Nightwish - Floor Jansen

Tuomas created “Human. Nature.” that feels like the natural continuation to “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” and METAL KAOZ grabbed the opportunity to talk with Floor Jansen to take a peek behind the scenes of how this “thick” musical creation took place. The only downside doing this interview was the time zone difference with METAL KAOZ’s being on the 4:00am side... Was the mind sleepy? Well, read on to find out.

Hello Floor and welcome to METAL KAOZ once again! How are you?
I’m good, how are you?

I’m doing good, thank you. I know you’re doing a lot of interviews these days, so let’s dive straight into my questions; first of all, how different is your music-life with all this craziness due to the virus all around the world?
Well, obviously I’m not touring, so I don’t have much of a music-life. I mean, the songwriting and everything is done for this album, so the thing we were gonna do is tour, and start with rehearsals but even that we didn’t get to do. So, it’s really something else – then again, now that I’m home I did notice that my piano has been calling to me a little bit more often, and when I don’t write for NIGHTWISH is wonderful to spend time trying to write something, for myself.

That’s cool. You have posted on your Facebook account about a month ago that you were in bed with fever, so that had to be scary, right?
I was really scary because I wasn’t really sick but of course I was afraid that I was gonna infect somebody else, so it was really weird to quarantine myself. I hadn’t seen my husband in weeks because he was touring and then he had to come home because of the virus and he was gonna quarantine himself because he has just come from Russia – you know, stay two weeks away just to see if everything’s ok. But then I got so sick that I couldn’t take care of our daughter and everything at home anymore, so he had to come home earlier and that was a little risky because if he would have brought something home, our daughter would have had it. But we didn’t know if I had corona or another virus – I mean, you can still get sick from all the kinds of stuff – but it took a lot of time. I’m usually not sick so often, but this took me at least two weeks.

Well, I’m glad that you’re in perfect health right now and we’re talking about the new NIGHTWISH album.

So, first of all, is it correct what people say about how pregnancy and motherhood makes the singer’s voice better?
Sometimes it can affect something in the voice, yes, but it didn’t for me.

Got it. I’d like to say that I love your performance and to my mind, being a long-time NIGHTWISH fan, I see that you’ve expanded your voice in this album, you’re using more stuff, so what did you do differently singing-wise in “Human. Nature.”?
Well, I think you just need to listen to it for all the small things; I mean, I don’t think it’s really different but I was challenged more. I mean, I’ve used all these vocal sounds before, it’s just more diverse, I guess. And more complex, so there are really complex melodies that were impossible to sing at first (laughs) – that is different to previous albums, I guess.

And although I have to do nothing with being a musician, one thing I thought it must have being challenging is how you had to articulate all these lyrics that Tuomas has written, so did you have any input on writing the vocal melodies for the album?
Yes, that was a challenge! No, that’s Tuomas’ part.

So, he just said that you can’t change a thing regarding the vocal melodies?
I mean, if I had felt that was necessary, I would say to Tuomas “I can’t do this”. But nothing like that ever happened. The way he writes I think is so beautiful that it’s not necessary.

Can we consider “Human: Nature” as the continuation of “Endless Forms Most Beautiful”?
Yeah, I would say so.

Because sonically, it feels like that.
Yeah, I agree. It’s almost like a sequel to it.

We discussed about the vocal melodies and how Tuomas writes everything and he also writes the lyrics, so as a singer, how do you establish a connection with the lyrics so you can sing them with the right passion?
That’s a challenge for sure, and it’s truly because I’ve always been writing my own stuff. So as soon as I came into NIGHTWISH I really had to connect to the songs. First of all, the old ones, but then when we started to make “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” the first time to the challenge was to sing something that nobody had ever interpreted before. But the cool thing with lyrics is that they are so interpretational; so Tuomas has a certain meaning to them, I try to understand as much as possible, he’ll tell me a part of it, but it’s not only about how he meant it, it’s about how feels and I can transmit that, so everybody will listen to it differently anyway, because like I said, it’s multi-interpretational. I need to feel the song myself, make my own story about it and then if I really understand what I’m singing, really feeling what I’m singing, then I can transmit them; the emotion of it and the story of it.

So, what’s your process; do you read the lyrics first or do you listen to the music to establish that connection?
Yeah sure, it goes hand-in-hand in the studio as we work on them.

With that in mind, what was the first song that kind of spoke to you, if you may?
I can’t really remember actually. I had that question earlier today and it’s such a process with so many things happen that I can’t really remember. After a year almost now, and so many hours, days, months of work, you put so much love in every second on this album that I can’t remember.

Ok, that’s fair enough. You did a lot of touring with the previous album, so how that experience helped you better understand what NIGHTWISH is all about, and what maybe the fans expect from you? Because there is a special connection between the fans and the singer. So, how that period of your professional life helped you in this album?
I joined halfway a world tour of “Imaginarium”, then released “Endless Forms Most Beautiful”, then we went on a break and then we did the ‘Decades’ tour, so I can’t really say that “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” tour in particular was that tour where I started to connect and I started to understand and all of that. It’s a process that was there from the beginning to where we are now and doesn’t really particularly sit with the tour that was around the album my sign on. I guess I’ve been doing more touring than album-making with the band (smiling).

Although, and we had a short interview when you were in Chicago with REVAMP, so then it was just joining in NIGHTWISH to fill the gap for the singer. Or did back then you have discussions about joining the band full time?
No, I didn’t know that yet.

So, I saw another posting of yours online where you had tattooed the writing that are on the album’s cover artwork; so why did you do that? How did that feel so special to you so you decided for this tattoo?
I really loved the way, the whole idea behind it – the way it looks and the simplicity of it but still its power. And from “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” I have a tattoo as well on my foot, and like that sorts of represents that period of my life. And as soon as these ideas came, I was gonna get a tattoo somewhere else, but yeah, I suggested this idea to the tattoo artist and she was like “yeah, let’s do that immediately”. So, that’s why.

So, I guess that also answers my question how you were connected to the lyrics, and that proves that you are definitely feel connected in some way with this album.
Yeah I did from the get-go. It’s funny because I’ve been connected to nature ever since I was a child very strongly, and so with “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” and all these subjects, I can relate to that – it’s very natural to me. Singing on this album and just several subjects of the other lyrics, so it seems that the way Tuomas writes his lyrics in a way speaks to me so clearly and the subjects really touch me and interest me, and if I don’t really understand or don’t know much about it, then I read up or we’ll talk about it and things really come alive. So, it’s a wonderful process to be part of. I’m learning so much and it’s wonderful to be so connected on a subject so profoundly without having to… [interrupting herself] he never even had to invest me about anything – things came out naturally.

Right, and the key word is ‘naturally’. Do you think that humans nowadays have lost connection with nature?
I don’t think we can put this globally but I think there are quite a few people that have, yeah. Especially people living in the cities where there is no nature, or barely any. Escape from this mass of people around you – I mean, it would drive me completely mental if I’m honest but that’s me, because I live in the forest and I know that for a lot of people that’s too much as well. We are nature – we are as much nature as any other species on this planet. It would be good to remind ourselves about that every now and then.

Yeah, I see what you’re saying. How was the experience having the photo session in the Natural History Museum in London?
Wonderful! I mean just to be there alone with just our group, without any other visitors, that alone was just magic! Explore the big hall, and yeah, of course we had to work but in between the takes, we were able to stroll around a little bit – that was magic.

That must have been really cool to do that.
Yeah. We were on a tight schedule of course – it’s not like you can’t just hire a place like that for a day – it was just a couple of hours that you really needed to get everything done, but we did and had still some time to see a couple of things, and be in that place that was really something else.

And you wore all these kind of Steampunk outfits for that session, right?
Well, I wouldn’t call them Steampunk. That, for me, is Victorian-meets-me-meets-Rock-meets-Metal. I knew we were gonna be there so that inspired me for a certain look and I communicated that with the lady who makes my outfits and we came up with these ideas. It fitted to the place and the energy of it.

So you were involved in that process.
Not just involved – that was me doing that.

I was listening to “Tribal” that sounds tribal-ish, right, so who’s doing the grunts there?
Me. But that wasn’t something new; I did it on the previous album and I did it in the two REVAMP albums.

Woah, I totally missed that on the previous NIGHTWISH album. But yeah, while listening to that, I was like “where did these grunts come from”?
Yeah, but I’ve been growling for so long, I don’t think that it’s a big surprise. But I guess it hasn’t being used or come out so clearly in NIGHTWISH, but there was a whole chorus in the previous album where I’m growling, so this is why I think it was pretty obvious.

Maybe I thought “oh, that’s Marko doing the macho stuff” – who knows.
(laughs) Yeah, I can understand that.

So, considering this situation that there is not touring, do you have any update at all about the NIGHTWISH touring plans? Or do you have any idea if there is any backup plan?
No, I don’t. At this moment, the only person you can ask about how the future would look like is probably a virologist. And since none of us are, we can only hope for things. It’s really, really hard to plan and it makes no sense to put a lot of effort into re-planning a tour – if should only know if by then we can already tour. So, of course looking into the things that you know, now we should have been in China, we should have being begun South America pretty soon, then came Russia, then a whole summer festival season here in Europe that’s not happening and we’ve been trying to already re-plan the tours that we had but even those, as it rolls on, nothing is really changing and it looks pretty grim if we don’t have a vaccine, it will be pretty difficult to bring life back as it was. So, we’ll all have to sit back in and wait for scientists to fix it because that’s where we all are in the hands of them at this point.

Yes, you’re right. You said you have your piano at home and you’re writing stuff, so is there a project you’re working on or just working on music?
Just working on music; it’s really nice to write a few things without having an actual plan.

Do you have anything on the works since you have additional time to work on music? I mean, you have the NORTHWARD project, your solo tour earlier this year, so do you have anything in the works right now?
Well, I mean the whole tour was based around the TV show I did in the Netherlands. From there, I must say because the tour was so successful and still not have finished though, I would like to write something and make like a solo album at some point – but which style or when and how, that’s something that I don’t really know and it’s kind of nice to not know. Just keep the freedom there while this time provides me with this. But I’m looking into whom I can write with – just try to write more. That’s for as I got. There’s one thing that I recorded this week that I didn’t write but I was asked to sing on. That’s at some point this month that will be revealed what this is. So that’s exciting and has nothing to do with NIGHTWISH.

For a moment, I thought that you’d give me huge news to break (laughs)!

Style-wise, is this something that you’d like to do but for some reason you haven’t done it yet?
Yeah, I would really like that actual do something smaller – not Metal, not Rock. I mean, after more than 20 years of that, I would love to write something smaller with a lot of space for the voice and acoustic instruments for instance. But that’s the only thing I could think of that I’d really like to do. But let’s see; maybe when I start write more and things start to unfold, then I’m like I miss this heavy guitar but that’s so nice about not really having to plan anything or not having a label or anybody telling me it needs to be like this or that. I’m just enjoying that kind of freedom for now.

And as we wrap this up, are you aware of any promotion for “Human. Nature.” that will happen considering that there will be no touring? Anything special aside from releasing maybe some lyric video or something else?
Well, there is a lyric video for every song of the album.

I’m saying something other than that.
Not more for lyric video for every song and a beautiful video and interviews on a daily base, so I could say that something’s special is already happening. Well, I was trying to seek out if bands are trying to adjust to this new situation and trying different things.
Like what? Like getting together and play? Because we live in three different countries, so that’s impossible.

That’s true, but some bands for example post live videos while playing through Skype – I dunno, I’m just thinking aloud if there is anything that a musician can do. Because it must be also economically challenging for some bands.
I guess so, yeah.

Ok, Floor, thank you for taking the time to talk to us again.
Thank you too, and sorry for waking you up in the middle of the night (laughs).

Well, I’ll try to get back to sleep but maybe I’m too excited right now.

Stay safe.
You too, that’s the most important thing right now. Hopefully we can pick up life soon again.