Exclusive: Sabina Babayeva (Azerbaijan 2012) speaks to escflashmalta.com

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Over the past couple of months, one could easily note that we have been in direct contact with a number of performers in this years’ Eurovision Song Contest to bring you all of the latest updates prior to the competition itself which will be taking place in the next couple of weeks. The next artist to have found the time to speak to our team is none other than Sabina Babayeva who will be representing the host country of  Azerbaijan and will also be coming over to Malta in the next couple of days in order to promote her entry entitled When the Music Dies which we will be reading about into more detail. Within this interview, she speaks about the choice of the Azeri people in terms of artist and then also the song which was put forth by a panel of professional people.

One of the most interesting points about the Eurovision Song Contest is that it brings about the interest of well known performers along with those who are yet to commence their career in the industry. The possibility of success following the event is very much still existant noting that massive positive accalim that Lena still receives after winning the music showcase back in 2010 with the song ‘Satellite’. You come into this competition with a backdrop of interesting performances, but one has to note that you did try to represent Azerbaijan last year eventually finishing in third place though and thus missing out on the ticket. What do you recall of the experience and would you have done anything different today?

I believe that everything happens for a reason. The competition is never easy. Every year lots of talented people try their best to win. And the only thing you can do is to work hard and give it a hundred percent. I think I was ready this year. It is unbelievable how happy I am right now to have this opportunity. I’ve still got a lot of work ahead of me. But I am indeed enjoying it.

Looking back at the history of Azerbaijan at the Eurovision Song Contest, one would see that the relatively new country has made strides of positive acclaim in recent years with their debut back in 2008 with the song ‘Day After Day’ performed by Elnur & Samir holding the record for achieving the worst placing for the nation thus far but then again, it was still an extraordinary start by virtue of finishing in eight place. In the next couple of years, the country would be close to victory with the likes of Aysel & Arash as well as Safura but it was down to the duet between Ell & Nikki with the song ‘Running Scared’ to achieve victory. When you look at such history, does it put a lot of pressure on you personally to follow in their footsteps and achieve another positive result? You see how we climbed our way to the top?

It is because we all come from the Land of Fire. We are all passionate about what we do and we never give up. I feel that I have a huge responsibility on me. And it’s definitely going to be tough to top Ell/Nikki’s success, because I think they both were just perfect together. I’ll be different. Our songs are different. They were romantic. And I will be alone on the stage (of course, together with my performance team). I have absolutely different song and story! Music is my love. I thank God that I’ll be performing in my home city – Baku. So I am sure that the pressure of great results will be compensated with the fact that I perform at my home soil. Anyway for me the most important thing is to give a great performance for the audience.

The song that you will be presenting in the finals of this years’ Eurovision Song Contest is entitled ‘When the Music Dies’ and it is quite different to what has been presented by Azerbaijan in the past though what is intriguing is that you are working with Anders Bagge, Sandra Bjurman, Stefan Örn and Johan Kronlund who have between them also written the songs ‘Drip Drop’ for Safura in 2010 and ‘Running Scared’ for Ell & Nikki in 2011. The choice of the song was mostly an internal issue with Ictimai being at the forefront of the decision but then again, did you have a say when it came to the final choice and do you believe that the song itself speaks the message that you would like to send across with your vocals?

I think a lot of people in the world had this struggle to keep their relationships alive. And this song is about that. We are afraid that the music might die with these relationships. But it won’t, because our love doesn’t go away. Our love is like music. It never dies. People might come and go, but the music is going to stay with us. The music is what keeping us alive. It’s an ultimate power to keep going. That’s the message I would like to share. It was written for me and I feel this song with every bit of my heart. 

Following the Azeri victory last year, it was somewhat apparent that Ictimai would be re-launching their artist selection show to make sure that the chosen name represented the best interests of the country through a weekly system of voting. You managed to get through your heat which took place in the seventh week of the proceedings and then also from within the semi-final stage of the competition. During the grand final which only comprised of five performers, you came out on top. Such an event was surely one which you will never forget as it will keep to mind especially when getting the opportunity to represent your country on home soil. There were some exceptional performances which the competing acts gave yet did you believe that you could actually finish at the winner at the end of the final itself and from within the final, what were your thoughts on the Maltese representative?

The whole process of the competition was overwhelming. So the only thing I could do is to stay true to myself and do my best. I had a dream to get to Eurovision Song Contest and I won. It’s an awesome feeling. I think it is great. And I think that Kurt Kalleja is beyond great.  He is so handsome and I would be happy to perform with him on one stage. Our songs are so much different. My song is very sensitive and emotional. And “This is the Night” is very positive and make you want to dance. I love the fact how different they are. So we’ll see how it goes. 

Age normally comes before beauty yet one has to note that you manage to encompass, the best of both worlds as they would say by looking gorgeous and still quite young. Nevertheless, you are not new to the music industry and looking through what you have achieved thus far is quite incredible with a host of international opportunties. There have been a number of competitions which you have fronted throughout the years including ones in Russia and Latvia amongst others. When taking part in such an international forum, what do you believe is one thing that the jury will be on the look out for and do you believe that such experiences help the artist develop better or do they give no general support to the growth of one’s up and coming career?

I think it all depends on the song itself and the fact how the performer delivers it on stage. And Eurovision Song Contest’s history is the best proof to that. It is always surprising and unpredictable. I think there is no formula. You just have to do your best. And your age has no advantage or disadvantage whatsoever.  It’s all about you and your song.  

The preparations for the Eurovision Song Contest commenced quite a hefty amount of time ago yet the interest stars growing at this point in time now that the draw of the running order is held during the Heads of Delegation Meeting which also marks the fact that all of the respective song choices have been presented to the European Broadcasting Union. In the past, the event had been touted to be the one based on the song and despite this status weakening at some points, due to the importance of the visual presentation but it seems that it is gaining such credibility once more. Have you thought about the way that you will be presenting the song to the millions of people watching from all of the world or are certain things still up in the air?

We are working on that right now. So I will not give you any details about my performance so far. The only thing I can say is that you’ll see some sensual material on stage. I feel really connected to that song. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgY9EJUH-h8

As just pointed out, the draw for the running order has already been organized and one of the key elements of the Eurovision Song Contest is the placing of where the song is performed due to the fact that it might stand out either on it’s own merit or even so benefit from the songs that are performed either before it or after it. When it comes to the finalists, this is only known following the respective semi-finals when the representatives f the countries, draw their own starting positions from a respective pot. You will be performing in thirteenth position in the final, a number which is considered unlucky or lucky. What do you think of the draw and do you think it will have an impact on the result?

I would probably freak out if I were superstitious. But I am not. In fact 13 is my lucky number! I have performed of few festivals under 13 tag and won them! (Smiles) So you never know! It really doesn’t matter if you are number two or twenty two. It’s a song contest. So the only thing that matters here is how you perform. If the audience will like your song you win. It’s that simple.  

Would you like to say anything to your fans and our readers at escflashmalta.com?

I’d like to say thank you to my fans for their love and support. I know that Malta has become  a great friend of Azerbaijan. It means a lot for me. It’ gives me extra strength to do my best. And I’d like to invite all of your readers from Malta to come to Baku for Eurovision 2012. Our city is incredibly beautiful and full of history. The main thing about Azerbaijan an Azeri people is our hospitality. You’ll feel yourself like home. See you soon!

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