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Posts Tagged ‘Euroclub’

Eurovision writersI couldn’t be happier or more proud! Making it to the finals has most definitely been the highlight of my trip so far. Isn’t that why we are here, after all? 

Rumor had it, just before the semi-final gala kicked off, that Iceland would either be the first to go through, or it would simply miss out by a couple of votes. The polls across the Olympiisky Stadium walls, however, had been very promising during the week. We were placed at the very top of the list, as the most likely contender for the finalist spot.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t confident… in fact, overly confident, particularly after hearing Yohanna’s semi-final performance in the Green Room – we were so proud!

But suddenly it all turned into a real Eurovision nightmare, as the finalists were announced one by one, each flag pulled out individually from the electronic envelopes. There were 10 of them in total. 1, 2, 3, 4, it wasn’t getting any easier, although what helped was the constant reminder that the results were being disclosed in random order. But still, were we going to make it? By #9 we knew it was going to be either Belarus or Iceland – or maybe neither, as Eurovision has always been famous for being completely unpredictable!

When the very last envelope was pulled out of the batch, I looked away from the screen and closed my eyes and ears. It was getting a little too intense! Would I be able to face another flag, other than our Icelandic one, when I opened my eyes? 

The singersI honestly cannot recall seeing our flag on the screen and neither can I remember hearing “Iceland” or “Is It True?” as we sat holding hands in our cozy Green Room. Yet, I do remember our screams and tears once it had finally hit home – we had made it to the finals, 10 out of 18 semi final entries! I wish I could describe how it felt without sounding too cliché,  but I can’t help it – it really was THAT amazing!!!

What’s next for our team in the coming days? Well, a couple of top notch TV shows and exclusive interviews, which have already kicked off following our big night. And it’s going to get even bigger and all the more exciting (and perhaps even more nerve-wracking) on May 16th – the Grand Finale! Dare I make any predictions? Let’s wait and see. I’m just enjoying the moment, anticipating the unknown and making the most of this fantastic experience. Had I known it was so good, I would have made my first Eurovision attempt quite a few years ago. But I suppose it’s better to do it later than never at all!

Counting down and waitingAnd now it’s time to face another crazy day filled with intense drama, excitement, madness and a whole load of fun! Who knows what the rest of the week has in store for us? It just keeps getting better…. And tougher, too!

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Eurovision LogoAs we are making last minute preparations for the semi final, due to take place tonight at 11 PM Moscow time, the excitement is building up and our overall schedule is getting tighter by the minute!

While most of the delegation parties are beginning to wind down (until the big night on the 16th) most of the participants are spending less time on the dance floor.Everyone is devoting all of their energy to the upcoming semi finals tonight, and on the 14th. As it happens, we are in the first group of semi finalists, hence the madness and major anticipation of the event.

Although the absolute highlight is bound to be the grand finale itself, tonight is quite a big deal, too – it’s pretty much down to a fantastic performance by Yohanna (we are VERY confident!) and of course, one of the primary ingredients – LUCK.

We simply MUST qualify tonight and go through to the finals, but I admit I’m a little nervous – who wouldn’t be? We all are, and if anyone says otherwise – they’re either insane or just lying!

And here’s the line up (I almost wrote the “track listing” – I’m too much of a studio nerd, I guess!)

(Composer/lyricist in brackets)

Montenegro – Andrea Demirović – Just get out of my life (Ralph Siegel/Bernd Meinunger, José Juan Santana Rodriguez)

Czech Republic – Gipsy.cz – Aven romale (Radoslav Banga)

Belgium – Copycat – Copycat (Miam Monster Miam/Jacques Duvall)

Belarus – Petr Elfimov – Eyes that never lie (Petr Elfimov/Valeriy Prokhozhy)

Sweden – Malena Ernman – La voix (Fredrik Kempe/Fredrik Kempe, Malena Ernman)

Armenia – Inga & Anush – Nor par (Mane Akopyan/Avet Barseghyan, Vardan Zadoyan)

Andorra – Susanne Georgi – La teva decisió (Get a life) (Pernilla Georgi, Susanne Georgi, Rune Braager, Lene Dissing, Marcus Winther-John/Josep Vila)

Switzerland – Lovebugs – The highest heights (Adrian Sieber, Thomas Rechberger, Florian Senn)

Turkey – Hadise – Düm tek tek (Sinan Akçil/Hadise, Sinan Akçil, Stefan Fernande)

Israel – Noa & Mira Awad – There must be another way (Noa, Mira Awad, Gil Dor)

Bulgaria – Krassimir Avramov – Illusion (Krassimir Avramov, William Tabanou/Casie Tabanou, Krassimir Avramov, William Tabanou)

Iceland – Yohanna – Is it true? (Tinatin Japaridze, Óskar Páll Sveinsson, Chris Neil)

FYR Macedonia – Next Time – Nešto što kje ostane (Damjan Lazarov, Jovan Jovanov/Elvir Mekić)

Romania – Elena Georghe – The Balkan girls (Daris Mangal, Ovidiu Bistriceanu, Laurenţiu Duţă/Laurenţiu Duţă, Alexandru Pelin)

Finland – Waldo’s People – Lose control (Karima, Ari Erik Veikko Lehtonen/Karima, Annie Kratz-Gutå, Ari Erik Veikko Lehtonen, Waldo)

Portugal – Flor-de-Lis – Todas as ruas do amor (Pedro Marques/Pedro Marques, Paulo Pereira)

Malta – Chiara – What if we? (Marc Paelinck/Gregory Bilsen)

Bosnia & Herzegovina – Regina – Bistra voda (Aleksandar Čović)

And the rules? Oh, that’s the scary part!

18 countries listed above will present one song each, including “Is It True?” representing Iceland. Nine countries will be chosen by televoting to move forward to the grand final this Saturday and the tenth spot will go to the country that placed the highest in the voting of the juries but did not qualify through televoting. Only the qualifiers will be announced during the show, and the complete results will be revealed after the final.

There’s so much more I want to tell you about the last couple of days but it’s now time for me to rush over to a meeting with my publishers (and I have to sort out one of my publishers’ lost baggage – I keep forgetting I’m one of the very few Russian speakers in our delegation… if not the only one! I love it, most of the time) and I do promise to give you all the details following our semi final. It’s all just a few hours away! I’m excited, sleepless and a little nervous – but not really. So stay tuned for the results and don’t forget to Vote for Iceland!

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Tinatin & Chris NeilThe last couple of days have been so intense and “full on” – there is absolutely no escape from the Eurovision madness. Wherever I go in Moscow, it’s unbelievable! 

Constant press conferences, interviews (TV and radio, even across the other side of the world… but more on that later!) rehearsals and parties – I truly am having a blast! But on the same note, as you may already know, I haven’t been getting any sleep – only 3 hours per night at most – since I arrived here over a week ago. Dare I complain? Hell, no! 

Spending quality time with our Icelandic delegation has become so addictive! I honestly can’t imagine not seeing them every day, come this time next week. What a great crowd of fun, creative, and professional people! If teamwork is what this is all about, then I feel extremely fortunate, especially now that we’ve really, really clicked. We have all hit it off in a big way – each and every one of us, collectively and individually. It’s so wonderful to work together with a group of people toward a common goal!

The Greek Party at our local hotspot Euro-Club was great fun last night. Some of the highlight acts of ESC 2009, including the Eurovision heartthrob himself, Sakis Rouvas, performed (mostly) live. Others mimed as well (should I just zip my lip?) and introduced their upcoming entries for the competition. This was a very particular audience, consisting of obvious Eurovision fans from all over the world.  We were no exception! 

Christopher Neil and Maria Bjork Yohanna's ManagerChris Neil, Oskar, Alma and I stood on the balcony overlooking the Euro-Club stage. We watched Yohanna blow everyone away with her performance, yet again. It would be fair to say that she blew us away too! I don’t know why, but the overall impact of the song, and the performance itself, well, both are getting stronger and stronger, instead of turning into a daily routine. This is quite unusual, I think. But then again, I’m getting so excited about the upcoming semi-final (and particularly the big final night) I can barely wait for another 48 hours!

Tonight is the official opening ceremony of the Eurovision Song Contest 2009, and the welcoming party will be held at Moscow’s historic Manezh Hall, in Red Square. Although a lot of the former Eurovision stars were lip-synching all night long, it turned out to be a very entertaining event. We all had a great time just “chilling out,” as they say. The vibe was cool and the finger food was very impressive, too. 

Unlike yesterday’s pre-Eurovision promo program, tonight’s gig featured only one of the entrants this year; Anastasia Prikhodko from Ukraine, who will represent Russia in the finals. Bizarre, isn’t it? Everyone’s representing everyone else, including our “not-so-purely Icelandic delegation!” It’s very exciting, though, since we are all so multi-national. And even though I’m Georgian-born, and not of Russian heritage at all, I am the most Russian of all the Russian representatives this year, being an official citizen of the Russkiy Land. This is all according to the local and national periodicals and news agencies. Is it true? Yes, it is!
ESCDuring the opening ceremony, my producer and co-author of the Icelandic song (our new universal term for “Is It True?”) suddenly pointed out a gentleman standing in the corner by the bar – it was Chuck Taylor, one of the leading music journalists in the United States! Or so I thought, at first…

But soon enough I realized it wasn’t Chuck; it was his secret twin brother! In all honesty, I had sworn it was really him, and then I zoomed in on the poor look-alike. I harassed him with my digital camera for the remainder of the evening, still secretly hoping he’d turn out to be Chuck Taylor’s relative in Russia!

 
Chuck Taylor look-alike on the rightJust before we all decided to call it a night, before yet another manic day (and it really is going to start getting more and more intense, from tomorrow onwards) Chris and I were interviewed over the phone by the UK’s very own Dave Charles, at HFM. It was unusual and even spooky to a certain extent, but great fun – we stood next to Lenin’s Tomb as we chatted away with Dave. We talked about my songs, our Eurovision tune and “la vie” in Moscow. Pure magic!

It’s scary, but just a couple of decades ago, conducting an overseas interview from Soviet Russia with a capitalist world journalist would have been virtually impossible! I do feel incredibly fortunate to have witnessed a tad bit of that era, but I’m even luckier to be alive in a semi-democratic world as a young person. I can say or do whatever I like… well, some of the time! 🙂

As Britney’s new single is playing in the background on Russian MTV (yes, I still watch Russian MTV once every couple of years) and as I’m slowly but surely beginning to realize I haven’t blinked an eye since the madness kicked off, first thing this morning, here’s a quick reminder before I drift off into the night: The official 6-day countdown to the main event has just begun, right here on BTR. So whatever you do, please be sure to keep your eyes on Iceland – you just NEVER know!

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What a fantastic day! It really does keep getting better as the clock keeps on ticking away – and I am not exaggerating!

I really should be in bed by now, as I’m doing some writing in the studio tomorrow (I have never composed in Moscow – or at least have never co-written here, which is extremely exciting). But I wanted to share some of the latest news with you, and share some of my happiness.

Last night we got an invitation from the Ambassador of Iceland in Russia, to attend an Icelandic ESC party. It was hosted at the Embassy to honor our delegation, with the main focus on this year’s Icelandic entry, performed by Iceland’s very own, Danish-born Yohanna.

Since most of the delegations are hosting Eurovision parties at the Euro-Club, based on the informal protocol, we felt very privileged to attend our very own Eurovision extravaganza in the very heart of Icelandic culture – the diplomatic headquarters of Iceland’s Permanent Representative to the Russian Federation, Ambassador Benedikt Ásgeirsson.

Ambassador Ásgeirsson personally welcomed and greeted our team individually, and then we were all photographed with him. This went on throughout the reception, with photos being taken by various Icelandic, Danish, German, UK and Russian press and media representatives, who were also present at the special event. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to use my camera, as it would have been slightly awkward to be walking around with this digital friend, snapping pictures of everyone. However, various international photographers attending the party have promised us the shots as soon as possible, so, fingers crossed!

Fridrik Omar, Hera Bjork Thorhallsdottir and Erna Hronn Olafsdottir, who are supporting our stunning headliner as backing vocalists (but are in fact famous Icelandic and Danish singers themselves) performed several songs together with Yohanna, including “Is It True?” in both English and in Russian. I absolutely loved humming along with the Russian version, which I’m particularly fond of these days. It was adorable watching four accomplished Scandinavian artists singing in (what I can now easily refer to as) my “second native language”!

The press, as well as the Icelandic Ambassador, were equally charmed by the unplugged, yet extremely classy (and honest) performances. Meanwhile us, the three composers, enjoyed every moment of the magical evening. It’s all really beginning to feel like a dream come true. Six years ago, who would have that the song we were writing was going to end up bringing the three of us back together in Moscow – miles away from London, Reykjavik and New York – for the Eurovision Song Contest?

I absolutely can’t wait to post the pictures from this fabulous event on my blog. Then you can all experience – or at least witness – a glimpse of our collective pride, joy and excitement. It all comes from the very realization of the fact that, after all, representing the beautiful country of Iceland, in front of 100-600 million viewers across the world, is not a trivial pursuit.

Although it really has gone way past my regular (but in this case irregular) bedtime, I have to share one more highlight of the day with my new, but hopefully loyal BTR readers and listeners.

Do you remember Tomas N’Evergreen, whose songs I’ve featured numerously on my BTR show, Russkiy in the Mix (including this week’s premiere of his new single, “Popstar”)?

I’ve been a big fan of N’Evergreen’s since I first heard his single “Since You’ve Been Gone”, which was in the Top 5 in Russia for absolute ages, just a few years ago. And now that he’s living in Moscow for the time, releasing his second album throughout Europe in the coming months, there was no way I could pass through Moscow without meeting my favorite English-language artist!

It was wonderful talking to a like-minded, music-oriented artist; one who has managed to keep his feet firmly on the ground. At the same time, he is one of the most successful artists in the vast country of the Russian Federation! We swapped stories, experiences, ideas and tips, as though we’d been friends for a long time. That really doesn’t happen too often nowadays, particularly in the ever-changing and somewhat fickle music business.

Who knows, we may even collaborate on a song together, in the near future. If so, you really will be the first ones to hear about it! But for the time being, stay tuned for the latest N’Evergreen songs that I’m already excited about – the new album is on the way! I only wonder why Tomas isn’t representing his native Denmark this year? With all due respect to this year’s Danish song (written by Ronan Keating), I would have certainly voted for Denmark, if only… Hey, never say never!

Will I be up and running in a matter of 3-4 hours yet again? I’m afraid so, but dare I complain? This is one of the most memorable adventures I’ve experienced so far in life, and being able to take you along for the ride makes it all so much more worthwhile, and undeniably special!

P.S. This beautiful electronic postcard was made by Nathan Waddell at ESCtime – one of the biggest supporters of our Icelandic song in the UK. I was particularly touched by the lovely note at the bottom – isn’t it adorable? I was venting in one of my previous blogs earlier this week about being perceived by the press here at Eurovision as more of an artist (although I’m not singing at the moment!), versus my primary role as a songwriter, so here’s the answer from Nathan!

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I have so enjoyed spending time catching up with old friends from school! I am back in my hometown, after all, so a little sightseeing is mandatory. I must look like a wide-eyed tourist, or rather an expatriate who’s been away for far too long!

 

That said, following a much-deserved “collective” day off on Day 5, we are now fully back on ESC track, and in full gear!

The highlight of the day was welcoming Christopher Neil (my executive producer and co-writer of “Is It True?”) without an ounce of exaggeration. The man is a true legend, and responsible for some of the biggest worldwide hit records, including Celine Dion, Cher, Rod Stewart, I mean, the list could go on forever!

While our folks were watching some of the rehearsals for semi 2, I drove to the airport with our ESC hosts. I was finally going to meet Chris for the first time in my home town. It was a very special moment for me!

This moment was brief, however. There was a minor mishap, for we soon realized that Chris had misplaced his Eurovision Pass! Since we were due at Olympiisky Stadium by 6 PM for the second Icelandic rehearsal (it was already 5:50 PM by then) our driver, Denis, took matters into his own hands. He must have broke the Guinness World Record. We got from A to B within 15 minutes, and through a manic traffic jam at that!

The set looked really beautiful, and we were all impressed with the sound, especially during the playback in the viewing room. Chris, who has been to more mega-huge gigs in the last few decades than I can even imagine, told me that it’s far more professional-sounding than he had expected. Did you know that one of the top sound engineers from Europe (who happens to be from “our neighboring” country of Sweden) is in charge of the ESC sound this year?

As soon as Yohanna got on stage, she blew everyone away with her performance. Unlike most rehearsals, ours was actually one of the few that felt like the real deal. The crew and some of the press people attending clapped after every soundcheck and every take, which apparently is very unusual.

After the rehearsal and our private playback (where we discussed the performance and made last minute comments about bits and pieces – mostly technical stuff) the organizers escorted us to the press conference room. There was going to be some media madness on the spot!

Although today’s conference was a little shorter than Monday’s extravaganza (probably due to press representatives trying to juggle a million things at once during the pre-ESC prep time) it was really cute to hear Yohanna sing a cappella in Russian, especially for the benefit of the local press!

By the time we had wrapped up at the venue, it suddenly hit us that we hadn’t eaten a thing since God knew when. So, the next stop turned out to be quite predictable, and not too exotic, either – our new favorite Italian restaurant in downtown Moscow!

The best part so far, I have to admit, has been ordering food for our delegation every time we go out. Since I’m the only other Russian speaker, aside from our hosts, do I feel like a true Muscovite when I’m around them?!

Although I’ve promised our musicians that I’ll take them out clubbing tomorrow night, I’m actually very limited in my knowledge of the Moscow nightlife. Aside from the restaurants, I don’t know too much about it, so it will be interesting to see if they’ll like my local Zagat choice!

Tomorrow is another crazy day, or so we’ve been warned. The highlight will certainly be our Icelandic Party, to be hosted by the Icelandic Ambassador, at the Embassy here in Moscow. This is extremely exciting, as there will be a lot of singing, dancing, and probably quite a bit of drinking as well. But, I promise to behave! In all seriousness though, it should be interesting, as I’ve never really been to a purely Icelandic party. That’s quite an intriguing prospect, to say the least!

I daren’t look at the time, in case it has gone past 2 or 3 AM again. So far I’ve been going to bed at or around 5 AM, at the earliest. I’ve been doing a seemingly endless amount of radio promo interviews in Europe every night, and it’s made a regular bedtime somewhat awkward, if not impossible. Of course, it’s been amazing to be able to promote both my UK single, “Thinking of Someone Else”, and the Eurovision song, “Is It True?” at the same time. But it’s also been a little hectic! Plus, I’ve got to draft the synopsis for my book sequel (which I’ve only just submitted to my agent) while I’m in Moscow. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get some time off to party with my new Icelandic friends. Of course, you’ll be the first to know on BTR, so stay tuned!

Oh, and one more thing before I turn my laptop off for the night – a major Russian TV channel, ORT 1, and the main news show, “Vremya,” are endorsing “Is It True?” They are highlighting it as one of the ESC songs with a strong Russian connection, and they are telling our compatriots to keep their eyes and ears on throughout the competition for it. So with ORT’s support, which is a huge deal over here, we shouldn’t do too badly at all! In fact, we are very optimistic, so, fingers crossed!

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Just when it seemed our manic schedule was going to get out of hand, with nary a moment to tour the Russian capital, the Eurovision organizers announced today and tomorrow as the second semifinal rehearsal dates. So, we’re officially off for the time being. Or at least the songwriters and a few of the delegates are, as Yohanna and her coach will still be rehearsing at the hotel over the next couple of days.

While the Icelanders were cruising around Moscow in our ESC bus, sight-seeing all over the city, I decided to sleep in. I ended up relaxing for the most part of the early afternoon.

The phone rang a couple of times about various interviews and organization issues. It’s embarassing, but I was so exhausted (and totally jet lagged) that I honestly couldn’t recall half of what I was saying in my sleepy state of mind, after I finally woke up! Hopefully, it’s all still very much intact.

dsc_0601 After spending a few hours with my photographer, and another few minutes on the phone with friends in New York (yes, I’m getting just a little homesick, honestly, just a little!) our Russian hosts picked me up around 7 PM. We headed over to the Il Patio restaurant downtown, where I joined the rest of our delegation for a proper catch-up and lovely Italian dinner. Although the pizza was slightly on the cold side, my mozzarella and prosciutto salad was simply delectable!

our-delegation

Sitting right between Alma, one of the soloists in the famous Icelandic pop group Nylon (she is also Oskar Pall, my co-writer’s fiancée) and Elin, our fabulous make-up artist, we laughed so hard over dinner. Our table was split into 2’s and 3’s, and it was quite crowded, even for the restaurant staff. It took them forever to serve us!

elin-tinatin-alma

For this very reason, we arrived late to the opening of the Euro-Club in Moscow’s historic Manezh on Red Square. But it actually turned out to be the best part of the night, as what happened afterwards was so much fun! Some of the biggest Russian pop stars, including Mumiy Troll and N’Evergreen (both of whom I’ve recently interviewed and whose songs I’ve played on my Russkiy in the Mix show) performed a set each and really made it a special night for the VIP attendees. And it was just nice to hear some great Russian pop tunes, for there really aren’t THAT many!

yasmin-tinatin-yohanna-fridrikTomorrow is going to be a rather quiet day for most of us, as we prepare for our big rehearsal on Thursday, followed by the international media conference. Just before our rehearsal kicks off, I’ll be heading off to the airport together with our hosts to meet our co-writer and my producer, Christopher Neil. I really cannot wait to show him around my home town, or one of my two home towns, anyway! In case you’re thinking I’m off to get some sleep, I’m afraid I have to tell you you’re wrong. Although it’s already 3:30 AM here in Moscow, I’ve got a phone interview coming up with a UK radio station in a few hours, so there will be no sleep for me tonight. I’m Sleepless in Moscow!

Before I say goodnight, however, some quick insider info. An impressive majority of our ladies were very disappointed that Sakis Rouvas, this year’s Greek entrant at ESC, did not appear at tonight’s EuroClub show. Is it just me, or is he just too flawless not to be a model, instead of being a singer? I honestly don’t get it, but more on that later, right here on BTR!

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