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Outlanders (Tarja Turunen)


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Tarja's project Outlanders is finally nearing release date, after years in the making. Countdown on the web site suggests one month until release.

https://tarja-outlanders.com/

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"Outlanders" is Tarja Turunen and Torsten Stenzel

Tarja is a Finnish soprano that has developed her own style into combining successfully classical trained vocals with rock music and crossover. She has released over 15 albums both with the band Nightwish and in her solo career.

Torsten Stenzel is a German musician, songwriter, composer and producer for more than 22 years. Recently co-produced Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Beats and worked as a keyboarder for Rick Nowels, Joss Stone, Nelly Furtado, echo nominated and multiple gold and platinum awards as one of the Trance/EDM pioneers in Germany.

Outlanders combines electronic music with Tarja’s soft as well as classical vocals, electric and acoustic guitars. The three elements are a constant in all the songs and are equally important.

Back in 2005, I was invited to co-write and sing the song “Tired of being alone” with the German electronic artist Schiller for his album, “Tag und Nacht”. I enjoyed the challenge and its outcome very much, since electronic music was a new field for me. I loved this different world of sounds I was getting myself into for the first time.

Few years later, I had friendly discussions with my label boss Max Vaccaro about the lack of guitar solos on my rock records. I had never felt the need of adding guitar solos on each one of my rock songs unless I feel it is justified and it would add a nice flavor to the track. Nevertheless, I love guitars, so I decided to prove my point to him.

Inspired by Alan Parson’s electronic album “A Valid Path”, specially by the songs “Return to Tunguska” and “L’Arc en Ciel” where David Gilmour plays the guitar, I realized that I should do something in that same vibe. When I started to check what truly exists around, I found several electronic music projects done with guitars and others with vocals, but the combination of these three elements; the voice, guitars and electronic background, I didn’t come across. So, I decided that I wanted to try it myself.

In 2010 I had written a song that I felt it could fit perfectly for this idea of mine and to find the person that could execute it was eventually easy. I had met Torsten Stenzel back on the days when we wrote the first songs together for my rock solo career and we had been friends ever since. I wanted to approach him, and this took me to the island of Antigua in Caribbean, where he lived. I knew Torsten would be just perfect for my song, because he had been working with electronic music all his life and his knowledge in that field is incredible.

For the song I didn’t want to use my voice in a conventional soloist way, but instead, I wanted to use my voice to create atmospheres and colours and to read something interesting for it.

I had been a loyal follower of Paulo Coelho’s works and his books had inspired me significantly throughout my life. So, I could easily picture that was exactly what I wanted to listen to in my song.

That was the reason I dared to contact author Paulo Coelho to ask him permission to use some of his texts. He was very kind by giving his blessing for the idea, which was amazing, personally for me.

The next step was to find a guitar player that could understand what I wanted to achieve. I had a special, vintage kind of sound in mind for the song. I was looking for some rock edge, but soulful at the same time and I couldn´t think of anybody else better than my Argentinean friend Walter Giardino from the band Rata Blanca for the track.

Even though I didn’t have anything to show him as an example at the time, he understood my vision, did an amazing job and actually ended up recording three songs for the album.

Paulo, Walter, Torsten and me; we all had one thing in common: we were not living in the land we were born. Life, music and art had taken us to different places and all of us had become outlanders.

This was the perfect name for the song I wrote.

Torsten and I loved the result we were able to achieve and the blue print for Outlanders was created. Since then we agreed to continue writing songs and contacting amazing guitar players to fulfill our ideas. We have been working mainly in the island of Antigua where the first seed was planted. The artwork photos, visualizers for the music, recordings and mixing, mostly took place there.

We started the album at Torsten´s old Studio in English Harbour, in the south of Antigua. In the meantime, he moved to the North, so it got finished at his new “Embassy Studio”.

This album went thru 2 computer crashes, with 2 fried motherboards and about 3 dead hard drives. Many of the songs got lost and needed to be re-programmed and re-recorded, even more than once in some cases. It was a long process, but the songs got even strong in the second or third attempt.

Torsten and I didn’t give up. Finally, it all worked out due to a great team spirit and lots of work!!

We are finally ready to show you what we have been doing the last 10 years! It is a friendship project, done with lots of love and care.

We really hope that you can enjoy our baby!!

Tarja and Torsten

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

First single from the Outlanders project is out soon (November 26):

CLOSER TO THE SKY 

This song was meant for one of my rock releases one day, when I sat down to write the first ideas with Erik Nyholm in Finland many years ago. Erik had been involved on my rock albums as a song writer before and after, but here was something in this particular song that made me think I must leave it for other time. The song changed name at least 3 times during its creative process and had different lyrics and moods.

Only recently I finished writing the dark, but hopeful lyrics and rest of the music for it. It fits perfectly as an opener for Outlanders, because of its catchy melody, wishful lyrics and the mood it captures. We knew that we needed an extraordinary guitar player. A rock soul with a progressive mind that could imagine the song being part of a movie soundtrack. We had only one name in mind: Trevor Rabin did just an outstanding job with his edgy, incredible guitar sound. He made the song reach another level and for that I am deeply grateful. It only happens when the players soul is involved and that really was the case here. Trevor is unique and truly a gentleman.

 

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So the first Outlanders single is out, available on YouTube and everywhere else.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xvL9dToSkk

I guess it's nice atmospheric lounge music, the kind of music one best enjoys at poolside in a beach resort or at the spa. Actually makes me long for sun holidays.

Well to be honest perhaps some of Rabin's guitar flourishes are not common in lounge music, so there's that. Lounge music for rockers then! 😋 Nothing wrong with it though.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

And here's an alternate version of the latest Outlanders single:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeTEmyyGLdc

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OUTLANDERS is about the passion for music! Tarja and Torsten got together to create something new & shared one vision. So they continued writing songs and contacting amazing guitar players to fulfill their ideas. Here you can listen to a ROUGH MIX of THE CRUELLEST GOODBYE from 2014 with alternative guitars by Al Di Meola and a completely different vocal recording. We are more than happy to share it with you: https://outlanders.lnk.to/TheCruellestGoodbyeRoughMix
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  • 3 weeks later...

I read someone comparing the Outlanders project songs to a previous collaboration with Mike Oldfield of "Tubular Bells" fame. Oldfield, a famous new age-electronic-ambient musician and songwriter, revisited his famous "Tubular Bells" album many times over the years, including this 2013 remix project including a new song featuring Tarja - "Never Too Far".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRwXG7PrEgQ

 

“Tubular Beats” Mike Oldfield

11 Jan 2013

http://tarjaturunen.com/tubular-beats-mike-oldfield/

Mike Oldfield release new studio album “Tubular Beats”, reworked and remixed together with Torsten “York” Stenzel, on February 1st, 2013 via earMUSIC.

Album includes brand new song “Never Too Far”, featuring Tarja Turunen

earMUSIC is proud to announce the release of “Tubular Beats” the brand new remix album by Mike Oldfield. The album will be released on February 1st, 2013 and will include the most popular songs by Oldfield who has worked on new arrangements and new sounds for his compositions.

All tracks have been reworked from the original multi-track recordings and remixed together by Mike Oldfield and multi-platinum awarded German producer Torsten “York” Stenzel.

Newly recorded guitar parts by Mike Oldfield have been added to the mix, making Tubular Beats a new album by all means. A brand new song featuring Tarja Turunen closes the album on a high note.

“Never Too Far” is a brand new song featuring singer Tarja Turunen who not surprisingly is offering one of her most emotional performances ever, being Oldfield one of the singer’s heroes.

Tarja explains: “It was such a pleasure to work with Mike Oldfield. The song turned out to be even better than I could have ever expected. Mike has a vast career and experience in pop, instrumental and electronic music. I love his music and his personal guitar sound.

My work in this song was inspired by Mike’s ‘Islands’ featuring another of my youth idol: Bonnie Tyler. A way to thank them for the nice melodies I grew up with was to add a line from their hit. And I believe Mike liked the idea too. That’s how ‘Never Too Far’ was born. Hope that you enjoy the song as much as I do.”

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Another single from the Outlanders project to be released March 25. Even though they've been working at this for 10 years, they're certainly in no hurry to release a proper album! 😁

This time it's a Depeche Mode cover, so I'm curious about how it will turn out.

 

https://tarja-outlanders.com/

In the beginning of our project, we thought of an album with several cover songs for Outlanders. But then I started writing more and more songs alone and with Torsten and we ended up recording only two covers. 

One of them being “World in my Eyes” from @Depeche Mode. I have always been attracted by its dark beauty and thought I would love to give it a try. It has such an incredible feel to it, and I really enjoyed recording it. 

When I told Torsten about the idea to rework this big Depeche Mode classic he got really excited as an old Fan. 

Torsten did an amazing job with the programing, and you will hear me singing differently in this one.

It was with this song that I started to record layers of my voice in different octaves back in 2014. I liked the result so I used it afterwards in other songs, but this one lead the way even though it will only be released now. Maybe you could say you don’t recognize me immediately. 

For the guitar parts, I didn´t want just a solo, but something special indeed.

I have been friends with @Living Colour for a long time now and who else than @Vernon Reid could deliver the craziest, psychedelic solo for a song. He also recorded textures and moods using the guitar with his many pedals throughout the song, which is his trademark. 

It’s unbelievable what Vernon can do. Thank you so much for being part of our project Vernon!

This song has probably the darkest energy of all the songs in the album.

I hope you like our approach to Depeche Mode and to the world through the eyes of Outlanders!

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

A new Outlanders single -- The Sleeping Indian, featuring Joe Satriani and Nkoye Zifah.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfIu8cPJ1ow

 

Tarja says:

I have been feeling the calm energy and connection with the nature since ever I stepped on the island of Antigua for the first time. The island is inspiring and always soothing my soul. We found a holiday home for my family very near of the mountain guarding the area called Sleeping Indian. From the distance, you can easily discover the complete, majestic figure of an Indian Chief laying on the ground and facing the sky.

Outlanders_Indian.png

This mountain, ever present in our days in the island, inspired me to write a song for Outlanders with Torsten. This time I wanted to use my voice merely like an instrument to enhance the ethereal feeling I had with the harmonies, the wind, and the pulsating waves at the shore. I also sampled my voice and played around with it. 

Torsten suggested to ask Antiguan local rapper Nkoye Zifah to participate in our song. It was a great idea that I loved right away! It is the first time I work with a rap artist on a song, and I really like it since it makes The Sleeping Indian pop out from the rest of the album. Nkoye wrote the text for the rap himself based on the history of Antigua.

The experience was great and Nkoye is a beautiful person I had the chance to meet, so I am very grateful to him for doing this.

Last, but not least, what to say about our guitar guest, Joe Satriani, that has not been said before? He, as always, gives me goosebumps with his way of understanding music. His sound and style of playing are just so unique. 

When I conceived Outlanders, I had in mind a kind of music that could transport you to another place or state of mind. I could hear in my head a sound like Joe's filling up the space around. I love the mix and the boundaries we decided to leave behind with Torsten when jumping into Outlanders. 

I am sure you will enjoy Joe's playing on The Sleeping Indian. Thank you once again Joe! Play it loud!

Hope you enjoy our new creation!

https://www.tarja-outlanders.com/

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  • 3 months later...

This was released while I was away...

LAND OF SEA AND SUN

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ar32UU8JeMs

“Land Of Sea And Sun” was the last song I wrote for Outlanders.
The locals call Antigua as the land of sea and sun and you can see that expression everywhere you go, even in the license plates of the cars.
With the title set and all the images, sounds and scents of Antigua in mind, I approached the songwriting differently this time: in a weird twist, I become the island itself as the storyteller for this song.
Even though the song is very much inspired and shaped by the island chill, it happened to turn out kind of a rock song. I had this feeling since the first moment, so I knew I wanted a rocker with lots of sensitivity for the guitar parts. I approached my friend Kiko Loureiro to ask his help to get in touch with guitarist Marty Friedman. Kiko very kindly connected us.
I absolutely love what Marty did in the song. He embraced the song and added beautiful harmonies and moods to it. Marty really understood what I was looking for. I am super happy with the results of this one and I do hope you all will love it as well.
Outlanders rocks!

https://www.tarja-outlanders.com/

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