DATE OF INTERVIEW:
6th May 2015
METAL DISCOVERY: So, ‘Behind the Black Veil’ is a themed album about a girl left at the altar called Sarah. In a recent interview, you’ve talked about how you picked a princess name to name this painful inner fight. Would you say that there is a connection between Sarah’s story and Disney fairy-tale like stories?
HEIDI: In a way, yes, this is a fairy tale like story, only a dark one. Dark Sarah’s story is quite a dark one with insanity and divided personalities, and she is also hunting the ex-husband. Disney also has some darker stories too like ‘Maleficent’ etc.
(Heidi Parviainen on her debut solo album under the Dark Sarah alias)
"‘Behind the Black Veil’ is a prologue that introduces us to the main characters and what lies behind the veil of Sarah - both her wedding and her funeral, so to say."
Interview by Salomé Sequeira
Official Dark Sarah Website:
DARK SARAH DISCOGRAPHY
Behind the Black Veil (2015)
When parting company with Finnish symphonic metallers Amberian Dawn in 2012, a band she'd fronted since their inception in 2006, Heidi Parviainen wasted no time in forging a solo identity, under the guise of Dark Sarah. Three years on, and her debut record under said alias has finally been released. Titled 'Behind the Black Veil', it's a narrative-based concept underpinned by an intriguing psychological drama that explores the split personality of a woman scorned. Metal Discovery's Salomé Sequeira questioned Heidi about this new chapter in her career, to find out just what lies behind the black veil...
Dark Sarah - promo shot
Photograph copyright © 2012 Toni Härkönen - www.toniharkonen.com
Official Dark Sarah Facebook:
Thanks to Emil Westerdahl for arranging the interview.
MD: Is it possible that Dark Sarah was already a twisted, dormant side before the tragedy happened? I mean, how far goes the good girl syndrome that never do bad things? It must be somewhere in there!
HEIDI: Well, she was really naive and didn´t want to see the signs of a possible tragedy in her husband before she stepped on the altar with him. When the husband left the church with another woman, Sarah froze and her mind started to swirl around all the details that had already happened but she had not realized then or lived in denial. Maybe this good girl syndrome hides all the negative feelings like anger, fear etc. She kind of took in every bullet without making any sound. I feel that in Sarah´s case, it was a cup that got full and, when it did, she just flipped and let all the stored negative feelings out, it was Dark Sarah.
MD: ‘Behind the Black Veil’ is about Dark Sarah, and Dark Sarah names this project, so will future releases under Dark Sarah’s name have new characters, storylines or, even better, give us more information about Sarah’s twisted side?
HEIDI: The new album I’m already preparing will continue the story with a little different perspective. There will be new events, new surroundings and also new characters. But the theme will continue! ‘Behind the Black Veil’ is a prologue that introduces us to the main characters and what lies behind the veil of Sarah - both her wedding and her funeral, so to say. Sarah’s twisted side represents everything she had stored inside of her, the negative feelings and rage. Dark Sarah is a very fierce woman because she has no conscience but a craving for harming people. The story is like a new version of Jekyll and Hyde.
MD: When did this concept come out and what brought the inspiration for the story? The writing process to such a complex and story-like sound must have been lengthy. How much influence did you have in the instrumental composition?
HEIDI: The idea for the divided persona actually came along with the first lyrics I wrote for this project; it was ‘Save Me’. In the music, the harmony of the chorus is in major but she sings "save me". When I figured out why the music is in major and the story is sad, I knew there had to be something behind the text too, and then I got it - it was insanity. The whole concept and leading idea for the story was born with the ‘Save Me’ song. I don’t take part in the composing at the moment, I mostly concentrate on the story and the lyrics and figuring out the visual stuff that is built to support the story. But I work quite closely with the composers and all the time the story and the music are in dialogue. We want them both to support each other.
MD: In the videos ‘Save me’ and ‘Light in You’ the visuals are quite similar, however, both with total different feelings, the lost girl and the hopeful one, was this calculated? The first introduces Dark Sarah and the second seems to be the conclusion of her story.
HEIDI: In a way they are similar, yes, they both happen in the forest which is a central scene in the story. And if you look closely you can also see the old piano in both videos. We did want to build a bridge between the first video and the last one. The last video is a conclusion for the story under the ‘Behind the Black Veil’ headline, but it is also the beginning for another chronicle of the Dark Sarah´s story ;)
MD: A few days ago you announced a line-up change. Thomas Tunkkari is now behind the drums, replacing Lauri Kuussalo. How does the band influence the sound behind this project and how different is it from working with Amberian Dawn?
HEIDI: The musicians get the band arrangements quite ready, but they fulfil it with their personal style and ideas. In AD it was quite similar in that way, we also got mostly ready songs back then. Solos are always made by the musicians on their own.
MD: Dark Sarah’s symbol is the eye of Ra; how is Egyptian mythology connected to this story?
HEIDI: Not much, only in a metaphoric way because "Sarah" is an ancient name that means "a princess" and, here, "Dark Sarah" means "a dark princess". And the eye of a Horus is a protective sign, it forms around Sarah's eye when she transforms into Dark Sarah. Maybe to protect the good in her? ;)
MD: Are there any more influences? As a “Cinematic Metal” project, you must have a great repertoire of movies and plays! In your duet with Manuela Kraller I could feel some ‘Phantom of The Opera’ influences, even though the message of the song is not remotely connected to Lloyd Webber’s piece. Also, in ‘Violent Roses’ I felt like you were playing the Snow White Queen. Any movies in this style that you would recommend? Musicals perhaps?
HEIDI: I love the Broadway musicals and also opera (especially baroque operas). My favourites are ‘Phantom…’, of course, and ‘Cats’ but also ‘Miss Saigon’ and movies like Tim Burton’s productions and ‘Memoires of a Geisha’, ‘The Piano’ and many more soundtracks made by Danny Elfman or Hans Zimmer, to name a few well known. The feeling when you watch a movie with an exciting story, music is what really emphasizes the emotion. It is not the same feeling without the music; the music tells you a hundred times more than the picture alone. This particular thing we wanted to capture on this album - tell the story, the movie, with only the storyline and music. Of course, the soundtrack sound is not that appealing for album listeners, it is mostly made to support the visual picture, here we needed to add more theater to it to make it tell more. And because it is a "sung soundtrack" we also needed to make the singing really tell the story like in musical or opera.
MD: On the ‘Evil Roots’ music video we can see a girl in a red hood being followed by Dark Sarah. However, Dark Sarah has some red parts on her dress. Would you say that this would be one of the many visual representations of the evident conflict between the Evil Sarah and her innocent side?
HEIDI: Actually, in the video, the girl in the red hood is Sarah and she is lured into the darkness, the evil tree, by the Queen on No Good. The other woman in the video is her. Red symbolized here also a feeling, something fierce, new, powerful that is about to enter into Sarah's world. In the story and around it there are a lot of hidden meanings, the story itself has a lot of layers too. Everything is not as it seems at first sight.
MD: How long have you been with Inner Wound Recordings and how did you get connected with the label? There are a decent amount of bands appealing to Indiegogo without having a label. How is the interaction between these two worlds? The one massively supported by the fans and, at the same time, by a label?
HEIDI: I started the campaign and ended it also without a label. After a while I was contacted by Inner Wound and we agreed about the details of publishing the album together. We don't have a "normal band deal" but a better one! It also means that Dark Sarah is independent and that the supportive fans are still Dark Sarah's "label" on the future albums too, at least at the moment. Music business is changing and the change seems good from my point of view. Only the minority of bands can ever get a good record deal. With this one I have the possibility to work straight with the fans and still can release and distribute music worldwide. I can see myself as a really fortunate one.
MD: On the 25th of October you’re playing in the UK! One of the two dates you’re playing this year. Are you planning any more dates around the world? Any surprises for these two shows? It would be lovely to see you performing in an opera house with a full set of actors telling Dark Sarah’s story. Maybe one day?
HEIDI: We're all the time trying to arrange more shows, however it is not cheap to fly from Finland for just one show, that is why it is not that easy. But we would love to make a mini tour or something in Germany perhaps. If the Germany shows would take place, maybe then Inga and Manuela could also join in! And I would LOVE to perform in an opera house and build a massive show around Dark Sarah! Indeed I would.
MD: Finally, any plans for one day trying to pull out a production like ‘Imaginaerum’ from Nightwish? I mean, Dark Sarah could certainly pull it off. The music is there, so is the concept.
HEIDI: I only wish that Dark Sarah would create her own growth story that successful bands like Nightwish have done.