Finnish cinematic metal band Dark Sarah was formed in 2012 by Heidi Parviainen, a classically educated professional singer-songwriter. Their music combines elements of metal music, film music, music theater and opera. Their albums are conceptual albums and tell a continuing story.
I recently has the chance to speak to Heidi to talk about the bands upcoming album 'Grim', the story-line of Dark Sarah and a guide on how to become a darkling...
"Music was my fate and now I´m doing anything I can to make this work! Better late than never, right!"
Firstly, I have to ask this at the moment, how have you guys been coping in the lock-down, what kind of things have you been up to since the lock-down came into effect.
We have been social distancing for many months and working from home. I´ve been teaching singing online and doing a lot of gardening. Also the preparations of the album release like music video shooting needed to take place during the spring and crowdfunding. I´ve kept myself busy!
How did you get into writing and creating music? Was there a decisive moment or event that you remember that made you stop and think, wow, THIS is what I want to do with my life?
Well, to be honest. I tried to avoid becoming a full time musician for a decade! Haha. I´ve always been studying music and working hard on becoming better singer. But I studied five different educations before I realized music was what I truly wanted to do since my music career just kept on developing more and more serious. It just pushed through! It was only when leaving Amberian Dawn when I finally gave up and decided it was time to get a professional education in music too.So I left my day job and started a seven years of professional classical music studies. Music was my fate and now I´m doing anything I can to make this work! Better late than never, right!
Let’s be honest 2020 has been a weird year so far and things will probably be weird for a while. As an artist, especially an artist with an album releasing soon, How has this affected your rhythm? This is the time you would be out there promoting the new album for all your fans!
I think this time is devastating to touring band who get their income from touring. When it comes to Dark Sarah, the touring has not been possible for us yet, we have been concentrating on making albums and in six years we have released four albums. Not that we wouldn´t want to tour but so far it just hasn´t been possible financially. I was hoping that GRIM would take us on tour of at least on some shows in Europe, but let´s see how the situation will develop this year. Fingers crossed! If there won´t be much shows with GRIM, I will start making a new album asap. It is already bubbling in the back of my mind!
"I wrote demos for GRIM for two years in that time my songwriting developed a lot and also I noticed some style changes too. So I think for our fans GRIM is a good transition album"
With the first three albums, you have the Dark Sarah and the Dragon characters and the Middle, Upper, and Lower worlds for each album but Grim is different. Is this a completely different story or is there a merge between Dark Sarah and Luna?
Luna is the reincarnation of Dark Sarah. Dark Sarah died in the end of the Chronicles trilogy and Dragon tried to save her by turning the time turner. They both ended to a new time and a city called GRIM. This new story holds in the memory of Dark Sarah.
Your discography is insanely deep and intricate. The last album ended on a cliffhanger, can you go into this cliffhanger a little deeper? Will we get our questions answered when ‘Grim’ releases on the 17th July?
Many answers will be answered on this album and in a way GRIM is an introduction to this new storyline but will give some consolation for the DS fans who wish for answers of what happened to Dark Sarah and Dragon. Remember to read the story “GRIM POEMS” for the full story! It will be released same day as our album and is available in digital bookstores and on our webstore. For the people who don´t know our music or stories yet, the first trilogy Chronicles story is available on our website. Listen the albums in right order.
Speaking of your new album ‘Grim’ is due to be released on July 17th. Can you go into your creation process a little for the new album?
I started writing the new album almost straight away when The Golden Moth came out. There is always many months wait with the new album before it is released so there was plenty of time to start the new process. I wrote demos for GRIM for two years in that time my songwriting developed a lot and also I noticed some style changes too. So I think for our fans GRIM is a good transition album with a soft changing phase. Something new is coming, I feel that. Story ways GRIM starts a new horror fantasy storyline but GRIM is only opening the curtain a bit. Darker stories are about to come. The protagonist Luna is introduced on GRIM and the new time where this story takes place. The city is called Grim and the people have been living in fear of the monster called Mörk for centuries. They are waiting for a lunar deity to come and save them.
"I like the fact that we can explore and develop our sound. That is what I love about our sub-genre “cinematic metal”, it can be almost anything!"
On social media Dark Sarah does teaser trailers to explain the new story line of the upcoming albums, what made you decide to start doing this? How do people respond?
I think it is the best way of creating the mood and give people a good idea of what the new story will be about. Just like in movies. The response has been really good and I think our fans are always waiting for them before a new album.
‘Illuminate’ is the latest single and is a beautiful track. Is it always the ambition of the band to always push the limits of what the definitive Dark Sarah sound can be?
Like the world around us, we as people, music and trends change. Change is inevitable and development is required. I like the fact that we can explore and develop our sound. That is what I love about our sub-genre “cinematic metal”, it can be almost anything! There are so different soundtracks on movies too! But of course we always want to sound like Dark Sarah and I think we still do, very much.
Are there any similarities between yourself, Luna and Dark Sarah?
I just recently took a look back and realized that each of our previous albums have very strong attachments to the time being and are images from my past. I also realized how the Chronicles reflect my own personal growth. Maybe that was also the reason why I needed the change and become Luna. She gives me more freedom. Dark Sarah had too much past already. Too many things had happened to her. She tried to transform but it didn´t work for her.
"What song would describe this the best? Maybe “Poison Apple” or our most listened song “Dance With The Dragon” or on GRIM “All Ears!” or “ La Folie Verte” – I think when people hear these songs, they know it is Dark Sarah."
If you could choose any one person to do a guest spot on one of your tracks who would you choose and why?
I would love to do a duet with an actor. Some villain maybe! And now you got me thinking…maybe on the next album!!!!
If you had to choose one song from the Dark Sarah catalogue that you feel encompasses the bands signature sound, which song would you choose and why?
A really hard question! I think all our albums are so different but still sounding very much like Dark Sarah. It is in the story telling, special music theater style vocal lines but also in the beautiful orchestrations and soundscapes that make our listener imagine and complete the story with their own mental images. What song would describe this the best? Maybe “Poison Apple” or our most listened song “Dance With The Dragon” or on GRIM “All Ears!” or “ La Folie Verte” – I think when people hear these songs, they know it is Dark Sarah. We have this style on every album.
Your voice is so amazing, and you have such beautiful range. What made you decide to start writing and recording into metal music?
I joined my first metal band in 1997 as a backing vocalist and a keyboardist. I had been studying classical singing for some years then and I had no touch to metal before. Quite soon I learned about other metal genres than death metal and then I was hooked. I feel there is a lot of common to classical music and metal. My first favorite metal band was Kamelot. Then came Dragon Force and many more. At that time there was already Nightwish and soon many more that had a classical singers as their vocalists. It took still quite many years before I started to see myself as a vocalist instead of a keyboardist. In 2006 I joined Amberian Dawn as a vocalist.
Finally, There are many different things and some philosophy baked into all the Dark Sarah releases, is there anything in particular you are hoping people are going to understand about the story?
If you want to google out a bit, you will find a lot of layers in our stories! I try my best to always hide some things here and there ;) give people something to bite. Still our music is also very possible to just listen to, you don´t need to dig everything out to get into our music. The stories are there if you want to know more!
QUICK GUIDE FOR A BEGINNER DARKLING:
1. Watch the album trailers + photos
2. Listen to albums in order
3. Read The story
4. Watch the music videos
6. Do this all in different order