HEIDI PARVIAINEN Interview: DARK SARAH’s Grim Metamorphosis
Vocalist shares the story line of new album, Grim
Three artists were sent to me for consideration. I listened to the first two with interest, attempting to determine who I would choose to interview. The third video was Dark Sarah and the decision was made. I can go through and give all the explanations on why I chose this band, but overall, everything felt right about it. What is curious about this, is it is a completely different style of music than I normally work with. There is something so unique and beautiful about Dark Sarah, I had to know more.
Dark Sarah is a cinematic metal band from Finland. Members: Heidi Parviainen (vocals), Sami Salonen (guitars), Erkka Korhonen (guitars), Thomas Tunkkari (drums), and Rude Rothstén (bass) create an entire experience through storytelling that is uncommon, especially in the metal scene. They have released three previous albums following the story of Dark Sarah and antagonist Dragon. Grim, their fourth album, is to release July 17, 2020. I recently had a chance to visit with band founder and former Amberian Dawn vocalist Heidi Parviainen about the upcoming album.
Dark Sarah has a lot of exciting things on the horizon.
“Yes, and at the moment it’s really hectic because we are handling our own webstore and all the orders. There is 400 orders leaving our house this week *laughs*. It looks like a warehouse. I also have a lot of interviews which is very surprising compared to what I have had before, but I am very excited.”
I get to pick and choose who I get to interview and review and you guys stuck out for so many reasons. I felt compelled to work with you so I am really excited for this.
“Thank you, that’s very nice.”
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?
“Like you said, it is a merge because Dark Sarah died in the Golden Moth album and she transformed into the golden moth and went into space. At the same time the Dragon tried to save her by turning the time turner and they both ended up in this time loop and ended up in Grim in a different time. A witch transformed Dark Sarah back into a human, but she was kind of an empty vessel, without a soul. She was placed in a tomb to wait for the right moment until the moons were in the right position so she could rise again as a human, and this is kind of her rebirth. They are connected in that way.
Moths have a metamorphosis, they start in a worm phase and crawl into the ground, kind of like a casket, and then they come out as moths so I love the idea that mother earth was taking care of her, in her womb, where she is born again through Gaia. When she is born again, she is a completely new person but with a past life. She learns what happened to her in her past life and why her heart is still frozen. That has to do with the upcoming albums. This album is opening up a big curtain to what’s to come and also giving explanations. It is a picture that gives answers to our fans who have been waiting for a conclusion on what happens to Dark Sarah and Dragon. This is a transition album both musically and also with the story so it starts a completely new story line with new characters and it gives answers.”
It is almost like a book series so I am sure with the cliffhangers at the end of the albums your fans are anxiously awaiting the next album to explain what’s going on.
“Yeah, I think so and everybody was so sad at what happened to Dark Sarah and also what happened to Dragon that deceived her, but also tried to save her. Where did he go? So this is also answering that.
So does he transform into Mörk, or is Mörk completely different?
Mörk is a different character, but Dragon transforms into a wolf. He is a shapeshifter but in Grim he lost some of his powers in the time traveling so he couldn’t take back his dragon form or the man form. He could only be a wolf in Grim and he has been guarding Luna’s grave for a century and everybody is talking about this black dog who is walking on her tomb. He is a guardian of the underworld.”
You do 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 the idea behind the teasers is we want to create a complete story line with only a few things. We have the lyrics, the music videos, and the short stories I write, but because it is not a movie, you need something visual to get into the mood of the album. The scenery and what is happening there. You start building up the scenery for yourself that you kind of get the idea of what kind of story it is and what is happening.”
I love it, I think it is a great idea. Are you an avid reader?
“I would love to read more if I had time. I used to read often when I was young and I used to read fantasy and horror novels and some Edgar Allan Poe which made me love poetry and inspired me to write the poetry book about Grim. It will be released the same day as the album. You can find it in many bookstores, I believe worldwide.”
What is the title?
“Grim Poems. You can also order a signed copy with a personal note from our webstore.”
Are there any similarities between you and Luna and Dark Sarah?
“Yes, a lot. I actually just realized it when I was writing the chronicles. I was growing as a musician and as a person in the end of the chronicles. I was kind of done with Dark Sarah already and I felt I had changed and I needed to have a new skin. *laughs*”
That is beautiful, evolving as a human.
“Yeah, of course and as an artist too. I think now with Luna I feel more empowered and also more free with myself. I can already see it is really different to be Luna. She is much more peppery and much more confident. Which is different from Dark Sarah who was always a victim. Sarah and Dark Sarah were both abused by the men in their lives. Even though I live happily in a marriage, I have had my moments in life with this kind of misery and also feeling deceived and everything like that. I think I went through my own emotions through these characters and that is something I just noticed now. I didn’t feel good in Dark Sarah’s skin anymore so it was a great moment to become something else.”
A moth is a wonderful way to have that metaphorical transformation.
“Yes, yes, in many ways both in my personal life and in the story.”
You are a professional classical opera singer but in the 90’s you started to get into metal and made that combination. Is that something you sought out or fell upon you?
“It fell upon me. *laughs* I had no connection with metal music when I joined my first metal band. It was weird because I was just singing in choirs and practicing classical singing at school. Some high school guys I knew asked me to sing on their metal EP and I said, ‘Guys, don’t you know I am a classical singer’? They said, ‘Yes yes we have heard you and we want exactly your voice’. I was adventurous and I was very happy I was asked. I went to the studio where they were recording and I sang. How they played piano, with only two fingers, I thought, well I can do that easier, so I stayed in the band as a keyboard player for ten years.”
And you just never looked back, you found your place.
“Yes. In the beginning I couldn’t quite get the idea of metal music because I couldn’t hear the melodies or the rhythm. It felt more like noise *laughs* at first, but of course I kind of fell into the deep end because it was a death metal band that I joined. *laughs*”
You went from one extreme to the other.
“Yeah, but because I liked the guys and it was something really exotic, I think it was meant for me. We started shows and recording more EP’s, it was a really active band. So I was really into it. I loved playing piano, but since I had been there for ten years and I started classical training, I started to feel more like a singer. That is why I wanted to apply to a band to become a singer in a metal band and I tried out and Amberian Dawn was there to catch me.”
You have already released “All Ears” and “Melencholia”, how has the response been?
“Really good. I think ‘Melencholia’ doesn’t raise questions and it doesn’t raise bad feedback but with ‘All Ears’ some find it irritating. *laughs* I don’t know why.”
That is the first one I heard and what reeled me in to Dark Sarah.
“The good thing about getting negative responses is it raises questions, it raises feelings compared to something that doesn’t raise anything. It’s a good thing. You always get both sides of the sword. That’s okay, and for me, I really love that scene from the story because Luna is at the podium talking to the citizens of Grim who have been enchanted by the green orb called ‘La Folie Verte.’ Luna is trying to convince them and create spirit that they should start fighting back with the monster who is called Mörk and who has been terrorizing them for centuries. Luna is trying to convince them that you can do this, you can win.”
What a great message right now with the way the world is.
“I think it really is up to date even though it wasn’t meant to be. It is completely fiction and doesn’t have that kind of a message because it’s a story, but I think people can relate to it in many ways because if you have been bullied you want to stand up for yourself.”
Right. So, there are four different orbs that are different colors. Is there significance to the colors?
“There is only four now. *laughs* The blue orb is called Melancholia and that is the orb you can see into your past with. It is something Luna needs to become her and know everything that has happened to her. Illuminate is a purple orb that gives her the power to rule wind and everything like that. It gives Luna the power to revive her magic which is what you see on the ‘Illuminate’ video. La Folie Verte is the green orb. Luna gets the orb in a funny way. She enters this shattered house where there is two rabbit-headed people who are wearing masks of course. They sit there and drink green juice that makes them drunk and Luna sees the orb on the table. She knows she needs to get it because it has a seductive effect to the rabbits. She takes the orb, and uses it to get the people to come see her on the podium. The people of Grim have been living in fear for so many years, they don’t have the courage to come out of the shadows, which is why Luna needs this kind of powerful orb to command these people. The last orb is Malevolent. It was a normal orb but wizards used it for bad purposes and it turned malevolent from its core. It started seeking violence and bad things and that’s where Mörk came there. The malevolent is in Mörk’s heart. So he is the evil in that town.”
There are many metaphors and some philosophy which we discussed a little about already, is there anything in particular you are hoping people are going to understand about the story?
“I never really think about the messages they just happen, but if there is a message I can see now, is that Mörk is the bully, like everybody has in some kind of form, and you need to gain your own magical powers to become you to believe in yourself and defeat the bad things in your life and become stronger. I think that is the main story.
Also you asked about where I got the idea for orbs and I don’t really remember. I like the ideas of them, like a video game. Almost like old Zelda where you can find different kinds of magical powers hidden in places. This is something I already tried to do on the Puzzle album. For me, that was a game because Dark Sarah needed to find the keys. In Grim, the orbs are the thing that Luna is trying to find, and people have and are hiding from Mörk. Luna needs to find them to revive her magic powers. That is something I love so much that we have these glass orbs that are handmade in Finland that we are selling in different colors on our webstore. Orbs are witch balls to us. New colors are coming to the store when I have time to update it. Every color has different meanings.”
What a neat idea.
“I have them in my home and garden, almost like magic. *laughs* One message on this Grim album is we need something to believe in, kind of defeat the grayness in our life that we sometimes face. Not everyday is a cool day.”
Dark Sarah’s Grim is an incredible composition with an engaging story. Clearly this band has a knack for imagery and musical talents. I have turned a new leaf with this type of music and was pleased to speak with a vocalist who was kind, funny, and easy to discuss her work with.
Dark Sarah will be streaming a live video on August 7th at 8PM GMT. You can look on their Facebook page or website to get tickets for this live showing.