It is that time of year again and Eurovision is already in full swing, with Tuesday's semi-final seeing Montenegro and San Marino go through to the final for the first time in Eurovision history. Furthermore they snatched those two places from countries that you would have expected to go through without any doubt, they are Portugal and Belgium.
But our attention towards Iceland, whose entry Pollapönk made it to the finals (live Saturday night on BBC1 - check your own national broadcaster), they mix punk rock with children's music, this however is overshadowed by the interesting fact that their back-up vocals are split amongst Óttarr Proppé (from Ham) and Snæbjörn Ragnarsson (from the Viking Metal band Skálmöld). You might as well admit that Iceland and Finland have both gone down the rock route this year (we would like to see more of this), what with Ukraine's Gothic pop entry also gone through, there is a little theme going on this year.
Rhys Stevenson managed to catch up with Pollapönk and talk to them about their Eurovision endeavors, their entry 'No Prejudice' and the Icelandic Rock Music scene. Many thanks to Haraldur
Gíslason for talking to us.
"Eurovision is a happy place".
Hey guys, first off how does it feel to represent Iceland in the Eurovision Song Contest?
It is a dream come true to get on to a big stage like this and to get our message out to as many people. We don’t feel any pressure, but we are determined to have fun and do our very best to make Iceland proud.
The song "Enga fordóma (No Prejudice)" is about a young person who has the habit of stuttering around others and fears to be mocked or bullied because of this. With this song it is Pollapönk’s aim to help eliminate all bullying and prejudice as everyone has the right to live in peace and harmony with the rest of the world. We think that the world needs to hear the "no prejudice" message. Especially from middle age, heterosexual, white men like us. Being middle age, heterosexual, white men makes us a group that is most unlikely to be discriminated against and we believe that we should use this opportunity to point out the injustice in this world. Of course we know that it will not instantly make the world a better place. It is our small contribution.
What inspired you to get the suits? Especially in vibrant colors :)?
With different colors we are calibrating diversity. We may look different on the outside but on the inside we are the same. Also we just look very good in these colored suits.
What does Pollapönk mean and why that name?
Pollapönk means two things. Punk for kids and puddle punk.
Could you tell us in the UK a bit more about the Icelandic Rock scene?
The Icelandic rock scene is very good. All the members from Pollapönk come from the Icelandic underground rock scene. There is a lot of good bands coming up and the scene is growing.
Now you have been going eight years, where have you played outside Iceland?
Not so much as Pollapönk. But Heiðar and Haraldur are in a band called Botnleðja that has toured a lot outside Iceland. Once they supported Blur in the UK. Gudni and Arnar are in a band called Mugison that has toured a lot as well. Bibbi or mister Orange as we like to call him is in a heavy metal band called Skálmöld. Our member of parliament Óttarr is also in a band called Ham.
Could you give a brief history of the band and how you met?
Pollapönk was founded in 2006 by guitarists Haraldur Freyr Gíslason and Heiðar Örn Kristjánsson of the Icelandic post-punk trio Botnleðja. They created Pollapönk when graduating as Bachelors of education from the University of Iceland. The purpose was to write and perform music that children and adults alike would enjoy and be able to sing-a-long to. The first album "Pollapönk" was a major hit in Iceland. In 2007 drummer Arnar Þór Gíslason who is Haraldur‘s brother and bass-player Guðni Finnsson joined Pollapönk which then became a quartet. Pollapönk have made two more albums, and played numerous gigs for children and grown-ups all over Iceland. In everyday life Haraldur Freyr is the chairman of the Association of Pre-school Teachers, Heiðar Örn is a Pre-school teacher and Arnar Þór and Guðni are professional musicians.
Finally are there any greetings you wish to send out? Any thank you's?
No prejudice! Spread the word.
The Eurovision Semi Final No.2 is on tonight on BBC3 (again check your national broadcaster) at 8pm and UK viewers CAN VOTE tonight - we'd like Malta, Israel, Lithuania, Finland and Slovenia to go through amongst others - Romania, Ireland, Norway, Poland and Belarus.
The Eurovision Final is on Saturday - BBC1 (again check your national broadcaster) at 8pm we believe.
It is that time of year again and Eurovision is already in full swing, with yesterday's semi-final seeing Montenegro and San Marino go through to the final for the first time in Eurovision history. Furthermore they snatched those two places from countries that you would have expected to go through without any doubt, they are Portugal and Belgium.
But our attention towards Malta, whose entry Firelight employs a unique mix of folk, country and pop music that ultimately is overshadowed by the interesting fact that four of the members are all family members. Moreover front-man Richard Edwards has had his own stint performing across the UK by performing alongside the likes of Leona Lewis, Ray Quinn and more as he had entered the X Factor competition, getting applauds from Simon Cowell and making it into the last 80 before joining the rock band Cast Away, before heading back to Malta in 2009.
Rhys Stevenson managed to catch up with Firelight and talk to them about their Eurovision endeavors, their entry 'Coming Home' and the Maltese Folk Music scene. Answers by Richard Edwards, front-man of Firelight.
Eurovision is "lots of fun and millions of viewers".
Hey guys, so first off how does it feel to represent Malta in the Eurovision Song Contest 2014?
It's a very good feeling. As individuals we have entered the Malta finals several times, but as a band it was fantastic to finally win. We are proud to be proud to be representing Malta in Copenhagen.
And so how did you all meet, and did you all have the same aspirations?
Well four of us are family members -- three brothers and a sister. Two good friends of ours make up the rest of Firelight. We all have a tremendous passion for music.
So how did you all get into music and who inspires you?
Our Dad is a famous singer in Malta. We were brought up in a house full of music. I have many musical heroes from Johnny Cash to Sir Paul McCartney.
And could you tell us in the UK a bit more about the Maltese Folk music scene?
We've tried to create a sound that mixes folk music with rock and pop. It's fusion music. It's proving popular in Malta. We just hope the rest of Europe likes it too.
Now what do you think of the UK entry this year?
It's good. It's a great song and we like hanging out with Molly too. I had my own UK experience when I took part in X Factor. Simon Cowell gave me the thumbs up and I had the pleasure of performing at boot camp with the likes of Leona Lewis.
Please tell us a bit about your song 'Coming Home'?
There was a personal story behind me writing it. It's very much about overcoming difficulties. But I think it will mean different things to different people. All the Poles, Czechs, Latvians etc in the UK know what it's like to be away from family for months at a time. Hopefully, 'Coming Home' will mean something to them.
Finally are there any greetings you wish to send out? Any thank you's?
We love the UK. Our Mum is from Yorkshire. So vote for us and we promise to come to the UK to give you all a big kiss.
Catch Firelight tomorrow night performing in the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 semi-final number two at 8:00PM (GMT) on BBC3 (or your broadcaster linked here). VOTE FOR MALTA!!!!!
Global Metal Network caught up with the French entry of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest which is to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan. Although Anggun Cipta Sasmi is originally from Indonesia, she has made a name for herself, having started singing at the age of 7 and recorded her first ever album two years later. 1986 saw the release of her first rock album 'Dunia Aku Punya' and having dueted with Ronan Keating and Julio Iglesias amongst others whilst also having released around 18 albums in French, English and Indonesian respectively and even more becoming the first Indonesian artist to break into the European and American record charts, even leading to her receiving the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French Minister of Culture. 2012 promises to be a big year for Anggun and is sure to make a massive impression at the Eurovision Song Contest.
1. First off, how does it feel representing France at the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, Azerbaijan?
I feel greatly honoured and proud of course, I know my name has been circulating over the last few years at France Televisions and in the Eurovision fan-sphere but I was never approached officially until last winter. It was a great surprise for me to be called and asked to represent France at this year’s Eurovision song contest.
2. Who are your music influences and what music do you tend to listen to, how does this influence you?
I have been raised in the love of rock music! I’ve always been a huge fan of metal and Industrial rock. I know this will probably surprise lots of people considering that my music identity is more into pop music, but when I was a teenager star in Indonesia, I was called ‘Lady Rock’.
3. Coming from Indonesia, what can you say about the Indonesian music scene including the Indonesian Metal scene (if you can)?
Indonesia is definitely a country of music. Children at an early age are raised through music and it is very common for Indonesian kids to be part of bands or to sing as a hobby. Music is something that is extremely present on Indonesian TV for example, to the contrary of other countries such as France, where it is very difficult to find TV programs specially dedicated to music and live performances. Indonesia is probably the most Rock-orientated country in Eastern Asia. Some very influential Rock and Metal bands are from Indonesia such as Jamrud, Rotor or Kota. I think Indonesia is in Asia what UK is in Europe in terms of music: people love music and live through music; it’s something in the genes.
4. You recently had a duet with Ronan Keating, how was this for you?
It was a great moment. Ronan is a delightful person and most of all an extremely talented & charismatic performer. I have always been impressed by Ronan’s career. He has been able to build his own musical identity and success after being part of a top-selling boys band. He has been able to evolve and became an influential artist in the pop music scene.
5. From your fifth English album 'Echoes' what is your most favourite song, why and what inspired you to create it?
I love ‘Buy Me Happiness’ because it deals with something very sensitive right now in our over-consumerist societies. The quest for happiness and personal balance is not something you will find in consumption frenzy or in hyper social networking. You do not buy happiness. It’s something you build first of all in your own self and in your inner circle (your family, your love and your closed ones).
6. Your signed to Warner Music / Sony Music, when you were signing to the labels, how did you feel emotionally and musically?
I have been lucky to be supported by major actors in the music industry throughout my career. And when I am not happy I’m leaving. This is what happened a few years ago when I left Sony Music in France. I am very happy with my Warner Music France team. They are working closely with me and we are sharing the same vision, which is I must admit a great chance for any artist.
7. Referring back to the Eurovision, what are you mostly looking forward to and will this be your first European concert?
The Eurovision show will be a few days before the launch of my European tour, with dates planned in France, Belgium, Switzerland but also Poland, Russia, Italy, etc. The contest is the occasion of meeting people across Europe and it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet amazing artists, to listen to great music from lots of countries, and more importantly to share our passion for songs and music with more than 200 million viewers worldwide. It’s an experience not-to-miss!
8. Also on the topic of the Eurovision, how are you preparing for it and will there be anything viewers should be looking out for when your performing?
I am working on proposing something surprising for the Eurovision performance so I can’t tell much details for now but It will be very different from what France has proposed over the last few years. I want something new, entertaining and fresh. It’s Eurovision: people want to have fun and be happy. There will be fantastic dancers and we are working on a stage performance routine that will enlighten the song.
9. What advice do you have for those wanting to develop their singing voice, whatever the genre?
To follow their dream and expectations and never give up. And to work hard. Music industry is a tough business. You have to deal with pressure 24/7. This is not always as shiny as it appears.
10. Finally do you have anything to say to the people of the UK, France and in general Europe?
I hope to come to London and visit you very soon. I hope the UK will give me lots of points (lol). I have a good memory of my first promotional visit to the UK a few years ago when my single ‘Snow On the Sahara’, remixed by Trousers Enthusiasts was Top 5 in the UK Club Breaker Charts. Hope my Eurovision song Echo (You and I).
The Eurovision Song Contest 2012 will be broadcasted on: