The Dark Element’s Anette Olzon: Balancing Life With Returning to Music [Exclusive Interview]
The Internet really is a wonderful thing. It has allowed us to access seemingly all recorded music in history and while the downside for bands has certainly been the collapse of album sales, it's also eased the ability for musicians to start new projects and record albums that wouldn't have happened if it weren't for simple and efficient communication and file sharing. The latest example if The Dark Element, who, at their core, are comprised of former Nightwish singer Anette Olzon and ex-Sonata Arctica guitarist Jani Liimatainen.
Their self-titled debut was recently released through Frontiers Music SRL and seesaws between the light and the dark, leaving the listener to come away high on the synth-driven, melody-dominated sounds while pondering the fragility of life and other deeper existential issues.
For Olzon, The Dark Element marks her first album since debuting with her solo record, Shine, in 2014. The singer has been mostly quiet since her exit from Nightwish in 2012 following a five-year run with the Finnish outfit that yielded two studio albums, Dark Passion Play and Imaginaerum. She seems wholly in her... element... with this new band and had the opportunity to dive further into what The Dark Element are all about and her time away from music as she's been pursuing nursing since her departure from Nightwish. Check it all out below.
How did your first come in contact with Jani Liimatainen about forming a band together?
I had recorded a duet for one of Frontiers Records bands Secret Sphere and shortly after I got an email where they asked me if I was interested in singing on a whole album with Jani. Since I hadn't heard any of the songs or so much from Jani's earlier songwriting, I had to think a bit. Not that I wasn't happy to get the question but mostly because I hadn't done an album after my solo album and I felt a new whole album needed to be a good one to showcase me after all those years. So me and my husband talked it through and he said, "Go for it! I know you've missed doing music, it can be fun!" And well, I went for it and haven't regretted it a bit.
You met Jani for the first time on the shoot for the “My Sweet Mystery” video. What was the most challenging part of writing an album without ever having met face to face?
It wasn't a challenge since I am used to work that way. I often record songs from other bands and artists where I get the song and record my parts. Today's technology makes us able to work from a distance and still being able to do songs together. And I believe it also was good in a way since I didn't have Jani there to tell me how to sing and that made me being able to be free and creative with my vocals and harmonies. On the other hand it's always fun to be together in the studio and be a team in it all, but this worked out well and now we know that for the next album too.
You began studying nursing in 2013. Is that your primary focus or do you intend on pursuing music full time again with The Dark Element?
I am soon done... finally. I want to sing full time, of course, but this is a good back up plan to have since you never know if music will sell and so on. I have learned the hard way that things can be on top one day [and] be at the lowest the day after. I guess I am older and wiser now too and a mother to three lovely boys and we all need to provide for those little ones which means to have a steady income. Even if I'd love to just rock 'n' roll for the fun of it, it's just not doable. Musicians need to pay bills too.
Are there plans to tour behind this album or to perform select shows?
There are plans to play gigs and we have gotten some nice offers already. I hope we can do both some tours and festivals but we have to fit it in the boys' schedule of me and Jani who has other projects also. I believe Jani is the busy little bee here next year but I hope he can fit us in to his schedule. I would love to take this on tour, in the U.S. for instance, and let's hope we can do that.
“Last Good Day” is emotionally heavy. Was this inspired by your experiences in nursing and talking with patients?
Jani wrote all lyrics so I didn't have anything to do with them, but when I recorded this song I must say it was a lot of emotions since I do see so much in that work as a nurse and how life really can turn from being a healthy and vivid person to a sudden illness or even death. I believe it's really important to live every single day as it was the last good day and say those important things to people while you can. I say that I love my children every day due to this and try to make my own life to be in the now instead of living in the past or the future.
The music on this album is jovial, but the lyrics are dark. What do you want listeners to take away from the listening experience?
I like that it's both dark and light in the songs and I hope that they can embrace the sometimes heavy lyrics with the catchiness and light in the melodies. To feel that even if life treats them badly and they are hurt, we must keep staying as positive as we can and move on and stay strong.
The Dark Element, "My Sweet Mystery"
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