This year is shaping up to be a big one for Floor Jansen. Not only does it mark 10 years since the Dutch artist joined Finnish symphonic metallers Nightwish as their lead vocalist (they’re currently working on their tenth album), but she's already released her debut solo album, Paragon, a powerful, uplifting piece of work that showcases her stellar voice.
“I started writing it during the pandemic,” she says. “There was so much that was negative, so much not possible, that I wanted to focus on what was possible. That was the mantra that got me through the whole thing, and in a subconscious way really integrated into the songs.”
Below, she tells us about some of the music and artists that brought her to where she is today.
The first music I remember hearing
I’m not one of those people who have a great memory for childhood things, even though I had a great childhood. But the first band that comes to mind is The Beatles; my Dad used to play a lot of The Beatles, especially on the weekends, on a Sunday. I remember the song Honey Pie. I could not understand it as a child. It’s not great, but it’s definitely memorable!
The first song I performed live
When I was about thirteen or fourteen I joined a high-school musical, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. So it wasn’t one song, it was that musical. I shared the role of the narrator with two other girls. After that I was sold – that’s what I wanted to do. I like that [musical], but musicals are often a bit too sweet for my tastes, even back then. The Phantom Of The Opera, Jekyll & Hyde, those are a little darker.
The guitar hero
I play in a band with him: that’s Emppu [Vuorinen, Nightwish guitarist]. He is an amazing guitar player, but he doesn’t need to fill every gap in the song with meaningless notes. He really keeps the atmosphere [of the songs]. What he plays in Sleeping Sun is beautiful.
She falls completely out of the spectrum of rock and metal, but if there’s one singer that endlessly amazes me with her sound it’s Celine Dion. I find her music absolutely cheese-bombs, but that’s too bad, because I love her voice. You can feel what she’s singing.
Tuomas [Holopainen, Nightwish]. I don’t know anybody who can write like him. He has been writing music for twenty-five years, had three different singers in his band, and still Nightwish is one of the biggest bands out there. That says something about how good the songs are. I have a special love for Ghost Love Score which is a super-weird song, it’s ten minutes long, but for some reason, it speaks to so many people.
The greatest album of all time
It’s so coloured in time. I’m forty-two, so what I thought was the best at sixteen [won’t be the same now]. I can never answer that question.
Ny guilty pleasure
I’ll see if there’s anything I listen to that people might think is weird… One of my band members loves nineties disco, and that is so far away from what we do, but I don’t have [anything like] that. I do like to listen to film music when I read books. Usually instrumental. The music depends on what kind of book it is, because you still connect it together. I was listening to the music from Inception when I read Steven King’s Dark Tower series. There are parts of the book that really connect to parts of the music.
The best record I've made
You put so much love and energy into every song, that the moment you release the album, that’s the best thing you’ve ever done. It always feels that way because you put everything you’ve learned, all the skills you have, everything you are into your latest work. So for me that would be Paragon, because it’s the latest thing I did.
The worst record I've made
Probably the first [Prison Of Desire by After Forever]. I was eighteen when I recorded it, so we didn’t know anything about writing, about recording, about singing. But your first is your first. And that also makes it very, very special.
The song that makes me cry
Most music makes me cry! My emotions are very close to the surface. One song is Heartless, from Evergrey. Just some things in his lyrics that are expressed very beautifully.
The cult hero
Anneke van Giersbergen. When I heard [The Gathering’s] Strange Machines on the radio, and then went to see a concert, for me she was like an absolute role model. To sing like that in a metal band, she made me want to do that too. And I loved the way that she did it, her sound and performance and just being this fierce woman among the men.
The best cover version
During the pandemic I started doing cover songs, and some of my favourites I put on YouTube. That was my only connection to the outside world. I have a young daughter, and it’s really hard to get around [the film] Frozen. So I did Let It Go. It’s fun to sing. I wanted to give it a mature sound, a metal twist.
The song I want played at my funeral
I haven’t thought of it yet, to be honest. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. I just went through cancer, so I’ve just been thinking more about surviving.
Floor Jansen's Paragon is out now.