Eurovision Song Contest 2011

                 MAY 10, 12 & 14 - Düsseldorf, Germany

 

INTERVIEWS

The Douwe Reveler Interviews 2011 - with grateful thanks to Olivier Vanhoutte

 

HOTEL FM - MUSIQQ - TWiiNS - ANNA ROSSINELLI - SAARA ALTO

Also - scroll down for pictures from the Belgian promotional event for ESC 2011

 

                   Click here for the  NATIONAL FINAL ZONE         Click here for the SECHUK Jury Scores

 

 

HOTEL FM

Romania

 

 

Romania’s Eurovision hopes in 2011 lie with the Group Hotel FM and the song ‘Change’. We spoke to the group during the visit to Belgium to celebrate the Orthodox Easter about their career, how David came to Romania, how important is ‘Change’ and their individual projects outside of the group.

 

Good afternoon ! How are you ?

 

Hi – Good thank you !

 

The name of the group – Hotel FM – where does it come from and whose idea was it ?

 

Actually it was Gabriel’s idea (the composer, piano player and backing vocalist of the group) Gabriel really likes hotels and so the name of the group was born …

 

The group has existed for how long ?

 

Well the ‘brand’ HOTEL FM has existed for 7 years … David joined us 3½ years ago and Alex our drummer joined us last year. The group has undergone several changes over the years but this is the current line-up.  We were actually a lost band that was remade if you like specifically for the Eurovision Song Contest.

 

Did you think – ok – we’ll try again next year or was this year’s entry not so preconceived?

 

Last year we took part in the Romanian selection and came 4th. The song last year ‘Come As One’ is a totally different style and was a totally different project as such. Yes indeed we thought afterwards – good - if we can manage 4th place among so many very famous Romanian artists why not give it another try ?

 

Did you expect or rather believe in your chances to win the ticket to Düsseldorf ?

 

Honestly no … Sure ‘Change’ is a very positive and energetic song but we thought that it would be either Distinto, Ianna & Anthony Icuagu or Directia 5 that would win … You know politics still play a large part in the contest and their managers are huge in Romania … Claudia Pavel also had a very strong song but unfortunately when performed live it wasn’t that good …

 

You each have different projects outside of the group – Can you tell us more about them ?

 

Yes – Gabriel is writing for children and has now opened a second studio … Alex is preparing for final examinations at University and David is part of the biggest (and only !) Pink Floyd tribute band in Romania. The projects I am involved with (David) are small projects obviously to earn some money but also to move … I really want to spread my wings … I am also interested in Rap and am a Hip Hop dancer as well.

 

David – can you tell us where you are originally from in the United Kingdom and how you come to be living in Romania ?

 

Yes – I am from a small town called Newton Aycliffe which is in County Durham and quite close to Darlington. 4 or 5 years ago I went to the local job centre. Signed up with the EVS (European Voluntary Service) … thought it would be a free holiday to Romania … I did a lot of manual work (as I come from the construction business) to rebuild orphanages. I managed to raise a lot of money for the children – particularly the disabled children and orphans of the country. There is still a lot of corruption in the country as there was back then but in all honesty the situation wasn’t always as bad as it was portrayed on the news. They are slowly but surely working on their image and trying to clean this up …

 

It is mentioned in your biography one of the secrets of your success is your simplicity and honesty. How does this manifest itself ?

 

Truth is very important – to tell the truth … be true to yourself  … Sometimes in Romania where the people are not always that open minded telling the truth is not always accepted … In other places where you would think – there is no problem back in Romania it can cause you problems … I (David) was recently involved in a sex scandal through no fault of my own – a video was posted on the internet by someone hoping to make some money and I was suddenly labelled as sick or perverted … I spoke the truth, was honest but it almost cost us our Eurovision ticket …

 

What are the strengths of 'Change' that will make Europe vote for Romania ?

 

The song is very positive, energetic has a universal appeal … it builds nicely and has a good message ‘I can’t change the world alone, I need you all’

 

Romania has a 100% qualification record – no pressure then ?

 

There is always a chance in life that you don’t succeed but we feel positive and hope to get a good place – the place we deserve to get … and hopefully with no politics involved !

 

Düsseldorf – do you already know the city ?

 

No this will be the first time. I (David) have been to Germany once before …

 

Do you follow the Eurovision Song Contest ?

 

I did when I was younger (David) I remember Katrina winning for the United Kingdom and then Dana International with ‘Diva’ but since then I haven’t watched it …

 

Will your performance be much the same as in the Romanian selection ?

 

Well in front of 35 000 people in the hall it will be a huge audience. We want to keep the act as simple and as close to the national final performance in Romania. We will have two girls behind us dressed as boys … quite sexily but not too much others viewers will be distracted from me (David)

 

Have you listened to the other entries this year and if yes do you have any favourites ?

 

Yes – I (David) have listened to nearly all of them. I really like the songs from Estonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina Denmark, Norway and Slovakia. The songs from Spain and Portugal I don’t find that interesting. Portugal’s protest song and Spain’s song is very Spanish sounding – which is maybe a good thing to present something from your country but I don’t like it that much. Blue for the United Kingdom on the other hand have definite possibilities to win. They have a huge fan base around Europe. There has been a lot of promotion of the song. It will appeal to gays and girls who will probably be voting for them – they are the largest demographic groups that vote in such contests.

 

Now is your chance to be ambassadors for Romania. Tell us we have to know about the country ?

 

Romania has stuck to its traditions even though it is moving forwards. There are beautiful mountains … tourism is very important to the country and it has a lot to offer, for example the city of Brasov, the salt mine Salina Turda, the historical city of Sibiu. Skiing is also possible. Foodwise … hmm … there is some strange stuff (David) …

 

Romania has very nice people but again they are quite old fashioned and traditional and as such are not particularly open minded …

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us. Good luck with the preparations for Düsseldorf ! 

 

 

 

 

MUSIQQ

Latvia

www.musiqqofficial.com

 

 

This year’s Latvian song ‘Angel In Disguise’ performed by Musiqq will be the 12th entry from the Baltic country to be entered in the Eurovision Song Contest. We spoke to the boys about how they came into contact with each other, the ‘unusual’ subject matter of their song and the beauty of Latvian girls !

 

Hello ! Since winning the Latvian ticket to the Eurovision how have you been preparing for Düsseldorf ?

 

Hi ! Well we have been to Amsterdam where we took part in the promotional day there. Actually here in Belgium it is better as in Amsterdam it was so rushed … so many artists whereas here it is calmer and more relaxed. We hope to be prepared for Düsseldorf and of course not to lose our voices.

 

 

Can you tell us something more about your song ‘Angel In Disguise’ ?

 

Yes of course – well it has the most unusual topic which is love (ironic laughter !) but actually it’s a word play … a thriller with love … ‘Kill me with killer kiss’ … Our main weapon is Emil’s voice … and Marat’s lyric.

 

You have been performing together now for 2 years – how did the cooperation come about ?

 

It was thanks to the media … I (Marats) saw Emil while he was performing a song on Latvian television and after the broadcast asked him if he was interested in collaborating further … The result was 4 songs and Musiqq was born. It was actually the song ‘Abrakadabra’ that really got us noticed in a big way. Our first single ‘Climate Control’ was picked up by radio stations but ‘Abrakadabra’ spent 4 months at the top of the radio charts, was nominated for the Latvian Music Records Award in the category Best Song and won the Grand Prix in the final of the Latvian radio song competition Music Bank. ‘Abrakadabra’ is a song that is appreciated by all ages from children to Grannies.

 

Was the song ‘Angel In Disguise’ specifically written with Eurovision  in mind ?

 

Yes it was … most of our songs have been in Latvian. With this song in English we would like to expand further into Europe.

 

Did you expect to win the national final in Latvia ?

 

Erm – yes we did … we were in it to win it … Top 10 in the Eurovision final is our goal … but maybe Top  5 ?

 

Is the Eurovision popular in Latvia ? Marie N won in 2002 but recently Latvian songs have not fared too well in the contest. Has this affected the perception of the contest back home ?

 

You know – the Eurovision Song Contest is still the most watched television programme. People either love it or they hate it … but they all have an opinion on it ! For example on our Facebook page or website we sometimes get negative comments – for example ‘You look like penguins’ or ‘The rap part really ruins the song’ … but everyone is entitled to their opinion and we take it on the chin !

 

Will your performance on stage in Düsseldorf differ greatly from how the song was presented during Latvia’s national final ?

 

No – it will generally be the same performance. In this way we are not changing what the Latvian people voted for so that they can’t blame us either (laughter !)

 

OK – Time to tell us something about Latvia …

 

In Latvia we have THE most beautiful girls … the nature in our country is still untouched … The first rock café was opened in the city of music, Liepaja.

 

What are you most looking forward to in Düsseldorf ?

 

The whole experience !

 

Will you have some time off between now and travelling to Germany to rest before the Eurovision ?

 

No – actually we have a big concert in Latvia just before we leave for Düsseldorf on 3rd May. We will be playing with a live band which is actually a totally new concept for us.

 

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us. Enjoy the rest of your time in Belgium and good luck in Düsseldorf !

 

 

 

TWiiNS

Slovakia

www.twiinsmusic.com

 

 

During their recent promotional visit to Belgium we spoke to Veronika and Daniela Nizlova better known as TWiiNS representing Slovakia in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest with the song ‘I’m Still Alive’ about their lives as identical twins, their previous experience with the Eurovision, the beauty of Slovakia and of course their hopes for Düsseldorf.

 

Ladies, a very warm welcome to Belgium – Is this your first visit to the country and if so what are your initial impressions ?

 

Thank you ! Yes, it is our first visit and the place has an amazing vibe. We particularly enjoy the historical centre …

 

 

Before moving on to speak about your career – a few questions about you – which of you is the oldest and what is the difference ?

 

Veronika is the oldest but just by a few seconds.

 

You are identical twins. Do you have some nice anecdotes about when you were younger perhaps ? Pretending to be the other twin ?

 

Yes we do although some people obviously were able to tell us apart. On one occasion test papers were switched during an examination …

 

Is it true in your case that twins have a very special connection ? For example feeling particular emotions the other twin is feeling at the same time ?

 

Yes this is absolutely the case – telepathy is very strong between us … Same sentences will be spoken at the same time and also when we start singing – we will sing a song at random and start singing it not necessarily from the beginning of the song but from a totally random place in the song … Even when we lived apart we were in constant contact.

 

Can you tell us something about your musical influences ?

 

We love Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Pitbull … Music that is fresh …

 

When did you start singing ?

 

Well we have been singing professionally since we were 10 years old but of course we started singing earlier than that for our family and friends. That is 15 years ago as we will celebrate our 25th birthdays the day after the Final in Düsseldorf.

 

Do you come from a musical family ?

 

We do, our Dad was in a band, our Mother a dancer and our Grandfather was a drummer.

 

Due to financial constraints it was unclear for quite a long time whether or not Slovakia would takes part in this year’s contest. When did you first hear that you would be going to Düsseldorf ?

 

STV (Slovak Television) approached several singers – We sent in ‘I’m Still Alive’ and we then heard that we had been chosen. Our previous Eurovision experience counted …

 

In 2008 you already experienced the Eurovision when you were backing singers / dancers for Tereza Kerndlova who represented the Czech Republic. What did you take away from your time in Belgrade that will help you in Düssledorf ?

 

Our collaboration with Tereza was a great experience. It really helped us to get to know things that are associated with the Eurovision for example the parties (laughter at this point !) the promotional tours and generally what to expect …

 

You represented the Czech Republic in 2008 and now Slovakia in 2011. What in your opinion are the fundamental differences between the two countries and what are the similarities ?

 

You know we were once one country … so we have the same mentality. We are very friendly towards each other – like brothers … A difference would be the language as Czech and Slovak are quite different. The older generation of Czech people does not have a problem understanding Slovakian however younger children have more of a problem – they don’t understand everything. For us Slovakians it is not such a problem as a many movies on our television are dubbed in Czech so we can understand it more easily.

 

Since being appointed by Slovak Television have you been in contact with Tereza ? Perhaps she has offered you some words of advice concerning the upcoming contest ?

 

No – we haven’t spoken to Tereza recently. The last time we saw her was at Beyonce’s concert in Prague last year.

 

Do you know the other artists who have represented Slovakia in previous editions of the Eurovision ?

 

Yes we do – Slovakia is a small country. Kristina who represented Slovakia last year with ‘Horehronie’ was actually my roommate (Veronika) Incidentally we really thought that ’Horehronie’ was worthy of a place in the final.

 

You have a contract with an American label ( B Records) Can you tell us how this came about ?

 

We do – it is actually an independent label – Slovak / American. We moved to Los Angeles last year and started working together with Bryan Todd the multi Platinum songwriter, record producer and musician who has produced and co-written our  Eurovision song ‘I’m Still Alive’. Bryan is also responsible for the song ‘Everything’ by Miley Cyrus. Actually our song for Düsseldorf has a very international team behind it – Bryan, who is American, Sandra Nordstrom who is Swedish and Branislav Jancich who is Slovakian. We have signed a contract with 20 European countries for the release of ‘I’m Still Alive’ – in each country a different label, for example in Romania with Roton, one of the largest independent labels in the country. The song is available on I-Tunes and will also be released physically.

 

What are the plus points about living in the States and what are the negatives if any ? Do you have the opportunity to see your families and friends back home in Slovakia ?

 

We only positive points about living in LA as we work with interesting people, a good team and choreographer. If there is a negative point it’s that we don’t see our families regularly but Skype and Facebook are life savers !

 

And so in a couple of weeks you will perform the song ‘I’m Still Alive’ in front of a huge audience in the arena and an even larger audience at home. Can you tell us what it is about ‘I’m Still Alive’ that is so special ? What is it about this composition that you feel will make people vote for it ?

 

It is a song about life … about not giving up. Even when you have sorrows you have to go on and be strong. The song was not written specifically with the Eurovision in mind (obviously as we were not sure that Slovakia would actually be participating in the contest in 2011) It was written last September.

 

Have you finalized your stage performance for Düsseldorf ? Costumes ? Dresses, Backing Singers ? Any small clues ?

 

Yes it is finalised. We will have two female backing singers and one guy will play the piano. As far as our dresses are concerned. Veronika’s dress is in White and Silver and Daniela’s in Beige and Gold … they blend very nicely …

 

How have you been promoting the song ?

 

We have promoted the song in the Czech Republic (even though they are not participating this year it is an important market for us). Also we have been to Israel, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Slovenia and now Belgium. Next week before leaving for Düsseldorf on the 2nd May we will travel to the Ukraine and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

 

Have you had the opportunity to listen to any of the other competing songs this year and if yes, do you have any favourites ?

 

Yes we have and we particularly like Hungary’s song by Kati Wolf and Blue and ‘I Can’. You know when we were younger we had our own tv show on Slovak Television and Blue at that time featured very heavily on the programme – for example if they released a new single we would show the video. We even had posters on our walls of Blue as teenagers back in 2001.

 

Your song is the 7th entry from your country. Of the previous 6 do you have a particular favourite and if so why ?

 

‘Modlitba’ performed by Katarina Hasprova from 1998 is our favourite Slovakian entry. Actually we received Katarina’s CD at that time as a school leaving gift from our Mom.

 

The Eurovision in Slovakia – How important is it ?

 

The last 2 years it has gotten bigger with more people talking about it but so far we have not been in the final … Last year with Kristina we did very little promotion … (reply by Brano – manager of TWiiNS)

 

What are you most looking forward to in Düsseldorf ?

 

Everything ! The stage, the people, the parties, meeting the other artists …

 

After Düsseldorf, what is next for you ? What are your plans for the future ?

 

We will return to Los Angeles where we will release our English language album.

 

Ladies – time for you to be Ambassadors for your country. Can you tell us what we really need to know about Slovakia ?

 

Slovakia is located in the very heart of Europe in fact the geographical centre of the continent is in Slovakia. We have beautiful mountains called the High Tatras. However unfortunately in 2004 a wind storm destroyed part of the High Tatras – this can be seen in our video clip. The trees at the top of the mountains were destroyed but replanting has taken place so it is getting back to how it was. The nature in Slovakia is wonderful !

 

Is Horehronie the most beautiful part of Slovakia ?

 

Our Grandmother is actually from Horehronie. It is beautiful but the High Tatras is the most beautiful part of Slovakia.

 

We also have a lot of historical buildings, Cathedrals. The biggest castle in Central Europe is located in Eastern Slovakia.

 

Our Velvet revolution in 1999 went very smoothly and we have still very close relations with the Czech Republic.

 

Favourite Slovakian food ?

 

Yes – Bryndzove Halusky – a kind of small gnocci with sheep’s cheese and served bacon … This is our favourite typical Slovakian food.

 

Do you have a special message for the readers of www.sechuk.com ?

 

Have a nice time with the Eurovision and support Slovakia on 12th May !

 

Thank you so much for talking to us and good luck in the contest !

 

 

 

 

Anna Rossinelli

Switzerland

http://annarossinellimusic.com/

with grateful thanks to Claudia Boggio at dasoffice.ch

 

 

www.sechuk.com spoke with Anna Rossinelli representing Switzerland in the first semi final of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest about being ‘In Love For A While’, her musical influences and plans for the future.

Anna – you were one of the first artists to be selected to take part in this year’s Eurovision - how are you? How are the preparations going for Düsseldorf and what have you been doing since winning ‘Die grosse Entscheidungs Show’ last December? Some promotional visits around Europe and if yes, did you have time to see something of the places you visited?

I think it was good to have been selected so early, that has given me time to learn and prepare for Düsseldorf. We have been to Azerbejan and Amsterdam to perform “In Love For A While”, where we had a great time.

You won the ticket to represent Switzerland quite convincingly – Did this come as a complete surprise to you?

 

 

 

Yes, it was a big surprise to me and I’m glad Swiss people have chosen me.

 

Could you tell us something about your musical influences and outline the highlights of your career so far?

 

I like Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Adele, Regina Spektor and many more. My highlight so far was the performance in Amsterdam, because all the people sang along to our song. It was an amazing feeling!

 

Together with Georg (Dillier) and Manuel (Meisel) you make up the trio ‘Anne Claire’ – what is the reason behind the decision to use just your name for the Eurovision project?

 

We’ve decided to stick with Anna Rossinelli, because it’s confusing to have several names. David Klein the composer asked me first to sing the song. My band members joined in later.

 

How did the collaboration come about with David Klein?

 

David Klein saw us playing on the street. He wrote the song especially for the ESC and contacted me, if I would like to sing it. Of course I said Yes!

 

What in your opinion are the strengths of this song that you think will encourage the public and juries around Europe to vote for it?

 

It’s a fresh song with chatchy melody, that follows you easily. I think it’s a perfect song for the ESC.

 

Will this be your first visit to Düsseldorf? What are you most looking forward  to?

 

Yes, it will be the first time. I’m looking forward to the whole trip, but especially to perform the song on stage 10th of May.

 

Apart from singing – what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

 

Spending time with my friends and cooking together. I love to go to the fleamarket.

 

Could you tell us something about your country for those people who only associate Switzerland with the stereotypical images of Swiss watches, Cheese, Chocolate, Roger Federer and Mountains? Can you describe Basel, your home city?

 

I would show them the river Rhein that goes through Basel. In the summer time it’s perfect to swim, there are also special restaurants, bars and clubs.

 

Have you had the opportunity to all of the other songs competing in this year’s contest and if yes, if you were to sing one of them (apart from ‘In Love For A While’ of course) which song would it be and why?

 

I do like the Italian song very much.

 

After the contest in May – what are your immediate plans?

 

We will go to the studio to records our debut album which will be released in autumn.

 

Anna – enjoy the experience that is the Eurovision Song Contest, thank you so much for talking to us and of course good luck in Düsseldorf !

 

 

 

Saara Aalto

Finalist in Finland

 

 

 

www.sechuk.com spoke with Saara Aalto hoping to take the golden ticket for Finland to Düsseldorf with her ballad ‘Blessed with love’

 

Saara , many congratulations on reaching the final of this year’s Euroviisut with your own song … Was it  specifically written with this contest in mind ?

 

Thank you!! Actually this song wasn’t specifically written for the Eurovision. But it was naturally 3 minutes long and I thought the feeling of the song could fit for the Eurovision and that’s why I decided to send it for the open contest.

 

Could you tell us something more about the song and the inspiration behind the lyric ? Your performance in your semi final was described by many people as faultless – Is this something you would agree with ? Did you expect to go this far in the contest ?

 

I had a very happy summer as I was searching for my inner peace and harmony and I felt so thankful about everything that I really had to make a song about it. That’s Blessed with Love. “You” in this song refers to everything you can be grateful for; music, family, books, angels, summer. And when you truly understand you are basically surrounded by the energy of love, no matter what people say to you, you can always stay positive.

 

 

 

It was amazing for me to get to the web contest at first and when I qualified to the semifinals I was jumping because I felt so lucky. And now as I’m heading towards the finals I’m just feeling peaceful and grateful! The semifinals went great and I was very satisfied with the performance. But of course I find many things I could do and sing better, so on the finals I’m gonna do even better! This is an amazing opportunity for me to perform my song and also promote my upcoming album, wow! So this has been a really positive surprise!

 

You went through a public vote to get to the semi final stage – do you think this has been an advantage in that people became acquainted with your song earlier than some of the others ?

 

Hmm.. I don’t think it really matters, because I think most of the people start following the contest from the semi final stage. And the live performance is the most important thing.. but on the other hand the web contest gave me some extra promotion, so at least it wasn’t a disadvantage!

 

What are your main musical influences and when did your career start ?

 

I’ve always done music and I’ve studied (and still study!) both pop and classical music, so my influences come from both sides. I love for example Lara Fabian, Japanese pop, musicals and Charlotte Church’s classical CDs, so that covers a lot of different music styles! I would say my career started when I was 16 years old (in 2004) when I really started to lot of gigs and participated to the Finnish Eurovision semifinals for the first time with a band called “Heidi Kyrö & just”.

 

What does the Eurovision Song Contest mean to you ? Have you followed the contest over the last few years ? Do you have a favourite entry from Finland ?

 

I’ve followed the ESC since 2002 and even earlier but I was so young I can’t really remember. I enjoy this contest because it spreads happiness, joy and laugh to people. It also connects people. I love everything positive and the ESC really is that! Every year I host a Eurovision party at my home and we watch it with friends, that’s the best party of the year! but hopefully this year I won’t be the host ;) My favourite entry would be “Addicted to you” by Laura Voutilainen.

 

Tell us something about your home country that we really should know …

 

Yesterday I was laughing that people abroad should see us Finns trying to manage here in the snow. It crazy! We have a lot of it and everywhere and it’s so slippery that one of my background singers has wrenched her ankle twice in two weeks! Today we had our final rehearsal and she barely could walk, but she survives for Saturday I’m sure! :D

 

We would like to wish Saara every success in the Euroviisut final on Saturday evening 12th February when she will perform ‘Blessed with love’ in position 9. 

 

EXTRA

 

At the Finnish Final in February, Saara finished a close 2nd to Paradise Oskar and shared these words after the event...

 

Now as I think about the Eurovision I feel very satisfied with the results. I believe everything is meant to be and now I have had time to concentrate on my upcoming album and it takes a lot of time. My career is really going forward right now and everything exciting is happening, so don't be sad for me ;D

Now I just need as much support as possible so that I will get people from all over the world to buy my CD when it's published on May. Because we're really trying to get the career going also all over the Europe.  Please welcome to follow me on Facebook and my blog (http://saaraaalto.blogspot.com), so you'll know what's happening :)

 

 

 

            

              

 

BELGIAN PROMO EVENT 2011

All pictures by Douwe Reveler