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Jimmy Martin & Robin Beck We wanted to make a Christmas evergreen

Jimmy Martin teamed up with Robin Beck and released "I wish you here for Christmas". Robin Beck is one of the biggest female rock and hard rock voices from the late 80's being best known for her chart topper in almost a dozen countries, "First Time". This is a joint conversation and the first time ever that Robin Beck is giving an interview for an Eurovision website.

 

 

Jimmy Martin 

1) "I wish you here for Christmas" is your Christmas release with Robin Beck, a collaboration that began at "Wild at Heart", back in 2013, was it a dream come true?

Jimmy: Of course! Robin is the best female rock singer ever, period! Robin is signed to the same record company as I! I wanted to have a duet on the album, she was first choice. My record label boss introduced me to her and we clicked straight away, had dinner together in Boca Raton, Florida and that was it! I recorded my vocals in Berlin and Robin in Florida in her own recording studio, we mixed the track in Berlin and it sounded awesome!

 

2) How came up the idea of releasing a Christmas single?

Jimmy: Well, we already had the ballad on my album "Wild at heart"from 2013. Everybody kept saying "you should release this around wintertime, it's such a great romantic song!So we took it a step further, rearranged it a bit with some additional Christmas lyrics and we had a perfect romantic Christmas song!

3) "I wish you here for Christmas" is getting great response from radio stations across Germany. What are your ultimate goals with this new release?

Jimmy: Yeah, the radios love the song! We kind of wanted to make a song that people would like to hear each year around Christmas, even in 20 years, an evergreen!

 

4) I must to confess that a I'm bit disappointed that no official video has been shot for the new single. Being this a very unique moment in your career why not a music video?

Jimmy: You might be right, but as Robin lives in Florida and me having committments over here we just couldn't make it together on time to shoot a video...but who knows, maybe next year!

 

5) You represented Luxembourg in the Eurovision Song Contest 1993 as a duo. What about entering a duet in the competition again (for Germany, for instance) this time with Robin Beck? A powerful rock ballad like the new single would be perfect :) ....

Jimmy: Haha, why not, that would be fun to do, especially with Robin, but I guess that would be hard, concincing the Germans to have an American, a non citizen represent their country... I don't think that would be well seen!

6) Jimmy, 2015 is just around the corner. Any plans for the new year?

Jimmy: I might release a third single from my latest album "Wild At Heart"! I will also be producing some young bands with my writing partner and buddy Tommy who co produced and co wrote all of my songs and made them sound so good!

 

Robin Beck 25 years feels much like a day when you love what you do!

 

7) "First time" is your signature song which I would say it reflects very well the essence of Robin Beck as an artist. How does it feel today to sing a song that had it's heyday 25 years ago? It's hard to keep the original enthusiasm and sing it like it was the first time?

Robin: I quite enjoy the song and remarkable success story. The way it feels like a broken in pair of shoes, the fit is so comfy. I retain my enthusiasm by way of the enjoyment that the fans exude when I hit the stage. It’s always the chant and I’ll always be grateful to those who made it a hit for me. 25 years feels much like a day when you love what you do and I do!

 

8) Musically speaking you are inserted in what is called a "man's world", i'm talking obviously about rock music.  Do you really believe in that idea?

Robin: Huh, let’s see!! There are many fine female rockers I could reference from the early 70’s until now. Really not so few that could rival any man by 10x’s the power and soul. Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks, Ann Wilson, Linda Ronstandt, Grace Slick Patti Smith, Pat Benatar, Patty Smyth and the list really goes on and on… I guess it can only be explained as sort of a club back then, a place where guys were simply ahead of the curve but as they say, we’ve come a long way baby ! To coin a phrase “I love Rock n’ Roll” and my own little quote-. “Fits right into the small of my back”. In other words it worked for me then and it still gives me and my fans a great deal of satisfaction. I guess you could say in this case, less is more!

 

9) Your career spans over 30 years with regular releases. What would do you like to do in music that would surprise people even your huge fan base?

Robin: I’m so glad you asked! I would love to do an album of classic standards and a fierce Blues album.

 

10) Eurovision on Top is a website about the Eurovision Song Contest. What do you about this competition?

Robin: I think it gives very talented song writers and artists a chance at their dreams much in the way “The Voice” does here in America. The difference is that it’s not about writing the song over here. It’s about the pure talent of the singer. Eurovision gives the writers a platform and I think it’s about time they got the recognition that they deserve. Eurovision trumps our competitions here in the states in my opinion.

11) I've listened to your latest album "Underneath". When listening to the title track, instantly I imagined it at the Eurovision Song Contest. Would you like to take part in the contest (for example as duet with Jimmy Martin?)?

Robin: I might like that :).

 

12) The reason for this interview is your joint single with Jimmy Martin "I wish you were for Christmas".  This collaboration began with Jimmy's release "Wild at Heart". Why did you accepted the invitation?

Robin: Jimmy is a talent and a go getter like me. I liked the new idea and enjoyed the twist. Turning it into a Christmas song seemed fitting in the way it was produced. I quite liked it and love the way our voices work together. Very romantic.

13) Finally, how do you describe Jimmy Martin as an artist?

Robin: Jimmy is a cut above. I feel that he is very honest and a very strong and passionate singer/songwriter.

Dec. 2014                                                                               Carlos Carvalho for EOT

 

Sinplus (Switzerland, 2012)  Fame is not an obsession for us

Sinplus represented Switzerland in the ESC 2012 but that was just the beginning. Since then two albums have already come out to critical and commercial success. In November 2014, after winning the award for "Best Swiss act", they were the only Eurovision artists in the 2nd round for best worldwide act at the MTV Europe Music Awards. In this interview we discuss the band’s new album, Eurovision, MTV, comparisons to The Killers and more.

 

 

1.    You represented Switzerland in ESC 2012 with Unbreakable. In Baku we’ve heard you singing “Following your wildest Dreams”.  Was Eurovision a wild dream?

Of course was a kind of dream....but to be honest, our wildest dream is to become a worldwide band! Eurovision was just a first step and the only chance for a young Swiss band to get out of the borders. We recently won an MTV Award as “BestSwissAct” and that's another step to the top.

2.    When the results of the 1st semifinal came out it was known that you missed the grand final just for a really small margin, ending up 11th. After the finalists were announced did you somehow or in some moment feel Breakable?

Not at all!!! It was part of the game... But let me say that Sinplus should have been in the final, cause of the song, cause of the message, etc...

The audience was on our side, I don't know what happened with the jury....

3.    Two years have passed since you graced the stage in Baku. How important was or how important still is Eurovision for the actual stage of Sinplus?

Eurovision is a great way to learn different aspects of being in the music business. We learned a lot, and we're still learning. Sometimes people in the real music world sees Eurovision acts as Tv Act....but we're a real band and we're proving it.

4.    Your first album came out in the ESC 2012 season. When I heard it I realized that some of the lyrics were dealing with the subjects of dreams, fame and success. To illustrate it we have got the lyrics of "Unbreakable," "The Only One" and "You got the nomination." Is fame and success an obsession for you?

Fame is not an obsession for us....we just wanna be musicians and bring our music to the people around the world!

5.    Still regarding your first album, the sound of it was really powerful, with a strong international appeal. At some moments it remembers us of big bands such as The Killers. What about your new brand record? Do you think that Sinplus have already constructed their own identity?

Ehehe....we're still looking for our identity but we're getting closer and closer.

Of course our music is the result of the music we've always listen to.

I'm talking about bands like U2, Coldplay, Killers, 30 seconds to mars, Imagine Dragons, etc....

6.    There is a video on your youtube channel where you say “Everything, the artwork, the pictures and so on is important because the more this whole package looks cohesive, the more it looks plausible.”  What were your main worries in this field for your new album “Up to me”?

The target is always to do the best we can!  “Up To Me” was the first Album after Eurovision and the most important thing was to give something good to our fans...I think we did it.

About the team, yes, we're still working with the same people, they're growing with us...

They are just amazing!!!

7.    The first track that was known form your new record was “Phoenix from Ashes”. It’s title may suggest a new begging for the band. Am I wrong? What is the main message you want to convey with  the album “Up to me”?

Totally right!!! It was a kind of new born. It's like being at school for years and then start to work in the real world. The message of the Album is pretty simple...you're the master of your life, it's everything up to me, up to you!!!

8.    “Up to me” was released really recently but when it comes to the charts it already represents a big improvement on your debut. “Disinformation” reached #82 on the Swiss charts. So far “Up to me” reached #12. How do you react to the chart success of it?

Was a nice surprise...we did a big party (I can't remember anything:-) )and then we began straight to write new songs;-

9.    Your current single is the title track of the album which is supported by a great video. How was the idea behind it and how it can help the promotion of the album?

I think that we did a great job with the Video/Cartoon of “Up To Me”....a big thanks goes to Amos Sussigan the director! Our goal was to represent the “Up To Me” power through the choice of swimming against the stream. We recently got a nomination at the Hollywood Music in Media Award...unbelievable!

10.  You were born and raised in a musical environment. Did you ever consider to follow another career?

No, we've never considered to follow others careers!!! We're musicians, songwriters and producers....that's enough;-)

11.  Since you are a family band, if you had to cover a song by one of these siblings bands, which one would you choose: “Stayin’ alive” by Bee Gees?;  “MMMbop” by Hanson?; “ABC” by The Jackson 5; or “Breathless” by The Corrs?

What's about “Back in Black” by AC/DC or “Closer to the Edge” by 30 Seconds To Mars??? ;-)....

Carlos Carvalho for EOT

Elaiza (Germany, 2014)  "Suddenly we had fans"

Eurovision is made of a lot of different kind of stories, as you know. Eurovision on top sometimes write about them. One kind of stories the eurovision in fact loves are the kind of Cinderella stories. There is an unknown person or band before Eurovision and than it turns into wonderful surprise on stage. Also the Eurovision in 2014 had it’s Cinderella story, this time with a band from Germany the land of the story tellers or writers, the Grimm brothers. But with the difference that this time it wasn't just a story and that it is a social-Eurovision Cinderella story. At the national final in Germany there was for the first time the opportunity to apply for a ticket for the national final on youtube. A lot of artists applied with their songs and tried to get a chance to perform at a club concert in Hamburg, at which the winner would get the ticket to the final of the German national final "Unser Song für Dänemark" (Our song for Denmark). At this concert the audience via internet and TV got the possibility to listen to different artists and to vote. The young and fresh band Elaiza won the white card and didn't have any idea what that would mean for them. Eurovision on top had the possibility to see the national final live in Cologne, where Elaiza in three rounds made the big surprise a reality. They went further and further and at the end they conquered the hearts of the voters and won against a very popular German star "Unheilig". The three girls at this evening weren't able to understand what was happening... three girls, who some weeks ago loaded up on youtube, didn't just won a white card to Cologne, but also to Copenhagen. The "C" of Cinderella meant to be a kind of part of their personal fairytale. After that evening their lives changed a lot and they turned from the underdog or unknown Band of the club concert to a No. 1 hit band, selling a lot of singles, visiting all main TV shows in Germany including the Echo (German music award) and started an unforgettable promotion tour.

At the grand final of the Eurovision Elaiza represented Germany and the story didn't stop there. Elaiza continued with their music, got a "Goldene Schallplatte" (for selling more than 100.000 singles), worked on a new album and prepared a tour through more than 20 german cities. Now some months later Eurovision on top had the chance to speak to Elaiza about the experience of this new comer reaction in Germany and also about the time after Eurovision.

 

1. Elaiza, can you remember how were your life one year ago? 

Pretty much the same but without so much attention for our music ;)

2. In October 2013, did you already had the idea to participate at Eurovision?

To be honest, we had the idea in the beginning of this year. There was an appeal on a Youtube Channel for young and new artists, so we thought: let’s try it ! But we never expected that it would get this far.

3. Eurovision on top had the unique opportunity to be in the arena in the evening you won the german preselection. Now, after some month and perhaps with some time to think about what happened, how was that evening for you?

It was amazing for us and such a big surprise ! We are so thankful that Germany voted for us and gave us this big chance - especially as newcomer - to present our music in Europe.

4. What happened after this evening in Cologne and how did you experience it?

Our music got so much attention over night. Suddenly we had fans :)

5. You had a huge success in Germany after the national final. Why do you think the feedback to your music was so good? What were the reasons for that?

Oh, it’s still unbelievable for us and we still don’t know the reason for their decision. The only thing we know is that we are so happy and grateful for their feedback <3

6. Let's speak about the experience of Eurovision. How did you describe to your family and friends the time in Copenhagen when you came back and the three minutes on that stage?

It was a great experience for us to be on such a big stage with so many people around ! We haven't been on such a big one before and we will never forget the first time we stood there. We’ve been so surprised and nervous ;) More over we had a great time with the other countries and it was so funny to meet also the fans in the city. It felt like we are a big family partying the whole time XD

7. If you could turn back time and do the same participation for a second time, what would you change?

Basically nothing. We wouldn’t turn back time because the first experience is always the best.

8. Was is right or was it wrong to participate at Eurovision? What do you think now, 6 months later?

It was the best decision ever! Because of the ESC we had the possibility to present our music in Europe and to reach more people. For example in Poland, we’ve been on Airplay #1. We also plan to play concerts there after our tour in Germany next year.

9. Did Eurovision changed or marked on a special way the band Elaiza?

The only thing that changed is the attention for our music and that’s of course great <3

10. What happened after Eurovision with Elaiza?

We were touring all summer long, played some festivals and are now preparing for our tour in Germany which starts in October. And last week our new single ,,I don’t love You’’ has been released.

11. Congratulation, you got a "Goldene Schallplatte" (golden award for successful selling of your music). How did that feel to you? It is the first award you won, right?

Yes it is! And feels AWESOME!!!! We are so thankful for that.

12. What are your goals as band for the next months? And what are your actual musical projects? What can you tell us about the tour in 20 cities in Germany, you are starting in October? Will you also play some new songs on that tour!

We are writing new songs right now. Some of them we will already present on tour.

13. "Unser Song für Österreich" already started and there will once again be the possibility to win a wild card. What would be your recommendation to all bands, which are thinking about to follow you and repeat the "cinderella story" of Elaiza in 2015?

Stay true to you and do your thing.

14. Last question. 2020, what do you think our website Eurovision on top will write about the band Elaiza? 

That we are still on tour, maybe in whole Europe^^ , that we released many albums and that our music reaches a lot of people <3

 

We wish the sympathy band Elaiza all the best for the upcoming tour and success with the new album. You can listen to the new singles on eurovision on top and vote for it at our weekly chart voting. Stay tuned to Eurovision on top to get all information about the musical work in the future of Elaiza.

Pedro de Almeida for EOT

Roberto Bellarosa  (Belgium, 2013)                                                                        "Without the fans, this wouldn't have been possible"

 

Just before release his new single "Agathe", Roberto Bellarosa gave us this interview. Bellarosa, one of the biggest surprises in Eurovision last year told us about being the Voice of Belgium, Eurovision and their fans!

03. January 2012 - with the age of 17 you stepped for the first time on the stage of a big music show, the Voice of Belgium. Who was Roberto at this day? How did you feel and how was that experience?

I was just a young boy trying to realize his dreams. I had no idea what was about to happen when I decide to take part of this show and I had never been so stressed before in my entire life.

What would you have said at the morning of this day, if someone would have told you that you will win the show, go to Eurovision, do it to the grand final and make a 12nd place on the score board?

My first reaction would be: 'Are you playing a trick on me?' *laughs* -After I calmed down a little, I would just never have thought this. It has always been my dream, and I couldn't have asked for more than all this amazing things at the age of 17. 

What was the reason for you to go to the blind audition?

It was actually a bet with one of my best friends. He claimed that I was too scared to participate and that I can't do it.

What do music means to you?

Music is my whole life, the relationship I have with it is indescribable. I start each day by listening to at least one song! 

Did you ever hear about Eurovision before knowing that you would be the representative of Belgium? Be serious, do a 16 year old boy in Belgium know about this contest?

Yes, I already knew very well Eurovision because I always watched it at home with my family. 

With 18 years you were the youngest singer in 2013 at Eurovision. In Amsterdam there was like a shy guy on stage, for whom a not working earphone was a challenge. During the grand final performance it seemed to be like a complete different artist, very self confident. How was this experience for you? Did it help you to be getting more mature?

Definitely. In the beginning I was indeed a shy boy who didn't really know how to act on stage and I wasn't confident at all. Thanks to the Eurovision I realized that my place as an artist was right. And, by letting me represent Belgium, people believed in me! This really made me feel more confident and I wanted to do everything I could to make my country proud of me.

For a lot of people you were like the biggest surprise of the contest. You didn't win the contest, but what would you say did you win at your personal point of view?

For me, going until the final was already a major victory ! In my point of view I definitely won this contest. Not by getting the most points, but with the feeling of having made my country proud and pushing them to support me no matter what. 

In the last year there was no Eurovision fan event that you missed Amsterdam, Cologne, Setubal, Luxembourg, just to tell some of them.

I loved it because it gave me the feeling that they didn't forget me. From each event, I gained amazing experiences I'll never forget.

If you think back to the 03 January 2012 and comparing with Roberto two years later. What is different? What changed? What improved?

My age... first of all *laughs* haha.

No, I completely changed as an artist. I know what direction I want to take with my career and what kind of music I want to make. I also gained more confidence , outside and on stage, and I feel more respected as an artist today. 

Eurovision seemed to be like a boost for your musical career. Do you think so too? Or what it just a "one hit wonder"?

No I don't think it was just a 'one hit wonder' thing. "Love Kills" was a big hit and not only in Belgium. Thanks to the Eurovision, my career got a major boost and today I'm working on my second album with big artists. Thanks to this huge event.

And now, two years after the start at the Voice, after an intense Eurovision year. What are your actual musical projects?

My new single is now out and currently I'm also working on my second album with big artists. I feel so blessed !

How did the Eurovision experience influenced your actual musical work?

The Eurovision hasn't really influenced my musical work. I have my own style of music and this show didn't change it.

Is there anything you would like to say to all the Eurovision fans, who accompanied you during the last year?

I would like to wholeheartedly thank them warmly! Without them, this wouldn't have been possible and I really appreciate everything they did for me! I will never forget this! 

Would you recommend other young artists to participate in Eurovision?

I would recommend them to really enjoy the entire experience, because sometimes the stress might take it over... Enjoy every single second of it!

Pedro de Almeida

Jimmy Martin  (Luxembourg, 1993)                                                                         ‘There should be an eastern and a western competition’

 

In the 80’s Jimmy Martin played hard rock music and toured at the same time as Bon Jovi and Europe. In the 1993 he represented Luxembourg at the ESC and two years ago he was honored for his outstanding musical achievements by the Mayor of Bertrange in Luxembourg. Last April he was our Artist of the Month and spoke to us sharing his thoughts about his 3 decades on the music industry and about the past and present Eurovision.

 

In the late 80’s, long before ESC 93, you were the lead vocalist of the French hard rock act Fisc. In 2014 what do you keep from them?

It was a great time in my life. We had so much fun. You have to imagine ,we were touring the US in the heydays of hard rock, the same period when Bon Jovi, Europe ,Def Leppard ruled the charts! It`s kind of sad that we don`t have contact anymore...I tried but none of them seemed to care, so that`s it for me!

Did somehow the 20th place among the 25 participants affected Jimmy Martin in a negative way and/or do you see any connection between the Modern Times’ placement and the Luxembourg’s quit from the contest?

No, not at all! I never felt negative about it and for sure there is no connection at all between this and Luxembourg`s decision to leave the competition! RTL is a private and non a state TV station, and they just don`t want to finance it anymore, that`s all!

 The ESC 1993 is seen as a great year for the contest. Do you recall any particular song, any particular artist or any funny moments with a certain representative? 

I remember the song from Sweden by this boyband, who were kind of the favorite at the time, but they didn`t make it either! Then of course my hot looking bass player Ruth.. whenever she walked on stage with her short red dress, the orchestra messed it up because they were staring at her cute a.., instead of their note sheet.

I know that you use to follow the ESC. What do you think about the current contest?

I think it`s pretty cool, a great way to gain stardom in your home country, though I def. Believe there should be an eastern and a western competition as the music styles are so different and don`t mix that well together. I also believe that the eastern countries really stick together, whilst the western ones don`t seem to care about each other!

 

Nowadays the ESC is so much bigger than it was back in 1993 with a more evident impact on the European charts. Don’t you think that the chart success is a strong reason for all the European countries take part in the contest? What would be your arguments to convince Luxembourg to come back?

Of course record companies are behind their artists, at least prior to the contest, because they make good cash with it, it`s a great promotion for a record, that doesn`t cost them a dime! Luxembourg should be back, because it was a founding member of the Grand Prix and it`s a great way to get the country promoted!

What about the ESC 2014? Have you already listen to any of the competing entries? Any favorite? So far what is your overview about it?

 

Yeah, some interesting and unusual stuff this year, but also some mainstream that could be in the pop charts! Some countries do try to copy the current music style, though it does not suit them at all...it`s not what them! My favorite is of course the German one, as I`m part of the company that has produced it and Tommy and Frank did an amazing job with the song!

Let’s talk about your current career. “Wild at Heart” is your new album which came out after a long hiatus in your discography. What took you so long to release a new album?

Nowadays, you don`t have to follow the “each year an album and a tour anymore”! I don`t have any pressure by a label cos Andreas Bob who runs my label is an old friend and I have all the time in the world, plus I am so busy writing and producing other acts that it took a bit longer to finish the album.

“Wild at Heart” has been meeting some great reviews a bit all over the planet (Germany, Uk and Japan). So far what was the best and the worst you’ve read about your new album and how does it affect you and the team behind “Wild at Heart”? 

 

The album received great critics almost everywhere, saying that it is a piece of art of American rock music, and if it would have been released in the 80`s it would have been a worldwide chart topping album, that was the era of melodic rock music! Like always, some heavy metal idiot writers from a couple of magazines(that you won`t find in any stores) seem to find it funny by slagging someone`s work off ,but I really don`t care about these as....!

In 2012 you’ve been honored for your outstanding musical achievements by the Mayor of Bertrange in Luxembourg. Do you feel a beloved artist in your home country, Luxembourg?

Hey yeah, that was great being honored by your city and given the “golden key” to the city...the mayor and some politicians were holding a great speech, I was really proud...and a big picture of me is hanging on the wall in the City Hall! A lot of people do know me in my country and seem to like me, but as everywhere, there are always the one`s that don`t...but hey, that`s cool!

Recently you and your wife Sam took part on RTL's realtity tv show "mäi Mann mäi Stil"! Can you tell us a little bit more of that?

 

It was prime time on TV, just before the news! Sam, my wife, and I had to compete against this other couple (the guy in it, Guy, is a well-known figure from a German reality tv show “Bauer sucht Frau”).We had to restyle our wifes plus organize a romantic dinner! That was it...and there was a jury,,, and Sam and I won...hey how could we have lost, with a beautiful wife like I have...!

 

You have a new single coming up, “Superhero”. Why a non album track for a single? Don’t you think that “Wild at Heart” has more strong songs to be released as singles?

I think there are a lot of potential singles on the album, but the record company came up with this “Deluxe version” of my album which I thought it was a good idea: so we wrote this new single “Superhero”, which turned out to be a great modern sounding song, perfect for the upcoming single!

Let’s end up this interview making a last reference to the ESC. Throughout the years Luxembourg was represented many times by foreign artists.

Would you accept to represent a foreign country at the contest?

Of course I would! Why not...after all we are one big nation now...the EU..!

 Carlos Carvalho for EOT

Ralph Siegel  The biggest interview ever made to Mr. Grand Prix

The 59th Eurovision Song Contest is about to start, the official opening ceremony washeld on 4th may and this is the official start point for the contest, which already runs since many weeks or let us better say, since months. Today there are many comments about the people who built the arenas, the director for the light and the sound. But in fact every year there are special persons preparing the Eurovision Song Contest, writing songs, lyrics and searching for the right artist to make to song alive and give them a soul. These are the persons for whom the contest once was founded, when it was named "Grand Prix". In preparation for the contest Eurovision on Top had the unique and amazing possibility to speak to the one and only "Mr. Grand Prix" Ralph Siegel. No one knows that contest as good as him. Nobody wrote so many songs and no one had so many successes and also the experience of some lowlights. Read about the person Ralph, how Mr. Siegel feels, when he is called "Mr. Grand Prix", what he thinks about the Eurovision today and if he like more red or white wine.

We could directly start with questions about your almost 50 Grand Prix preselection participations or speaking about the nearly 20 entries in the final, about victories and defeat, about 2,000 songs written by you or the 30 million worldwide sold song of you. Instead of that our first question will be a different one. Did you as child liked spinach? And what was your absolute favorite food, what your mother should always cook for you?

Probably I liked no spinach like all the little children due to the reason that it was mostly bitter and till to today I love to eat the creamed version. My mother then hide all the drugs or vitamin pills in my favorite food "schnitzel with mashed potatoes with gravy much". If I would have had eaten more spinach instead of potatoes, perhaps today I would be a little bit slimmer.

Mr. Siegel in the first step I would like to introduce to our readers the person „Ralph Siegel“, himself. How would you introduce yourself to someone, who doesn‘t know who you are and never heard something about the Grand Prix of the ESC?

This is difficult to answer, because only my friends and family knows the real person Ralph Siegel, and for sure in the best way, my wife. What you almost read in the press are mostly facts about successes or defeats and most of the times superficial.

If someone in the USA ask me „Who are you? Where are you from and what do you do?“ I would simple answer: „Fragt mich jemand zum Beispiel in den USA „Wer sind Sie? Woher kommen Sie und was machen Sie?" - Würde ich schlicht Antworten „I come from Germany, I am a composer, music producer, I write lyrics and work in the music industry for more than 50 years. I am a happy married person, have 3 wonderful children and five lovely grandchildren“ and perhaps that God has been very kind to me, because I can look back to 68 years of a very full and successful life.

With your permission I would like keep speaking about the person „Ralph“ and perhaps you would like to answer some short questions:

Red or white wine?

Of course it depends to the meal, but my favorite is white wine. Actually I like the most Sauvignon blanc „Cloudy Bay“ from New Zealand and when I drink a red one I like Tignanello from Italy.

Beach or mountains?

Beach and heat. As a child I loved to ski and had three times fractures in my shoulder, my arm and my foot.

Calm or choleric?

I am not so calm, but rarely I get choleric. It has to happen a lot to see me choleric.

Coffee or tea?

Usually coffee in the morning, ice tea at lunch and sometimes a irish coffee at the end of the day, to have a good close up.

City or country?

I am a city person, even I am a happy country grown up child. Big cities just offer more variety in all aspects.

Do sport or watching it?

To watch it is one of my hobbies, specially soccer, athletics and golf. Golf is the only one out of the three that I also use to do active. I love to do it with my wife and friends. Peanuts or chips?

None of both. I like macadamia nuts and wall nuts. And if I eat chips, than just with guacamole.

Potatoes or rice?

Baked potato, french fries, fried potatoes and rice pudding.

Introvert or extrovert?

Extroverted tendency, but as far as possible while remaining modest and quiet!

Cold or warm shower?

Warm at the beginning and at the end a very cold shower.

What does Ralph Siegel do, when he isn‘t writing a song?

Well - he makes a lot of things, which every normal person does too, because there is also a lot of things to do in the office or in the studio. This is the most time of my day. But my day starts with reading the newspaper and ends watching a bit the television. I like to watch talk shows or I watch the recordings of programs, which I wasn‘t able to see live.

You have been born in 1945 into and raised up in a family of musicians.  Do you think, that this was the reason why you became a musician? Was that in 1945 kind of inherited? Did you really had the possibility to become something else?

I would have to write down the history of my life to answer that question. For sure there were clearly reasons, why I became a musician and composer, but also my grandfather was general music director in Krefeld (Germany), conductor and composer. As some people know also my parents have a musical background and are very known musicians. So we can assume that it already contains a particle of inheritance in me. Of course I could also be a theater director and film director, as most children of professionally successful parents do. Mostly children make something close to the profession of the parents, but rarely in the same profession. The conditions were of course very good, but also kinda difficult. Son of a famous father is nice but that is not enough, and can also be hard - to be as good or better than the father is almost impossible. But yeah - I also had the gene of the mother and all in all, yes it has worked more than good and I thank God every day for it.

Already with 5 years you played your first instrument and with 12 you wrote your first song and had a band. How successful was your band, were did you performed then and do you still have contact to the other band members?

So, a kids band with 6 playing the drums, for sure we shouldn't take it to serious. With the age of 10 I played in the „Franz Langheinrich Akkordeon Orchester“ and with 13 founded the „Peter Elversen Septett“ (my first pseudonym). A former friend and arranger wrote us parts of the song and the rest we played out of the salon orchestra portfolio. We didn‘t make it out through some carnival children events, country weddings. With 16 I connect to the quintet from Munich named „The Skyscrapers“ (at this moment I already played piano, accordion, drums and guitar) and at this time the carnival events were much better and were more fun. Most of the colleagues of that times died or I never saw them again. But it was more than 50 years ago.

In 1956 the Grand Prix were broadcasted for the first time. Do you remember that? Did you watch it with 11? Can you remember the reaction of your parents about this modern things at that time?

To be honest I can‘t remember it. And just a long time after it I knew that my father already in 1957 wrote the lyrics for Margot Hielscher for the „Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson“  of the song „Telefon, Telefon“. At that time we didn‘t sit in front of the TV. Only sometimes for the show of Fritz Benscher and his Tick Tack Toe - Quiz and the first cooking show of all times Clemens Wilmenrod. That I can remember. And for sure the few soccer games. But my parents were already involved in the after war medias and my father performed in a lot of television shows as „Der Blaube Bock“ or „Was bin ich?“. My father was well traveled and made a lot of business and musical connections with partners all over the world within north and south America and mostly whole Europe. He loved music and his life as a musician, as I do. But he had to survive to world wars and for sure as a lot of other people it was more difficult for them, then today. I am still eternally thankful to my parents that they gave me the possibility to make experiences all over the world and to learn out of it.

Mr. Siegel, what would you say is the difference between you and a music producer of today? Are you still a song writer from the „old school“, someone who knows the handiwork from the base?

I think that we need to make a difference between a producer and a song writer. That are two totally different professions and there a people who can make both very well. A producer has the responsibility for a lot things. Usually he is the partner of the recording company and has the artistic management as responsibility. Mostly the financial aspects are also part of his work. He selects together with the artist the songs and then the execution starts. How does it sounds at the end - and how does the artist sing? Loud or quietly? Warm or cool? More orchestra or more strings? This is no easy decision, as you have to keep in mind and be aware, that the musical career of the artist can depend a lot of the outcome. The composer and lyric writer delivers in general the demo version with lyrics and with that the producer searches for the right artist and how to produce it. Of course, today there are a lot of composers, who produce at the same time. But the old school of the successful producer had the rule that the song is the most important thing for the artist and the composer. That was the reason why a lot of cover versions were produced and huge successes were translated into german or got new lyrics.

„Die kleine Kneipe“ (’t kleine café aan de haven) of Pierre Kartner with Peter Alexander is one of the best examples of the work of a producer. Sounds change every several month and of course I work with young arrangers and artists. Though I very often miss the beautiful time of live productions. Every time we work with live orchestras I have that nostalgic feelings.

Very often you are called „Mr. Grand Prix“. Do you like it? Does it make you proud? Or does it make it you a bit sad, because the Grand Prix is just a part of your musical work, even a small part of that?

Of course, I am happy about that, because it proves that I made a lot to get such a name. There is only one more person being called so, Jonny Logan who deserved this name as composer and artist. Even if there are a few more people thinking they should be named Mr. Gran Prix too. At the other hand, everyone who searched a bit about my musical work, knows what I did in my professional career. Peter Alexander, Rex Gildo or Roy Black haven‘t never been to the ESC. And Gerhard Polt, Willi Astor or Erwin Pelzig definitely  haven‘t been at Eurovision and are an example for my work outside Eurovision. Udo Jürgens had already been at the Grand Prix when he came to me and I produced his comeback („Der Teufel hat den Schnaps gemacht“, „Griechischer Wein“, „Ein ehrenwertes Haus“ ect.) and Vicky Leandros („Verlornes Paradies“) too. The work as music producer or publisher (many years member of the board of the GEMA) and chief of the label Jupiter Records occupied a lot of time of my life. Out of that there were also  outcomes in the Silver Convention („Fly Robin fly“ - Nr.1 in the USA ) or Penny Mc Lean („Lady Bump“) or Dee D. Jackson („ Automatic lover“ ) – artists who were recommended to me by friends of mine, who were composer and producers. I am every day proud that the geniuses Dr. Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levai gave into our hands the unknown songs and artists, to bring them out to the world and to make them successful. In the 70‘s and the 80‘s I made a lot of friendships and partnerships with international artists like Mireille Mathieu, Patrik Duffy or Dolly Parton etc. As well as to international publish houses like MCA, Bob Mellin, Bruce Springsteen or the Village People, just to name some of them. The Grand Prix was always a highlight in the year, but the rest of the year was full of several happy and successful moments, but also less successful moments, which always make part in every work and life. 

You wrote more than 2000 songs, sold them worldwide more than 30 Mio. times. 154 of your songs were in the charts, some of them in the top 10 and even number 1 hits, including in the USA! A retirement would be more than deserved. Why do you continue to write songs?

It is like if you ask a painter why he continues to paint or to a poet why he continues to write poems. Artists live for their art of create, build and discover. If I just think about Robert Stolz or Irving Berlin, than I should at least compose and write songs for 20 to 30 years. Perhaps I will write a lot of beautiful songs in the next years. Sounds, grooves and beats are time phenomena’s, good melodies and lyrics are timeless. But of course it always comes back to the performers and the best song rarely works with a poor artist - But a good artist can also have a lot of success in spite of an average song, because the real fans love almost everything he does or sings. But I also need to say that I probably no longer would live without music, because the work has brought me again and again back from the most depths health points of my life and given me the strength to live again.

Of course there couldn‘t miss the question about your favorite song out of all the songs you wrote.

There are so many different songs which I  like, because of different reasons. I think about Nicole, with her I made so many nice songs in the last 2 years, which I wrote together with good lyric writer friends. There isn‘t even just „Ein bisschen Frieden“ and Peter Alexander - beginning with „Der Papa wird‘s schon richten“ till „Feierabend. Or „Dschingis Khan“ and „Moskau“. Songs which went out to the whole world. And for sure „Theater“ and „Johnny Blue“ Out of the almost unknown songs my favorite is „From here to Eternity“ sang by Mrs. Kriemhild, one beautiful song which was for Eurovision, but the German jury didn‘t select it.  

I have learned that you also wrote a song for me. „Pedro“ What was the reason for that song? 

Yes, but I didn‘t know that you sang in the garden of Peter Alexander and that you plays mandolin at midnight. Just kidding. I have written the song together with Michael Holm 40 years ago. And it was a hit. A funny song which a lot of people still remember. Unhappily Peter died some years ago and we all miss him a lot. For sure he was one of the best entertainers of all times. I adored and loved him.

You wrote like about 50 song for the Grand Prix / Eurovision Song Contest and about 20 of them did it to the grand final. And with no doubt the highlight was in 1982 with Nicole‘s victory. What were your Eurovision highlights and very there any lowlights?

As you mention it, yes I wrote a lot of songs for national finals. And in the past it was the way, that the songs were submitted anonymous, the jury chose which song they liked the most or thought will be the best and just after that the composer and lyric writer was announced. That was more effective and more fair than today. I wrote since 1970 till 1995, every year, 6 to 10 songs, which we submitted as demo versions. And out of that as you know 50 songs made it into the German national selection. I had the luck, that the audience very often like my songs and that they selected them. I represented Germany 14 times and made 1 time a number 1. Place, 3 times a 2. place and 2 times a 3. place, even with Dschingis Khan, which made it around the world, I made a 4th place. You need to know that the competition out there is very big, so that sometimes there are live acts which really go bad, because that it doesn‘t work good in an acoustic way or looks bad on the screen. That happened for example with Corinna May. I was so sad I felt like to cry, everything went wrong, I was so worry for Corinna because it wasn‘t her fault. Sometimes there is a bit of luck missing. If in 1981 Switzerland would have given Germany only 1 point Lena Valaitis would have won with „Jonny Blue“ and also „Theater“ Katja and I missed the victory by 9 points. Defeats or losing sometimes is really sad, especially when you think that you have written the song, which can bring your country back to the top and than the song isn‘t selected for the national final. Songs which weren‘t selected for the national final can‘t be seen or listen, that means that there is no chance for that songs, which I wrote in the last ten years for Germany, which the German broadcasters rejected. That feels bad, first of all for the artists, which at my point of view sang the song very good. For sure it was logic that I started to offer my songs in other countries. But to be selected in other countries is more difficult, as you have limited PR possibilities, known Stars or Fanclubs. The best moments of Eurovision for sure were the victories, but also third places as with Mekado and Sürprize, when nobody thought we will have a chance. A very bad moment was in 2013, when Valentina didn‘t pass - there were so many people speaking good things about the song and already about a Eurovision 2014 in San Marino. And then we were out.

1970, 1980 and 1990 were your most successful years, you wrote a lot of hits. Also at the Grand Prix you had one success after the other in the 90s. You mentioned it in the answer before. What was your secret of being so successful?

I don‘t think that I was better than today, on the contrary. Now I am more experienced and have more musical education comparing with those times. The criteria of the selections have totally changed. There aren‘t any longer searching for the best song or one which has the chance to win. They just manage viewing figures. Almost that is the most important thing. That’s how the music industry works, which provide the artists. And also this industry manages the shows and the program, where they try to place songs, they plan to release, that is without thinking in the international competition. Very often they don‘t care about that - only when one wins and has to perform, the things change - with one lucky exception of Lena. The only man who is able to manage both, high viewing figures and potential winners is Thomas Schreiber (NDR). But also he only gets what the industry offers to him. That was the reason why they decided to involve once again more the audience and what was the result. The youtube under dogs, the unknown band won the national final and travel to Copenhagen - no industry song (meanwhile ELAIZA has already a contract). I almost made it, when nobody knew that it was my song, that’s a sad fact. I won to many times and a lot of people didn‘t like it. That I supported so many artist in their starting and making their musical career, was forgotten very fast and so the last 10 year everything I offered in Germany was rejected. Sad about the artists and the lyric writers, they deserved a chance. My secret receipt always was: „perfect live singing performance of the solo singers, at groups the overall impression is important, with lyrics that can also be understood internationally and melodies which keep in your head. Also the image of the artist is very important and the view on the screen. It has to go straight to the heart and to speak positive to them, the way they keep it in mind and hopefully will remember to vote for it at the end.“ To be able to provide this requirements you need time, love to what you are doing, a matching artist and unfortunately you need also money. In due that there is lesser music selling out of the contest than in the past, the industry isn‘t quite interested as in the past. Exception is when they are already planning to release an album with that artist. Well, perhaps my artist will get a chance again and till that I have to offer my songs in Europe, what is more difficult, as I told, but still fills my heart and that’s for me a reason to live and to work.

You have been born in 1945 at the end of a tragic period of the german history. 1979 and twenty years later in 1999 you have been in Israel. How was this two times for you? What was in 1999 different comparing with 1979? How important was it for you to make a 4. place with Dschinghis Khan and a 3. place with Sürpriz?

Israel is a complex topic for Germans. At one side there is the political history and background and at the other hand the unbelievable history of Israel and the Jews. Jerusalem itself was fascinating and can‘t get out of your mind the people at the Wailing Wall and even out of your heart. When we travelled in 1979 with Dischingis Khan we had no idea what would happen to us and then they celebrated us and the song. The song is still a popular song in Israel. In 1999 we travelled to Israel as second choice, in due that Corinna May was disqualified, because her song (Hör den Kindern einfach zu) had been already released in english before. Anyhow we made a 3. place and got a better result the German press thought before. For such a good result Germany had to wait for a long time, till Lena‘s „Satellite“ song, written by a danish / american composer duo. In Jerusalem it was fascinating because we went there with a German / Turkish group and we sang the end of the song „Reise nach Jerusalem“ (Journey to Jerusalem) in hebrew. Out for a visit at Yad Vashem and our honoring visit will keep eternally in my mind. When we arrived in Germany we read just a small article on the front page of a big german newspaper „Sürpriz only 3.“ that was all. For me it always was important to reach a good result, as you are representing a country and you want to make a good impression. And at the other hand the result for sure is very important for the artist who is participating and his future is impacted by that. Already alone by this reason I give my best every time.

Let us continue to speak about Sürpriz. That wasn‘t a surprise that you send them to the contest. That means, sending a German / Turkish group to Israel, that was a kind of message, or not?

The foundation of the group in fact was a surprise. In September of 1998 I was sad in a Taxi on the way to the Oktoberfest in Munich, during that the taxi driver was listening to turkish music and sang. We started to speak and he told me about her friends and a band. It sounded so funny to my, so that I decided to meet the group and invited the band leader Chico to come to my studio. After that we made a casting to find the rest of the group and I started to look for an idea for this group. When Bernd Meinunger and I started to speak about where the journey in that year will go to, the title of the song was born and decided. I loved the idea and worked for weeks with the group as long as the song was to send it to the NDR. And the rest of the story you already know. The message was clear: Integration on the best musical level and in every respect.

How did you experienced that what you started with their participation in Germany? Do you think that started to change something in Germany with that? Germany just 15 years after that performance decided the double nationality for German / Turkish people.

My intention at the start was just personal and has a musical charm. But the month after that there was a lot of realities, sometimes really sad once. If we only had contribute a small piece to the fact that germans and turkish people understand each other better, so that we can live in a fantastic way together and also can make music together, than I am still happy today about that fact.

And then came the Millennium and the success of Ralph Siegel started to miss. What do you think were the reasons for that? Did you never arrived with your music at the Eurovision years of 2000?

Well, it depends how you look on the things. I thought that the song of Corinna May in the national final of Germany „I believe in God“ could made it, but against the „Waddehaddeduddeda“ Song of Stefan Raab the song only made a second place. The same happened to Nicole Süßmilch and Marco Mathias, they lost against Gracia. Lou made a happy 11. place and the bad result of Corinna was horrible. And before that we were a long time leading the international bets and polls. But it seemed as it should be. To be honest my tries after that to enter again in Germany into the Eurovision Business didn‘t work. So it did what a lot of musicians all over the world do. I started to provide with my songs other countries, as Malta, Moldavia, Spain, Switzerland and Austria. San Marino with the three participations came a bit closer to me. Who would have thought that before, that is what life brings or let us better say, the music.

Why did you start in 2005 under a pseudonym?

I did it a lot of times (for example „Lass die Sonne in dein Herz“) - as a lot of authors. It has the advantage that you don‘t have this prejudices, but in 2005 the NDR forced me to let the people know that I was the composer behind the song and after that my loved artists Nicole and Mathias got second. Perhaps we would have won with the pseudonym. But so difficult is the job - we can‘t fade out certain animosities of fans and competitors. Who had so many successes as I for sure made same „self made enemies“ or let it say this way - the fans of our competitors, which lost against us, they connect this automatically with they anger to me and still feel the worries. This brings them to put it on me or my new artist. This is sad and let the wrong people suffer, people who didn‘t have nothing to do with that.

How was your experience about the changes in 2010 at the German nation final and the victory of Lena? 

To be honest - totally relaxed! Perhaps a little bit sad because I had prepared and offered some songs - also for Lena - but they were once again rejected. The lead for this selection the NDR delegated to the company Brainpool and Stefan Raab and they made an amazing result out of it. I was a long time of that spring in the USA and followed everything interested and I was very happy for all involved people. I gave my congratulations to Lena and hoped for the next year. But there was already everything decided. And since then I am waiting year after year. Perhaps one day a jury or producer will once again chose a song out of our producer company, which now is smaller than before. But God will for sure lead everything the right way.

What would you say is the biggest difference between the Gran Prix and the Eurovision Song Contest? What changed? What of that do you see as positive and what perhaps as negative?

I always sad „everything changes“ - the cars, the radios, the watches, the people and the animals - no the animals almost don‘t change, expect when they are fed with hormones, what I really don‘t like! But the main differences are that in the past the base of the show was a live orchestra and today there is a half playback version of the song. The director in the past bowed and counted to start the orchestra playing, that was nice. I just remember the first notes I played as part of the intro of „Theater“, with my white gloves and clowns on it and how exciting that was. In the past the jury had to occupy themselves more with the song and had to vote at less 10 songs and because of the 10 and 8 point rule there was this moment when a song started to lead. Today the audience is just voting for one song, their favorite and that is the reason why the voting brings an different view on it. Anyway - now there is again a professional jury and I think it is good to have it. Another main difference is in due to the early release of the songs and the artist - at my point of view - the songs very early are praised or criticized. To often it is about how good or bad video is and for sure sometimes it has to be very hard for the artist to travel to the semi final or the grand final reading bad news and bad rankings in advance. Everything can change, we already had the proof for that. But in the past the jury heard the songs a short time before the show and that contributed to make it more interesting, exciting and abit more fair.

As San Marino just has 35.000 habitants, it is obvious that they have less clicks on their videos on youtube comparing with Germany (80.000.000 habitants). Thinking this way 130.000 hits in two weeks aren‘t such a bad result for San Marino. What also changed a lot are the fabulous and huge light shows and the arenas capacities (till 30.000). That for sure has an impact on the overall impression and you still can be astonished about what the producers and directors are able to afford. But several times it was bad for the sound because the big surrounding in huge arenas do have an impact on the microphones of the artists and that doesn‘t make it easy for the sound directors.

What does the Grand Prix have meant for your life? Was is it just a competition, which helped you to be able to sell your music, a kind of hobby or a big passion?

The Grand Prix or the ESC always meant a lot to me, but also the Tokio Yamaha Music Festival, the golden Lyra Award in Bratislava or the Coupe d‘Europe etc. Music, festivals bring people together and support a possibility to publish songs in foreign countries and to make them known. It is also nice to get recognition from the whole Europe and also from South Africa and many more countries. Perhaps you don‘t know but the Grand Prix made it happen that in South Africa more than one hundred songs of mine are sang in Afrikaans. On this trips I made a lot of contacts and found new friendships. It is just unique to get the chance to present a song to two hundred million people worldwide. When do you get this chance? Throughout this contest I was able to give a lot of artists the possibility to show what they can on this amazing stage and to find new fans. The Grand Prix or ESC for sure isn‘t my hobby, but also not my life. It keeps me alive, because perhaps without this fantastic challenge I wouldn‘t be any longer making this job and perhaps I was already joining my father and mother in the sky.

Nicole, is the women who stayed the longest time at your side, you said once. It‘s now more than 30 years ago that you two won the Grand Prix. Today Nicole has 18 released albums - 4 million sold singles. How much did the Grand Prix helped the duo of Ralph Siegel & Nicole?

I am sure it didn‘t help just Nicole, but also Bernd Meinunger and Robert Jung and the ARD, Bayern and Germany. It still is the complete German victory, sang in german, a german composer, lyric writer and producer and the song until today awakes great feelings. The people at this evening were really enthusiastic and still are happy when Nicole sings it at the end of events in one of the German cities. The audience still loves to sing the song with her and they all feel very happy. That still makes me happy. Nicole and I worked together for almost a quarter century and still are friends. And yes you can say that the Grand Prix contributed to that. Such a unique experience made a union. By the way we made also a 2. place in Tokio and Bratislava and had success and a lot of fun. It sounds great when you speak about millions of sold singles but, if you think about the facts that you have to pay salaries of a lot of people it becomes relative.

You got two times the Bundesverdienstkreuz (federal cross of merit), the world music award of excellence in the USA and the most important German award „Echo“ in 2007 for your life‘s work. What do these prizes mean to you?

I also can be proud of the „Bayerischen Verdienstorden“ and the „Paul Linke Ring“ and a lot of other honoring awards. You just can be thankful about that and happy. Some weeks ago for example I got the „Pfälzer Saumagen Orden“ award from a lovely carnival association „wieder den Neidhimmel“ from Nürnberg. That are heartwarming awards, which bring a lot of joy to me and which are gave to me from honest people.

Let us know, what are you proud of?

Specially I am proud of my whole family, that means also proud of my parents and grandparents. They built the base for my life and I am thankful, that I am able to have a life full of music and entertainment. A lot of people have great jobs, but aren‘t happy doing them. At that point I have a lot of luck. Proud of my wonderful children and grandchildren, as well as of my grandiose lovable even unique woman Kriemhild, who still use to sing. She always stands by my side, also in hard times. At a professional point I am sure I can be proud of my work in general, where not just I made profit, but also because of the artist, lyric writers, composers and employees in all the projects in companies I worked. A lot of them today are self-employed, very successful colleagues and enjoy a good reputation. I don‘t want to mention names, otherwise I will forget names.

What would you suggest to all the song writers and to the singers for the Eurovision of today?

Come, let us work together and enjoy this wonderfully beautiful profession - but do not forget that it can take weeks and months to write a good song, and to produce and if you're unlucky, no one understands "how good it is" - because tastes are different and that makes it always exciting. Generally, I would say, "Write songs that come from the heart and guide yourself by sounds and beats" - at the end there are just two important things: the song and the artist.

At the end of the interview I would like to come back to the person Ralph Siegel. How did the Grand Prix or ESC marked your musical work and also influence you personally?

The Grand Prix didn‘t mark my musical work, as I started to be musician with the age of 5 years and raised up with that. My parents and my environment where I grew up marked me. For sure there were other sings marking my musical life: in the young years learning about music, then being part of a band, the professional work in Paris, Nashville Tennessee and New York. Also the enthusiasm for Bob Dylan, Donovan, the Beach Boys, Peter Paul and Mary. I studied the Motown Stars, also the Beatles, the Rolling Stones but also George Gershwin, Cole Porter and a lot of other german role models marked my musical career. Christian Bruhn and Bert Kaempfert, also James Last and Henry Mayer were the best role models and for sure my blessed and talented father. The Grand Prix had the consequence, that I got known as composer, the persons who normally keep unknown, and got a person of publicity and of the press. That, has good but also not so good things. First of all because you also make mistakes and don‘t be all the time successful. But also defeats make you stronger and stronger and through that I learnt never to give up, even when it hurts. „After the ESC is before the ESC“. Thank you ESC and EBU.

What was the most important victory in your life? Perhaps the victory against the disease in 2010?

Of course to beat cancer - not just once, but in 2007/8 and then again in 2010 and I would not have the wonderful support of my wife Kriemhild, I would probably no longer be on this earth.

 „Mr. Grand Prix“, in the next year you will (so God will) celebrate your 70th birthday. Will you then go to retirement or will you continue to work on the first top 10 ranking of Siegel in the 2000s?

„Dear Pedro“, I hope that we finally will have a bit of luck (we were twice 11. in the semifinal) and that Valetina  Monetta this year makes it to the final. I would be so happy for her. There are a lot of people who love the song „maybe“ so much and think that it is the best song I wrote in the last years. I also have a lot of friends who cried because of the emotion they felt, when they listen to it the first time, not in the internet but yes with a good equipment. Other friends don‘t stop to compare it with the last year song „Crisalide“, which unfortunately didn‘t make it to the final. But you can‘t compare them as they are totally different, but yes the both are played in moll and then with Valentina’s voice it sounds melancholic and as a ballad. In any case, I wish her with all my heart that the fans will call for her and that she finally have the chance to make it to the final, so that millions of people can watch her and she can show her great vocal quality. Then it might even work out again this year to be there in the top 10. The lovely God will keep it in his eye. 

Eurovision On Top feels proud and very thankful for having the possibility for this interview, the longest of his life as Mr. Siegel told us. But how could we make a shorter interview to "Mr. Grand Prix" and his life's work? We wanted to make a honoring tribute to this fantastic person, who as no one else helped the Eurovision to be what it is today. If there would be an Eurovision Song Contest prize for the best personality ever, Eurovision On Top is sure that Mr. Ralph Siegel would deserve to win it.                                                               Pedro de Almeida

Sergej Cetkovic (Montenegro, 2014) I hope we enter the final

One day after the Eurovision Song Contest 2006 in Athens, there was an important decision to make for the people in Serbia & Montenegro. It wasn't 100 % connected to Eurovision and didn't have anything to do with the qualification they got. It was the choice of being the independent country of Montenegro. In 2007 they started for themselves as Montenegro, the year when the other part Serbia won the contest. With that decision the little balkan country missed the possibility of being part of the host of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008 in Belgrade. Since 2007 Montenegro is trying to make it to the final but until today the country is still waiting for the first participation at the final. In 2012 Montenegro came back to the contest, after a short pause in 2010 and 2011. In 2014 Montenegro is only one out of three Balkan countries fighting for a ticket for the final in Copenhagen and the only song with balkan sounds. Eurovision on Top spoke to the artist, who at the same time is the composer of a high quality ballad. Read now about the person, the song and the details of this participation of Montenegro in 2014.

1. Montenegro, what would you like to tell the world about that young country? Let us know something about "your world".

Sergei: Montenegro, a country of mountains and beautiful sea, it is my homeland and my world where I was born and where I absorbed everything that formed me as a musician and a man. My world exists in me and outside of me. What is in me, and send messages through my music to my fans and to all who love what I do.

2. Which eurovision tradition does this country has? Comparing with other countries there is a very young tradition.

Sergei: We in this region follow a ESC and many generations have formed their musical tastes in this prestigious European festival. Montenegro has for several years participated independently in the ESC. Previously participated in Yugoslavia. Let me remind everyone that Danijel Popovic, a representative from Montenegro who represented Yugoslavia at the ESC in 1983., And with their song "Julie" won fourth place.

3. What is your personal link to this contest? What meaning has the Eurovision Song Contest for you?

Sergej : Participation in the ESC for me is a new experience and one more chapter in my fifteen-year career . I really think that the ESC is the largest music festival in Europe, I am honored to represent my country on it . Eurovision is a demanding and serious festival. For the past several years I have been on a concert tour promoting my latest CD "2 minutes" therefore I did not have time to devote serious preparations for the Eurovision Song Contest.  Six months ago we agreed with the leaders of RTCG and here we are on the same mission. This year I celebrate 15 years on the music scene and this will be another challenge for me and one another page in my biography . I want to introduce myself to audiences in Europe , to introduce my country , to meet new people , to get some friends and to have fun

4. Since 2007, Montenegro is participating at the contest, but never did it to the final. What do you think are the reasons for that?

 Sergey: A very complex issue . There is no right answer to your question . Festivals exist so the new songs can be promote and as well new musical tendencies . Therefore, all musicians  and composers  are trying to present themselves in the best light . I believe that my colleagues , who in previous years represented Montenegro,  wanted to present themselves in the best light .

5. Do you think you have any chance to make the dream of your country come true and getting the first final ticket ever in due that there is no other balkan country in the competition. Will it make it more difficult for you to get points?

 Sergei: ESC from the Balkans or from the ex-Yugoslavia compete as representatives of Macedonia and Slovenia. I think they have interesting songs and will come in and I'm in the final. We are not in the same semi-final group. I perform in the semi-finals on May 6, while they perform May 8. Personally, I hope, at least in reaction to the song My world, we enter the final

6. Let us now speak about the artist, about you. Sergej Ćetković a very famous balkan singer. How would you introduce yourself?

Sergej: I'm an author... I write the lyrics and record the music for twenty years. Tracks are made in a different ways ... Writing them at night, sometimes in a every day situations such as in the car, in a caffee bar,  while watching TV.  As soon as I get my ideas and hear the tone I immediately whilstle or sing it in my recoderder. After that, all of us elaborate it in a studio and that is the way how I create my compositions. My career is long over fifteen years . So far I have released five albums and several Best of compilation . My first album was released in 2000 and it is called " Kristina ". I am currently working on my sixth studio album . I have already released two songs ("I still love you" and “Because of us ") and thus announced a new CD which will be released hopefully the next year . I play the piano . I finished Primary and Secondary music school " Vasa Pavic " in Podgorica . Not to be immodest , I was one of the best students. Currently, I am  studying Music Academy in Cetinje .

7. In Amsterdam you surprised the audience with your voice and your powerful performance, just doing nothing else than singing. How was that experience in Amsterdam for you?

Sergei: It was a pleasure to be in Amsterdam with all the musicians and all those who follow the ESC. I am thankful to all of them, first of all to the journalists who popularize this prestigious European festival. We hung out together and were exchanging our experience. I met many performers who will appear this year in Copenhagen. We hung out all the fans who were at a dinner party nearly two thousand

8. And now tell us something about your song. In this case the words of your sing fits 100 % as you are the song writer and the composer. What does the song means for you? What is the story? Which meaning?

Sergey: It will be another love story, something I had already tried many times . I hope that the audience will recognize my personal touch and find part of my personal story in the lyrics of the new song . I talked to my colleagues who have had the opportunity to be at the Eurovision Song Contest and their support and advice means a lot to me. I am trying to use their experience and to prepare myself for everything what  will happen in Copenhagen. I had a chance to watch ESC live in Baku in 2012 , so the experience already exists, but this time I will be on the stage, not in the audience .

9. You have been an internal selection of the montenegrin broadcaster. Was a surprise for you and how was your first reaction?

Sergei: I was very honored that RTVCG this year called me and I'm happy to represent Montenegro at the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest . Otherwise, the ideas and desires exited even before and  I 'm glad that it's happening right now , before the release of my sixth studio CD.

10. What do you think the Eurovision can bring to you? Or is it just as a huge national load on your shoulders?

 Sergey : I agree with you ! I've thought about . Eurovision is the biggest global music competition . The bigger , the more responsibilities are demanding a greater responsibility .. In fact , it is a huge job to be done if you want to be noticed , and you and the country you represent. I've thought about whether I would be able to answer this challenge . I do not doubt myself , at least when it comes to music , but in all that follows this great musical event . Watching my competitive spirit , maybe I should not have to sign up, bearing in mind that like any competition , except with yourself , which is perhaps the most difficult disciplines .

11. What are beside eurovision your actual musical projects and goals in 2014?

 Sergei: Songs of  My world has been recorded in English and can be heard on you tube. After Eurovision I expected already scheduled concerts throughout the region

12. And what would be one of the best thinks which could happen to you in Copenhagen?

 Sergey: Then I will give positive energy and music must win. I will try all your heart to give my best to my emotions and song to route to all good people across Europe.

Sergej has all the chances to surprise at the first semi final at 06th may. Eurovision on Top wishes to Sergej and to Montenegro all the best to getting the first ticket ever to the final of the Eurovision Song Contest and gives a thank you to Sergej.

Pedro de Almeida

Softengine (Finland, 2014) Covering Loreen’s Euphoria could be fun!

Topi (20), Eero (18), Tuomo (18), Ossi (17) and Henri (20) are the five guys who will represent Finland this year in Copenhagen. The young band is busy as never before preparing themselves for their Eurovision Song Contest performance at the 8th may in the second semi final. The group charmed both the Finnish public and the jury in the UMK, Contest for New Music in Finland and got the majority of both votes. The Eurovision Song Contest will be the first real big performance for the outfit but surely not the last!  Their promising career took a sharp upturn when they signed a recording contract with Sony Music Finland early in 2014 and a couple weeks later hit the jackpot by winning the UMK. The decision to enter the contest was made at the last minute and it took the boys ten days to finish their entry ”Something Better”. It is composed by singer Topi Latukka and lyrics by Latukka and the keyboard Henri Oskár. Softengine will be perhaps one of the surprises of the eurovision and is handled as the big name of the future in the Finnish rock. Eurovision on Top had the chance to get the information from the guys, who they are, what they do, how they wrote the song, what they think about the eurovision and what comparing with Krista (Finland 2013) they for sure won't do on stage.

1. Softengine - a modern rock band from Finland at the Eurovision Song Contest 2014. What would you like to add to this heading?

We would add "pop/rock with indie, prog and electric dance music influences" to the "band from Finland"

2. Your band was founded in 2011. Could you tell us a little bit about the background, the idea and who the 5 guys of the band are?

Three years ago me (Topi) and my friend decided to form an indie band. We asked fellow musicians to join us and went to my grandparents' cottage to create a mutual sound. After diligent songwriting, practising and gigging, the band found its present line-up in the summer of 2013. Let's tell you how we find the name of the band. We all think about things a lot, maybe even too much, and we wanted that to show in the name of the band in some way. We developed a “Softengine” stick figure, who instead of a head has a motor there. The word ”engine” stands for too much thinking and ”soft” for the gentle, aimless and philosophical nature of these considerations. All the lyrics in our songs are written from the standpoint of this figure.

3. What is the story behind your song?

We had a funk jam in our training facility ten days before the deadline of the UMK, the Finnish Contest for New Music. The next day I got the idea to make a real song out of the jam. Topi planned a chorus in his head and presented it to the others in the next practice session. We tried a little simpler version of the chorus and it turned everybody on. We decided to leave the funk out.Topi, Henri and Ossi then went to Topi’s grandparents' cottage to work on the lyrics. That and sauna bathing took a couple of days. After that we recorded, mixed and mastered a demo of the song. It was finished in the nick of time, on the deadline day of the contest.

To cut a long story short, the song is about an old man who reminisces about his life from childhood to the present day. He has always been dissatisfied with his life as it seems that he hasn't achieved anything or done anything out of the ordinary. In his old days his then wife dies and that makes him realize that what they had was ”something better” than anything that he could have accomplished and that he should have always cherished the moment.

4. Softengine for Eurovision. How did you come up to this idea? Who had this idea and how difficult was it to convince the other band members?

I guess it was Eero or me who first got the idea to take part in UMK, the Finnish national Eurovision contest. We voted for it and 3 of 5 said yes for taking part. The score was 2-2 and then Tuomo had the last vote. He decided that we take part and we haven’t regretted that!

5. Be honest guys, are you secret schlager fans? 

Haha! There are a lot of great Schlager songs but we are not particularly fans.

6. Did you follow this contest or had any connection to it in the past?

I have watched the final every year but there’s no bigger connection.  For many of us the Eurovision Song Contest has been a family event. The whole family has watched it together almost every year. Our own Eurovision favourite is Loreen's ”Euphoria”.

7. Bands at Eurovision don't seem to be very successful. In fact there were less groups or bands winning this contest. The only one was one Rockband from Finland in 2006, Lordi. Nevertheless you decided to participate at the contest. Why?

We wanted to just try and we did pretty good. We don’t think about the result that much. The most important thing is performing for over 100 million people. It is a great opportunity for Softengine!

8. Did you seriously thought that you will get the ticket for Copenhagen and win the national final?

No. It felt fantastic and unreal. We still sometimes forget what we have done.

9. What is our goal for your participation in Copenhagen?

Our goal is to deliver a great performance. At least we will try to stand out from the rest of the field. We will play an energetic show and nothing too planned or theatrical. We don't use any background tapes, so we have to bring along dozens of various instruments which we use in many different ways. That makes the show interesting. We are also very energetic on stage and want to touch our audience. We just go and play a three-minute gig at full blast. At the same time it's a quite heavy responsibility. We have to do our job well, so that Finland can be proud of us.

10. Do you think the participation at the contest can help your musical career? Will it give a push to it?

The Eurovision Song Contest  will surely be a unique experience. We hope that we will get a lot of new listeners from abroad. And this would be the best for us and yes we think Eurovision can help the musical career regarding that fact.

11. Let's speak about your song. In 2013 Finland was represented by a funny song "marry me" with and serious core message and the first kiss between two women on stage. Which message is Softengine bringing to the Eurovision in 2014?

We are not trying to deliver any kind of political or radical message to the people. We hope that people will enjoy our music and show. The song “Something Better” encourages to be respect the things that are good in your life.

12. Would it be a option for you to have the first kiss between two men on stage?

No, I prefer women.

13. Which Eurovision song is the one that you as band like and would like to cover or already have covered? Perhaps to perform to the fans in Copenhagen.

Covering Loreen’s Euphoria could be fun!

14. What would you like to do after Eurovision? Are there any plans or musical projects?

In 2014 we will work on our debut album, practice a lot, plan the Eurovision performance and play gigs. About our album: It will be versatile as a whole and include interesting elements both in music and lyrics. At least there will be good songs, catchy melodies, ethereal sounds and contemplative lyrics.

In the Eurovision Song Contest Softengine will concentrate on their strength, the irresistible live energy of a young rock band. The group looks forward to a unique experience and represents Finland with self-assurance. ”We just go there and play a three-minute gig with full blast”. That is Latukka's unit's purpose in a nutshell.

Besides the Eurovision Song Contest, the boys will be busy recording their debut album and gigging through the summer. One of the high points is a concert in their hometown Seinäjoki at Provinssirock, one of the biggest and oldest rock festivals in Finland. Perhaps the band that takes to the stage is the reigning Eurovision winner.

Pedro de Almeida

Suzy (Portugal, 2014)    I would like to bring a message of joy

For our team every interview is special and every one is an honor as there is an unique opportunity to speak to the person behind the artist and to share some of the experiences and feelings with you. Each interview has his own reason of being special. In this case it is because she is the winner of the 50th edition of the portuguese national final. Suzy will bring the sun of Portugal to the stage of Copenhagen and will fight for the first victory ever for her country. 50 years ago Portugal made their premiere at the Eurovision in Copenhagen. And now 50 years later the contest is held once again in Copenhagen. Eurovision on top had the possibility to speak to Suzy and ask her about the meaning of winning the 50th "Festival da Cancao" and her personal goals. 

1. "Suzy" who is the woman behind this name? 

A woman like so many others: hardworking, emotional, friendly, genuine, giving what she has and what she has not, which is always present in good and bad times and never forget the people who she loves the most. What best defines me as a person is without any doubt a "true and loyal heart."

2. Your are from "Figueira da Foz" a beach that has grown in recent years and now is a very big tourist spot in Portugal. What influence did have the fact that you were born and raised in that location? 

I still have a very strong bond with my location. I was fortunate to have had a wonderful childhood, full of memories and wonderful moments. Many of these moments that define me and which help me to "recharge myself" when things are not running optimally, are intimately associated with the Figueira da Foz.  I also have to mention the sea and the importance it has in my life. I can not live far from the sea; it is through him that I can express myself and achieve calm and introspection that I need in my every day.

3. "Suzy - brings the sun from Portugal to Eurovision?" - What do you think about this?

I had never heard that expression until today, but I really enjoy it. I wish with all my heart that it would be right this. Liked to bring not only the sun to Eurovision, but also an enormous joy and good disposition. Would be very pleased if everyone dance, sing and clap hands to the sound of my song, during my performance of it, on the 6th of May, and the 10th too, for sure.

4. Many Portuguese know you certainly from the past, when you have been part of a very popular child group in the '90s. Which paper had "Onda Choc" in your life?

 "Onda Choc" had a very important role and are still an essential milestone in my career. It was with "Onda Choc" that I started my musical career in a more serious way, having performed in many shows and many television programs as part of the group . I remember acting in parks and other outdoor places where huge groups of people came, who wanted to hear us singing and who were there to party with us . I learned a lot from "Onda Choc" . I learned how to present myself in public, to record in recording studios, making musical harmonies... Behind that, I began to learn to be a singer and how I should present to the general public . And it was also with the "Onda Choc" that I went for the first time outside of Portugal to perform songs, which brought me to travel the first time by plane. A remarkable experience by the way - I still love to travel by plain and to see different parts of the world .

5. Singing "Nesta noite branca" (This white night) with "Os Anjos" (the angels) was a milestone in your career. How was it to work with them? 

One of the most extraordinary musical experiences I have ever had. Long before we work together Nelson and Sergio (the two guys of the band) we were already friends. But we never imagined it would, professionally, work so good with such a synergy occurring and such a perfect symbiosis between the three of us.  They are 100 % professionals, fantastic and fabulous human beings. It were two extraordinary years and "Nesta noite branca"" remains one of the most important moments in my career and it remains an unavoidable top theme in the portuguese music scene at Christmas time. And it was with this song, that I turned to be known in Portugal as a solo artist and get to know my own country from north to south.

6. You also had an experience in musicals. What did you learn from it? 

Filipe la Feria is an unavoidable framework of the Portuguese musical theater. Working with Filipe was a huge learning, leading me to better understand my musical skills, develop my body and facial expression and know ways to "grab" the audience when we perform on stage. It also let me know what it means to perform every day, playing the same role over and over. I learned to not let myself get involved by routine, respecting the public and giving my best in each performance, as if it would be for the first time. I am not and never will be an actress. I am a singer who sometimes acts as an actress.

7. After "Candyland" for the Summer Jam in 2010, Suzy disappeared from music. Why? 

I didn't disappeared from the music! Rather, with this song and with other out of my repertoire within the next two years, I performed countless live acts throughout the country, in partnership with DJ Diego Miranda. I made many appearances, was head of varied event posters and turned to the official representative of the Ed Hardy brand.

8. What's the musical work of your past that makes you prouder? 

I am proud of all my musical work. All were important at the time and everyone made ​​me grow and be mature as a singer and as an artist. All of them were important steps on a long journey, which will take me to new achievement in the future (I hope). I can not distinguish any. All had their relevance at their time and they made me get to where I find myself this today.

9. Let's now talk about the Eurovision Song Contest. Explain to us how you were selected to sing this song. 

After RTP asked Emanuel to attend the Festival RTP da Canção, coincidentally, he and my brother had a meeting to discuss details about a project they are developing in partnership. At that meeting, Emanuel commented that it was looking for a singer with certain vocal characteristics. In due to that comment we met for a casting and he chooses me to be the one to sing his song at the Festival.

10. Emanuel is a very well known producer in Portugal. How is it for you to work with him as a music composer? 

Working with Emanuel is an indescribable experience that only comes once in a lifetime. I had an enormous luck. Emanuel is a human being of a superior quality and big knowledge, professional and experienced with a big power of skills. I have learned a lot from his know how, absorbed a lot from his musical knowledge and grown quite rapidly as a singer and musical performer.

11. How was this experience for you? What was positive? There was something negative?

To participate at the Festival RTP da Canção was dream came true. Since I was very young I follow this event and dreamed of stepping on this stage. I never imagined I would one day compete in this contest and much less thought I would win it and represent my country in the most important European music contest . I still can not believe all this happened. I wasn't expecting that. Especially considering that this year a lot of fabulous songs, artists and extremely talented singers participated. Rui , Catarina, Raquel, Zana brilliantly defended their great songs, that were allocated to them and all of them would have been good Portuguese representatives at Eurovision . So I wasn't expecting to win and now I am very proud and very happy about the support and affection that the portuguese have placed in me to vote for my song . I only have positive things to highlight, during the contest. Unfortunately after the final , there were a few bad news in different multimedia platforms, that hurt me very much, in due to the untrue character. There are always conflicting opinions and there will always be people who will not like my song. We all have our right to our own opinion and to express it in public. But, defamation, slander and lies, trying to destroy my image and my personal dignity, that,  no one has the right to do. The liberty of each one ends when the liberty of others begins.

12. You're gonna get into the history of the Eurovision Song Contest, not only by being one of the winners, but even more for being the winner of the 50th Eurovision Song Contest! What does that mean for you? 

It has an enormous significance. I feel a great responsibility at this time and have been working hard to not disappoint the portuguese people and all those who lovingly supported me and voted for me. I am extremely focused on my performance in Denmark and want to conquer Europe in 3 minutes. I will give everything to be a finalist and pluck an excellent rating for our country.

13. Why do you think that a song in the style of "Eu quero ser tua" (I want to be yours) won the 50th Anniversary of the National Final instead of a more traditional / classic theme? 

"Eu quero ser tua" is a very positive theme keeping in your head and ear! It has a more sensual and tribalism side. It's a popular recipe that will appeal to many people and maximizing the optimism and good humor. The Portuguese have lived very gray times and need to feel more joy and rhythm in their life. I believe it was around these reasons that the people voted for me. And we can't forget the impressive number of fans that Emanuel has and they for sure voted on the 8th and 15th March. My fans, fans who enjoyed the festival and like my music and the great mass of fans of Emanuel made ​​all the difference, leading me to win the festival with an impressive number of 42% of the votes.

 

14. What does the Festival RTP da Canção mean to you today? And the Eurovision Song Contest? 

Still an enormous significance. It is my return to media coverage of the Portuguese music scene, which eventually occur at large. As I said I am very proud and feel the responsibility to represent my country in the most important European music contest, which displays more than a half century of history.

15. What are your plans for Copenhagen? 

The plans call for a worthy representation and performance, which let all the portuguese proud and exalt the Portuguese image and the Lusitanian soul. Until may we will work hard so that everything happens the best and so that we can get the best result for Portugal.

16. What do you think, that this participation can bring to your professional career? 

It is a unique opportunity, since it will serve for a very significant number of people (who will be present in the venue or who will hear me through the TV). It is certainly a very important role, which can make all the difference in my music career going forward. Many doors will open and I'll have to be very attentive to all the opportunities that may appear.  One more reason for me to act in an unforgettable way those 3 minutes. Three minutes that could have a huge impact on the millions of minutes, which will follow in my life.

17. What are your plans for the future? 

I have many plans for the future, founding all of them in a musical landscape. For now, I am extremely concentrated on my participation at Eurovision and the recording of my new work, produced by AM Productions, dealing with some duets with Emanuel. I also intend to promote worldwide my song "Eu quero ser tua", which I hope will become a great sales success and a huge summer hit. Later on, many other ideas will be designed and developed. One thing is certain, the name Suzy will be part of the portuguese music scene in the next future.

18. "Eu quero ser tua" what message would you like to bring to the world on the 6th of may? 

I would like to bring a message of joy and good disposition throughout Europe. A message of hope and optimism, which has been absent in recent years across Europe.

19. You're gonna be the song number 13 in the 1st semifinal. For many people the number 13 is a symbol of bad luck. What do you think?

I definitely think not. I think even it will be the opposite. I believe that hard work and commitment have more importance than luck and will be the best answer against any misfortune symbols. I will have the starting number 13, that’s true. But my song will come between ballads. Isn't that already luck? Being my song so distinctive, that can make a difference for the voting. There is no bad luck! It is rather a jackpot!

Suzy will have a jackpot for sure in this years contest, being one of the most danceable song of 2014. 50 years ago Portugal got a last place. We will see, if Suzy will repeat this result or if she will be able to beat the best result ever of Portugal - a 6th place in 1996. By the way: Suzy was one of the surprises at the Eurovision in Concert in Amsterdam. She surprised with her performance during the concert but also at  the aftershow party. Eurovision on top will follow Suzy in Copenhagen and let you know about what her performance and result will be. Obrigado to Suzy for this interview.

Pedro de Almeida

Carl Espen (Norway, 2014)   I promise I will give it my all

The Eurovision 2014 has a lot of ballads this year. One of the favorites so far comes from the host country of 2010, Norway. Carl Espen, the winner of the norwegian national final bring us a different view and convinces everyone with his feelings singing a song of silent tones. The title of the song means the energy of this entry for 2014... Silent but with the power of a storm! Read now what Carl Espen said to Eurovision On Top, who the person Carl is and what the Kosovo conflict has to do with him as a person and all about his very special Eurovision way.

1. "Silent Storm" what does that song means to you?

Silent Storm is a very personal song for me, and it for every time I sing it, it means more to me. When performing the song, I seek into myself and my inner emotions. The song is about my search for my place in the world, and not quite having found it. Also It means that I have a growing hope that someday I'll be calm, and the feelings the whirl around on my inside will fall into their places.

2. Who is Carl Espen? What do you do beside Eurovision and what was your musical work till now?

Carl Espen is a 31 year old man, born and raised on the Western coast of Norway, right outside the city of Bergen. He loves his family, nature and music. He spends his free time hiking in the mountains around Bergen, cycling and fishing, and most of all listening to music. 

3. Which place did Eurovision have till now in your life?

I think I've had a very average relation to Eurovision. In Norway it is something that everyone watches, either as a family gathering on Saturday night, or as an excuse to throw a party. I have watched the international finals, and have enjoyed the transcending passion for music and spectacular performances.

4. What does music means to you?

Music is everything to me. I constantly look for new music, and listen to music several hours every day. I also spend a lot of time alone singing and playing. After Josefin wrote "Silent Storm" for me, so much has changed. Now music is something that expresses my true feelings and also something that represents me as a person to the world. It has become an even bigger part of my identity. 

5. You have been a soldier in Kosovo. How does this experience influence your musical work?

I don't think it has had any direct consequences for my music, but it was important for me on a personal level. I was a young man at the time, and the experience gave me so much perspective on how privileged I am. 

6. What do you dream with?

My dream is coming true in this very moment. I have become an artist, I get to sing for people, and I have fans all over the world. I am so proud of my song, and I feel that it really represents me as a person. So it is hard to top what is happening right now, but I do have a dream about recording an album, which I think is very likely to happen. Also I dream about having my own family. 

7. You have been the first norwegian artist joining the Eurovision in Concert in Amsterdam. What was the reason for that? Was it your choice?

I wasn't aware that I was the first Norwegian artist joining Eurovision in Concert. I was invited, and I was so happy to be welcomed to Amsterdam. So yes, it was my choice, and I am so happy I did it. It was absolutely amazing to meet the other artists, and fans from all over the world. 

8. How was the experience of the whole event for you? Sometimes we have the impression that you looked a bit unsure…

I really enjoyed it, like I said. I have been an artist for four months now, and I have received so much positive attention and support. I am not a typical outgoing person, who claims the stage, and maybe this can come across as unsure. Eurovision in Concert was a great pleasure to take part in, especially when I performed my song and people where asking other people in the audience to be quiet, so they could enjoy the song.

9. How was the experience to singing in Amsterdam? 

Like I mentioned, it was a great experience for me. The venue was beautiful, and to have 1500 people in front of me listening to my song is just a dream coming true for me.

10. What can the Eurovision fans expect from you after the contest?

I will release my next single, and continue to perform and record. I really hope I can build a long term career, and meet new fans and play my music for people.

11. Which goals throughout the Eurovision do you have? 

My most important goal is to manage to sing the song while being in contact with my inner feelings, so that I will be able to communicate the message in a genuine way. People tell me that my voice and words move them, and if I can do that in Copenhagen, I will be really happy about myself. 

12. How do you think that this contest can help you in your musical career?

So far it has been an incredible start of my musical career, and become much bigger than I had ever imagined. So it has given me a unique opportunity, I am so grateful to have. Talk about "flying start"! 

13. Which errors do you think that an artist can make at the Eurovision Song Contest?

I think the same things are important in Eurovision as anywhere else being an artist. The most important thing is that what you do is important to you, and that you are willing to put your heart and soul into it. I think people can tell if you're not. 

14. Do you think you will win the Eurovision Song Contest 2014?

That's very difficult for me to say. I know that I will perform my song in the best possible way. The rest is up to the viewers. But I promise I will give it my all. 

Carl, a normal guy from Norway, will show Europe how personal a song can be. Eurovision on top will follow his performance in Copenhagen and you will be keeping informed about everything. Thank you Carl, for this interview and good luck for your performance. 

Pedro de Almeida

Can Linn feat. Kasey Smith (Ireland 2014) The song is not just Ireland

In the 90's there was no other country so successful at the Eurovision like Ireland. They won a few times and in 1994 the interval act turned into a worldwide success. Now 20 years later the "Riverdance" is celebrating it's birthday and will be back on the stage. Eurovision on Top spoke with the Irish winner Can Linn feat Kasey Smith about this fact and also about other topics regarding the participation at the worldwide biggest musical event. Read about what the Eurovision "wonderland" of the 90s has to do with the actual talented representative of Ireland, about the persons behind the name Can Linn feat Kasey Smith and the Remixes they are already making, so that for the Irish song this year will let some hearts beat on the Eurovision dance floors.

1. Can Linn feat Kasey Smith. Could you introduce yourself? Who are the people behind these names?

Can-linn is a traditional Irish music act consisting of two singers (Jenny Bowden and Donna Bissett), two Irish dancers (Thomas Spratt and Tarik Shebani) and, of course, or resident Irish instrument expert Sarah May Rogers.

I used to sing in a girlband called Wonderland before pursuing a solo career and I've teamed up to sing with Can-Linn for the Eurovision campaign.

2. How did you came to the idea to work together? Can-Linn and Kasey Smith, did you worked already together in the past?

Actually, 'Heartbeat' is the first song we've ever collaborated on. Not a bad start I suppose. It was Hazel Kaneswaran's idea to have us work together for the Eurovision. She was asked by RTE (Ireland's national broadcaster) to pick an act that could compete in the Eurovision so she asked me if I'd like to team up with Can-linn. I was delighted to be asked and jumped at the opportunity.

3. The last time Ireland won was in 1996. What do you think were the reason for Ireland winning so often in the 90s?

Well, in 1996 we had a true classic in 'The Voice' by Eimear Quinn. I think Ireland had a surplus of amazing songwriters and performers during the 1990s and we really brought our A game every year.

4. In the last 10 years your country just made 2 top ten rankings and a lot of bad ones. What do you think is the reason for that?

A lot of people in Ireland complain about 'bloc voting' by certain countries, but I think that's just a convenient excuse. We need to look inward to find out why we aren't performing as well as we had in the past instead of taking the easy option and blaming everybody else for the lack of success. Once our 'golden age' of Eurovision songs came to an end I think we got a bit disenfranchised with the whole thing for a while and started sending weird gimmick acts instead of focusing on genuinely good songs.

5. Will your song bring the next victory to Ireland... 18 years later?

Well, we're definitely going to give it our best shot! There was a lot of strong competition in the Irish Eurosong final with a few songs that would have been worthy contenders. We have a good song with strong lyrics and a really good beat to it - no pun intended - so once we go out there and perform as well as we know we can we should do quite well. It's too early to say if we can win or not. It really depends on what kind of sound Europe is looking for on the night.

6. Should something change at the national way of selection of Ireland?

I think we have a good selection process. By having regional juries as well as a public vote it means that everybody in Ireland can have their say as to who gets to represent the country at the Eurovision. It's democratic that way and the live final show is great TV.

7. Let's now speak about you! Your song and your plans! What does your song mean to you? What is the message for europe?

Heartbeat was specifically written with the Irish people in mind with lyrics that represent our country.

"Keep your head high above the water" - that's what it's all about, urging our people to fight through the tough economic times and keep powering on in the hope of a better tomorrow. The song is not just Ireland though -I think everybody in Europe can relate to that too.

8. Is your song a modern combination of Riverdance, Niamh Kavanagh and Jedward?

The Riverdance homage was purposely done to commemorate 20 years since its appearance as the Eurovision interval act - when the world really took notice of them. Niamh Kavanagh is a big influence of mine, one of the all time greats, so it is a huge compliment to be compared to her. As for Jedward, they are great at what they do and as mad as a bag of hammers, but I don't think they're anything like us in all honesty so I don't really understand the comparison.

9. What are your goals throughout Eurovision? Will you use it as a booster for your musical careers?

I don't think it can hurt. The Eurovision stage is a superb platform to make a case for your career. There's no denying that. Once the competition is over we will assess how we did, sit down together and discuss our future plans. Until then though, we're just focusing on doing as well at the show as we possibly can.

10. What did you make since winning the national final? Did something change or is everything still the same?

We're not going to change a whole lot. The people of Ireland voted for us based on the performance we did at the Irish Eurosong final so making wholesale changes would be a bit unfair on the fans. The Copenhagen stage is much bigger than the one we performed on in Ireland, so that gives us a lot more room to play with in relation to our stage show. I can't give away any more details right now unfortunately.

11. Which Irish song of the Eurovision history is your favorite?

I have a few favourites, but if I had to pick one right now it would be 'Hold Me Now' by Johnny Logan. It was classy and stylish - the perfect Eurovision song!

12. Do you know that there is an artist in the USA with the same name as Kasey Smith? Did you know her?

I can't say I know too much about her to be honest. I know she was a keyboardist in a band called Danger Danger, but that's about the extent of my knowledge.

13. What shouldn't happen at Eurovision for you?

Me falling off the stage or something being set on fire. Hat would certainly put a downer on things.

Kasey, thank you very much for this interview and Eurovision on Top got the possibility to share with you the actual previews of "Heartbeat" remixes, which very soon will be on sale at iTunes. So check out, if you like them. Eurovision on Top will check out, how Kasey will perform at Eurovision and how here musical work will continue. And for sure... we will update you!

Pedro de Almeida

Maria Yaremchuk (Ukraine, 2014)  The most important thing is that our souls always sing

 

In 2003 Ukraine started for the first time its journey in Eurovision and won one year later with Ruslana, with whom Eurovision on Top made an interview some weeks ago. Don't miss to read about that. In 2014 it is "Tick Tock" time for Maria Yaremchuk to participate at the Eurovision Song Contest and representing her home country. Perhaps one of the most important participations of this former Soviet Nations to affirm  as an independent country and the new nation that want to be, due to the actual occurrences in Kiev and in the Crimea. The young 21 years old Maria will represent the hopes and confidence of the upcoming generation of Ukraine which is fighting for their future. Eurovision on Top spoke with Maria, not only about these facts but also about her song, what Eurovision means to her and what she did on her birthday last march.

1. First of all HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you. The 2nd march you celebrated your 21st Birthday. What did you make at this day?

- Thank you! It was an amazing day – I’ve worked all day long! My life nowadays is preparation to the Eurovision Song Contest 2014. Every day is counting so there is no time to waste especially when your work is the best present ever.

2. What changed for you after winning the national final of Ukraine? 

- Nothing and everything at the same time. I’ve always dreamed to participate in Eurovision, to represent my country, to sing for the European audience and it wasn’t the first national finale for me but I can’t say that I’m working harder or less. I’m a girl in love with music and her work and now my work is to make all European hearts tick-tock with my song in May at Eurovision stage. 

3. What are you doing at your private life? Would you like to introduce yourself and let us know who Maria Yaremchuk is?

- Mariya Yaremchuk is a very dedicated young artist who sings all her life but still got so much to learn (laughs). I’m a student – I’m studying hard to get my two master degrees at the Variety Vocal Department of the Kyiv Circus and Variety Arts Academy and simultaneously at the History, Politology and Foreign Relations Department of the Chernivtsi National University. I’m a singer who trains every day with no excuses. I’m a songwriter and composer. I love to learn foreign languages, now I actually want to learn Hebrew and Eastern languages with different letter form. And I adore yoga for relaxation. But the most important thing – I want to meet new people, to sing for a new hearts, to listen to an every soul thought Eurovision Song Contest. 

4. Why did you participate this year at the national final? Was it a spontaneous decision or even more a long term planned thing?

- I’ve took part in the National Selection for a second time this year and it was a long term planning for me. I think I wasn’t ready for a first time but the second time gave me confidence and I’m proud that I’ve got a chance to represent my country this year.

5. Let us speak about your song. Tick tock... What is the deeper meaning of your song for you?

- The song is a story of young, confident and sexy women. She is a seducer who sings ‘we both knew that you were mine, now cover me, I’ll buy us time’. But as for me first of all this is a love story about all that time spent to find one true love that will make our hearts go tick-tock. 

6. Maria, normally we try not to mix musical events with actual political topics. And we don't want to mix it at all. At the other hand we are interested to understand how you are going through this time.

- I’m a political person, I’m a singer but I can’t be silent, of course. This is really very hard time for my country and my people. It’s been difficult months but now Ukrainian people are trying to do everything possible to rebuild society and to save a peace.

7. How do you think your song and your music can contribute to Ukraine at the actual situation?

- I think that the most important step for me as a Ukrainian singer is to represent my country at Eurovision in the best possible way, to make my people proud.

8. The world saw also Ruslana in the news and as part of the political opposition. Do you think that the Eurovision stars of Ukraine are a symbol of a more modern part of your country or a kind of role models?

- It’s a bit of both. For me all Eurovision stars from Ukraine are true professionals, role models.  

9. Let's come back to Eurovision. Ukraine is one of the most successful countries of the modern times of Eurovision. Since your start in 2003 Ukraine participated at every grand final, made 4 top 10 rankings and one victory 2004 - in the second year participating. What do you think is the secret of the success of your country?

- Of course, and I will share it with your – it’s in our routes. Ukraine is and has always been a singing country, everyone here is singing – at home, with friends, professionally or not – it’s not important. The most important thing is that our souls always sing. 

10. What’s the meaning of Eurovision for you?

- It’s a dream comes true but I guess everybody is telling this. It’s a very hard work; it’s a chance to make my country proud, to make every European viewer to listen to my song. And it’s a challenge for me – if I can beat myself, all laziness and my explosive temper everything else is possible.

11. How can Eurovision be helpful for your musical career?

- I hope Eurovision will help me to bring my music, my songs to the European audience and to make myself stronger as an artist.

12. Do you think that you could be the one to bring back the victory to Ukraine?

- When you are running for victory you can never win. My goal is to challenge myself, to sing my song to all European hearts, to represent my country. Of course, who doesn’t want to win? But let’s not focus on it. 

13. What are your plans our goals out of Eurovision?

- To finish my studying with honors and to make music, to make perfect my singing and dancing that I can always tell to myself that my parents – my true inspiration – can be proud. And after Eurovision we are planning to make a tour with concerts around Ukraine and probably abroad. It will be like a new beginning in my music career and in my life.

14. What is your all time favorite of the Eurovision entries?

Ruslana, Loreen, Emmelie de Forest, Nelly Ciobanu

15. With whom of the participating artists of 2014 would you love to sing a duet?

- Wow, that’s an interesting question. Actually I haven’t got a chance to listen to everybody so I will get back to you on this. 

16. So, with whom would you like to record a single?

- I think that if I could have a chance to sing a duet with everyone of them I would. 

17. What shouldn't happen in Copenhagen?

- I shouldn’t lose focus or my shoes on stage (laughs). 

Eurovision on Top thanks Maria for the interview and wishes to her an to Ukraine all the best for the contest, the future and for sure we will follow her musical work, during and after Eurovision.

Pedro de Almeida for EOT 

Valentina Monetta (San Marino, 2012-14) I had a very inspiring fear .. pure euphoria 

 

Eurovision helps your musical career! - this is one of the believes of the EBU organization team and of Eurovision on Top too. But there’s also some other people, who doubt about that and have an other personal point of view. But what are the facts and examples out of the actual Eurovision decade? In this interview Eurovision on Top will speak about one of this current examples what artist can make out of Eurovision, including the development of their musical career. The year is 2014 and the 59th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, who is entirely occupied by  countries and singers. Well, not entirely... One small village and country of passionate people hold out against the Eurovision invaders.... The story, which sounds like the intro of an Asterix comic is the story of San Marino at the Eurovision Song Contest. Since 2008 this small country is investing a lot of time and passion into their participations and waiting for the first participation at the grand final. Valentina Monetta turned into being the face of San Marino at the contest, being now for the third time in a row at the contest and covering 60 % of all San Marino entries (since 2008 there were just 5). In this interview Eurovision on Top had the opportunity to speak with Valentina about her experience until today, which impact Eurovision had on her life and the reason why she is called Valentina. 

1. Valentina Monetta, the most popular and known citizen of San Marino? What would you think?

I think it's nice but not as much as for being popular but being able to do finally what I really love, after a long and difficult journey that will continue to be so, as in this job you never arrive. Who really knows me knows that, it's nice to meet these people and hear them say today: you deserve it, do not stop ...

2. Less people know, that you are a real citizen of San Marino, where you were born in 1975. Who is Valentina Monetta? Would you like to introduce yourself?

I was born on 1st of March 1975 at 4 am, in San Marino city's old hospital .. There was a false alarm on 14th of February, that's why I have been named Valentina. My mother is Sanmarinese, my father is Italian from Calabria. I have been taken by music since my childhood.  My father was, before becoming a good chef, an athlete and a musician. My mother has always loved to sing and used to swim at the beach with big waves when she was pregnant with me ..maybe that's why I'm here and singing. I have an older brother, songwriter and scientist, who shares my passion for music since childhood and among other things this year I have the pleasure to have him with me on my album, this makes me very emotional. After elementary school I did art school and I continued studying the Fine Arts, but the love for music and the desire to be part of its world has always been strong since childhood, so I began to study singing, and singing in clubs with live musicians. While doing a thousand jobs in order to support myself and to be accepted socially and emotionally, the desire and the need to sing grew more and more.  This is today finally happening .

3. Let's talk about your musical career. Your first single was in 2002, "Sharp". What kind of song was that and how did you came to start into music and to this very first song?

I began to sing in front of an audience as a child but only in the early 90 's I earned my first pocket money and showed official work and started climbing up the artistic steps. I had nodules in the vocal cords , those problems solved with studying. My funky acid jazz group PARAFUNKY was the most wonderful experience and fun in those years. I met producer Paul Manners, and I was given the opportunity  to be part of a recording project for the first time for “Sharp “..too many memories to tell ...a pop song with  R & B flavor ... my first experience!

4. In 2008 you already tried to do it to Eurovision. But you missed the ticket. What meaning does Eurovision to you? San Marino isn't such a big Eurovision nation and also Italy was out for a long time.

I always wanted to challenge myself with foreign music, then came the Eurovision Song Contest in my life .. so, like in a spell, since then I travel and live by singing seriously and with great emotion, with my favorite game as a child (Il mio gioco preferito): MUSIC!  Graziee ..!

5. How was it for you, when you got the information, that you were the internal selection to represent San Marino in Baku? 

I had a very inspiring fear .. pure euphoria .

6. And how was it for you to being performing for the first time on the Eurovision stage?

To be again a little girl  for a while did me well, but with the experience of a woman, I can say that it was a wonderful, devastating, spatial experience, long live FACEBOOK!

7. And how was the experience after that in Malmö? What was similar to 2012? And what was totally different in 2013?

After Malmö, I have enjoyed for a bit  my commitments and my growth .. metabolising all my musical path in the recording studio for the realization of my album “Sensibilità”. In 2012 I asked myself to open for a change, in 2013 I went through with Chrysalis. Maybe this time .... who knows .. anyways this will always remain a strong evolutionary experience .

8. In 2014 you will represent San Marino for the third time in a row. How did you improved or changed during the last two years? And which perhaps new part of Valentina will you show in 2014?

Calmer. More aware and mature, but still the unreliable emotional child will stay in me.

9. Which impact had Eurovision on your musical career?

Participating in the Eurovision Song Contest gave me courage and helped me to believe in what I am.  I've never spent so many hours in the studio as in recent years.  Before in my live gigs I was singing covers. Now I found it wonderful to be able take care of my music in the studio and wanting and being able to influence how it will be.

10. Which impact did the two past participation have on your musical work?

My participation in Eurovision has had a great impact on those who follow my career and also on me, but the most beautiful is that perhaps it has stimulated more interest for it in my country.

11. Valentina Monetta - "Ms San Marino of Eurovision". What do you think about that?

Well, I can say .. I have already been asked to do Joan of Arc musical in San Marino after Copenhagen. (Valentina laughing)

12. You are very known in the Eurovision community. There haven't been only good reactions about the information, that you would be representing San Marino again in 2014. How do you deal with such negative reactions, jokes etc.?

I can not encode the reasons ... but I think it's normal. This does not justify the mean and malice comments but I don't let them influence me and keep going on my path.

13. Let's talk about your song for 2014. 

2012 in Baku - "social network" a funky song; 2013 in Malmö "Crisalide" in Italian uptempo song; 2014  in Copenhagen "Maybe" - What does this song mean to you? And which other side of Valentina will this song show to Europe?

In 2012 I was wondering, in 2013 I was hoping, this time I would like to harvest for the work done in this beautiful cycle of life, that  taught me to have other shapes and to express myself with another language music. For Ralph Siegel this and more. Questioning all the stereotypes and own musical tastes in the service of art. Maybe is the union of two souls in one body in mutual respect, Maybe poetry is animated by the wind that moves the events and determine actions. Maybe it is the poetry that perhaps sometimes we forget that the fun is something else. And then I assure you there is much more...

14. "Maybe" you will make it this time for the first time to the final, what do you think?

Maybe.

15. Which message do you want to send to europe with your song "Maybe"? And is there a different meaning of the song between german and italian (Forse in italian)?

No , the meaning is the same ... enjoy life and love without fear always and every time, in any way it goes.

16. Last question. "Valentina Monetta representing San Marino in 2015!" - any plans about that already?

(Valentina laughing again and joking) Maybe! The new album will be released in April,  “Sensibilità” .. My songs and Ralph's , then we'll see... Thank you very much! Enjoy your life!

Thank you to Valentina for this interesting interview. There is no doubt about the fact that Eurovision helped Valentina to be the artist she is today! There is also no doubt about the fact that this artist makes the Eurovision more colourful. And in fact there is also no doubt about the fact that Valentina is a talented artist, who with or without Eurovision will make her way and will let the world hear and listen more from this small village and country of passionate people. 

Pedro Almeida for EOT 

TEO (Belarus, 2014)      We all want to be treated with respect

This year the former soviet country Belarus will celebrate his 10th participation at the Eurovision Song Contest. Since 2004 Belarus only made it three times to the final and had the best result in 2007, finishing 6th on the score board with the participation of Koldun. In the last two years Belarus got much attention due to internal changes after the victories of Aljona Lanskaja in 2012 and 2013. This year it seems that there will be no more changes with the decision taken during the national final. TEO and the song "Cheesecake" will be the 10th entry of Belarus at Eurovision. Eurovision on Top wants to give congratulations for the 10th anniversary to Belarus and is very proud of getting the opportunity of an interview with TEO. Read about who TEO is, if he really likes cheesecakes, what Eurovision means for his musical career, about his TV show in Belarus and what the connection to his musical work is. Read also about a competition TEO organized and how you can win a ticket to the second Semi Final to see TEO performing.

 

1. TEO, would you like to introduce yourself? Who is the person behind this name? 

I’m a pop performer, who is already known in Belarus due to a TV show and other song writing work. I am 31 years old.

2. Your person name is Yuriy Vaschuk. Why do you use the artist name of TEO? What is the meaning or the idea?

I wanted to differentiate my private part from my artist part. It was easy to pick my name actually as it was done with a Google search. I entered a ‘T’ and saw ‘Teo’ immediately. I liked it instantly and that was it. Simple, but good: like me!

 

3. What less people know is that it was your second time participating at the Belarusian national final.  In 2008 you had a really good song as a duet with Anna Blagova. What was the result in 2008? And why didn't it work in 2008? 

It’s hard to say, but sometimes at this time didn't work. Perhaps the time or the song or the rhythm or the mood of the jury and the public... It means that the things didn’t ‘click’ at this moment.  I’m proud of the song and loved singing with Anna. Hopefully we can do it again someday.

4. What doyou think is the difference between Yuriy in 2008 and TEO in 2014?

I’m probably a bit more laid-back about it these days. I entered at the very last minute after writing songs for two other terrific singers - Natalie Tamelo and Tasha Odi – and thought it would be fun to try it again too. Maybe that relaxed attitude helped?

I don't know, but it could be the main difference. This time TEO did it especially because he felt to do it and had a lot of fun performing in stage. This could be the reason that this time it brought a 'click'.

5. What does Eurovision (in general) mean to you? 

You know, Belarus has no very long Eurovision tradition. So I can't speak about experiences following Eurovision since being a little boy. But I think I represent a huge part of a new part of Eurovision fans or followers. For me Eurovision means fun, friendship and is a celebration of talents. It’s also a chance for performers and countries to show their creative sides and offer the world some alternatives to the songs that dominate the charts and the airwaves. It makes the world more colorful!

6. What does the victory at the national final mean to you?

It was hard to believe at first, because, as you know, it was a three-way tie that had to be decided again. Luckily I don’t bite my fingernails because it was nerve-wracking! Now I am proud and happy.

 

7. TEO the most important question: do you really like cheesecake? 

Of COURSE.  But I don’t like being called a ‘cheesecake’ because it was a silly nickname that was meant to make me feel unimportant, or cute, or useless. As a dessert though, I love it!

 

8. Seriously, let us know, what is the meaning of the lyrics for you - Is it just a happy song, is it a joke or has it a deeper meaning for you?

The meaning behind ‘Cheesecake’ is simple but a good one. It’s a positive song because even though I’ve broken up with a girl because I’m tired of her calling me her ‘sweet cheesecake,’ the message is that we all want to be treated with respect.

And this very serious message is being sent by a good mood song.

9. Your performance will be 10th participation of Belarus. In this 10 years Belarus just did it three times to the final with only one top ten ranking in 2007 (Dmitry Koldun). What do you think is the reason for these rankings of Belarus in the last 10 years?

That is a very tough question, Pedro and I’m not sure I have the ‘answers’ – if I did, we would have won every single Eurovision event of the past decade and I’d be a billionaire by now. If you look at the winning songs for the past ten years, you’ll see that every single one is different but brilliant in their own unique way. It’s a combination of what catches the audience’s ear, the judges, the fashions of the time, the moods... And at the end I think it doesn't have anything to do with the performing country.

10. You will perform in the second semifinal. Do you think you will have better chances to get ticket to the final? (Due to one country less, than in the first semifinal) 

No, not really. I don’t think my chances are any better or worse in either semi-final: I’m up against the best that each country has to offer which is both exciting and nerve-wracking. All I can do is sing and perform my best but also remember to enjoy the opportunity I’ve been given.

11. What are your targets for your participation in Copenhagen? And plans after Eurovision?

I’d love to have a quick break before resuming the planning for more episodes of co-hosting the TV program ‘Наперад у мiнулае’ (Forward to the Past) shown on the Belarus 1 channel. Oksana Vecher rediscovers the authentic music culture that still remains in Belarus. We find singers of the traditional and ancient songs, usually the village grandmothers and grandfathers from small villages and select one of their songs. I am then given the challenge of rearranging this song before it is recorded and sung with a much more modern sound by a well-known artist. You can see the episodes of the program here: http://www.tvr.by/rus/b3prdch.asp?pr=naperad.

And let’s not forget song writing and performing. I have many more ideas swirling about it in my head! For sure I will do my best to use this unique opportunity of promoting myself, but also to get the chances of new musical contacts from all over the world and other inspirations for my musical work.

12. Do you think that you and your song have the chance to bring the contest to Minsk and give to Belarus the first victory ever?

Yes, I do. It’s catchy and fun: what’s not to like?

 

13. What are your plans for the promotion of your song? Are you planning to travel to the Eurovision in Concert event in Amsterdam this year in April?

Yes – I’ve confirmed that I’ll be there and am really looking forward to it and meeting the other singers and fans. And I had a funny idea with my team. Until the 17th march everyone can send an own cover version of the cheesecake song to teo.cover @gmail.com. Out of all participants I will select finalist, who will played on 20th march at the radio station Radius FM with the invitation to vote for a favorite. The winner will perform the song live in the Belarus TV and win a ticket to see the original TEO at the Semi Final in Copenhagen.

 

14. What is for you the best Belarusian entry ever? 

ALL of them – how could you be so mean as to make me choose?

15. And what is your absolute favorite song of Eurovision in general?

Yet again, this is an impossibly difficult question.  Each winner has that special ‘something’ that makes it great. I’ve been a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest my whole life and following through from the national finals, to the semi-finals and all the way through to the winning song is all part of the journey and the appeal.

 

We thank TEO very much for this interview and to let us have a view to a very sympathetic side of TEO and also of Yuriy. EOT wishes good luck to him and al lot of fun in Amsterdam and of course during the Eurovision week in Copenhagen. Follow TEO on his personal Eurovision way through his official facebook page, his twitter and his instagram account. EOT will keep you updated about TEO's Eurovision journey. 

Teo’s official pages: https://www.facebook.com/TEOJuriVashchukCheesecake

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Teo_Esc

Instagram: http://instagram.com/teo_esc

Pedro Almeida for EOT

KOZA MOSTRA (Greece 2013) Our goal is to leave our "stigma" in the music audience of any country

One year ago Koza Mostra were about to represent Greece at the ESC in a way never seen before which resulted in an honorable 6th place. After Eurovision an album, several singles and praised live concerts, including some big festivals both in Greece and abroad, were followed. Eurovision on Top spoke to the lead vocalist, Ilias Kozas, allowing us to get a deep and comprehensive vision of this unique band.

 

1)     Initially when Koza Mostra won the Greek national final, “Alcohol Is Free” was not that acclaimed by the majority of Eurofans. At the final you got a 6th place, you ended up being applauded as great musicians by most critics and highly praised for finally Greece being represented by something deeply Greek. Now that almost one year has already passed since Eurovision how you do see your Eurovision adventure?

We know it was a really big adventure with a lot of "little stories" inside as you already said but, honestly it was a really pleasing one due to the way we lived it. We never cared for the way the audience sometimes misjudged our goal or our lyrics or anything else. We were really strict at this point and at the way we handled this little trip because we never cared what our final position would be. So now a few months later the only thought that is left for us is that "we did it our way".

 

2)     In an interview you gave during the Eurovision week, you said that it would be good if the contest started to embrace in a stronger way other types of music even with a traditional touch. Not as a participant but as a viewer how did you see the musical offering of Eurovision 2013 and – also as a viewer- the correlation between songs / artists and the final results?

We didn't meet a lot of traditional style songs but we had a few different ones if we consider that most of the songs every year belong to pop style of music. We listened to some really good ballad songs and some really interesting artists. As far as the final results are concerned I am not going to talk a lot about it , I will just say that my favourite one did not end up in first place.

 

3)     Although you are mostly known as a ska band, you have already said that your style has no boundaries, but let’s use the term “Ska” for the next question. Ska is not a common genre in Eurovision but in the last 10 years the 3 ska bands that appeared in the Eurovision, all of them managed a top 10 at the final. Regarding your band and your success at the contest do you think that you have proved /demonstrated something to the contest itself, to Greece (a country accused of sending the same type of songs every year) and even for yourselves?

I think we've managed to give a hope to other artists that are far more different than the ESC standard in Greece but we have to "fight" a lot to have a chance in our country. Either way we should understand that the most beautiful thing about the contest is the difference of each artist. Can you imagine the contest if we had all of the songs in the same style of music…??? Really boring, don't you think?

 

4)     Koza Mostra is a relatively new band although with very confident steps so far. How naturally did you guys settle in to your roles when you first started playing together?

There is a very simple answer to your question: Inspiration… courage... understanding... and last but not least … respect.

 

5)     What’s your live setup? So far it seems the success of your album /singles is due mainly to your live shows. Are the live shows your best marketing weapon?

No, I don't really know what our marketing weapon is. I believe our live performances are really strong but the same I believe about our album. Also people know much more our songs than have seen us live; most of them mostly know our ESC live performance of "Alcohol is free" which was half playback. So I think we have a lot of crowd that should really come to one of our shows because they are much more better…trust me ..(laughs..!!).

 

6)     I guess every band, in an implicit or explicit way, has a leader. If I say that Elias Kozas is the leader of the band how right or how wrong am I? And / or what kind of leader do you think you are: Autocratic / authoritarian style or participative / democratic. How the chosen leading style is reflected on Koza Mostra?

 

First of all it was not a choice to pick someone to be a leader. I created a band, and when I did it I was all alone. I had a goal or a vision and I started creating it by composing our first songs or our first ideas. Then I started to collect people I wanted to work with such as Alex Archontis (drummer) who was the first member of the band. As far as the kind of leader I believe I am ..I think a true leader must have a composition of every style depending on the situations he has to deal with.

 

7)     I’ve read an interview with Alexis Archontis to Artivist e-Magazine where he said “I tried to overcome myself both in the studio and live. It’s obviously the most difficult set I have ever played live.” How good a musician must gotta be to be a part of Koza Mostra?

I know what is Alex is talking about. You know, if you are a member of Koza Mostra the first and most important thing you have to be is …a really nice and comprehensive person. We have really good musicians in this band but that is not, and never was, enough. Our goal is to leave our "stigma" in the music audience of any country because we believe we can.

 

8)     Your debut album “keep up the Rhythm” came out in March 2013 which contains just 8 songs. Was the motto "quality over quantity" a rule for the album?

Yes of course it was. We wouldn't like to have an album with more but less interesting songs just to have more. Either way, we publish a song if we like it and believe in it, so if we had more of such songs we would have published them for sure.

 

9)     You promoted your album throughout the Summer mainly live, including some big festivals such as Αρδας River Festival or at the Umbria Folk Festival di Orvieto, in Italy, which received huge Italian coverage. Did really those performances made you feel different, as you reported?

Of course they did. The people just made it happen for us. The chemistry and the connection you have with the crowd at performances like these is something really magical.

 

10) Last June and because of the protests in Turkey you wrote on your facebook in capital letters “SUPPORT TURKISH PEOPLE TO THEIR FIGHT AGAINST THE POLICE VIOLENCE! THESE DAYS THEY TEACH US VALUABLE LESSONS OF REAL DEMOCRACY. DON'T LET THE IGNORANCE DEFEAT YOU.  SEARCH, READ AND REACT. BROTHERS WE ARE WITH YOU.” If we connect this statement to the lyrics of “Alcohol is free” and to the strong accession you get on your posts from your fans on facebook, I see Koza Mostra as a growing influential musical and political force. Are you aware of that?

We may are , but we also may not. Being a political influence is something weird in our days. There are artist that live lot of years because the "sell" to the desperate audience this political and revolutionary kind of image. We are not going to carry a label such us "politicized band". We just want to express our feelings even if they are sympathy or wrath. The feelings we expressed for our Turkish neighbours are really human such as the feelings we have about the situation in Ukraine now.

 

11) What would you say to certain bands/artists that are uncomfortable expressing their political ideas because apparently they prefer to keep those private or because they don’t feel that it serves them as an artist?

Nothing at all. We make our own choices depending on the way we express our selves.

 

12) Let’s end up this interview in a provocative way, with a reference to your image, more precisely to your kilts. In an automatic way, thinking about Koza Mostra means thinking about performers in skills. Don’t you fear the negative side of it? I mean, people starting to refer to Koza Mostra just as the band in skills leading the band to be seen just as a gimmick act?

Yes we are aware of this. Many people don't know that our kilts were not only a way to draw more attention but far more things and beliefs. Either way we have in our plans to change our outfit not because of it but because we really like to test new things.

Carlos Carvalho for EOT

SEBALTER (Switzerland 2014)  My goal is to reach the final!

Sebalter is the name of the artist from Switzerland, who will represent the alpine nation - the first host country of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1956 and the country that won the first contest.
The second and last victory took a while to arrive, 32 years later the world star Celine Dion got the victory back to Switzerland. In these last 26 years Switzerland is still waiting for one more victory and also for good results.
This year Sebalter is the big hope to reach final and for a having a good result at Eurovision, something that it isn’t that usual for this country. Eurovision on Top had the oppportunity to speak with Sebalter about his musical career and the next experience, Eurovision.


1. Who is Sebalter and who is behind it ?
Behind Sebalter is the story of an ordinary man with dreams , hopes and disappointments. The story of perseverance and enthusiasm towards life . Sebalter is a combination of my name Sebastiano and the old (alter) part of my ego. Something like the gap between my daily life and my life on the stage. On stage there appears another part of me , a part that can appear less in my daily life.

2. Many countries rely on talent shows such as the Voice to find their representatives for Eurovision. Are you also casted or been specially established for Eurovision?
We - my band and I - have specially created the band Sebalter for the Eurovision Song Contest, that is right.


3. What is the significance that Eurovision had for you in the past and what’s the meaning of this participation for you?
The Eurovision Song Contest is an important stage for artists! I am so happy and proud to represent Switzerland in Copenhagen and I am very delighted with this musical success, for which I have yearned for a long time.
So one point is the chance and  the opportunity for my musical career. And on the other hand the participation at the ESC also means a great responsibility to me. I will represent my country, and that is very important to me.

4. In the last 10 years, Switzerland achieved the final three times only. What do you think is the reason for that?
I cannot and do not want to judge or to assume anything. For me it is important, at the ESC to show a great performance and inspire the audience. The audience decides at this evening which performance they want to see in the final and which not. That’s part of the concept and part of the show. For sure I hope they will like my song so much, that they vote to see me again in the final.

5. What is the goal of Sebalter in Copenhagen?
My goal is to reach the final. Definitely!

6. What do you think Eurovision can be for your musical career and for your musical work?
The ESC is definitely an important stage for musicians like me. I am at the beginning of my musical career and is there any better way to promote me and my music? I don't think so.

7. There are initial statements that compare you with Alexander Rybak. What do you think?
Wow, what an honor! Well, we both play violin and sing. But we aren't twins. ;) The music style is pretty different. And my performance on stage is quite different to that of Alexander Rybak. And by the way I can whistle better than him, I think.

8. What does your song mean for yourself? What is the message of your song?
The song " Hunter Of Stars " was created during a trip of mine in the U.S. last summer, from one coast to the other. It was an intense time for me and was written under the stars of the U.S. The song is about love - or the clash of self-confidence and uncertainty, when it comes to love or flirting. And it will mean a lot to me to sing this song under the stars of Copenhagen.

9. What are your musical projects for 2014?
At the moment I am recording my first solo album, which I would like to publish in autumn 2014. In addition, I plan to give as many concerts as possible.

10. What should not happen in Copenhagen?
Flu and sore throat!

We’d like to thank Sebalter for this interview and wish him the best for his participation at the Eurovision 2014. Eurovision on Top will follow his musical work and for sure you will hear and listen about his album on our website.

Pedro Almeida for EOT 

Lovebugs Bands cannot really benefit from the competition.

When Lovebugs graced the Eurovision stage in 2009 they already had a successful path to their credits, including concerts with Rolling Stones in front of more 60 000 people. Two months ago they celebrated the 20th anniversary as a band with a Live Concert on November 8. We spoke to Adrian Sieber, the lead vocalist, about this special event and we didn’t forget symphonies, coffee, cigarettes and…. Eurovision.

 

1) 20 years! It seems like it was yesterday or somehow or in some moment 20 years take it’s toll on you as a band?

We’re doing it still for the same reasons: Our passion for music and the friendship we share. Although I must say I feel much more confident about being on stage and performing than I used to be the early days.

2) When Lovebugs performed at Eurovision, you already were a household name in Switzerland. What goals did you have in mind for Eurovision?

To be honest, it was just another crazy idea of ours. I always found the ESC a fascinating event and I was wondering what it would be like to be a part of it. It’s great to do things nobody expects you to do.

3) During the rehearsals at Eurovision you said several times that you were a rock band and therefore you were not used to this kind of tv shows. In your opinion, what can be improved in Eurovision in order to make the competition more appealing to rock artists?

Unless the music is entirely live (not only the vocals) bands can not really benefit from the competition. In the end it’s a TV show and not a concert.

4) It is unusual for Eurovision to receive bands that have already shared the stage with The Rolling Stones. Can you make up some parallels between playing in Eurovision and playing with The Rolling Stones?

Yep, the stage has about the same size.

5) During your song was possible to hear “Will you Catch if I Fall”, did Switzerland catch you when you didn’t reach the finals?

Well, it’s quite rare that Switzerland last makes it into the finals, so the disappointment wasn’t too big. Nobody expected us to succeed and since we have a very true and dedicated fan base we didn’t have much to worry about anyway.

6) After 2009, there are at least three milestones in your career: the concerts with the Sinfonieorchester Basel, in 2011; the book Coffee and Cigarettes, in 2012; and the new album, Life is Today. Let’s start up with your symphonic concerts: How this idea came up and how it has changed, from then on, your musical vision and / or your future projects?

The collaboration was an amazing experience. I will never forget what it’s like to be standing amongst all these terrific musicians and to perform your songs with them. We felt sincerely honored when we received the call from this prestigious orchestra.

7) In 2012, you released a biography, Coffee and Cigarettes. Why did you feel the need to publish a biography and how has been the reaction from the fans?

We never planned on releasing a biography until we met the photographer Tabea Hüberli. She accompanied the band, documenting our life on the road and in the sudio, for almost two years and suddenly we had all the brilliant pictures. It would have been a real shame to let them rot on some harddrive and not to print them on paper. I think it’s a wonderful book because it provides a very honest insight into the Lovebugs – both, the glamorous and the less glorious side. I think, this fact was also dearly appreciated by our fans.

8) The book is named after a song that appears originally in the album Awaydays, 2001. Besides the song, what is the space occupied by coffee and cigarettes in the life of Lovebugs?

Well, I quit smoking a few years ago but I surely still drink a lot of coffee… Marc Krebs, the author of the book, thought that this title would represent the mood of our studio and rehearsing space the best.

9) In April 2012 Lovebugs released the album Life is Today. How was the creation process?

«Life Is Today» was probably our most democratic album so far. We decided to work on it as long until the five of us are all a hundred percent satisfied with its outcome. The process took quite a while but I really think it was worth it.

 

10) Over the years you have been working with several producers. How do you decide on the producer and, in this particular case, what features you sought for the production of Life is Today?

Interestingly, we never worked twice with the same producer… I guess, this has to do with a certain hunger for new experiences that drives us. To me it is absolutely essential to stay curious and to never stop looking for new ways to arrange record and release my music – especially nowadays with the music industry going down so rapidly. Besides, it keeps you and your music alive and kicking.

11) During the recording sessions, which were the biggest difficulties and/or major challenges?

To stop at the right moment, I guess. To be a perfectionist but not to overshoot.

12) Another curiosity about Life is Today is related to the promotional videos. Truth is it’s your best video to date and Little Boy the funniest. Being Simon Ramseier the director of the videos, what role is left for the other elements of the band in the idealization and / or realization of the videos?

In the early days we were never quite happy with our videos. They cost a fortune and still looked slightly pretentious and embarrassing to us. Fortunately, our drummer Simon started to show interest in the process of filming and editing and since he took over, we are more than satisfied with the appearance of our clips. He’s simply a huge talent.


13) How does the title of your latest album, Life is Today, reflect the spirit of the band?

At that time the title represented a certain kind of wake-up call to me: To be more aware of the good things in your life at the present, rather than always chasing after the next thing. It’s okay to sit back and enjoy from time to time

14) Lovebugs were formed in 1992 and the current line-up has been together for more than a decade. What is the secret to maintain a band together for that long?

Make great music and at the same time never forget to take care of each other.

15) Let’s end up this interview with the same subject of the first question: your 20th anniversary. You celebrated it with a one-off show at Baloise Session in Basel on November 8. One day after the show you wrote “That was the best birthday present ever!! Thanks a million to all of you who came to yesterday's concert. WE LOVE YOU.” What is the ultimate meaning of that show and beside the concert what else happened that make that day so special?

It was the concert that mattered. It always is. If you have the privilege to play concerts with your friends in front of an enthusiastic, cheering crowd, you never want to stop. It is the best thing I’ve ever known.

Carlos Carvalho for EOT  / photos: official facebook page of the band

Marie N. (Latvia, 2002) Eurovision helped me to take some decisions!

"What about former Eurovision winners?" - This is a question, which many people - fan or not - are asking very often. Eurovision on top started to research about that and to speak to recent Eurovision winners, who won since the start of the millennium in 2000. One of these winners was Marie N in 2002 who was surprised - as she told us in our interview – first of all herself taking the victory home for Latvia with the song "I wanna". Eurovision on Top had the unique opportunity to speak with Marie N about her victory, what happened since 2002, where she is living today and what she is doing now.

Two years after the debut of Latvia at the Eurovision in 2000 this new member of Eurovision and this small country of Europe took the first victory home and until now for the last time. After 2002 the best ranking was a 5th place in 2005. Marie N reached something that no one else conquered again so far, turning the victory of Latvia into a reality. Her personal name is Marija Naumova, she was born in 1973, living now in Paris and being a very happy mother. Her carrier started eight years before Eurovision in 1994, attending Latvian casting shows, which she didn’t win, but her talent was noticed by the audience. Her first album included only Russian songs and was released in 1998. Marija Naumova tried to get her ticket to Eurovision since the first year of the Latvian participation, being very close to it in 2001 with the song "Hello boy follow me". With this song, she got the highest votes from the public, but not from the jury. "I wanna" was not only the title of the song that in 2002 made Latvia “following her", so that she got her ticket to Eurovision. "I wanna" also seems to be a statement of Maria who in three years showed a strong will to go to Eurovision.

 

Marie N or Marija, who are you in the year 2013? And who are you 11 years after the victory?

I am a happy woman, a proud wife, a lovely mother, a happy singer, actress and producer. I live in Paris. What I do? Well, I continue to work passionate on stage – I participate in different projects in different countries. What less people know or remember, I am a song writer. All my three songs for Eurovision in 2000, 2001 including the winning song of 2002 were written by myself.

 

What happened since your victory of 2002? Did your life change with the victory? And if yes, what’ve changed?

Well, a lot of interesting things happened. One big change is that I moved to France, today I live in the wonderful city of Paris. For sure the most important personal thing which happened was the birth of my son. After 2002 I recorded three more albums, I had some wonderful roles in musicals and in drama theatre. I produced some interesting projects. I moved to France and gave birth to my son. If you ask how the victory of the Eurovision contest changed my life, I can say that it helped me to take some decisions and to be clear about what I want to do on stage, what kind of music I want to play and what I want to tell people. In this context one of my decisions was that I am not interesting in pop-music and dancing music any more. I don’t sing any more with playback – I need at least one musician on stage playing live, I want to have a real and true conversation with my audience on stage.

Just less people know that you tried three times to make it to Eurovision and that you were very close to make it one year before your victory. You made a 2nd place in 2001 with the song "Follow me boy". Why did you participate in 2000, 2001 and 2002 at the National Selection?

Latvia started in 2000 and for everyone in Latvia, Eurovision was something new, with new opportunities, new experiences. It was a challenge for me and at the same time a new opportunity. "I wanna" go there was my motivation. I didn't have such a connection to Eurovision like other artists coming from countries with a long Eurovision tradition. For me with my 29 years at that time it was the first step into the show business. 

Do you think you would have won also with the song of 2001?

I even never thought that I can win in 2002. It was a a big surprise not only for the audience of the contests, but also for me. Both songs were written by myself. I don't know, if the song in 2001 would had work. But to win with a own song is a great feeling anyway. 

Did Eurovision changed comparing with Eurovision in 2002?

I think clearly yes. In my opinion, now it is more and more a technical show contest than a simple song contest. I preferred the time when it was absolutely live, with an orchestra and something unique that happened just in this moment. But I have to say that I am in some ways an old fashioned woman. 

 

One last question about Eurovision: What was better for you, living the Eurovision as an artist in 2002 or as host in 2003?

It was two absolutely different experiences, it’s impossible to compare them. I loved to have the opportunity to live them both. The first, as artist, was very emotional. The second asked for a big responsibility and an honour at the same time.

 

Let’s now speak about your musical work. You started with music long time before Eurovision. Is it true that you participated at a talent or casting show in 1994? What was it?

I participated in different singer contests in Latvia, Russia, Kazakhstan... before the Eurovision, but never after. It was a very good experience. I was like 20 years old. I have to say that I didn't win any of these contests, but the audience heard about me and it helped me to develop myself. And as you see, it could work, that you don't win a casting talent show and win a contest some years later. 


Your first album was in 1997 and the last one in 2010. What is your favourite song out of all this albums? Is it the victory song "I wanna"?

My favourite song...? In every album there are some songs that I like very much to be honest. I like the „I wanna” bossa nova version, which is on my album „On a journey” of 2002. A version just less people know and a complete different version of this winning song.

 

Which of your albums would you say is most "Marija"? Where do we can find the most of yourself?

Well, I can say that my best album was my last album „Lullabies”, which I recorded in 2010, because it was a present for my son and I recorded it in the 2 last months of my pregnancy. There was a very special and more intense kind of „Marija” – a loving, quiet and wise one. Last year I recorded the DVD „Midnight in Paris” with an orchestra and well known French musician as Francois Parisi – one of the best French accordionist who composed the music for Woody Allen’s „Midnight in Paris”, with Toni Bonfils who was working with Charles Aznavour for 20 years, also with Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ives Montand and others, and there was also a „Marija” very charmante and  a little bit flirty. 

What is your actual musical project? What kind of music are you doing now?

This year I worked on the musical „Romani Rat” where we tell the story of Romanis (Gypsies). There you can find another Marija, and that’s also me... I love to show many sides of myself and I like those differences a lot. I continue to work on my Gypsy project, because it’s very unique and interesting. We already started to work on the new album with François Parisi and some others French musicians, at the moment I prepare the Christmas song project. I hope you will love it.

What is different regarding "I wanna"?

Now in my music I am going more and more to world music, maybe that is the biggest difference. I am doing something I feel identified with and what I do isn't in a contest, I don't want to battle others. The only thing I want to win is the attention of my audience and to reach them with what I am doing. It is a performance on a smaller and more private stage.

Which goals do you have for your musical work? What would be like a dream coming true?

My goal is some new, interesting projects, where I can learn more about music, about myself, about love and giving love to my audience.

 

And our last question. Many former Eurovision Winners returned to Eurovision, like Jonny Logan, who won two times. Would you like to return to Eurovision?

No, I don’t. It was a wonderful experience and I am very happy about that. Now there is a different time for me in my life. But this doesn't mean that Eurovision can't return to me. That means I know that the Eurovision fans love good music and I would love to welcome them in one of my concerts. One thing didn't changed since 2002 - my passion for music! And I would love to share this passion with them.

Thank you Marija for this interview and the opportunity to feel your heart beating for the music and a special thank to you for sharing with us your personal insights.

Eurovision on Top will continue following the musical work of this fantastic Eurovision winner of 2002 and will keep you updated about the new songs of Marija Naumova. Soon a Christmas hit!

Pedro Almeida for EOT

Ruslana (Ukraine, 2004) I do not recognize limitations

Probably it’s hard to believe but in 6 months we will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the first - and so far only - Ukrainian victory at the Eurovision Song Contest. When Ruslana took the Eurovision trophy she was already a household name in her home country. 10 years later her national status remains unchangeable and her international career is riding high with the brand English release “My Boo (Together)”. In this detailed and deep interview we have the opportunity to hear Ruslana talking about Eurovision, Ukraine, her international ambitions, the new album and much more.

1) Almost ten years have passed since you won the Eurovision Song Contest. Considering that Eurovision was something really fresh for Ukraine back in 2004, what did you know about it 10 years ago and what made you want to go to Eurovision?

For me the coming year is indeed very important and symbolic, not only because of the 10th anniversary of my victory in the Eurovision Song Contest, but also because of the anniversary of my project "Wild Dances" that became the essence and the cornerstone of my victory. Today I am known and remembered largely because of "Wild Dances". This has been my best work during my entire artistic career. This is why next year I plan to release a new album that will some interesting parallels and similarities with "Wild Dances" in its spirit, its idea and its musical solutions. I am preparing a variety of cool events in 2014. 

Ten years ago, it was a completely different time, a different country, not as we know Ukraine today. These days, our social and economic level as a country has grown significantly, despite the ongoing criticism of Ukraine's efforts. The level of our show business has skyrocketed, too. Many new artists have emerged. When I received the offer to represent Ukraine in Eurovision in late 2003, I was not yet fully aware how important and significant this event was. I had a clear vision that I had to perform more at big international events and festivals and so I really wanted to go to Eurovision. But when I came to Istanbul, I did not exactly plan to win at the beginning; I just wanted to do an outstanding performance and present my show. However, there was a moment when I suddenly realized that there was nothing impossible, and I could win Eurovision. And so it happened. 

2) Right after your victory you were always very kind to other participants and in a lot of interviews you praise a lot artists like Sakis Rouvas or Xandee. Did you manage to keep in touch with some of 2004 artists or follow some of their careers?

I am a very outgoing person, I'm always happy to meet and get to know new people. I quickly get emotionally attached to people and environments, so during the preparation to the Eurovision Song Contest, I became friends with Sakis Rouvas, Željko Joksimović and many other artists. After the Contest, I met with many of the Eurovision participants on the back stage of various international shows where we performed together. Naturally, I am very interested to find out what's new in the lives of these people, listen to their new songs and stay in touch. And yes, with quite a few of the Eurovision participants of my generation we have managed to keep ties over these years.

3) You’ve become one of the most successful Eurovision winners of all time and your career became really wild after your victory with a lot of prizes, international chart success and you even became a symbol of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. How do you recall those times? Have you ever felt that things were beyond your control?

No doubt, I have been given great responsibility by means of this participation and victory, and my own life has gotten a bit out of control :) During the first year after my victory, I often could not recall, which city - or even country - I woke up in today. This really intense lifestyle determined my approach to life for the next several years, and now I always need to move, rush somewhere, be in a hurry, even when there is no obvious reason for that. I am always in motion. I feel that if I stop, something important will pass me by. I do not recognize limitations, and there is never enough drive for me, even when everything is whirling around me. I am really this "wild" Ruslana that my audience sees and hears. My stage character and my real personality are one and the same. So if the whole Europe is dancing my "Wild Dances" with me, I need to move on, to new heights and victories. This is my creed. 

4) Eurovision was the key for your international breakthrough and youve already said that you don’t want to come back at least as a performer, but do you still watch it every year? What do you think of the current editions? For example, do you agree with the rule change in Eurovision where the Running order of the Final is decided by the producers and not by draw like it was in 2004?

I eagerly follow Eurovision and the events around it every year. Not only because this Contest is so symbolic for me. But also because my husband and producer Oleksandr Ksenofontov annually prepares artists for the Contest and is generally very involved with Eurovision. I am always following his work, and I like listening to new songs and evaluating artists. Besides that, I always have my fingers crossed for our Ukrainian Eurovision contestants. 

What concerns the changes to the rules of the Contest, I am not surprised about them, but I would not want to comment on this somewhat political side of the Contest. For me, the most important thing is that Eurovision continues to be this beloved large-scale musical fiesta that unites Europe.  

5) Recently in an interview you gave to eurosong.be you said that after “Wild dances” you’ve tried some experiments namely in the pop music concluding that you don’t like that pop sound “What I like is the wild dances style”, you said. Does this mean that you regret the recordings of “Moon of Dreams” or even “My Boo” from the new album, for example?

I never regret anything, regardless of the time, effort or money I've invested into it. I am the kind of person who needs to try things for herself to understand what can come out of them. And I really like my last album "My Boo!" - and my fans do too, by the way :) Last year, I did two large tours in Ukraine with this album, and this was a wonderful time, very intense and full of positive emotions. I implemented a whole big project that involved flash mobs with thousands of young and old Ukrainians taking part. We made music videos involving all those people. However, at some point I was eager to go back to my roots - the Hutsul project. In my view, "Wild Dances" is the best project I have done throughout my entire stage career. So I would like to continue it, go back to the ethnic styles. This is why this year I went on an expedition to the Carpathians, collected a lot of ancient songs, texts, descriptions of old rituals and ceremonies. All this material will become the foundation of me new album.  

6) Your first international album after “Wild dances” was “Wild Energy” which had an extra American touch especially because of the participations of T-Pain and Missy Elliott. Somehow is the “Wild Energy” album an evidence that your victory at the Eurovision made you wanted to conquer America? How do you see that period of your career?

In 2006, I worked with American producers and fully relied on their vision of my artistic work and performance style. The album Wild Energy was released in Europe, Canada, China and Taiwan. I was not exactly targeting the American audience. They have a lot of their own artists, their own music and their own show business and market, which I did not plan to enter. At the same time, Americans are the trend setters in musical tastes around the world, and this is why I worked on my album at a studio in Miami, with American musicians, very professional and simultaneously flexible improvisers. I learned a lot and acquired valuable new experience. I give concerts in the U.S. quite often. This week, I will do a show in Chicago. However, my main audience has always remained here, in Europe, which is close to me in spirit and mentality. 

7) Your latest album, especially through the video "This is Euphoria", denotes a social commitment which comes as no surprise since you’ve also known for being a social activist. Do you think that the pop world is too desensitized or too complacent to what is going on in the world right now?

For a significant time, I had not addressed contemporary social issues in my work, and my initial idea for the music video "This is Euphoria" was completely different. However, I was extremely unsettled and worried by the unjust sentencing of the innocent Pavlichenko family, and I could not stay indifferent. When we presented the video, I entered the press conference in handcuffs to emphasize that each and everyone of us can find him or herself in a similar situation as the Pavlichenkos. Fair and free courts do not exist in Ukraine, and it is hardly feasible to change this situation in the near future. However, I want to talk about this issue openly, raise awareness of it in Ukraine and abroad, without feeling threatened or in danger, and contribute to the gradual shift in the situation. 

8) If I would say that nowadays most of the pop artists especially the female singers seem that they come out of a box, with stylists and makeup artists becoming instant stars but with nothing to say, would you agree with me? What you have to say about this pop culture?

We follow the modern fashion and the social demand when we play the Star Factory game. I am convinced that this is a temporary phenomenon, which will usher in a new period in music and show business. If today's audience in its majority wants to consume musical fast food, it will be produced in large quantities - as it helps to make money and improve ratings. Once the music and TV producers begin to sense that people have "overeaten" the different talent shows, this trend will begin to wear off. At the same time, there is always a significant amount of people who listen to completely different types of music - rock, jazz, classical music. This is a more sophisticated audience that consists of genuine music gourmets and not of pop-corn consumers. I would like this kind of audience to dictate tastes. 

9) Back to your new album, “My Boo (Together!)”, it is a result of a long studio work. Considering that so far 6 videos have been released from the Ukrainian version (ЕЙ-форі) I presume that you are really pleased with final result of the album, am I right? What are your main goals with this new album?

 Indeed, I am very pleased and happy with this album. Initially it was released under the title of "Euphoria", and was later re-released as "My Boo!" in Ukrainian and English. I was able to implement the idea of the mass game, the flash mobs, where thousands of people make synchronous movements. This is exciting and energizing! I did over 30 large mass shows all across Ukraine, and also in Philadelphia, Istanbul, Moscow and other cities. I created music videos featuring this mass game, dancing and thousands of volunteers. This project and the year have been very successful for me. 

10) If we compare your new album to your previous ones, I would say that this new one is the most heterogeneous you ever recorded. Was that intentional or it just happened like that?

Yes, indeed, this album turned out to be extremely diverse, colourful and dynamic. It targets a younger audience. I changed my image a few times and showed a few lively, even flamboyant characters. I shaved my temples and turned a bit punk in addition to wild :) This was widely discussed in the media, some people criticized this, others liked it, but one thing is for sure - my transformations received a lot of attention. I did not expect that such experiments would be very successful, but I had an extremely professional and dedicated group of musicians, stylists, designer and producers working with me. And I think this great team produced a fantastic album, and so success followed. 

11) After Eurovision you became massive in countries like Belgium, Greece and Turkey. Are those countries a natural priority for your promotional tours? What are your plans to promote this new international album? Do you want to conquer the world?

Name me an artist who would not want to conquer the world :) The most important for an artist is to be in high demand, to gather halls and stadiums, to feel the feedback from the audience. Next year, I plan to do a few big show in the U.S., Canada and Europe.  

In addition, I just accepted an invitation to be a member of the jury of the Belgian Eurosong 2014 that will select the Belgian Eurovision representative and song for the next year's Contest. I am very excited about it, and look forward to this cooperation with VRT. For me it will be a symbolic comeback to Eurovision to celebrate the 10th anniversary of my victory in the Contest, and in a country that has been so welcoming to me all these years. I will very soon be starting my duties as the jury member, and will be visiting Belgium regularly. So watch me in Eurosong on VRT!

Last year, I was invited to give a show at the National Final in Athens, where I performed along with Despina Vandi, Alexander Rybak and Dima Bilan. I have fantastic memories about this show and the audience's reception. And Turkey, I am invited there very often, I am a star over there! :) 

 

12) Being recognized as the most successful Ukrainian female solo artist internationally for 15 years what is the meaning of the following words for you: success and failure?

Success for me is the art of getting ahead of everyone else and being able to take your right place in your professional area based on your talent, abilities and hard work. To be successful means to be a recognized authority on something. And vice versa. If a talented person has not been able to discover and realize him or herself, hasn't been heard, understood or accepted - this is a failure. However, this does not always mean that this person is incapable of big things. This may mean that this person has not been lucky enough, or his or her time hasn't come just yet. I am a happy person because I have the opportunity to do what I love, and luck does not shy away from me. 

Carlos Carvalho for EOT

Conchita Wurst (Austria, 2014) I have to go on this stage!

"Conchita Wurst will represent Austria 2014 in Copenhagen!" - with this announcement the ORF surprised. Not only because they did it very early, being one of the first countries confirming their participation in 2014, but also already having the participant, but first of all they surprised with the selection itself. Eurovision is known because of the diversity of entries and the fan community loves this fact. With the selection and confirmation of Conchita Wurst the Eurovision 2014 has already its scandal, a funky participation, what is a kind of a must be every year or one more musical facet. One thing for sure we already know! The Eurovision 2014 is already a winner! This participation, this artist and his/her performance will have a very good chance to have a direct entry into the Eurovision book of histories, staying in the mind of the people for more than just one evening.

But what does this selection means? Who is Conchita Wurst? And why aren't there just positive reaction about this internal selection of the ORF in Austria?  Eurovision on Top had the possibility of an exclusive and very personal interview with Conchita Wurst to speak about this and other interesting questions.

1. Conchita, thanks for the exclusive interview and the opportunity to get to know you better and to speak about your participation in the world's biggest music event. Let's start introducing "Conchita Wurst".  Who or "what" is "Conchita Wurst "?

Conchita as it stands now there (WITH beard), exists since the summer of 2010. Previously I experimented, but I only in 2011 came to the decision to introduce Conchita to the wider public. Why I have created an art form, has to do with my teenage school time. I was always rather 'different' and was therefore constantly faced with exclusion. I have tried to squirm in all directions to be accepted, with the conclusion that it doesn't work! You can never please everyone! Now I've started to make it good and pretty for myself.  After many years of trying "Frau Wurst" came into being. She has the right of an own live, with her own history, apart from the private person.  Now I stand for ensuring that something changes in our society. I want more tolerance and acceptance without compromises. Because it is completely "WURST" (translation would be sausage, but it is a kind of saying "it doesn't matter" in german) what you look like and where you come from, only the human one is important. As I said, it was a long process until the concept has felt right to me. That's the reason for the Name "Wurst"... Conchita (spanish word for the little woman) was how latin friends of mine called me. That's the story of the name: "Conchita Wurst".

2. Your nomination is the first big surprise of the Eurovision 2014 and has hit like a bomb. What does the participation at Eurovision 2014 means to you?

I love the ESC since I can remember. Every year my mother was in front of the television watching the Eurovision and this way all started watching it too. Further, there is an other great connection to me. I really LOVE Celine Dion!  After years of being a big fan of her I learned that she won in the year I've been born (1988) the ESC. Thus, it was clear to me, I have to go on this stage!

3. When, how and where did you hear about the nomination by ORF?

The way for me to know it was the joy screaming of my manager calling me and the simultaneous posting of a friend, while the press release was being publish at the same time. 

4. Your participation had a huge national and international resonance, which national wasn't always positive. What about the headline that Conchita splits Austria?

Well I polarize! I was and I am aware of this fact. And I get just what I wanted. But don't understand me wrong! I don't want to be loved by anyone, but the fact that I trigger something in a large part of the population is a small victory for me. Whether positive or negative, the 'being different' moves again into the focus and is discussed. One small step in the direction, that could hopefully get some more people on 'our' side, to the side of tolerance and acceptance.

5. 2012 you just missed going to Eurovision - making a second place - with the song "That's what I am". This song speaks about acceptance and at many phrases we might think that these are applicable to you. Is it just coincidence or is the lyrics a message from Conchita to the world?

 This song was - with my impact - written for me! That was and is 100% what I am and represent. The song was produced by the hit producer duo "Echo Pilot", involving Conchita during the whole songwriting and producing process of the song. 

6. Being honest! Are you a fan of the Eurovision?

Definitely...yes!!! At the same time I have to say...there are certainly people who know incredibly, when who won, which country has the most victories brought, etc ... in these details I have to make a deep dive. Fact is - I have always followed the Eurovision and I just love to talk about how good the song was, how great the voices, the outfits, the performances and the show. That's probably what fascinates millions of people. A show, which having a competition keeps the spirit of a common love for music.

7. The Eurovision is followed by passionated fans worldwide. Their reactions to your nomination were very positive. Did you already know about this fan community and what does it mean to you?

In 2012 were my first experience together with eurovision fans. It was the first contact as a guest, sitting at the Eurovision family table.... at the children table, would I say. I was already aware of this far reaching community. BUT after my official nomination I got requests from all over the world, also from Asia .... Being honest, I was previously unaware of that.

8. The Eurovision fans are already hotly debating, how the reactions of the Russian TV channel will be during your performance. What do you think?

I am being asked this in every interview and I have still the opinion that you can't reduce a country to specific settings. I am sure that during my performance at Eurovision there will be all over world people sitting in front of the television, who will like and don't like what I do. 

9. What would you like to read as a headline the day after your performance in the newspapers?

hahaha i have no idea .... Please not 'conchita falls from stage':-D

10. Conchita, our last question. What is your target for the Eurovision 2014?

That's very simple and at the same time not so easy to reach. I want to introduce myself to Europe and sing my statement. I hope that, as it did in Austria, I encourage a few people to change the way they think. 

Eurovision on Top wishes good luck to Conchita Wurst, for whom the participation at Eurovision seems to have a bit more of importance and deeper meaning, as for the other artist, who will travel to Copenhagen. The song Conchita Wurst will perform isn't known by now and it will be published at our site as soon as this will be announced by ORF.

Pedro de Almeida for EOT

Birgitta Haukdal (Iceland, 2003)                                                                        I don't think of risks when I am doing music

 

Birgitta Haukdal opened her heart for Europe 10 years ago and the old continent fell in love with her immediately. In 2013 her career received an extra boost with the participation at the Söngvakeppni with “Meðal Andanna”. Although she didn’t win the Icelandic passport for Sweden her fan base all around Europe praised her new offering and now Birgitta is one of the most awaited artists to grace the stage of one of the biggest Eurovision events, the Eurovision Live Concert in Portugal on September 7th. In this interview she talks about Eurovision 2003 but also about her career prior to that, her innate passion for music, current projects, Iceland, Spain, Portugal and much more.

1)     10 years have already passed since you took part in the Eurovision Song Contest. You represented your country when you were one of the most famous female artists in Iceland. Besides Eurovision is huge in your country. Did you feel any kind of extra pressure because Iceland was sending one of their most famous artists?

From the start my main priority was doing well delivering a good performance and hoping to reach the top 10. And I think I made it all so I was really happy. But my fears in the Green room…oh my God, I was so nervous that I can’t remember it at all. I really did not want to go home with no points or in number 25 :-/ or even last.

2)     In 2003 Europe got the chance to meet you but your home country discovered Birgitta prior to the contest, thanks to the extremely successful band Írafár. What brought you to becoming a musician? Was it early aspirations or were Írafár that led you to music?

When I was a little girl i was singing all the time. I remember being in the car with my parents and brother on a road trip singing constantly and my brother was like…”mom can you tell Birgitta to shut up?” And I said. “ OK” opened the window and started to sing with my head out of the window (like a dog) and when  I was singing my highest note I swallowed a fly :-D “Yapp.” and I stopped … so I have been doing it since I was a kid. Music is my thing.

3)     Írafár were massive back in 2002, selling platinum in Iceland. Although, as we know, a few months later you were representing Iceland solo, a bit strange I would say. How the members of Írafár reacted to that?

The guys in the band where ok about it. It would have been strange for all of them to play with me that song since it was not one of ours so they were cool about it.

4)     After 2003 you’ve tried to represent Iceland for more 2 times. In 2006 with "Mynd Af Þér" in a duo with Magni Ásgeirsson and in 2013 with “Meðal Andanna”. Those songs are really different from each other. What does that heterogeneity say about you as a singer?

 Well I love music and all kinds of music. I love to not stay in the same steps for too long and don’t like to show people always the same thing. Then I would be bored and people would be jaded too. When I hear a great song or a funny one that speaks to me and to my heart I go for it.

5)     This year your song at the Söngvakeppni - “Meðal Andanna” – was highly praised by the majority of Eurofans, not only in Iceland but all over Europe, who would love to hear it last May in Sweden. Since you are one of the writers of the song what can you tell us about the story behind it and if this is a special song for you?

I wrote the song “Meðal Andanna” with a few friends and I guess yes it was made with Eurovision in our minds. I love power ballads and specially the little bit dark ones with a story so that’s how the song was born. (With the spirits)

6)     “Meðal Andanna” marks your comeback to the Eurovision world after a long absence from it. Like I said it is really appreciated by a large percentage of Eurofans. Still regarding this song what were some of the best feedback you received so far and some of the worse and what both feedback mean for you?

I have to say that I have only had good feedback for this song and I am really happy about that. Of course some people don’t like it because they like other types of songs which is normal but they don’t tell me and I try not to look for bad reviews on internet.

7)     You didn’t win Söngvakeppni but I presume you’ve seen the Eurovision Song Contest and probably you have imagined yourself there singing “Meðal Andanna”. Considering the songs from the other countries what chances for a good result do you think you would have in Sweden if “Meðal Andanna” was the Icelandic entry?

Hahaha…I never thought about that so far. Just one step at a time. Eurovison is so much fun in Iceland and I know all of the singers there so it is like having fun with your friends and a friendly competition so when I watched the show in Sweden I did not think how I would have done it. I just loved to see all the songs and the Icelandic entry which I was proud of.

8)     Nowadays Eurovision is so much bigger than it was back in 2003. Do you think that a participating artist benefits more from it in 2013 than in 2003?

 I think it is all about the work you put into it and what you want from it. I was SOOOO busy in 2003 that I did not have time for anything but singing my song in the competition and do the interviews and go straight back home to continue my work. So my focus was Iceland number 1.2.3

9)     Last May you took part in a big concert in Harpa (concert hall) in Iceland. I confess I tried to get some information about it but unsuccessfully.  Can you inform us a little bit about that?

 It was a big concert with the Icelandic symphony where they were playing the biggest songs from Iceland from last 30 years. They asked me to do my bands Írafár  song “Allt sem ég sé wich” is one of our biggest songs in Iceland.

 

10) In the beginning of 2013 you wrote in capital letters something funny on your facebook page “YES I AM BAD ON FACEBOOK AND NEVER WRITE I KNOW”. Assuming you are lazy on Facebook (take this as a joke, please) I want you to tell us the space that the following three expressions occupy in your current career: a) being lazy; b) capacity of leading and c) Knowing how to calculate and minimize risks. 

Hahaha….yes I am LAZY on facebook and that’s just how it is….i have so many other things that are my priority but I try to put one and one pictures and stories once in a while. I am lazy doing press and publishes…well you know that I took long time time to answer this interview…hahahah :-D.  I see myself as a good leader when I have an exciting project or thing in my mind. I don’t think of risks when I am doing music. I just follow my heart and I am happy. I am doing art not trying to do what people want me to do so I get popular.

11) You will be taking part in the Eurovision live Concert 2013 which as usual will take place in Portugal. Did this invitation catch you by surprise? How do you feel when you hear that you are one the most expecting artists to be seen and heard in Portugal?

Wow I am so happy to hear that and I am really looking forward to going to Portugal since I have never been there. I have never had time for these kind of things but now I do and am so happy that I was invited to take part.

12) Actually Portugal is not a real distant reality for you since you’re currently living in Spain. How Spain influences your work as a singer? What about Portugal? Do you know some Portuguese music or other aspect of the Portuguese culture?

I have never been to Portugal so I am really excited. I have some Portuguese friends which I came to know here in Barcelona so I know some things. I love the free flow and happiness in Portuguese songs so I am hoping to get to know more great music when I come. Please send me some to my facebook site :-D

13) 2013 has been a great year for the fans of Birgitta but definitely they don’t want more long breaks. What can you expect from you in the near future?

I love making music and I am always doing it but will you guys hear it? Maybe, maybe not? I will always be a singer and I always be singing in Iceland. Let’s see what life brings us. A lot of great things are written in the clouds and they are on their way to us, so be patience my loves :-*

 

Carlos Carvalho for EOT

Jalisse (Italy, 1997)    We would like to go back to Eurovision

If you really love what you do there is no way of giving up. Although this is not a Jalisse’s quote this seems to be their motto of living. What began as a dream - the victory at the emblematical Sanremo Festival 1997 and a superb 4th place at the Eurovision a few months later - ended up with a lack of support by record companies and the Sanremo Festival Organization.  Nonetheless the everlasting support of the fans all over Europe and Jalisse’s passion for music led the duo building alternative ways to continue their career, always setting new challenges and collaborations with renewed artists from different artistic fields. In an exclusive interview, Jalisse spoke with us about Eurovision, memories, current career, albums, prizes and much more.

 

1)  This is your first interview for Eurovision on Top, so we have to start in an obvious way: what memories does the Eurovision Song Contest 1997 bring to you?

It was a fantastic experience. Dublin, The Point Theatre, the Grafton Street, people that were rooting for us, the reception of delegations by OGAE International, the applause before and just after our performance in that unforgettable day, May 3, the musicians of other nations always helpful and kind. Our love for the ESC is unchanged, as is our love for the fans and for the event.

 

2)   Back in 1997 your song was a big favorite to win the contest but it came 4th. It didn’t win however  16 years later Fiumi di Parole remains a big fan favorite among the Eurofans all over Europe. Back in 1997 were you disappointed by your placement? In other hand did you expect your song to become an evergreen like it did and what it means to you this long life of “Fiume di Parole”?

On our fourth place and the failure to win the ESC there are still many shades, it is reported from an interview with Ettore Andenna that it was discovered that some people did not want our victory. We just remember that the keyboardist of Katrina and the Waves, immediately after their victory proclamation and when the cameras were off, he was close to us and said "We won but your song is more beautiful." This is a sign of a great artistic humility and respect. For us, the 4th place, adding the fact that “Fiumi di Parole” is sung all over the world is an unimaginable honor! And it is one of our calling cards.

 

3)  In a contest everybody wants to win and everybody wants a song to be remembered for many years. If we can’t have both, what do you choose: a victory or a timeless hit?

Let’s put things this way: life offers opportunities, we are happy and privileged because we won the Sanremo Festival and participated in the ESC with a timeless song, “Fiumi di Parole”. It’s a divine gift.

 

4)  You came 4th among 25 countries which is such an outstanding achievement. However Italy always runs for gold and after Jalisse RAI withdrew from the contest and did not return until 2011. Have you ever felt that somehow Italy was expecting more of you or you don’t see any connection between the withdrawal of RAI and your 4th place?

It’s up to your imagination. RAI (as it was always assumed in it’s press office) did not want to organize the ESC because it costs too much and Italy already has the Sanremo Festival. But now times have changed, RAI has less money (at least that’s what they say) and Eurovision would be a fantastic promotional operation for Italy. What we do know is that we have little chances to participate in the ESC representing Italy.

 

5) Italy came back to Eurovision in 2011. What is your opinion about the contemporary Eurovision and do you see a big difference between how the Italian people perspective the Eurovision in 2013 and how they did in 1997?

Certainly many things have changed, but the show is always fantastic and exceptional. Thanks to the web many Italians know the ESC, but there is still so much unawareness and little attention.

6) Right now there is a facebook page supporting your comeback to Eurovision under the name “We support Jalisse ESC 2014 Copenhagen”. What do you want to say to your supporters of that page? What about you? Do you want to represent Italy in Eurovision Song Contest in Denmark?

First of all, thank you all, we say thank you to all our friends all around the world including the OGAE Italy that always supports us. Yes, we would like to go back to Eurovision, but we think it will be difficult to be the future Italian representatives because before reaching the Eurovision stage we have to participate in the Sanremo Festival 2014 first but since 1997 the organization of Sanremo doesn’t invite us. We have launched a proposal to some writers and to OGAEs that support us in other territories and we would be happy to meet again in Denmark ... Who knows.

7) In 1997 the internet was not that big, so it was really difficult for the non Italian Eurovision fans to follow your career. If you had to highlight 3 or 4 moments of your career between 1997 and 2013 for those who didn’t have the chance to follow your career as they wish what would you highlight?

Well, now on the web, on social networks, there are various sites with information about us but we highlight the meeting with the Nobel Prize winner Rita Levi Montalcini, the travels to several countries where OGAEs call us, the collaboration with the Mike Bongiorno Foundation, the awards we won, many, many things …

8) Your current single is “Tra Rose e cielo” which is being seen by the Eurovision world as your comeback song. Why did you pick this track to be your comeback track?

It’s an important song with a significant lyric and melody which allows showing the Alessandra vocal skills. The text is written by the Irian-Italian poet Younis Tawfik and speaks about peace activists who help others in distress. It was broadcast on an Iraqi TV and Younis told us that many Iraqi women have found themselves in the text. A beautiful song, a current sound, many say that it's as good as “Fiumi di Parole”. For us it is a new child.

9) As composers do you feel yourselves different from the composers of 1997? I mean, has “Tra Rose e cielo” some common inspiration with “Fiumi di Parole”? Are you still inspired by the same things that you were inspired 16 years ago?

The inspiration comes daily, we no longer live in Rome where we have made the entire album “Il Cerchi Magico del Mondo” and “Fiumi di Parole”. Now we are in Veneto and everything is different, and thank God it is that way, you have to keep searching for new ideas and new collaborations.

10) The video of “Tra Rose e Cielo” was released last November. So far how has been the reaction and how do you deal with the comments you get on youtube?

We had a wonderful adventure, the video was directed by Massimo Toniato and we are pleased to see that many fans love both the video and the song. We try to keep in touch with our fans, reading and replying their messages and also thanking them personally as independent artists and producers.

11) For a pop duo like Jalisse which are the biggest difficulties to promote your new songs and what do you do to overcome that?

It’s difficult for all the artists not only for us. You have to find alternative, non-traditional channels, collaborations with other artists, with co-editors, co-producers. A permanent challenge where the base must always be the good music.

12) What can we expect from Jalisse in the near future?

An album is in the works with several Eurovision authors and artists. We are working on it and we have a brand new single “Dove Sei” co-written by an artist from Czech Republic. We are also setting collaborations in other artistic areas with Swiss and Greek artists. Besides we are performing live with a group of musicians who teach at “CET di Mogol” and with them we are already doing the “Tra Rose e Cielo Tour 2013”.

 

13) It was announced that you will be in Portugal for a Live Concert, what do you expect from it? What do you know about Portugal?

We are guests at the Festival of Setubal (Eurovision Live Concert) and we are honored about that and now we are planning the upcoming performance. We don’t know that much about Portugal but we hope to give a good performance and we also hope to get the chance to finally know that beautiful country.

Carlos CarValho/Nuno Valério for EOT

 

Didrik Solli-Tangen (Norway, 2010)                                                         It would be nice someday to be called a favorite

 

His heartfelt voice was the best kept secret in Norway until a landslide victory at the Melodi Grand Prix back in 2010 brought Didrik Solli-Tangen to the spotlight. Then came the European praise, the success, the debut album and above all a lot of work with a range of different artists. Didrik is about to release his follow-up to “Guilty Pleasures” and he gave us the delight of this revealing conversation.

 

This is not a specific interview about your Eurovision experience but this is your first interview for Eurovision on Top so we have to talk briefly about 2010. How was your life and how did you feel between the victory in the Melodi Grand Prix and The Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo?

The period between MGP and ESC was very hectic. I experienced a whole lot, and did many gigs. Got to sing with one of my opera idols Jose Carreras and drive rally with Petter Solberg (who has won the WRC). To become a famous person was weird, but also fun. There was many eyes on me because the ESC was held in Norway, and also a lot of pressure. I also got to meet a lot of new interesting people that gave me contacts and work later on.

What did you feel when you heard “My Heart is Yours” for the 1st time? Was it likes “I really feel it, I really understand the message of the song” or was it like “ok, this song can be a great breakthrough for my career”?

When I heard My Heart is Yours for the first time I thought to myself; This song really got to me, and I knew instantly that I had to sing it.

 

You represented Norway at the Eurovision when you were about to release your debut album. At Eurovision you came 20th. Were you afraid that the result (that was not as good as expected) could affect the reception of the album? Did it affect the team you were working with?

I really did not have great expectations for the album. But i was signet at Universal Music Norway, and they had a lot to say when it came to which songs who were gonna be on the album. I don't think that a better ranking would have sold more copies, unless I had won the whole thing of course.

 

Three years have already passed since the victory at Melodi Grand Prix, the Eurovision experience and since your 1st record as well. If you could turn back time would you change something in the year 2010?

Of course I would made some changes if I could go back in time, but isn't that just natural as you grow older? I think my understandment of music has changed, and it probably will change even more as I get older, but the  music I make for my new album is more me. And I am much more involved now than I was before. Not only because I have my own label, but also because I am a co-producer.

 

Currently you are working on your 2nd album. Can you reveal us something about the record?

Well, the new album is "darker" in a way. More ambient style. I have found a really good producer who I co-operate very well with. There will be some musical numbers, some new-written songs, and some cover songs which I really relate to. I hope for the album to be released early September.

 

Recently you released the video for your new single “Without You” which represents a departure from your previous work. I’ve read a great review on eurovisionireland.net saying that the song “has a Depeche Mode feeling to it” Besides, according to your Wikipedia page you don’t accept the label of “opera singer”. Is that true? Is this new song your try to erase that label?

It's wrong to say that I don't accept the label as an opera singer, but I think that you should earn that title. But if people want to call me that, that’s just a compliment to me. And I try to merge the two genres that I love, but I'm still working on that part.

 

It seems it will take some time between the release of “Without You” and the new album. Is that intentional? I mean, can the reactions to “Without You” change some initial ideas that you had for the record?

The main thing I  learned from making my first album was that time is essential. You can't rush good music, it takes time. So since I don't feel like I HAVE to release the album, I will wait until it’s ready. The idea for the album is pretty clear to me, but it’s good to have some space to think things through.

 

What about your musical references? I’ve read that Robbie Williams is a big inspiration for you. Robbie Williams above all is a great performer. How important is for you a great performance and how some great performers are reflected in your own shows?

Yes, he has been a good inspiration to me, both as a performer and music. But I think that I gather inspiration from many artists on my way, to make my performance better along the way.

Like I said before, three years have passed since we met you and since then you’ve never stopped. For example, you made a winter tour with Elisabeth Andreassen & Alexander Rybak and you are again with them this Summer. How did this joint tour start and what was or what is the idea behind it?

Well, it all started with Alexander and Bettan. They had a show together in 2010 in Tønsberg. Then I just got the question if I wanted to participate in their next show. The answer was simple. Of course :) and since the shows in Tønsberg went well with the three of us, we went on a tour. We work well together, and we're having a blast both on and off stage.

 

We are talking about three different artists: Elisabeth Andreassen, Alexander Rybak and Didrik Solli-Tangen. What did you learn from Andreassen and what did you learn from Rybak and how those “lessons” are reflected in your upcoming record or solo shows?

I've learned a lot from both of them, and as I said earlier I try to gather as much inspiration along the way as possible. Elisabeth is a great performer and has done this for many years, so to see the confidence she reflects on stage inspire me. Alexander has an enormous energy on stage, and that is also very inspiring.

 

And the other way around? What do you think that Andreassen and Rybak learnt from you? (Please, don’t tell me “you have to ask them” J

Haha, I don't know really, but I consider myself a very calm person. Both on and off stage, so maybe that has inflicted them in a good way.

 

Let’s end this interview with a reference to the title of your debut album, “Guilty Pleasures”. When it comes to music we all have our guilty pleasures. Can you mention 2 or 3 guilty pleasures that you have? And does annoy you the idea that someone can refer to Didrik Solli-Tangen as a guilty pleasure?

I am a sucker for dance music, and I love the 90's, so maybe Scooter. And of course Westlife. I don't think that its bad to be referred to as a guilty pleasure, but it would be nice someday to be called a favorite.

Carlos Carvalho for EOT (July 2013)