About Me

Interview with Anette Olzon

Renowned for her dynamic presence and powerful vocals, Anette Olzon continues to captivate the music world. With a career spanning decade and an impressive journey from her time as the lead vocalist of Nightwish to her flourishing solo career, Olzon has consistently proven her versatility and talent. Her latest endeavor, Rapture, marks a new chapter, showcasing a blend of symphonic metal with personal and emotive lyrics. In this exclusive interview, Anette shares insights into the creative process behind Rapture, the themes that inspired the album, and her evolution as an artist.

M.I. - It's a pleasure to be here with you, having this interview. I know you from back when you were in Nightwish so this has a very special meaning to me, because I loved you in Nightwish and I think it's wonderful that you have made your way through music after Nightwish, because I know that wasn't an easy part for you. 

It was very exhausting, yeah. 

M.I. - So, let's talk about this new album, Rapture. I know you released already three singles. I've listened to them. They are pretty great. What else can you tell us about this solo album? 

Well, it's like a continuation of Strong in a way. You know, I started the kind of metal, symphonic metal, in that album and now I'm doing it even more and I've added, as you can hear in the first songs, more choir, more symphonic elements, more harsh vocals or growls, as we say and it’s a bit heavier. There are no slow songs in that meaning in this album at all, just one ballad. Otherwise, it's a bit more up-tempo songs compared to Strong, because I really like to do those heavier, harder and more up-tempo songs. Arise is a little bit slower, melodic in a way, so I think this is a good continuation of Strong. 

M.I. - Who does the growls in the in the album?

It's my husband, Johan, who was in Pain before. Yeah, he does those. He can be very angry. He actually has done harsh vocals in bands when he was younger. In the previous album, I have never heard him sing. But I was like, okay, go to the studio, let's see how it sounds. And then he went to the studio and then I heard it and it was pretty good. This time we actually just asked Jacob, who is mixing, because he's also doing the albums for Amaranthe, which has a lot of growls, and we like the way they sound, and we wanted to have that sound in this album. So, we asked him, what should we do? And then we just did what he said and then he used the same amplifier as they have in Amaranthe, so that's why it's even more, wow, you know, he sounds angrier, and harder. 

M.I. - And how was the process of creating the songs?

Well, I know when I have to be ready with the master, you know. When you sign a deal with editors, you have approximately a year before you have to do it and I worked with Magnus Carlson, also in this album. He has a lot of projects, and he told me, I think I can start doing something around this time and that was quite late. 
I think he started in August or something, and it was summer vacation and I also work a regular job as I’m actually a board member in the Union now. So, I didn't have so much in my mind of what to do, I just knew I wanted to do heavier albums. It took me a while to get into what we should write about. And, actually, Johan helped me because I wanted to write kind of the same thing about the world today and that it's a disaster. 
And he was like, I'm checking up some things from the Bible and stuff. Maybe we should do something in terms of that, like book of revelation. And then I started to read about it and Nostradamus and then, okay, let's do an album called Apocalypse. Apocalypse was my idea. You know what was going in there. 
But he doesn't believe in Christ I need to say, he's an atheist, but he knows everything. I think it's quite fun. And he was like, there's this thing called the Rapture. And I was okay, I need to check that out. And then we thought Rapture is a cooler name actually for an album than Apocalypse. And we just started to write and make this kind of a singing album in a way, about that the world going under. We need to hear the call, it's time to change. We heard the warnings and then we just started to take things from the Bible. But it was really hard before he gave me that idea actually, because I didn't know what to write about.

M.I. – Well, in a way, the world is ending in front of our eyes and we are just watching it happen and we don't know what to do. 

No, because, like I said in an interview a couple of days ago, it's really what I want to say in the songs. We have some power, the people have power, but we let other people use their power to say how we should do things, and that's why there are wars, that's why we don't care about the climate, maybe because politicians are a kind of dictators that run the world and I think people need to stand up, even if it's hard. So, I'm not saying it will go down today, but, you know, as a mother of children, you think, what will we leave behind? Because there will be a World War Three soon and we don't want to leave that to our children. So that's what I'm thinking. 

M.I. - And is there any particular song from the album that is especially meaningful for you? 

I think all songs are very meaningful for me, but I do love Rapture. I think it's so catchy and the whole format of the song. At first when I recorded the vocals it was like a glue in my head. The chorus, and that's a good song for me, when the chorus is just sticking there. I was singing it all the time. There are many songs, but I do like the slow song, the ballad, Hear my Song, mainly because I wrote it to my children because I want to leave something for them when I'm not here one day, they can still listen to that and also remember that I'm somewhere. It's like a legacy to my children, so that is very important to me. 

M.I. - That's beautiful! And was it hard to select the songs for this album? Was any particular song left behind? 

No, like I said in an interview I did some days ago, me and Magnus, if it's 11 songs, we're gonna do 11 songs. So, it's not like I have 20 songs or like 10 or so, two albums, you know, no. There are no leftovers. 
But during the process, when Magnus started to send me music ideas, he sent me five demo ideas in the beginning and I had to say to him, you have to change them totally because it's too soft, it's too melodic. Go back and listen because I want it heavier. So, he had to go back and change or rewrite some of them. But there are no leftovers. So, the next album will be a new start again, no leftovers. Maybe Magnus has some, because since I scrapped some of the demos. So maybe there are some for him, but not for me. 

M.I. - You also had a band named Dark Element. Are they still active? Are we going to hear more from Dark Element, or now you are only focused on your solo career? 

Well, it's like a project me and Jani have and the plan was that I was going to be done with recording a new album now this spring and we were going to release it. But Jani has gone missing, kind of he's ghosted his band and everyone. I'm really sorry to say that, so it's not in my hands. I have tried to reach out to him. I know the record label is chasing him down, but I don't know if he wants to do more music or not. Maybe he needs some time, but for sure, for me I have a deal for another album, and I would love to do it. So hopefully, but I cannot say if not, because he has to decide, he has to appear. 
Actually, I know where he is, but you know he's not responding. So, I have seen him, I know that he is alive and he is like somewhere, but he doesn't want to talk to anyone. Maybe he needs to take a break because it's been very hectic for him, I guess.

M.I. - How was the pandemic period, for you? 

Well, I'm a nurse and, at that time, I was working as a nurse, not in the hospital, I was in the elderly care. It was a very hard thing. And also my father died from COVID in the beginning of the COVID here in Sweden. So that was hard! When covid came, some days he was better and some days he was worse, and actually some days they thought he had COVID and then the next day they said he didn't have COVID. So, it was really hard to know my father was afraid. And he couldn't breathe. It was actually kind of a relief when he fell asleep, but it was hard. 
And in my work field it was really hard also because we were afraid to work. We didn't get protection kits because there were none and so we had to make our own masks, our own shields and I was working in the union. I had to go to my boss all the time like we need this, we need that, and I remember they said there was nothing. COVID was an isolation, we had to sit at home. But for me, as a nurse, we didn't sit at home because we worked. I still worked and in a way that was good but also very scary, of course, because you didn't know how you would be, because there were people my age that actually also died from it. I'm very, very happy that it's gone, or better that we now have vaccines and I'm really blessed that we got those and I think if my father had gotten this a bit later on, not in March, he would have survived. So, in that way it feels sad to know that he was one of those that could have been saved, but we didn't have the means. 

M.I. - Yes, that is tough. It was a tough period. 

It was. There's a documentary called the Whistleblower, from England, and it's a doctor who is working. You can see how it was in the hospitals. I was crying because it's a doctor who is working. You can see how it was in the hospitals. You're crying because it's so horrible and I'm thinking that there were people dying in the elderly care, yes, but they are old, and somehow that's how it should be. That's the way life is. But when you saw that documentary there were nurses, maybe 30 years old dying. So, it's not okay, but hopefully, hopefully it will not be like that again. 

M.I. - So do you think that all the experiences you had since Nightwish until now influenced your songs, your solo albums, the way that you write songs? 

When I came into the band I didn't know metal, so I've learned along the way. I didn't listen to growls. Now I love growls. Of course, I did love the Nightwish songs that we made. I did love our albums. I love the symphonic metal. I love that kind of music style and that's why I do it, because I think it's such a nice genre. You can have orchestra choir and today, even if you don't have a symphonic orchestra like they use in Nightwish, for instance, Magnus can use all those things from the computer programs, so it can sound like that. In a way it has influenced me, because otherwise I wouldn't do metal. If I wasn't in that band, I would never do that. So, of course, it influences me and I had a participation in the the Rasmus album. 

M.I. - How was it like? 

It was nice, it was during my Nightwish time when I did “October and April” and that song is still, I think, for the fans a really big song and it was really nice, doing the video and meeting them. And then I had the pleasure to sing with them in a festival in Finland when I did my solo and they are lovely guys. 

M.I. - What it is like when you come back to the stage and sing live after that experience with Nightwish because that was not so very good with the audience. How is it for you now to have a fan base that really likes your songs and enjoys your concerts? Because it's like a moment of catharsis, almost. 

I mean, I haven't done so many live shows since I left the band and I did some, and the change is that, of course, when you have such a big band, everything is served. Everything is planned, everything is served. You just walk on stage, take your microphone and sing. And that is, in a way, really nice, because when I was younger we had bands and I had to carry everything. 
But also then when you are going to go play live without all of that, it's not the same. You don't have all those people around you and things can go wrong, technical things that I'm not the best at, because we've had people doing that. So, I felt quite insecure actually, and I also know that in that band we all knew what we were doing. We were professionals. Even if we didn't rehearse, everyone came to the gig and we normally didn't mess up. 
It happened a couple of times so I didn't enjoy it that much, you know, it was very hard to step down from that big carousel and then be solo or alone. But I mean, when it comes to the fans that follow me with my new stuff and the Dark Element, I think it's amazing and it's also nice for me, because I always only saw or heard the negative people, even if there were so many positive people that loved me, I only saw and heard the negative ones and those were the ones that got into my skin and I lost a lot of self-confidence. 
But I'm better at it now, but it’s sad, that you know one person can make you feel like that. I think I can understand it because I've never been like a fangirl in that way, so maybe I don't look up to people like that. I think we are all on the same level. So,I don't know how you can be that mean, that some people have been and still are, that they kind of just want to erase me from the whole thing, and that they told me, like in YouTube, that I couldn't sing, because I can sing. 
Some days ago, in an interview, he said that it was so unfair to put you with those songs that were made for a totally different style of singing. And I know. But when you get into that, I'm like, okay, I'm going to try it, I'm going to do it and I’ll do my best. And I think some songs worked from the old era. Some songs didn't work, yes, and some songs were just so hard for me to sing. Because that's the thing that I think the fans that criticize me need to know, I worked really, really hard and it was really tough for me to do those songs and it was one and a half hour gigs and we were touring the heaviest tour. 
So that I even had a voice and that I could jump up and down like I did in the beginning. And there were some, some bad notes, but I wanted to entertain. 

M.I. - No, I don't understand people being mean to you. 

Ok I agree with you, I don't, but I guess we just have to accept that people are different than us when it comes to these things. 

M.I. - Unfortunately, in some things, but I don't understand the use of social media and even in person, because that happened in person. How can you say some things to a person and be so mean? I don't understand. 

I'm so happy that there was no social media when I was young, because I was bullied in school for years, but it wasn't on that same level. If there would be social media when I was bullied, I don't know if I would be alive today, because I can see my kids and they have chat groups and how mean they are to each other and telling people they are fat and everything. And I think at the time I was bullied at school, I could go home and I could rest in the evening and then I went back to school and it started all over. But today you can't even go home resting because it would follow you in the social media, like TikTok and everywhere, and I still see it because I have TikTok. I've had to put all my comments off because there were so many comments to me. 
And it was like that about my appearance. Like you're too old to have TikTok, you shouldn't be here. And I was like, if I get this and I'm like, you know, 50 plus, how about my kids? And I've seen what they write. So no, I must say. And when I was playing in bands, when I was younger, if I messed up on stage, no one knew because there was no YouTube. Those were good times, it was so nice, you know, and everyone was drunk, no one knew what happened and it was really good. 

M.I. - Well, it's nice to talk about all this! Do you have any future plans, a tour, something besides this album? 

No, and that's what I had to decide when I stopped being a full-time professional singer, because mainly I work a normal, regular job and it's hard to just say, hey, I'm gonna go on a tour for six weeks. My employer would be, bye then, and so for that reason I don't think I would like to tour anymore. I've done that and it was very, very hectic and I've seen the world, I have quite small children still and I want to be a good mother. They need me more now, actually in this age, than they needed me when they were younger, because at 11 and 14 it's so much happening in their lives. And there are no plans of any live gigs or anything. If there would be something sometime, with Magnus joining Yuan and Anders, and if it would be like a nice gig, feeling comfortable, maybe we would do it. But no, I'm happy recording the album. 

M.I. - Okay, so just recording for now. 

Yes, that's working for me okay.

M.I. - We are almost at the end. I didn't want to end this because we are having a great conversation. 

Yes, we are! It's always nice when you have a nice interview, because some interviews feel like the interviewer doesn't really know what they're talking about or they don’t like what I do. But actually this is a nice interview. I think the ones I've had for this album have been really enjoyable, all of them. 

M.I. - That's good! Since there's no tour, I'm not asking if you are going to pass here through Portugal, but you can come and make a visit. 

I would love to, because I actually love Portugal. Portugal is such a nice place and me and my husband actually met on tour and for us, Barcelona and Portugal are the places where we started our love story. That's nice, very special memories. 

M.I. - And do you want to leave any message to your Portuguese fans? 

Yes, thank you for following around and I hope you will love the album. I'm really, really proud of this album. I think it's better than Strong. Stay open-minded and try to be a bit kinder in this world, because If we all try to do that, I think the world would be a better place. 

M.I. - Yes, well, Anette, thank you. Thank you for your time. I was really enjoying this. 

Yes, it was a really nice talk, and now we should just take away all our social media apps. But it's fun too. I love tiktok for posting on it, because there are so many things you can learn and laugh, and I love the funny videos mostly videos and stuff. 
So, I don't say we should take it away, but well, I don't know, maybe our kids shouldn't have them. 

M.I. – Anette, thank you so much and have a really nice evening. Enjoy the spring! 

From Sweden to Portugal, thank you bye, bye! 

For Portuguese version, click here

Listen to Anette Olzon, on Spotify
Questions by Isabel Martins