About Me

Interview with Dark Sarah

The voice of an angel, is the best way to describe Heidi Parviainen. “Grim” will be released on the 17th July, via Napalm Records. A modern horror fantasy theme and an elegant album, for both eyes and ears. The history of the characters and who represents them, the symbolism, narrator, and much more, is told on this interview.
If you liked the other albums, you will love this! Stay tuned, because there’s a surprise here.

M.I. -  Hi there, Heidi. Kiitos for this interview. I hope the situation there, in Finland, is stable. Hope you’re well and your family too.

Kiitos to you too. Yes. We are really good. We’re isolating from other people. I think Finnish people do it anyway (laughs). We live a bit further from the city, so it’s quite easy for us. We have stayed at home and we’re safe and well, thank you.

M.I. -  Why did you decide for “Dark Sarah” as the name of the band? I know that’s the name you’re known for.

“Dark Sarah” was my second project. The first project, after Amberian Dawn, which was my first band that I was in. When I left the band, in 2012, I felt that I wanted to start something new. When I was writing the first lyrics for this band, “Dark Sarah”, I was writing about a woman, called Sarah and she was walking in the woods, in her wedding dress and I kind of felt that I wanted to write more about her story. That was kind of the trigger and I felt that, to me at least, it sounded quite a good name for a band, because “dark” everybody knows what it means, but “Sarah” is an ancient name, it means “The Princess”. I thought “Dark Princess” would be quite a nice name, even though people know Sarah. And Sarah is a person’s name, too. And the whole first trilogy is about Sarah and her evil alter ego, Dark Sarah.

M.I. -  You signed with Napalm Record, for this upcoming album, called “Grim” which will be released on the 17th July. Did they have the same vision as you, with the creative process?

Yes! Everything went really well. We were looking for a new label, for “Dark Sarah”, because we thought that it was about time. Until this moment, we had been an independent band. We have had a distributor, but we have self-released our albums. So, I thought that, now that we are starting a new phase in our band’s history, it would be also a good moment to release something new in the business side too. We started to look for a label, late last year. Napalm Records was interested in us. Everything has gone really well with them and we’re really happy about this new collaboration. 

M.I. -  Why did you choose this name for the album? Is there a reference to the “green creature that hates Christmas”?

“Grim” means dark and something bad. That’s the kind of feeling that I wanted to have for this album too, because it starts a new horror, fantasy, story line. The city, where this story takes place, is called Grim. People will also get the idea, when they think about Grim, they think about it with two “m”’s and then it means those Brothers Grimm, who wrote stories and quite dark stories too. I thought that it would be a good kind of wordplay in that sense. It means stories and also darkness.

M.I. -  Let’s talk about the characters: Luna and her enemy, Mörk. Where did you get the inspiration for both of them? Who are they? And are they related to your previous albums?

Luna is the protagonist of this new story line. She is the new incarnation of Dark Sarah. When Sarah dies in the end of the trilogy, she turns into a moth and then, she flies to the space and a dragon tries to save her, with a time turner. They both ended up into a loop and headed to Grim, the city. She became there as a moth and then, there’s a witch, who transformed her back to a human. She’s kind of a life through metamorphosis. That way, she continues Dark Sarah’ story, but still being another person. There’s also the evil of the story, and that is Mörk. He’s the monster, who has been terrorizing the city of Grim and taking the magical powers of the people. And now Luna tries to save the people from the tyranny. She tries the people to believe in themselves and fight against Mörk, The Monster. This is kind of the basics of this story.

M.I. -  These characters invite us to their mythical world of orbs, ravens and rabbit-headed people. A beautiful fantasy. What do they symbolize? What ideas did you have, before creating it?

Thank you very much (laughs). Nice that you mention that, because there are lots of symbolism in this album. Something really mystical and mythical and you can also look deeper into the story, when you just try to find what the rabbits are and what are the mystical meanings. Rabbits are really old mythical creatures and they have been worshiped by people, who also worship the Moon. That’s why I chose the rabbits, for this album. The people, who live in Grim, wear rabbit masks, to hide themselves from the monster. That’s why they don’t want to show their faces to him. Luna, the protagonist, will be the one they’ve been waiting for. There’s this kind of witchcraft, mythology and that’s all there. It’s something that already exists. I’ve searched quite a lot, different kind of sources for this album and read a lot of different material, so that I’m not that wrong when writing about this stuff (laughs). It’s actually related to a lot of this kind of pagan culture. That’s something that I kind of feel related to myself. 

M.I. -  The main character gains magical powers to see her past and unveils the truth of why her heart was frozen. Could you please tell us what happened to her?

Luna’s heart was spared by the Gods at the end of the trilogy, “The Chronicles”. Here, on this story, she kind of finds out her past, in the song “Melancholia”. “Melancholia” is the name of the orb, that gives you the power to see into your past. She looks into the orb and sees that something bad has happened to her, in her past. She realizes that the spears that speared her heart are from the Gods that killed her. So, the witch couldn’t give her a new heart. She doesn’t have a heart and there’s something frozen in there. A piece of the spear in there. Actually, I don’t know if you know this story about the Snow Queen, but there’s also a story about the Snow Queen. There’s lots of pieces here and there and people kind of feel familiar, when they remember their childhood and the stories that they have been reading. 

M.I. -   The band members are “The Ravens”, who are shapeshifters and they can transform into men and ravens. Will they help you with this journey? Why did you choose these characters? I know that this bird symbolizes death, but also hope.

Yes! They are exactly that. In the first song, “The Chosen One”, “The Ravens” come flying into the grave, where Luna has been resting and waiting for the right moment, that she will rise again, the ravens fly in and they change into people. They bring her an orb, that they have been saving from the monster’s ice. It has been kept safe for centuries. They are the guardians of Grim. They are really trying to help Luna to save the people of Grim from the monster. I think that they are mythical animals and there’s a lot of different related stories too. Also, this kind of Nordic mythology, when there’s this one pair of ravens (laughs). I think that they are really mythological things and then we were choosing this outfit for the men, I thought that they looked a lot like ravens. That’s also one inspiration to write about that too.

M.I. -  Who is the narrator, that tells Luna’s story, on the trailer? Was it difficult to find a person with a voice, that can make us dream and imagine, that we’re part of it?

He was actually someone that I contacted from Fiverr. I don’t know if you know it. You can order different kind of narrations and everything from there. He’s the one contact from that place. I searched quite a lot and I ended up with him, because I felt he had this kind of really mystical, like the Lord Of The Rings, sounding voice and really deep man voice. That’s why I chose him. It was really nice to work with him.

M.I. -  How difficult was it to create this album? What challenges did you have to face?

I started writing material for this album two years ago. It was quite a long journey, in a musical way, and also because I’m all the time learning music writing, all by myself. I think that I’m kind of developing all the time, of course, because I’m doing more and more. I thought that the first demos I wrote were kind of in the same mood that the trilogy was. In the end, the last ones I wrote were sounding really new. We’re in a new changing phase, but I still wanted to sound like “Dark Sarah”. Now that we are jumping into something really different straight away, I thought that everything I did in these past two years, was coming really naturally. I didn’t force myself to sit down and write. I wrote a lot of songs and demos. For this album, there are many songs, quite similar to what I have made. They didn’t change in the production phase, compared to the earlier albums. 

M.I. -  “Grim it is a concept album like its predecessors, but Grim will start a new story line with a modern horror fantasy theme.”. Can we say that it starts where the other albums stopped?

Yes! I think so! It gives answers to people, who have been wanting to know what happened to Dark Sarah and to the Dragon. This is kind of a transition album, in the musical way and also in the story way. It gives you some hints of what happened in the past and why we are now here and from now on there’s something new happening and there’s this new place and new characters. It’s a transition album. 

M.I. -  Mikko P Mustonen - Pathos Music is the responsible, once again, for the cinematic sound that we hear. What new ideas and vision did he bring?

I sent them to our producer, Mikko, who also writes and co-writes with me, almost every time and I sent him the demos. There were things that I wanted to have on this album and also the songs. He developed them. From them on, we worked them together until the end. He’s the one who makes all the arrangements for the band and also the orchestration and sees if there are any problems. Mikko is a golden person for us and it has always been a pleasure to work with him. I’ve been working with him since the start of Dark Sarah. He has always given me space, in that way to develop and encouraging me to write more and becoming better in my song writing. He wanted to, in the production matter, have a little bit of a more modern style, for this album. I learned a new singing style, for some of the songs. Not so operatic, anymore. I think it’s really good to work with a producer, who is not in the band. He kind of figures out the identity and the whole thing that the album needs. Without everyone saying that: “Maybe the guitar should be louder, the bass and vocals too!”. It’s a good thing that there’s someone who sees it from outside the band. That’s exactly where he’s good at, but also because he has been working with me from the start. He has a really good idea of what we are doing here, also with the cinematography and the sceneries with music. He’s really talented in doing that and I think we are a really good team with him.

M.I. -  Congratulations on the album cover. Very, very beautiful. Darkgrove Design is the responsible for its creation. Why did you choose them? How did you meet?

Thank you very much. It’s made by Jan Yrlund, from Darkgrove Design. I’ve been working with Darkgrove, from the first day. I’ve been really loyal to the people, who have been working with me. I’ve had the same group from the start. I know that his work is good. That’s why I chose him. And also because I always had really big visions myself. I kind of need to draw the picture into his mind, when he starts to do what I want him to make. He’s been working really well with me, so far. 

M.I. -  You have two guests: JP Leppäluoto as Wolf and Jasse Jatala as Mörk. You’ve worked with JP. How was it working with him again? Why did you choose Jasse to represent Mörk?

Of course! JP is my friend and he has been one of the official members, for the third album and he had a really big role in the story. He’s a really dear friend to all of us. He was a natural choice for the role of Wolf, because they’re connected: Dragon and Wolf. Jasse, I saw him on TV and he was taking part on this Voice Oof Finland competition. He was singing some Metal songs (I don’t remember what they were), but I was instantly: “OK! Now we have our Mörk voice!” (laughs). I contacted him and, of course, I needed to ask him if he was interested and: “Yes!”. That’s how we get to know him. I didn’t know him personally before. He’s really nice too.

M.I. -  “Melancholia” is the first single, released on the 17th April. And is the name of a blue orb, which provides magical powers to the protagonist Luna. A very beautiful song, with a powerful solo and it’s a cry for Luna, to see what happened to her. How did you write the melody and lyrics?

It’s kind of how I do all the songs. For this song, in particularl, I thought that we had really good verses. I wrote the verses for this song and I was like: “I love these verses, but I have a few ideas only for the chorus and can you fill this up?”. From there, we started co-writing the song and it’s like, everything and all the pieces, just kind of clicked and we got a perfect song, in my opinion. It became really wonderful. It’s one of my favorites from this album.

M.I. -  Director Wayne Joyner and Riena Productions were responsible for the video. How did they create Luna’s world?

Of course! I sent always a lot of material, ideas, pictures and visuals, that I would like to include into the lyric music video, because I always feel that we have this conceptual album and all the visuals need to fit in. That’s why I sent a lot of inspirational material for everyone, who makes visual material. I sent him a few pictures and it became really good. It matches really well. We were shooting those videos from our album recordings. It’s really nice for our fans to watch some authentic clips from our studio work.   

M.I. -  “All Ears!” is the second single. The protagonist Luna casts a compelling spell over the citizens of Grim. Why did you choose this single?

Napalm Records and we both made a list about possible singles and this was on both of our lists. Why I chose this one, is because I thought it was really catchy. I thought that, now that we are getting new fans, it would be nice to give some hints, about what Dark Sarah is about. It’s not maybe the most forward, easy, digestible song, but it gives a little bit of an idea, of what Dark Sarah is all about. There’s a little bit of theatre and a nice chorus. It’s quite catchy too.

M.I. -  On your Facebook page, you said that you will release a new single. Is that right? Can you give us a hint about it, please?

Yeah! There will be a new single coming on the 1st July. The third single is called “Illuminate”. It will be the second orb, that we are revealing. Luna has found the second orb called Illuminate. It’s the purple orb, that gives her the power to summon the Moon, wind and mist. She’s trying to summon the powers, to illuminate and help her, to save the people of Grim, from the darkness. That’s why she’s asking on the moon, that she will get the powers to get into the right side. It’s a really powerful song. It’s really up tempo and the video is something no one has ever seen from Dark Sarah before. I’m really excited and interested to know how people will see this part of Dark Sarah. So, let’s see.

M.I. -  You will release a book simultaneously with the album’s release. What surprises can fans expect and find?

It’s a poem book, not like a novel style, like the last trilogy was. If you want to know more about Dark Sarah and all the story behind those lyrics and the concept, I suggest that everyone reads all the books and the material, even if you don’t like reading, because the books are not long and are magical. It kind of reveals more about the story and it’s completely there. It’s a good addition to the conceptual album.

M.I. -  “Finnish castle Louhisaaren kartano, a baroque manor house built in 1655, to work as the location for the story and our promo shoot because of its unique and very grim look. It also has a room called ”Pirun kammari” (The devil’s chamber) having the devil’s face pictured on the wall. It is also said the castle is haunted”. Do tell us more about this castle, please.

I searched for this place, where we could go. I wanted to find a new environment, that was really “ghostly” (laughs). I ended up looking at their pictures. They have this lovely chamber, that is called “Pirun kammari” (The devil’s chamber). There’s also the devil’s picture on the wall and the whole castle is really lovely. It’s really dark and there’s lovely furniture. Something quite dark has happened there, in its history. They say that it’s haunted. I thought it would be the perfect place. When we were right there, I was like: “Ok! I know this is going to be totally awesome!”. It’s really unique looking. It’s in the middle of the forest and the whole surroundings are lovely. If you plan to visit Finland, please go there! It’s really great.

M.I. -  Your style is Cinematic Metal. What are your favourite bands and movies?

Everybody asks me and it’s hard to answer (laughs). I love lots of different bands that are not Metal bands. I love Synthwave and it’s really different from Metal. I’m a classical singer and I’ve studied classical music and there’s a lot of inspiration there. There’s lots of different songs from Metal bands, but no band particularly that is my favorite. Different movies? I love Tim Burton’s movies, specially his visuals and continuous stories, like Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit and some kind of fantasy and horror novels, like Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe and his poems. Everything I see and read, touches my soul. 

M.I. -  A more modern, beautiful and futuristic album. What is next for you and the band? Maybe a tour?

Because of the virus situation, all the bookings for some bands are being cancelled. In our case, it was like no bookings were made, because of the virus. Now, we have nothing in our schedule, but I can now say that it’s going to be quite soon that we are going to have an album release show, in Finland, on August 7th, On The Rocks venue. Now I think we can also reveal that it’s going to be open, for live audiences too. It’s going to be a live stream. Our fans all around the world, who have never seen us live, it will be possible to see us. I’m really happy for that too.

M.I. -  Thanks once again for this interview. Any final words to your Portuguese fans?

Thank you for the nice interview. I really love to see that we have fans in Portugal, even though we have never been there. I would love to come with Dark Sarah and thank you for listening to Dark Sarah and, please, also remember to read the stories. The chronicles are for everyone’s eyes, they are on our website. You must hear on the right order, to get the best possible idea and also remember to check out the multiple music videos that we have on our YouTube channel. Have a great Summer, everyone. Stay safe as well.

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Raquel Miranda