EUROVISION 2015 - VIENNA, AUSTRIA

MEET John Karayiannis, representing CYPRUS

Sechuk.com would like to thank John and Mike Connaris at Mcasso for this interview and photographs (Interview by Douwe Reveler)

Published on www.sechuk.com by Gary Speirs

 

ONE THING I SHOULD HAVE DONE

JOHN KARAYIANNIS

* John, many congratulations on winning the Cypriot ticket to the Eurovision. How did you feel when you were declared the winner ?

"It felt great man. Felt very proud. It was a long journey that started last July."
 
* What have you been doing since winning the contest ? You were recently in
Slovakia . Can you tell us about that trip ?

"Sure. I've been pretty busy since then. Lots of photo shoots and stuff in Cyprus and then I flew to London to meet Mike, and together we went to Slovakia . We were recording with the BSO at the "Upside Down Pyramid" studios called ummmmm....hang on.....the Slovensky Rozhias Studio - amazing building."

* Before we look in more detail at your Eurovision song can you tell us something about yourself ? Where are you from in Cyprus and can you describe the place ? Do you still live there ?

"Yes. I am from Limassol, which is a beautiful city in Cyprus and I still live here. In Limassol it's really sunny almost every month of the year and in the summer I love to go to the beach to relax and swim....and do a 20 mile run everyday. Well not quite true - I run 10 metres to the beach everyday!
 
* Can you tell us about your musical influences ? When did you start singing and did you receive a musical education ?

"My musical influences are so many, I don't know where to start. When I was a little kid I would listen to Eminem and after that maybe a Linkin Park song or Metallica, but I guess as the time went by I discovered my own style and taste in music which is more jazzy, bluesy and poppy! One thing for sure though is that I always wanted to be involved in the music industry. I started singing from a really young age, like every kid growing up I guess, I would sing lullabies and songs that we learned in school but I started vocal training at the age of 8. I received a musical education by attending and graduating from the Music High school in Limassol but also from private lessons in the afternoons."
 
* If you were not a singer what other profession or professions would have interested you?

"If I wasn't a singer I would probably be a full time professional gamer. Yes, it's true! I love online gaming whether it's a PC or a console, just give me a game and I'll play it."
 
* Can you outline the highlights of your career so far ?

"Well the main highlight so far was just a few weeks ago, winning the Cyprus Final. Now highlights are happening every day since then! Travelling, being recognised, meeting new people, recording in London , making videos etc etc and of course grabbing sleep when I can! Life's good at the moment."

* How did you become involved in the Eurovision Song Project and can you tell us about your collaboration with Mike Connaris (composer of 'Stronger Every Minute') ?

"I got a call from my vocal tutor, Christos Kyriakides, to say Mike had got in touch and wanted him to recommend up and coming singers for a "Eurovision project". It sounded exciting so I made a video, singing a blues song, and Christos sent it to Mike. I've since found out that Mike didn't like it but he found a link from it where I was singing one of my own songs on guitar and messin' around in my bedroom....and he liked that...apparently!" So he got me to come over to London and just jam in the studios for a couple of days, talk about music we liked and stuff like that - a "getting to know each other" time.
 
* Whose idea was it to submit the song ?

"Mike's"
 
* You have written and composed 'One Thing I Should Have Done' together with Mike. Was the song written specifically with the Eurovision Song Contest in mind ?

"It's funny - I don't know why people are saying I composed it because I didn't. Mike composed it but he wrote it especially for me for the ESC after he got to know my voice better and get to know me....which I think is a really cool way of writing for someone. I do write, but it's a real art, and at the moment I'm still learning vocal techniques to improve my voice, but hopefully I will be learning from Mike and we'll compose together in the future."
 
* Can you tell us something about the lyrical content of the song ? Was it written from a personal perspective ?

"Well Mike tells people that the idea/story came from a conversation we were having outside a pub in Carnaby Street . He asked me about past relationships and...apparently....I mentioned one where I had regrets about splitting up because it was actually my fault. Yeh I admit it, it did happen once so when I heard the final lyrics I thought "wow"......I can so relate to this!"

 
* You won a very close contest in
Cyprus . What is it about your song do you think that made the difference and brought you to victory ?

"I think it was because it's just a great song...a wonderful vocal melody...and I hope because people believed what I was singing"
 
* Of the other competing songs in
Cyprus which one was your favourite and why ? 

"Easy. Shine by Minus One. They're such great guys and performers. I loved them."

* Speaking of your national selection. You were judged by amongst others, 3 previous representatives of Cyprus , Alex, Despina and Elena. Did they offer you any good advice ?

"They all did. Especially Alex. He really helped me with my dance routine with him & Doody when we performed a medley after the final performances. You see my problem is....I can't dance man!"
 
* Mike has already tasted Eurovision success with Lisa in 2004 when they reached the 5th place in the contest. What advice has he given you on how to prepare for the contest ?

" He just says "always be yourself". Stay calm, cool and be me. Oh....and don't ever dance!"
 
* You kept the performance to a minimum (less is more ?) Do you have any plans to change this for the contest itself ? Perhaps by adding some backing vocalists ?

" Haha. I'm afraid you'll have to wait and see Douwe!"

(Mike secret mixing!)

 

* Is the Eurovision Song Contest a contest you have followed closely over the years ?

" Since I was small I always watched. Funny enough it's the song you just mentioned "Stronger Every Minute" by Lisa Andreas that really started getting me addicted. I was impressed Cyprus finished so high but it was a great song, and I thought one day, that could be me (but without Lisa's make-up of course!)
 
* Your song is the 32nd song that
Cyprus sends to the Eurovision Song Contest. Do you have any favourites among those other 31 ? (not including 'Stronger Every Minute' which you incidentally sang in the Eurobox section of the Eurovision Song Project)

"I really liked Despina's "An Me Thimasai", our last entry in 2013, and was surprised it didn't make the final. The other song I liked was Jon Lilygreen's "Life Looks Better In Spring" from 2010.
 
* Do you have a favourite Eurovision winning song and if yes, which one and why ?

"Yes - "Fairytale". From the very time I heard it, I thought here's the winner. And it was! The most perfectly written and performed Eurovision song"
 
* It has become customary for artists competing in the contest to engage in a promotional tour prior to the contest. Do you have ay such plans and if yes, which countries will you visit to promote your song?

" I'll be in Athens for the Greek televised final performing OTISHD. And then I am in Amsterdam on April 18th, performing live at the Eurovision In Concert Festival, and then the following weekend I'll be singing live at the London Eurovision Party at the Cafe de Paris on April 26th."
 
* Do you plan to record any different versions of the song for promotional purposes ? Perhaps a Greek language version?

"No plans that I can divulge to you here at this time I'm afraid - unless you promise never to use the internet until after May 21st!"
 
* What is your opinion regarding the free choice of language ? Would you have considered singing the song in Greek at the Eurovision Song Contest ?

"No. But don't get me wrong, I sing a lot of classic songs in Greek and I really enjoy singing them. But OTISHD works best in English. A free language choice is great, but for the international stage, I think English is the recognised choice."
 
* The 60th contest this year will be held in
Vienna , Austria following Conchita's victory in Copenhagen . What was your reaction to her victory ?

"The best song, the best staging and from Conchita, a simple performance with a powerful voice that worked so well. It has to be the next James Bond theme song!"
 
*
Australia will take part this year. What are you feelings about this ?

"A bit upside down. No - brilliant! As long as they don't send Kylie!"
 
* Have you visited
Vienna before or will it be your first time there ? What are you most looking forward to ?

"Well I am going there in March, ahead of ESC to film the postcard, so that will be first time. I'm looking forward to visiting Vienna 's main shopping mall. Can you tell why?

 

*  Do you intend sizing up the competition before the contest ? Perhaps you have already seen some of the other songs ?

"No - not one. Mike listens to the competition but I don't. I'm going to wait until rehearsals in Vienna to hear them."
 
*
Cyprus is a much loved holiday destination. Can you tell us in your own words what you feel makes Cyprus such a special place? Perhaps some things you feel we ought to know about your country ? 

" I'm afraid this is cliche but it's the truth.....the people, their hospitality, the food and the weather!"
 
* What is your favourite (Cypriot) dish ?

"My favourite Cyprus dish by a mile - Souvlaki!  You've made me hungry!"

* Lets fast forward to after the contest in May. What are your plans for the remainder of 2015 ?

"I'm moving to London in September to continue my music studies and will be working/recording with Mike on material for my first album. That is really exciting for me. "
 
* Do you have a message for the readers of this interview ?

"Yes.This is the longest interview I've ever done so I hope you guys have enjoyed it! Phew! Oh and btw, the crazy thing is my singing name has always been John and somehow for the Cyprus final it got changed to Yiannis....and even stranger.....sites online started replacing the "Y"s with "G"s - so I've become Giannis Karagiannis. Agggh! So I'll be John Karayiannis at ESC . We did consider Englebert Karayiannis but...........nah! Enjoy Vienna guyys!"
 
John, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. Enjoy the build up to the contest and of course every success in
Austria !

Efkaristo!