EUROVISION 2016 - STOCKHOLM - SWEDEN

INTERVIEW - ALBANIA - Eneda Tarifa

 

 

 

 

 

 

ENEDA TARIFA

 

PËRRALLË (Fairytale)

 

 

With thanks to Kleart Duraj and Eneda Tarifa
 

Interview by Douwe reveler for Sechuk.com

Published by Gary Speirs for Sechuk.com

 

 

Eneda, many congratulations! How are you feeling and how did you celebrate winning the Festivali i Këngës?

 

I’m quite pleased and happy. We celebrated this splendid event with a charming party for all my colleagues, friends and the organizers of the Albanian song Festival.

 

Yours was a classic case of 3rd time lucky. What made you decide to return to the FiK?

 

It was my sixth time indeed. I’ve been a finalist contender in the past but only won two important prizes. Then in 2006 I stopped participating in the FiK to only return nine years later, in 2016. And I won. Why did come back? For a number of reasons. First I thought this was the right time for me to return to this Festival after a long pause that was no silence but full of other activities. Second, I could only return to this festival if I was offer a beautiful, interesting, special and I may say an experimental song. And I was lucky to get one. Third, I admit it was the prospect of participating in the Eurovision Song Contest.

 

What was the most important motivation for you? Winning the FiK or were you thinking more about representing Albania on the international stage?

 

Isn’t it the same? Winning the FiK means representing  Albania in the ESC. They are one and the same, or the first takes you to the other.

 

Of all other songs presented in the Festivali i Këngës, which were your favourites or which did you feel were the strongest rivals?

 

There were four other songs which I think were strong contenders. They were performed by Kristi Popa, Flaka Krelani, Evans Rama, Rezarta Smaja.

 

Before we turn our attention to “Përrallë”, the song you will take to Sweden , could you please tell us about your early life and career? Where were you born and are you still living there? Can you tell us about the place?

 

I was born in  Tirana , Albania ’s capital city, and I still live here with my husband and daughter, only a few blocks away from my parents’ house. In the very center of the city.

 

Do you come from a musical family and if so can you tell us about them?

 

No, although my parents have all the qualities real artists do have: a passion for music, a musical ear and good voices. But they had other occupation in their lives. My mother was a school teacher whereas my father electronic engineer. Both are intellectuals. A middle class family. Now they commute between Tirana and New York . I miss them when they are on the other shore of the Atlantic , and I miss them most now, as I prepare to travel to Stockholm .

 

Have you enjoyed a musical education?

 

I never received any formal musical education; it was all my own work, sparking from talent and my passion and love for the music. And of course some luck working with the right people.

 

You are an established singer and television host (which we will talk about later), but are there other professions that interest you?

 

Yes in indeed. I studied philosophy at the University of Tirana and I’ve got Master degree in political sociology from the European University of Tirana.

 

How old were you when you started singing?

 

When I was 5 for my family, friends and at school, but my first debut on national stage was when I was 14.

 

Who have been your main musical influencers?

 

Mariah, Céline, Whitney, Alanis Morissette, Sade. Depeche Mode... And others.

   

You have participated not only in Festivali i Këngës but also in Kënga Magjike and Top Fest. What are the main differences between these contests?

 

Each one has its own characteristics. Kenga Magjike and Top Fest are also big contests. But FiK is live in everything. It has a tradition that is more than half-a-century long, it is already an artistic institution, and it makes you feel different. And real!

   

How did these earlier participations help you to prepare for this edition of FiK?

 

In every song contest or concerts or live gigs one experiences new situations and can learn a lot. All prior experiences have been helpful in making me do the right thing at the right time. I choose a good song, than I work with it the right way till I make it my own song. Passion and discipline are the key. You never achieve anything without passion and without hard work.

 

 

You have also worked as a host on the television program “Portokalli” on Top Channel. Can you tell us something about this program and how you came to be involved in it?

 

I’m still doing it, being the host of the best Comedy Show in Albania . And I’m glad I ‘m doing this for the fifth consecutive year. How did I get involved in it? Simply through music. I was invited to perform as a singer in one of its shows and the director, Mr. Altin Basha, apparently noticed in me the ability to talk to people and to lively engage in conversations with the actors. And that was it. I was chosen to be the host of “Portokalli”.

 

Was the song “Përrallë” written especially for you and what was your initial reaction when you heard it?

 

No, the song was not written for me. The composer just did it and I was lucky to have a chance to hear it. And lucky to have been offered to sing that song. It wasn’t the first song I was offered to sing in the last FiK; it was the third one. But, as I said, I wanted something different this time, and a song that is difficult to sing. So when I first heard it I immediately felt it was a song for me. And it was challenging for my voice. I had to work hard to make it sound as it now does.

 

So far the song has only been heard in Albanian. Can you explain the lyrics and what the song means to you?

 

It is a song about love. (As most of the songs are). But it’s love in trouble; yet still about a deep love.

 

Will the song remain in Albanian for the contest or will you sing it in English and, if yes, have you already started work on the English version?

 

The lyrics is adapted to English, because we are new in ESC and we want be heard, understood and like by all. The English version sounds simple and beautiful. 

 

Will a promotional music video to accompany the song be produced and if so can you tell us something about it?

 

Yes! I have a few ideas but I’ve not as yet come up with the best of them. It’ll be a “Tale of Love” anyway.

 

A promotional tour in the lead up to the contest has become popular in recent years. Will you promote your song internationally in the coming months and, if so, where?

 

We are thinking to do that in a number of places. It all depends on the budget. But we are thinking to tour the Netherlands, Belgium, Macedonia etc. We’re still planning.

 

What is it about this composition in your opinion that will hopefully make people from Melbourne to Moscow want to vote for it?

 

It sounds good. It’s a special song. It feels fresh. It’s beautiful and magic, like a fairytale 

 

Have you planned how the song will be performed and staged in Stockholm ? Will you have backing vocalists with you or will it be only you on stage?

 

Yes I will have female back vocalists. And also other musician I guess. I’m the type of singer used with others on stage and I feel comfortable that way.

 

You looked beautiful during your performances in December during FiK. Can you tell us who designed that dress, what was the idea behind the creation and will the same person be responsible for your dress in May?

 

Thank you for saying that! I appreciate it. The designer is one of Albania ’s best. Her name is Rezarta Skifteri. Her idea was something very simple but magnificent. Something that shows pure and big personality. She did a very good job. I think she might be the one for May as well, but it depends of what other designers will offer.

 

As far as Albanian Eurovision history is concerned it is definitely a case of girl power (10 out of 13 entries were performed by female soloists). What is your reaction to this statistic?

 

Smart observation. I’ve wondering myself why is this so. I’ve no answer to that. We have wonderful male voices too. Maybe it all depends on the song. Or maybe not. I don’t know what the statistics are of the other participating countries. Do you?

 

How important is the Eurovision Song Contest in Albania ?

 

It is, in indeed, very important. It gives to the singer another dimension. It is important even for the public since we  Albania is a little country and ESC is a good opportunity to represent ourselves through art.

 

Have you followed the Eurovision Song Contest closely over the years?

 

Not very closely in fact, but yes, I have. Especially the finals. Some songs and, of course, the design of scenography have been marvelous.

 

Do you have a favorite winning song and a favorite Albanian entry? Can you explain what it is about these songs that make them special to you?

 

One is Anjeza Shahini’s song “You make me feel”, (the first participant from Albania in Eurovision). I liked the pureness of her voice and the material which was really hopeful and happy. The second is Rona Nishliu’s “Sus” for her powerful voice and her great style of singing. Her song was mysteriously simple and of a very special style.

 

Have you heard from any previous Albanian representatives since you won the FiK and if yes, did they offer you some words of advice?

 

Good question! Once the song was first heard, Anjeza and then Rona wrote to me. They were both convinced that I would win the 54th Albanian Song Festival. This gave me courage. Then, another amazing singer and former participant in ESC, Aurela Gaçe, told me she was “melting from the emotions” the song caused in her. The only advice I’ve got so far is this: “Enjoy yourself singing your song! Have fun. Taste every bit of that sweet experience, the rest doesn’t matter”.

 

What are you hoping to achieve from participating in the contest?

 

Good connections, big stage performances never experienced before and the empathy of the public. Isn’t that enough?

 

The contest this year will be held in Stockholm . Will it be your first visit there or do you already know the city and what is that you most looking forward to?

 

Yes, this will be my first visit in Sweden . I don’t know if we will have enough time to explore  Stockholm , but I would like to visit its museums and walk through city.

 

You will be the ambassador for Albania in 2016. What would you like to tell people about your country that you feel they should know about?

 

Well, they should come and visit the  Albania ’s seacoast and its epic mountains. It is a beautiful and sunny place on earth, with a very friendly and hospitable people. A country that was once ruled by a communist regime but which is now growing very fast. A place than has all is needed to become a great little country, or a little great country. And a country that is now on the front line to joining the EU.

 

Can you tell us about your favorite Albanian food? Do you enjoy cooking?

 

When I have time, yes. And, when I do cook, I enjoy it. One of my favourite dishes is what we call “fërgesë”

 

What do you enjoy doing in your free time apart from singing? Do you have time for any hobbies?

 

I don’t have much free time. Hosting “Portokalli” and singing are enough quite time engaging. But when I have some time for myself, I spend it with my 3-years old daughter, go places and play with her. Some time I cook, or go to the theatre, to movies, or read a book.

 

If you could sing a dream duet with any artist (dead or alive) who would it be with and why?

 

It would be with Mariah Carey. She was a school for me in my earlier years, she can do that wonderful whistle. There are many others, of course, but I’m a bit oldish.

 

Do you perform any specific rituals before going on stage?

 

Only some voice exercise, water and concentration. Nothing else. 

 

Finally, let us fast forward to after the contest. What are your plans?  

 

Holydays and soon after that, on May 20, I’ll have to put together a splendid birthday party for my 3-year old Aria. This is what comes to mind first. And I’m going to work on my album with my composer of the ESC song. And also look at the possibility to work with the studio that is remixing the song of ESC this year, Wendy House Music in London .

 

Do you have a message for the readers of this interview?

 

 

Music, the arts and human love should bind the people of Europe together. And all the people of the world. I’ve the most animating confidence that we can make our world a better place to live in. Long live the Music!

 

Thank you very much Eneda and Good Luck in Stockholm!

 

Photos Credit : RTSH/Avni Selmani