they end up a bit more simple this time around?
We come up with a lot of ideas ourselves. I think a lot of physical things on stage got replaced with screens and the setup of the screens, which I can tell you are not minimalistic [laughs]. Also, in Tampere we had these big lights that came down during the show. In general with lights we’ve done way more, so the setup in a sense is really not more minimalistic, it’s more advanced but in another way. We do have our stage props. There is a big thing built around Tuomas‘ stand, and a special setup for Troy, Marco has his tree thing, and so do I. So I don’t see it as less in a sense like that.
I know that NIGHTWISH has a break planned after the next couple of shows in Asia for about a year. What are the band’s plans after the break? Will you just be heading back to the studio?
We have plans but we’re not going to tell anybody. We have something really special coming up and I’ve seen some interpretations of interviews we’ve done on the subject where we say, “We won’t do anything in 2017, then we’ll do something special but we’re not saying anything until 2018.” People do write, “We think they’re going to go into the studio or 2017,” or not even think, they just write as if it’s the truth, and I’m like… we didn’t say that. We actually are going to take a whole year off in order to charge the batteries to their full max; a band like NIGHTWISH simply deserves it. After 20 years non-stop, I don’t think it’s that weird. But! Then there’s something happening that we can’t tell yet, or won’t tell. All I can say is that I think it’s very special and people will really like it.
Are you and any of the other guys thinking at all about working on your other projects, like BROTHER FIRETRIBE or TAROT or REVAMP?
I know that Emppu will spend time with BROTHER FIRETRIBE and I think Kaitsu is considering, or can do some stuff with WINTERSUN. He’ll do teaching. Marco is working on a solo album, and so is Troy. I realized that having a band such as NIGHTWISH… it isn’t very easy to have a second band. I’ve been doubting what to do with REVAMP, because my Dutch band deserves as much attention as any other band, but it’s been hard to have that and I’m going to be a mom, so it’s very difficult to do that full-force. So I decided to let REVAMP go. So for me, it will be mainly focusing on having a baby and being a mom. But, in 2008 I wrote a rock album with a Norwegian guitar player, Jorn Viggo Lovstad, from PAGAN’S MIND. For both of us, different music, and we never were able to release it. So, without too intense planning, we do have the ambition to work on this when time allows it.
Regarding the NIGHTWISH material, which song is most challenging for you to sing?
I can’t really say that one song in particular is more challenging than others. There are parts in songs that don’t come as naturally. For instance, “Amaranthe” for me, in the beginning was more challenging because it has this poppy vibe that I’m not used to, really, so in that sense it’s more challenging. “Sleeping Sun” is challenging for the reason mentioned before. It really needs to be exactly correct. Not too operatic, not too light, building up the dynamics… that’s a challenge. Of course, the high notes in “Ghost Love Score” are a challenge. So it’s more parts of songs.
Did you have to learn any new vocal techniques to sing any of NIGHTWISH’s songs, or did your skill set already have it covered?
They did, but there are – especially more in the lighter and softer singing – I discovered… not new techniques, but I never used it that much. To really play with that was something I rarely did before.
Of the older NIGHTWISH songs, is there anything that you haven’t sang live yet that you’d like to?
[laughs] Many, many! There are a lot [of songs] in the back catalogue that we can’t play in one show, just because we have eight albums to choose from. This has been the Endless Forms Most Beautiful World Tour, so you focus on the material from the new album, but there are songs like “The End of All Hope” – I always thought it was such a rush. I’m terrible with names, but “Gethsemane,” and so on and so forth.
You’ve been loaning your voice to a lot of other bands’ projects lately – do you have any particular favorites from those that really stood out?
No, but I recently joined with EVERGREY, a Swedish band, whom I’ve listened to since I was a teen. My husband-to-be used to drum in EVERGREY, so when I moved to Sweden, I got to meet the singer and again actually we knew each other from back in the day, but not really like this. When he asked me to sing on the album, that felt very special because it’s out of friendship, but also out of a long love for that band, so I thought that was super cool. But apart from one or two projects, everything I’ve done, I’ve done with my full heart, because I really like the bands, so I only do things that I like nowadays.
You’ve been traveling a great deal – what are some of your favorite places that you’ve visited, and is there anywhere that you haven’t been yet that you’d like to see?
New for me on this world tour was China. I didn’t think I would like it somehow. There are a few things about the Chinese ways of doing things that don’t really match with my view of the world – fair enough – but I really, really liked it. People were so awesome and the food was fantastic and everything was really… it was a big surprise for me.
I am a big fan of Japan. I think it’s fantastic. I love Canada. Especially Vancouver, as a city. It has this fantastic park and nice areas.
Places where I haven’t been… I’ve been to Brazil now many times, but I’ve never seen the Amazon. I would really, really love to see that. I’ve been to Australia now a few times, but I’ve never seen anything more than the cities. I didn’t make it into the outback. And on a private bucket list I would love to see Iceland.
On a similar line of thought, what’s the best new food that you’ve tried on tour?
We had catering traveling with us – very fancy – and they made this seitan. I’m vegetarian, so it’s sometimes challenging [to find something] to eat that actually tastes nice. It’s not that difficult, but apparently it’s very difficult for catering services. The amount of dull food I sometimes need to eat just because there’s no dead animal involved… but they managed to make the most amazing vegetarian dishes. Even though my body didn’t always approve, I loved the taste of it immensely.
We heard that you’re a fan of the Kalevala – have you read it?
I’ve read some of the stuff. I got introduced to it mainly through the jewelry brand, actually. I joined in on this project for children where one of the Kalevala stories is told. They are lovely tales.
Are there any parts that are particularly memorable, or that you particularly like?
I’m not that familiar with it. The one that I did was the story of Leminkainen. That was beautiful. It’s dark, but it’s often dark, the Kalevala.
Lastly, I noticed that on the last REVAMP album, “Wild Card,” you managed to get Devin Townsend to sing on “The Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown: Neurasthenia,” and he’s somewhat notorious for not liking to sing in other people’s projects – how did you meet him and how did you convince him to sing in that song?
Yeah! God, we met somewhere backstage, at a festival I think. I approached him with that question and he said, “Indeed, I usually don’t do this. It depends on the material and I want to be able to write the stuff I’m going to sing.” “Cool!” So I sent him the instrumental and the song again with my ideas for the vocals on it, with all freedom for him to do whatever he wanted, but then he got super busy and I was afraid he was then not going to do it. Eventually he was like, “I really like what you wrote, so I’ll sing what you wrote,” which is unique indeed, I know! And then of course he gave it the Devin Townsend sauce that made it sound just like him. It’s not 100% copy, but of course it is my lyrics and it is the basic melody that I wrote and it was a massive honor because he’s doing [something] with his voice that I try to do in REVAMP as well, and the massive diversity and to have a voice like that coming in with mine was a dream come true.
That’s a fantastic story! That’s all of my questions. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this!
Interview by Bear Wiseman
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