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Interview with Elhaida Dani (Albania 2015)

She is only 22 years old and has a successful music career and handful of awards. Fans of music festivals in the Balkans had already opportunity to find out more about Elhaida Dani’s work and talent. European public and music professionals have payed attention on her because of her magnificent and powerful voice through participation in the Italian version of popular talent show The Voice, where she won the competition.

Since then, her career is going better and better, and the culmination of her work so far was the victory in the prestigious festival in Albania which, among other things, selects Eurovision representative. So, Elhaida got the opportunity to represent her country in the Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna, and ESC Serbia got chance to talk with this charming and positive Albanian girl.

Photo: Orsola Mema

Hi Elhaida! We’re very pleased for you to have agreed to this interview. How are you feeling before Eurovision and how is it going with preparations for Vienna?

– Hello everyone! Thank you for having me. Everythng is going very well, so far. I’m having the craziest time of my life since preparations have started for Eurovision. I’m very exited.

You are a familiar face in the Balkans, since you won the music festival „Sunčane skale“ in Herceg Novi, Montenegro, with your song Si asnjëherë. How did your life change in the meanwhile and how did your victory in talent show The Voice of Italy affect your life?

– „Sunčane Skale“ was my first professional experience outside of my native Albania. Let’s say, it’s been a good way to start my international career. Winning The Voice of Italy has been the turning point in my career. I released my first album and I was given the chance to sing on a big stage and on television and, also, to meet and collaborate with the greatest Italian artist ‒ Riccardo Cocciante. This experience changed my life.

How do you comment the fact that 22 of 40 of this year’s Eurovision contestants took part in talent shows? Is that kind of programme so important nowadays and how strong of an influence do talent shows have on music careers of young singers?

– Today, the talent show is a very good way to enter the show bussines world. It’s also a very easy way to reach it. Thanks to these shows, a lot of good singers and artists have had the possibility to become publically known and have had the chance to make their dreams come true. Taking part in talent shows doesn’t mean that you’ve reached the success. To be succesful, you have to work constantly and take nothing for granted.

Let’s talk about Eurovision now! You had to change your song for Eurovision and it seems that your fans and the general public is pleased with your new song. The critics are very positive about it! Which song were you personally happier with?

– I always like to make the songs that I sing „mine“, and that’s what I also did with the song Diell. However, since I had to changes songs, I had only three weeks to come up with a new one for Eurovision. I worked every single day to come up with the song I’m Alive ‒ from the very first notes to the final result! Perhaps I can say that this song is a bit closer to my heart. And, of course, I’m very happy with the public perception of the song.

Photo: Orsola Mema

In your opinion, does Eurovision create new music trends or does it only follow already set ones? More specifically, do you think that Eurovision fits the European or, more so, world mainstream music, or does it create its own music style?

– I think that it all depends from the specific artist. There are a lot good and inovative artists who make their own, personal music, thus creating new trends. Also, there are artists that prefer to stay safe and are not keen to experiment. Either way, I think that Eurovision is a very good music show in which one can enjoy listening to good music and performers.

What’s your view on singing in English? This year, Serbia will also sing in English ‒ for the first time in history! Should countries sing in their own language to stay close to the „core meaning“ of Eurovision?

– Personally, I think that Eurovision would be more original if all countries would sing in their native tongues, such as Serbia has always done, but also Albania and other contries. This, however, would surely make it a bit more difficult for the artists to be internationally understood. When singing in English, there’s a higher chance for the song and artist to become more internationaly recognisable.

What do you think about bringing back a live orchestra to the Eurovision stage? We all know that, for instance, in Festivali i Këngës or Sanremo Festival, an orchestra can really bring out the essence of modern music and is really soothing to the ears.

– I would be the first one to sign the petition for Eurovision to bring back a live orchestra on stage. That would be so ALIVE!

Photo: Orsola Mema

Do you think that there’s a recipe for success in Eurovision? Is there something that’s called a „typical Eurovision song“?

– I hear a lot of people talking and and passing on opinions about these so-called „typical Eurovision songs“, but I believe that whatever you do whole-heartedly and everything that is typically YOU, can be a „typical Eurovision song“.

Does modern Eurovision celebrate diversity or unity?

– UNITY!

This is an ordinary question but I have to ask you: What do you think about our entry and our entrant Bojana Stamenov?

– As you surely know, I’m a big fan and I support powerful women. This is what my song and video is about. In Bojana I see a powerful, a very strong and passionate woman with great talent, and an amazing voice.

Thank you very much for your time! The whole team of ESC Serbia wishes you the best of luck in Vienna this May!

– Thank you all for your support and the beautiful messages I get everyday. I can’t wait to read your opinions after my performance in Vienna, and who knows… Can’t wait to meet you! 🙂

ESC Serbia thanks to Aleksandar Ristić for proofreading, translation and adapting the English text!

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