As part of the coverage that we are focusing on for the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest, we have recently been in contact with Stella Mwangi who will be representing Norway in the biggest musical event in Europe. The singer/songwriter from Norway is looking forward to share her tune with all of the European viewers. She speaks to us about her career, her Eurovision participation and more in this exclusive interview.
It seems that everyone fell in love with you entry Stella as you were the instant favourite to win the Melodi Gran Prix. What was your reaction to this? Did it put extra pressure on you?
It was incredible! Winning the Melodi Grand Prix in Norway has transformed my dream to reality. I’ve been making music and releasing music for a long time. But Eurovision has helped me take it to the next level. I’m so grateful for this opportunity.
Most of the people now have heard your entry, but if you had to describe your entry to a fan what would you describe it and why do you think so many people fell in love with your entry as soon as they heard it?
My song Haba haba is filled with lots of positive energy and rhythms. The songs message is about celebrating every little step you take towards your dream. Haba Haba (Hujaza Kibaba) which is in Swahili means, Little by little fills up the measure. These are wisdom words that I got from my grandparents in Kenya.
Some critics and fans alike said that your entry is influenced by the World Cup song ‘Waka Waka’. What is your reaction to this? Do you look at this as a positive thing or a negative?
I actually take that as a compliment. But if you look at my discography you’ll see that my first solo single (Take it back) which I released in 2007 is filled with African rhythms such as Waka. I’ve always loved this music style. And I’m African, this is the type of music we sing and dance to! J
Your rise to fame within the Eurovision circle came with ‘Haba Haba’ but you have been in the industry for quite some time. Some of your work has in fact been picked up by Hollywood film producers. What can you tell us about this?
Yes this happened in 2002 when I met the producer Jay-arr and his artist The DNC. We wrote a lot of songs together, and then in 2005 Jay-arr moved to LA. And I guess we can say that he was ‘in the right place at the right time’. A publishing company known as Position Music and Choice Tracks heard some of our songs and fell in love with them. Not too long after Jay-arr called me and said that they had placed our songs on American Pie and CSI New York. And from then on we got our songs pitched in to Army wived, Scrubs and Las Vegas to name a few.
You are half Norwegian and half Kenyan and you seem to embrace this fact as you carry your heritage within your songs. How important do you think it is to always be faithful to your heritage and promote things you believe in?
When my family and I moved to Norway from Kenya in 1991, the first thing my parents told us (me and my siblings) was ‘when in Rome do as the romans do’. But it was still very important not to forget where we come from. That’s why my parents started teaching us our mother tongue after school from when I was 8 years. And I love them so much for that, because whenever I’m in Kenya I feel fully Kenyan, and when I’m in Norway I feel fully Norwegian.
Having hits beyond the country you live in is sometimes difficult but you also managed to achieve this feat. What was the secret to this success and which countries did you manage to delve into?
I’ve always been the type to have Plan A, B C. I knew that I had to do as much as I could to elevate. I started releasing my music in Norway but felt like it went kind of slow, so that’s why I decided to release my songs in Africa at the same time. Working this way, made me become a true Go getter and kept catching every opportunity I got.
Apart from being a singer you are also a rapper. If you had to chose just one of them, which profession would you chose and why? Do you believe that one of them brings out the real you more than the other?
I’ve always been a huge fan of music cause that’s the way I express myself. As long as I get to express myself then I don’t care whether I’m singing, rapping or dancing.
Back to the Eurovision Song Contest – it has been touted that this year’s musical event is one of the weakest contests in recent history. Did you hear this year’s entries? If yes, what is your idea on this and do you have any favourites apart from ‘Haba Haba’?
The songs I’ve heard so far are good and very different from each other. I believe the Eurovision show in Dusseldorf will be amazing, I can’t wait!
Malta will be represented by Glen Vella’s ‘One Life’. The Maltese song bears a simple positive message in it ‘Live and let live’ whilst your song also gives a very positive feeling. Did you hear the Maltese entry? What do you think about it?
I still haven’t gotten the time to listen to all the songs yet so haven’t heard this one. But I love music with a positive message so I’m looking forward to hear it.
Norway has won it recently with Alexander Rybak’s ‘Fairytale’ which boosted his career immensely. How are you looking at this experience? Do you think, that whatever the result is, your career will get an actual boost out of it?
Oh yes, no matter how it goes I feel like a winner already! Just winning the MGP in Norway was enough to get me where I wanted to be. I got a record deal, a new album on the way and a performing tour lined up. So I am more than happy, I am blessed.
How long have you been watching the Eurovision Song Contest? Do you consider yourself to be a fan of the contest? Do you have an all time favourite song – one that represented Norway and one from the actual Eurovision?
My family and I used to watch it a lot when I was younger. I remember promising myself that I would once stand on a stage like Eurovision. And here I am! 🙂
My all-time favorite is Bobbysock with ‘La det svinge’.
Would you like to pass on a message to your fans and readers at www.escflashmalta.com?
I hope my song Haba Haba will make y’all smile and dance! J For daily updates, please follow me on www.twitter.com/stellamwangi 😉