Exclusive: Niamh Kavanagh speaks to ESCflashmalta

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Our Chief Editor namely Marc Calleja Bayliss has interviewed the talented Niamh Kavanagh who as you will find out is not new to the Eurovision Song Contest. Many fans say that she has brought Ireland back on track. See what she had to tell us below.

Starting off with a point of reference from the previous interview where I had mentioned that the 90’s were a spectacular decade for Ireland with successive victories and high positions. In the meantime, the way that the nation treated it was much higher actually as well because from a Eurosong selection held at The Point in Dublin back in 1993, you moved into the RTE Television Studios for the Eurosong Selection this year. What happened to the importance that Ireland used to give the Eurovision Song Contest and do you think that you can convince them to bring back traditional values?

I can see how that would appear to have less emphasis on it than in 1993.  When it was held in the Point depot in Dublin in 1993, we had won the year previous and I think that had some bearing on the location of the Eurosong.  It can also be about budget, especially in this economic climate.  I reckon a win this year might have a bearing on how high profile it will be next year.  The more successful you are at something the more relevance it has.  But I don’t think it will be me convincing them to bring back traditional values.   

Alas on the 5th March 2010, you were competing against another four singers which included the legendary Michael Graham who is a part of the group Boyzone as well as You’re A Star winner Leanne Moore amongst others. Did you believe that you would be able to defeat them and go on to achieve victory with such a comfortable result having been selected to represent the country by all the Juries and tele-voting?

I was very surprised at just how resounding the success of the song was.  I expected it to be a more spread result.  I really enjoyed being with all the acts on the day.  They are all so different and talented, I feel honoured to have been chosen on the night.  I never really think about the competition end of things.  Weird as that sounds, I still want to win, and who doesn’t, but I want to see people do well and I am excited by talent in others.  I concentrate on my own performance and enjoy everyone else’s.  After that it is up to the public and juries who they chose. 

One of the main factors which people seemed to dislike during your performance at the Late Late Show Eurosong Special was the dress which you wore which was described as something that a Spanish lady doing the Flamenco would actually be seen in. What was the idea behind the dress and how will the one that you will be wearing at the Eurovision Song Contest in May actually differ from it?

This dress divided people, some loved it some hated it.  To be honest I don’t care ither way.  I chose it myself and it was something outside my comfort zone, I generally spend my time in trousers and jeans, I love to be comfortable.  I enjoyed wearing something more flamboyant.  The dress for the Eurovision will be softer and more feminine, but you can’t really think that I am going to give my secrets away.  Afterall it will be more fun to wait and see in Oslo what I will be wearing.  As for flamenco dancing well, anyone who has seen me dance will know that certainly wasn’t my inspiration!

The song which you will be singing in Oslo on the 27th May 2010 and hopefully on the 29th May 2010 is a typical Irish ballad which bears the name “It’s For You”. What can you tell us about your song and how did the collaboration of the Eriksson’s from along with Niall Mooney and Jonas Gladnikoff, two of the people behind last years’ Irish entry come about as it seems quite interesting for these two teams to work together?

Well the background to the song is really Niall contacted me and we started talking about what it takes to do well in Eurovision.  Every year I get asked this question as I am sure other winners do too.  I firmly believed that a great song with a good singer would do well regardless.  So he asked what it would take for me to do it again and I said it would have to be the song.  Jonas and Niall have written together before and wrote last years Irish entry.  They came with some ideas and I gave my opinion.  I am not sure how they hooked up with Lina and Marten, but we are all so glad they came on board, because they brought It’s For You to me and it was love at first listen.   The writers are all very talented and we combine well I think.  We understand each other and that goes a long way when you are creating a piece of music.  I love to sing this song, it has a lot of heart.  It is the true nature of love for me.  I love that people want to sing it with me and so far there has been a fantastic response to it.  Who can ask for more than that?

The staging during the pre-selection was quite simple yet elegant and therefore quite effective to the overall presentation. Have you discussed with the Irish Broadcaster, RTE about the way on how the song will be transmitted across the screen in terms of choreography or backing vocalists amongst other features?

I am so glad you think so, I feel this song needs to be elegant.  It doesn’t need complicated staging.  Because it is strong in itself,  the planning has mostly been about lighting and costume.  It will be slightly different in staging as we will be on a much bigger stage.  But I feel it will be beautiful.  I am very lucky with the team we have.  The singers are fabulous, and the delegation is full of people who are great fun and work very hard.  I am proud to be a part of that.

It is quite interesting to note that the Irish Broadcaster, RTE has actually invested in a promotional tour having already made the trip to Bosnia & Herzegovina whilst confirmed for both events in Belgium and London. Do you have any other trips planned at the moment or will you be focusing more on the stage performance in the coming weeks instead?

I had planned to be in Sweden last week, but unfortunately the volcanic ash had other ideas, I was devastated as I was to do some more work with the writers there, as well as promoting the song.  But there is still Romania this weekend and Belgium and UK.  I would love to go everywhere but you just can’t and then maybe people would get sick of the sight of me!  By the beginning of May all the focus comes back here for rehearsals and perfecting our stage presentation.  I am really looking forward to all aspects.  It won’t be long until we are on our way to Oslo!

The Eurovision Song Contest has changed quite a bit since 1993 especially with the removal of live music from the event, the introduction of the “Big 4” featuring France, the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany as well as the points system which sees yet another change this year due to the introduction of the Juries within the semi-finals and therefore making the system 50% tele-voting and 50% Juries. Have you noted these changes and what is your opinion about them?

It is no secret that I miss the Orchestra, I love live music and rarely use tracks to sing with.  I always sing live unless there is no option.  I realize that it will be difficult to reinstate the orchestra, but I would love to see it back in.  I think the Big 4 are missing out a little as the people in Semi finals are seen twice if they qualify, but really I understand the previous winner must be in the final.  It would be bad form if the hosting country didn’t make the final.  I think Norway would have qualified this year anyway.  I am interested in seeing what change the 50/50 split makes in the semi-final, but it will be hard to compare what difference it will make.  I am sure the whole contest is different from my first time in 93 but I can’t wait to experience them all.

The Eurovision Song Contest has been ongoing for more than 50 years up till now and therefore has had numerous numbers of songs each year. Do you consider yourself a fan of the event and if so which entries would you consider as the best ever submitted, both Irish and international ones that is? In the meantime, have you heard any of the other songs competing in this years’ edition which is set to be staged within the city of Oslo in the confines of the Scandinavian nation of Norway?

I have watched Eurovision ever since I can remember.  I am always fascinated with the show each year and it has come to life even more since I started watching with my own children.  I have songs I love and songs I don’t but that would be true for most people.  Favorite songs are hard to pick.  Some I love to sing like Une Banc, une arbre, une rue by Severine.  But I find it hard to pick some out.  I have lots of fond memories for the entries from Ireland, especially the ones that represented us here.  For example Paul & Charlie and Rock and Roll kids. 

I have heard some of this years entries but I like to wait and see what everything looks like on the big stage, so much changes in between selection and Eurovision.  I am sure by the end of the contest we will be singing all of the songs.  I am hopeful this year we will at least qualify for the final, but who knows.   We will give it a good shot to be there.

Would you like to say anything to our readers at www.escflashmalta.com?

I would like to say that I have always had a soft spot for Malta, as you were very instrumental in my last win and of course over the years you have sent some amazing vocalists and songs.  I wish you all the very best and I hope that we will meet if not in someday, if not in Oslo then perhaps in Malta.  My very best wishes to Thea Garrett and I look forward to meeting you in Oslo.

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