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Making Christmas Dark With TARJA

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Generally when the festive season rolls around and talk turns to Christmas albums the general chill that runs down most metalheads spines would rival that of the North Pole.

Far too often a purely commercial venture by smiling sonic assassins out to further enhance their global acceptability, the Christmas album tale has long been fraught with fear and contempt.

“It was wonderful to see that it is possible to take a song like Jingle Bells and completely go somewhere else with it. It’s the beauty that we have when you get to be open minded.”


The year 2017 was a welcome exception when song siren Tarja released the devilishly wicked From Spirits and Ghosts (Score for a Dark Christmas). That album further showcased the infinite well of talent and creativity that defines Tarja, putting her own spin on music that normally brings joy and cheer and turning them to the dark side which such majestic beauty that even adults started to believe in Santa Claus once more.

Well, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but it did mean we didn’t have to listen to Mariah Carey singing carols at every dark turn.

This year Tarja returns with Dark Christmas on November 10, broadening her horizons by tackling other artists interpretations of Yuletide cheer such as Wham‘s Last Christmas, Mariah Carey‘s All I Want For Christmas and Paul McCartney‘s Wonderful Christmastime and mixing them with her own reworkings of classics such as Frosty The Snowman, Jingle Bells and Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Plus, to put the veritable icing on the Christmas Cake, Tarja also celebrates the happiest time of the year by releasing her own Christmas original track, Dark Christmas.

In keeping with spreading love and cheer at this time of year, Tarja sat down earlier this week for a chat with HEAVY to unwrap the presents.

You can call me a Christmas woman, alright,” she smiled, laughing. “This is my third Christmas album. To do an album like this, very different, very much darker than usual… even though the songs that you hear are the songs that everybody knows. But when you get to listen to them, they have absolutely different arrangements. Very cinematographic, dark arrangements. And so I love this Christmas tradition that I have as an artist. It’s a very, very important part of my career. I’m doing tours every year, at the end of the year since 2005. A long time.”

We dive into Dark Christmas musically a bit deeper.

“This time I chose songs that are very, very known,” she began. “There’s Jingle Bells and All I Want For Christmas Is You, Last Christmas, White Christmas. I don’t necessarily enjoy myself this kind of music. The music that sounds in supermarkets when you get there… it’s too commercial and all yuk. So I wanted to escape from all that and make these songs more appealing to me first of all as an artist. I worked the arrangements with a man called Jim Dooley in Los Angeles. He’s working only for films with movie soundtracks, so he understood my concept that I wanted to get was to get these songs completely different. Of course, the melody you know, but it’s a completely different world when you emerge and listen to these songs. In some songs this time I took some creepy kids. There is a kid’s choir brought into play from Argentina. My daughter plays drums and the symphonic orchestra with my voice. That’s about it.”

In the full interview, Tarja explains why there is a six-year gap between Christmas albums, what she feels makes a true dark Christmas, using the children’s choir and what that added to the songs, how she has reworked existing tracks to make them her own, the obvious covers and how they differ, if she thinks it is a child-friendly album, the original song Dark Christmas, making a video for all twelve songs and more.

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