Scaling the upper echelons of the local music industry, one would note that certain artists have reached degrees of success which are yet to be matched by anyone else. In recent weeks, we spoke to none other than Joseph Calleja, the tenor who is being hailed as the next Luciano Pavarotti and who has just entered the British Charts but moving onto a more contemporary artist who scaled success within the pop music industry, one would note one individual, who goes by the name of Kevin Borg.
Leaving the Maltese Islands and heading to the Scandinavian nation of Sweden, to pursue new ventures in life, one in love and one in music, he managed to win the musical reality television series, Idol in 2008 and went onto sign a recording contract with Sony Music which propelled him to fame and success. We speak to Kevin about what he has been doing in these past three years and what plans he has for the upcoming future.
The local Maltese Islands are somewhat extremely limited in vying for a profession within music and this is due to the fact that there are no real opportunities for talented musicians. You have managed to come out of a cage and reach for the stars by going to a nation which has a solid music industry which is based on a wide variety of recording labels, some of which are actually the subsidiary of the more well known recording companies based in the United States. How do you think that we can go about the problem here in Malta and how did you find the courage to leave the country and start a new life, somewhere quite far away?
First of all I’d like to thank you for this interview. Well, I think that Malta has a huge amount of talented artists but the problem might be that there’s a great lack of advertisement in Europe or worldwide for the artists. One huge example would be Itunes !! I was so happy that my new single was being launched on Itunes worldwide and I was so happy to be able to tell all the Maltese people that Sunrise was coming out. When the single was launched I realized my single was launched in almost every country that has Itunes but Malta doesn’t have an Itunes music page..There’s only app store… so very few people know when Maltese artists launch an album or a single cause they have to go through the English site. It would be a huge improvement for the fame of the artists in Malta as well cause Malta is still a very good market .. Maltese people love music and have a great ear for it as well. I found the courage to come to Sweden cause I couldn’t stay away from the woman I loved 🙂
Looking back through the midst of time, your success in Malta was also gaining credibility before you left for Sweden managing to make it to the finals of the national selection on two occasions, the first of which was in 2006 with the song entitled ‘You’re My Dream’ composed by Jason Paul Cassar and penned by Sunny Aquilina finishing in eight place and the second one coming in 2007 under the title ‘Whenever’ also composed by Jason Paul Cassar and penned by Sunny Aquilina and this time finishing in fourth place. What could you tell us about these entries and will the festival see you in another occasion, sometime soon?
Those where great times 🙂 My takeoff !! I can say that I met a lot of producers and songwriters so far in my career, and I’m honored to have worked with Jason and Sunny, two of the most talented people I’ve ever met. I actually learned a lot from both cause nowadays apart from touring and musicals and so on I’m a songwriter/producer as well and I write a lot of songs with different producers .. mostly with Simon Snow who produced and wrote the new single Sunrise with me.Another person that helped me boost my career a lot is Maestro Joe Brown whom I respect a lot and is one of the best pianists in the world for me!! It would be great to write and produce songs for Maltese artists as well in the future.But of course the first priority is performing which I love doing !! It would be great to guest the festival someday as well 🙂
The introduction of a number of musical reality television series such as Pop Idol, Popstars and the X Factor amongst others have proven to be quite popular with people from all around the world and the format has been sold to a number of broadcasters with the aim of presenting it within their respective nation. In Sweden, one of the most followed broadcasters, TV4, took up the format and has continuously seen stars come out of the show. The alumni include none other than Mans Zelmerow, Sibel Redzep, Agnes Carlsson and Sebastian Karlsson amongst others. What made you take part within the competition and did you even think that you would be able to win noting that you were not a native Swede?
I sat one day watching Tv with Sofia and the commercial came on. “If you wanna take part in Idol the Auditions will take part in Luleå” which is almost 2 hours by car from where I lived before. She was like “Come on !! You have to take part ” I didn’t know how to say my name in Swedish back then so I was terrified haha !! But we drove and made it to the audition and thank god almighty I managed to learn Swedish during the whole process of the program and I won hehe :). That was cool !!
The prize for winning the competition was one which many were hoping to get actually because it is not every day that you get a recording contact with Sony Music, which is one of the most influential backdrops that the global music industry looks up to in terms of quality. Just months into your victory, you released your debut album actually bearing the name ‘The Beginning’ which peaked at position #3 and was certified gold with sales of 10,000 copies. The success of such an album merits a number of people who worked hard to get it on the shelves but what sort of input did you have in the making of this compilation and were you happy with the final output especially considering the success of your first two singles ‘With Every Bit of Me’ and ‘Streetlights’, both of which were top ten success in the Swedish charts?
Of course. It’s a great achievement for me. One of the things that boosted up my career was that I was not afraid to ask if I could write 2 songs from the album. From then on I was the one choosing the songs with help from people close to me as well.
Despite reaching fame in Sweden quite quickly, you have definitely not forgotten your routes and have made it to Malta on a couple of occasions, giving concerts and signing copies of your debut album and that is something that has been very much appreciated by the local public. In fact, late in 2009, the committee of the Malta Music Awards not only decided to nominate you for the honour of Best Local Male Artist but eventually also gave you the award signaling the success you have reached representing our nation in the best possible manner. You could not be at the ceremony but sent a video message instead and it was quite warm actually. What were your thoughts when you were bestowed such an honour and do you still hold it within your highest regard?
OH YESS !! I love that award and I was devastated that I couldn’t be there. The award is placed in my studio so a lot of people that I work with ask me about it and I proudly talk about it lots of times. When I came to Malta to promote my new album I was not expecting to see so much people there. When I arrived at Valletta and saw so many Maltese people there wanting to buy my album made it one of the best days of my career.From my heart I thank everyone that was there and those who couldn’t make it as well.. I appreciate it so much and I hope it happens again next year and the year after and etc..etc.. I will never forget where I come from !!
In the past couple of months, things have been somewhat quiet with you taking up roles within a number of projects related to musical theater including High School Musical and even more recently Grease but at the very same time you were working on your brand new material which we eventually got to listen to just a couple of weeks ago on local airwaves and through the internet where people can download their own copy through a number of online music retailers including ITunes amongst others. What could you tell us about performing within these productions and how does this new single differ from what you have released in the past in terms of genre?
The quite time was during the time where I had the chance to sit and work in the studio while producing and writing new music. When I do something it has to be good even if it takes 2 years if you know what I mean, so I was definitely not on a vacation as some think hehe. We came up with a lot of different songs but at the end we chose Sunrise cause it felt the right moment for the song. It went up on the Swedish charts after a few days and I was soooo happy 🙂 Simon Snow my co-writer/producer told me last week that it started playing on radio stations in Hong Kong as well… And friends tell me that it’s being played in Malta too and I really love that !!. When we started working on the song .. I had in mind that it had to have a current sound and easy to listen to with some crazy touches here and there. The story of the song is about a girl that loses her boyfriend and his soul flies to heaven where he finds this club that’s open non stop. He tells her wake up to the sunrise , if you wake up and you’re flying high, if you show up in the after life , I will run to you.In short words he’s assuring her not to be scared when the time comes for her too cause he will be there waiting to take her to this 24/7 club. I thought it was a sweet idea 🙂 Hope you think so too hehe.
We will be working soon again on new material so we can keep it flowing and I will also be doing a Christmas song if I manage in time cause I will be having a very busy autumn and winter… I would really like to do something which involves some Maltese lyrics in as well… that would cool. As you wrote very well, in September I will be playing the role of Danny Zuko in the musical Grease and at the moment I’m spending almost all of my time running around trying to learn my lines.. it’s not as easy to learn a whole manuscript but it usually flows in after a while. I like to take challenges like these on the side of my career sometimes cause I learn a lot when I take part in a musical.It makes me stronger as an artist when I’m on stage as my own self afterwards which is primary my job. A day after Grease ends It will be time for the premiere of the Christmas show I will be taking part in which is called I Jule Tid (Christmas Time). It will be very intense. We will be doing up to 40-42 concerts in 40 days and that will be like a show or two a day from the south of Sweden all the way up to the very north. It will be very exciting.
One of the most popular shows in Sweden is none other than the Melodifestivalen, the Swedish national selection or the annual Eurovision Song Contest and there have been reports in the past that you have been contacted with the opportunity to take part as a wildcard recipient courtesy of none other than Christer Bjorkman who is the executive producer of the event and also the head of delegation. Songs which make it within the competition are highly regarded normally and manage to storm up the charts quite quickly. Does the idea of representing Sweden within the Eurovision Song Contest entice you and has a proposal to take part been put forward in the past or not?
Melodifestivalen is a very big show here in Sweden and people watch it more than they watch the actual eurovision. It gives a great push to tour on the following year cause the songs play a lot on radios here. I thought quite a lot about that these last few months and who knows ?? hehe ..
Winning the right to represent Malta within the biggest annual event in music within the confines of Europe was none other than Glen Vella who many know is a very good friend of yours and of course a former colleague having worked together on a number of occasions especially during the show ‘Kalamita’ through ONE Television. He presented the song ‘One Life’ composed by Paul Giordimaina and penned by Fleur Balzan to the rest of Europe finishing in eleventh place within the first semi-final failing to make it to the grand final by just one point. What was your take on the song and did you believe that he should have made it to the finals of the competition?
Glen is one of my nearest friends and a great artist whom I have a lot of respect for. Personally I think the song should have made it through , not because he’s a friend of mine but it was much better than songs that passed. I’m usually always busy when the eurovision comes but this year I was like magnetized to the tv and cheering for Glen as if I were there watching. He was good and it doesn’t matter if you win or lose as long as you do a great advert for yourself as an artist as he did.
The life of a recording artist is somewhat very interesting but it is also extremely demanding and yet you have managed to tackle things quite well thanks to your management. In the past couple of weeks, the woman who stole your heart and took you away from Malta, Sofia became your wife and this was surely another highlight in your career, now that you have another role in your life. In the meantime, with the release of a brand new single, it seems that we will not be waiting that long for you to drop off an album within the scene. It is still August at the present moment and Kevin Borg seems to be headlining a full scale comeback so what more should we expect out of the talented individual?
Yes 🙂 I got married and it feels great !! 🙂 Apart from being my wife , Sofia is my manager too and she works really hard. Some people ask me , “ISn’t it hard to differ from relationship and work when you’re at home ” It’s quite easy actually 🙂 We have a rule that we can talk about work until 6pm and then we relax hehe. Yes I will be working in the studio starting next week again and I’m looking forward to come up with more singles and albums hopefully very soon !!
Would you like to say anything to our readers and your fans at www.escflashmalta.com?
I would like to thank you for asking me great questions. I would like to say a big thanks to my Maltese fans at escflashmalta and I appreciate your support always !! It’s so cool that a lot of Maltese people follow me on my Facebook page and my official website which can be accessed through the hyperlinks on them. For all those interested into buying my new single Sunrise you can visit this link here on Amazon. Thank you all once again and you’ll be hearing from me soon !! Sahha !! Kevin