11 years at the contest, just one top 10 ranking and 7 times missing the grand final. That are the facts about Belarus at the Eurovision Song Contest. The Cheesecake performance in Copenhagen and the mediterranean song of Aljona 2013 in Malmö brought two grand final participations in a row and seem to be a kind of turn around for this nation. Times seem to have changed... or not? Eurovision on top spoke about that with this years representatives of Belarus for 2015: Uzari & Maimuna. And to ask them, how it was to win at the national final against a former Eurovision winner (Alexander Rybak), who is very known and loved at his home country. But the end the love and support was for the song „Time“. Read now about the emotions of the winners and what their experiences were and what their targets are.
1.First of all congratulations for winning the national final in Belarus. What was the first thing you did after the victory?
Uzari: Hugged Maimuna and jumped up and down – when the show ended I called my family.
Maimuna: It’s all a bit of a blur, but I remember that we celebrated with friends and family and then got talking to the head of delegation about how we’d prepare for Vienna.
2. Could you tell us who Uzari and Maimuna are as people?
Uzari: How about we swap roles: I’ll describe Maimuna and she can describe me? Maimuna is a hugely talented violinist who not only had the coveted first violin role in the Presidential orchestra for seven years but also released two classical music and pop crossover albums ‘Queen of Africa’ and ‘Showtime.‘ She’s also a wonderful mother to her kids and a good friend to spend time with.
Maimuna: Uzari is a gifted composer and performer who I’ve known and admired for a long time now. We both bonded in the cinema when we discovered that we were the last ones there, listening to the last notes of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie soundtrack. He wrote ‘Time’ so that my violin was the other half of the duet, so I’m ‘singing’ in a different way. We work hard together preparing for Vienna, but he’s a great friend so it doesn’t feel like work at all.
3. Have you always worked together? Or have you only worked together for Eurovision?
Uzari: This is our first time together but maybe not our last.
Maimuna: I’m really happy that ‘Time’ was chosen to represent Belarus at the Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna and that I’m able to be part of it with a trusted friend. We’ll see how Eurovision goes, but maybe it will be the start of more songs and performances together in the future.
4. What links do you have to Eurovision?
Uzari: My Eurovision connection began in 2011 when I enjoyed the chance to sing backing vocals for Anastasia Vinnikova before later participating in the Eurofest national finals in 2012 and 2013. In 2014, I co-wrote the Junior Eurovision song ‘Sokol’ sung by Nadezdha Misyakova whilst also busy finalising ‘Time’ with Maimuna, so Eurovision has been a big part of my life for years now.
Maimuna: I’ve been a fan for years and have always watched the finals, cheering on Belarus but also enjoying the songs from the other countries. Out of the songs that won, I’ve particularly liked Fairytale by Alexander Rybak; Euphoria by Loreen, Only teardrops by Emmelie de Forest and of course the unforgettable Conchita…..
5. What do you do in your normal life when you aren‘t participating at Eurovision?
Uzari: Hang out with my family, write songs, listen to songs and soundtracks, working out – especially boxing….. there are always ideas for future songs in my head.
Maimuna: Play the violin and spend time with my husband, and children Diana and Philip.
6. This year there was also a former Eurovision Winner participating at the national final of Belarus. Alexander Rybak was very sad after losing. What did it mean for you to win against Alexander?
Uzari: We felt sorry for Alexander and for everyone who participated. The music business is a tough one and every single person who enters a national final is doing their best; has worked very hard and has high hopes. Sometimes it is not your night or your year or your song. All you can do – as I remember from Eurofests 2012 and 2013 - is learn from the experience and keep trying.
7. How are you preparing for the Eurovision Song Contest?
Uzari: We are busy rehearsing now and are developing a different way to showcase the song for Vienna.
Maimuna: Plus we’ve been doing TV shows, radio programs, photo shoots, live performances and interviews – it’s been busy but fun.
Maimuna: No more changes to the song, but we do sometimes like to perform it live in different ways – acoustically, without instruments etc – it can be interpreted in a lot of ways.
9. What are your targets for Vienna?
Uzari: We caught up with Teo a couple of weeks ago. He sang ‘Cheesecake’ for Belarus last year and his advice to us was to enjoy every single moment of the crazy two-week-long Eurovision experience. So, I think we’ll do that AND try to do our very best on stage.
Maimuna: I know that Eurovision rules say that I can’t play my violin ‘live’ but I’ll be air-playing it with all of my heart, doing what I can to ‘sing’ back to Uzari. No doubt we’ll both be nervous, but we’ve been waiting for this chance for so long, it’ll be hard not to stop smiling at each other!
Thank you very much Uzari & Maimuna for your Time and the interview. Eurovision on top will follow the eurovision way of this two artists and check, if Teo gave them any secret recipe how to make it to the final. Just stay tuned and follow us. Perhaps after Eurovision you will be able to vote for new songs of Uzari & Maimuna through our website.