Nightwish one of the most notorious metal bands in the world and one of the most internationally recognized groups Finland has ever produced has dropped their latest album, HUMAN. :||: NATURE, in April via Nuclear Blast. Their latest offering has been an enormous success worldwide as they took #1, #2, and #3 spots in album charts around Europe and around the globe. Unfortunately, due to the COVID 19 pandemic, these Finnish symphonic metal masters were forced to postpone all of their scheduled live performances for the first half of 2020 with the fate of future dates still uncertain. Since we don’t have more remedy to stay in our homes, we got the chance to chat with vocalist Floor Jansen about their new record, the quarantine, her participation in the Dutch TV show Beste Zingers, and a message of hope during these strange times. And, of course, the promise to see her and Nightwish again once this crisis is over.
How are you doing during these weird times of COVID 19, social distancing, and global quarantine? What is Floor Jansen’s daily routine to keep busy?
Well, I live in the countryside. I have tons to do at this time, plus I get to write music and I have tons of interviews. So I’m actually enjoying myself. I mean, I wish I could be on tour, but since I know I can’t I am focusing on other things that I like to do.
What would be the first thing that you would like to do once things get back to normal?
Visit my family in the Netherlands.
That is totally understandable. Hopefully, we’re going to get these things over our shoulders soon and continue with our normal life or whatever normal comes at that time. Now. Talking about the new Nightwish album HUMAN. :||: NATURE which came out a few weeks ago. The global response has been phenomenal so far with #1 spots in Finland and Germany, #2 in Canada, and Austria, #3 in Poland and Portugal, #4 in Czech Republic, Netherlands, and Australia. How do you feel about the fan response and did you expect it?
It was two in the Netherlands, first four then two, it almost made it to one, yeah really close to being one. Yeah, it’s great. I mean, it’s beyond expectation, really. A lot of people have been asking us why did we release the album as planned because, why don’t you want to postpone it since you can’t tour? But I’m really happy that we did. I think a lot of people are really waiting for music and have been waiting for this album in particular. And, now they’ve got a lot of time to listen to it. So, yeah, I’m really happy that we did and that the response has been extremely well.
What were some of the most challenging parts about creating HUMAN. :||: NATURE on your end?
I guess singing the melodies, the versions of Shoemaker and Noise were extremely tricky, the operatic part at the end of Shoemaker was also really hard to find the tone so that it was all the way perfect. It was a puzzle to make really, more than a technical achievement because I can sing it. But how do you make it sound like it’s perfect, and that was a bit of a search was interesting. So I would say those things.
What songs are you looking forward to play live from the new record once touring resumes?
I can imagine that it would be a lot of fun to play Tribal live because I heard from a lot of fans that they look forward to do the skeleton dancing. Yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing that.
Last year you found success in The Netherlands through the Beste Zangers tv show, you were the # 3 most googled artist in The Netherlands in 2019, when on a solo tour and was added to the Pinkpop Festival which is a very important festival in The Netherlands (unfortunately now postponed) How important is for a Dutch metal artist to be recognized in The Netherlands, especially with many successful bands and artists the country has produced in the last 15 years?
I would say it is about time. It’s a pity that that music wasn’t recognized for its quality, that it was only the box it was in, you know, the wrapping. That has been frustrating for me for my entire career, and I didn’t understand. I can listen to pop music Yeah, it’s okay. You know, it’s done okay. But I can sing with anybody here and why am I not being heard? I was so frustrated about it. Like, it’s not about the quality, it’s about the wrapping, and now that I presented myself basically in a different wrapping, the audience in the Netherlands started to warm up to me and in that process, and also to Nightwish’s music. That’s also why I won a very prestigious prize in the Netherlands called the Pop Prize over the last year because they really have made a change in how people look at the genre, and that is really satisfying because we know as we love metal how diverse it is, and we know there are a lot of great Dutch artists well-known everywhere else in the world it seems, apart from their own country because they don’t get that recognition. So it’s a really, really huge step that this is happening. And we sold out our two huge arena shows in the Netherlands just because people got so much more into it. Hence the importance of me mentioning that our album got two in the charts in the Netherlands’s main charts. That’s a huge thing that never happened before.
That’s amazing. Congratulations to you and congratulations to the band. Also last year you released an album with John Viggo Lofstad, under the name Northward which I think was a long-time coming project. Where are you with that project at the moment?
It was a one-off project that was indeed written in 2008, and release in 2018. So it’s one and a half years ago that it came out. So we released the album. There was no time for it to tour. I didn’t really want to start up a whole new thing like this. I was just happy to get the music out and say I was so happy with it. It’s a very timeless style of music. So even though it’s been seating on the shelf for 10 years, it’s still fresh and the quality also fits. So we fine-tuned the songs we had and recorded and release them, and yeah, because of Nightwish that was for me all there was to it. And now there’s something else happening with a possible solo career. But it’s pretty difficult to balance these things when you’re already singing in a massive band such as Nightwish.
It is also known that you are a huge fan of local techniques and you were a vocal coach for many, many years. Have you ever thought about writing about it, kind of an academic book, or some sort of textbook?
No, I would not know. What on earth I would have had the time to do that. No, I haven’t. I don’t have time for that kind of stuff, and to write in an academic book. You need to first of all to have a degree like that. Of course, I studied. But there all of a sudden, after 20 years after studying, come with a book like that. That’s serious schooling and preparation and time. And I don’t have any of that.
That is understandable, but with all the coaching and teaching that you have done over the years, some people might think that kind of deserves some sort of transcendence to your legacy for saying it like that
I don’t know, because these vocal techniques that we talk about are constantly updated. So I would not come with the latest of the latest. If you think about it. Classical singing, that’s a technique of opera singing has been refined for centuries, and people have been singing opera and writing about it and how to do that for centuries, while singing pop music was until the beginning of the 1900s, it was pretty much considered bad for the voice. People don’t do that. It’s what the farmers do it’s not real singing, real singing is opera. And the rest is not real, not technically real. So pop singing, the method behind everything, was classical singing. It’s only a few decades old. And even when I started to study 20 years ago there were no proper vocal techniques for anything but classical singing. Thankfully, throughout the last 20 years, techniques have been changed a lot. And I’ve been trying to keep up to date with them, as I was also teaching, and because of my interest in it. But that’s also why I have to answer that. I can’t stay up to date with everything that comes right now because I’m too busy for it and I don’t personally need it. But if you would to write a book and come with a whole message, that is years and years of work. Just to add, the things that I can do with my voice. I can do that because I am me, I’m built this way, I’m born this way. So I have a set of lungs and vocal cords and the structure of my head and everything that is in me, let me sounding this and then the rest you can add with technique, which is an important thing.
Since a good part of this year has been already written off, do you think that some of the Nightwish dates already scheduled for the end of the year might get saved?
I really don’t know. I can only say that I genuinely hope so. It’s horrible to see everything just being canceled or postponed mostly postponed. But I would say, that without a vaccine having gatherings of 10.000 plus people it might not be the best of ideas. But I hope that we can do this without the vaccinations being ready and that we find a way to pick up life a little bit more as it was, despite a deadly virus going around. But I would say as long as that deadly virus is still there, to just jump on everybody’s back whenever it’s more important to keep this quarantine going than to talk wishful thinking all the time.
Do you have any message to the Nightwish’s fans out there that got the album and that are hoping to see you guys live again?
I would like to tell everybody that I hope as they enjoy the album that maybe this whole quarantine and weird times have to lead us to have extra time to listen to your favorite music, and I hope HUMAN. :||: NATURE is part of that. It’s definitely a record worth taking your time to listen. But I would definitely invite everybody to sit back with it, with a good Hi-Fi system or might be a good set of headphones and close your eyes and just let it take you away a little bit. That’s the power of music. Even though we cannot come and play for you live, we have played it for you on an album that I think sounds really wonderful, and I’m really proud of it, how the total sound came to be. I want to invite everybody to enjoy life as it is right now, if you’re healthy, then there’s nothing to worry about, just take the time as it is. You know, health is still the most important thing, and that’s easier said when you don’t have financial trouble. I know that really matters too, but when it comes to prioritizing, health still on a very, very big number one, and during these weird times I do invite you to maybe put time for the things you usually don’t have time for
You know, that book that you never had the time to read or learn that language that you sort of started to learn five years ago. It doesn’t really have to be a costly thing to do. Spend time with your family, play that stupid game that you never played since childhood, but it’s now just enjoyable to do it since now you have so much time, that kind of stuff. Try to see the positive because it’s not going to stop tomorrow, not next week either, and not next month. Without a proper vaccine, life can never continue, as it was. So let’s think about how we can fundamentally change our ways to prevent these things from happening, and maybe be a little bit more friendly to the planet as we go.
Well, that it’s amazing and beautifully put. Thank you so much. Floor. And hope that you and your family are healthy and safe. And we hope to see you and Nightwish once we get out of this trouble. Once again congratulations again for a great album.
Thank you so much for your time too. Keep yourself healthy, too. And hopefully, we’ll meet again when we get back to normal.