Finland has gained a lot of interest and respect in the rock music fraternity as more and more talent rises up from the Scandinavian nation. H.I.M. created quite a buzz with their brand of ‘Love Metal’ whilst Nightwish swept away any scepticism with their influential and well executed symphonic metal. Keeping these artists in mind, it is then with little surprise that Amberian Dawn should be pushing through the boundaries spreading their presence to all those in the unknown.
With Heidi Parviainen at the helm singing as if her life depends on it, Amberian Dawn unveiled a series of four studio albums from 2008 to 2012 capturing their version of female-fronted power metal. It garnered them some recognition, successful tours and many other accolades that come with well crafted songs and great performances. Alas, a change was in the breeze as the well-informed song-writing duo of Parviainen and keyboardist/guitarist Tuomas Seppälä parted ways. The remaining band members licked their wounds after the release of Circus Black also saying farewell to lead guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen and drummer Heikki Saari.
A new chapter unfolded when in 2013 the new line-up of Amberian Dawn seized the opportunity to reassure their fan-base of their existence and intent. Re-Evolution tackled highlights from the previous four studio albums and shared the talents of new lead vocalist Päivi “Capri” Virkkunen. By giving the old songs a new coat of paint adding their new vocalist to the palette, fans were given a new sense of hope their favorite band weren’t giving in without a fight.
After explaining how she likes to be known as Capri, the lead vocalist sounds relaxed as she roams around a small island taking in the sun where she has a holiday home. “I’ve been working for so long in different projects and this was really exciting. I love to sing rock but I also love to sing classical music. It’s been challenging and this was the first time I had to write lyrics for the audience. I’ve written for myself of course, but nothing in public. I was very excited to join the band in the beginning and right now of course.”
Due to Seppälä losing his song-writing partner, it was interesting to hear her thoughts on this process as she stepped in to some established shoes. “I didn’t know anything about how they worked together; I don’t know how it went. When I joined the band, Tuomas asked me to write lyrics and I said that I can try.”
So what is the style that Capri has found? “My style of writing lyrics is to listen to those songs without thinking of themes and lyrics. I just let the music speak to me, like for example when I listened to Magic Forest for the first time and Tuomas had already named it Magic Forest, but when I heard it I knew that it has to be the title of the song. When I sing – hey little songbirds, come here little songbirds; that was the first idea when I heard the song. I kind of needed to write it in the form of ‘Hansel and Gretel’, and when I listen to songs that Tuomas has composed, I kind of see movies in my mind. Maybe there is one word or a picture that flashes again and again and again, and that’s the style of how I write lyrics.”
Commenting on the music video for the title track of their brand new album, Capri observes “They got the kind of panic and atmosphere of being scared quite well in that video, and I love those two little girls in the video, they were amazing. I loved it that I’m not playing such a big part or the band as it is the two little girls that have made the video great.” She adds “For me it took two days, one when I played the witch. The next day I was in front of the green screen, so one day there. It was great; I do play in musical theater and I teach singing there, but this was the first time I get to play a part in a music video, it was a great two days.”
The title track is one of a few highlights that can be found on the new album Magic Forest. “I think it was quite fast when Tuomas sent those songs to me, it took me two months or something. Then I was kind of ‘I don’t have time to write so many songs so quickly’, but it was quite easy when I heard those songs. I knew right away what I would write. When I heard Green-Eyed it immediately I could see the ocean waves. It’s not about mermaids, but some sort of creatures.” Capri lets out a hearty chuckle as she thinks about the imagery that was conjured by the music.
“I think I knew I had to record the singing parts before I go to the studio, so that I can send them to Tuomas and ask him if it’s okay to sing them like this or that. We spoke a lot about the feelings and atmosphere of the songs even though I have permission already from him. Green-Eyed, I don’t know what the title was before I added my words, but I made it much stronger than he thought it would have been. I need to listen to myself many times singing the songs – what do I think of it, do I need to change something in the way I sing or the way I wrote those lyrics?” This is how Capri sums up some of the experience she brought to the table for the recording of Magic Forest.
Momentum was rolling as Capri with her evident Finnish accent elaborated on the recording process making comparisons with last year’s Re-Evolution. “Re-Evolution – it wasn’t difficult but I kind of, I was quite honored to sing Heidi’s stories but I didn’t know if she liked it.” The lead singer clarified how the main comparison between these two albums was her contribution to the songwriting aspect of Magic Forest as opposed to taking completely finished songs on Re-Evolution and trying her best to do justice to them.
If you were to dig in the past, you’d discover that Capri was involved in two pop music-themed albums. One was released in 1997 and the other came out during 2001. “I think I was quite naive then and I sang what they told me to sing. The lesson I learned is that I have to do what I want and sing what I want and do my own stuff. If I’m honest, I really don’t like those two albums at all. I needed to sing them in Finnish and I didn’t want to. I’ve always wanted to sing in English and I always wanted to sing rock music and that was kind of Finnish music, Finnish lyrics and I didn’t like it.” It is during this moment that Capri says she cannot believe she has said this, and seems to feel bad for sharing her thoughts about these two records.
So how did Capri find her voice? “I was three when I entered my first singing contest. 12 was the oldest age in the category of this singing competition and I was only three. I came 2nd place when I was three. I already knew then I wanted to sing and after high school I went to study as a vocal teacher. When I was 28 I think, I found my voice as I noticed I can make mistakes and I still sound fine. So this is when I found my real voice, how I want to sing and that is how I teach singing nowadays.”
“I can feel it in my whole body when I sing rock music, when I sing classical it’s easier and lighter, but rock music I love it!” Capri replies when she thinks about the musical styles she’s tackled over the years. When quizzed about what attracts her to a specific song, the Finnish vocalist explains “When I hear a song for the first time I don’t think about the lyrics at all. For example one song I love is Pink’s Try.” Capri embroiders on this initial thought. “First time I heard it, I fell in love with the melody and after that I just started to listen to what she sings. The chorus is brilliant and I loved the way she plays with lyrics.”
Capri comes across as a woman who loves music with every part of her being and is thoroughly appreciative of the opportunity to be the front-woman of an established symphonic rock band. Whether her union with Seppälä in the song-writing department will yield greater commercial rewards than what’s been achieved so far remains to be seen. Collating her mass experience from the various competitions, studies and music releases she has been a part of, Capri is channelling them in to Amberian Dawn. For now, if you’d written off Amberian Dawn when Parviainen departed, then you’ll be pleased to know they are still alive and breathing and ready to take you into the Magic Forest where many other stories are waiting to be explored.