Malta: Interview with Neville Refalo (KKI 10,11,12,13)


Neville, a male vocalist whose connection with the Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza continues to grow with every year noting that this is his fourth consecutive participation. His career has definitely never hit a dead-end post considering that he has also represented the nation abroad on several occasions, making a name for himself and for Malta with a couple of successes. In this years’ edition of the Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza, he is performing the track Hemm Miegħek Jien composed by Minik with lyrics by Rita Pace. Just below, five questions have been asked by the editorial board of in order for you to get to know Neville a little bit better. Nevertheless, this is an interview and review with former Eurovision Song Contest representatives; Chris and Moira listening to all of the songs and passing their judgement. With regards to Neville, they stated that ‘despite the fact that the T’s sound prominent, it is a good rock tune and that the vocalist has good expression‘ offering seven (7) points.

Last year, you took to the stage of the Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza as part of a trio which also featured the likes of Claire Caruana and Ivan DeBattista in a stunning performance of the track Mhux L-Ewwel Darba composed by Augusto Cardinali to the lyrics of Giovann Attard. This was your first outing without being a soloist, something which many also believe as nervewrecking yet when looking back at your last two participations prior to that with the songs N.Com and Ħajt tal-Kenn both composed by Mark Spiteri Lucas to the lyrics of Rita Pace and Joe Chircop respectively. How did you approach the different performances and what different values did you take up from each experience?

To tell you the truth, last year’s performance was somewhat quite different from the other 2 previous years. Some people might say that in being a trio, the responsibility of the song is shared and so it could be a bit easier than being all alone on stage singing a whole song by yourself. I’d have to say it was quite the contrary! The fact that there are another 2 performers with you on stage adds many further responsibilities as if I make one small mistake which might influence the whole performance negatively, it wouldn’t be fair on my fellow singers on stage who would have given their heart out and see their performance ruined by someone else. This also meant more rehearsals to perfect the song and more difficulties in accommodating all available times for each other. However, as always, where there is a will there’s a way and we were very enthusiastic about how all went on stage. The result was also very encouraging as we came 4th overall. As a person I’m quiter relaxed, especially when performing on stage. In fact, in both previous occasions I didn’t have much problems in preparing both songs and performing them on stage. However last year, as you rightly said in your question, was quite nervewrecking but at the same time extreme fun!

Despite your several outings in local competitions, the Malta Eurovision Song Contest has somewhat eluded you for quite a couple of years having only managed to get through to the finals on one occasion, that also being in a trio alongside Rachel Fabri and Romina Mamo with the track We Can Do Better written by Carm Fenech. Firstly, it is important to point out that hundreds of submissions are received with the hope of making the international competition and therefore, many miss out but nevertheless, what was the feeling of getting through in 2005 and will you be trying to return in 2014?

Back in 2005, it was my first time that I had submitted a song in the MSFE and was ecstatic when on the first attempt I managed to go through, as I always regarded this festival as a big launching pad for a singer’s career. I remember jumping up and down the street when the composer called me to tell me that the song had passed. Nowadays, almost 8 years later I do look back at the festival as very important but not essential to someone’s career. During these past years I’ve managed to get quite a lot of satisfactory experiences both in local activities as well as abroad. I also managed to achieve many of the aims I aspired to when I first started singing some 12 years ago. To tell you the truth, I still wish that one day I pass for this festival as a solo artist as I believe it would be a totally different experience. If I’ll try in 2014 or not depends on many factors as I have quite an important year coming up due to other commitments but should a good opportunity or good song come up I won’t surely give up on it. I’ll wait and see!

Hemm Miegħek Jien, composed by Minik to the lyrics of Rita Pace is one of seven entries by this composer which many believe could be somewhat exhausting of their capacity to write tracks. As an artist, this is the first time that you are working with this duo in particular with your notable partner in song usually being Mark Spiteri Lucas who is also competing with three entries. Would you tell us something about your song and why you felt the reason to work with someone else rather than stick to a formula which has been rather successful?

Hemm Mieghek Jien, this was quite an occasional song. I have to say that I wasn’t going to participate in this year’s festival as I thought that being part of it for the last 3 years was enough for me. However, Minik called me and asked me to listen to this song he had composed as it suited my style of voice. I immediately liked the tune. We twisted and tweaked some parts of it till we found the final result. Since it was the first time that I was working with Minik, it made it all the more different from what I usually had. We gave the song to Rita who, as usual, wrote great lyrics to it with a rather difficult topic. The subject the song talks about is those people who are considered different in society. They might be disabled, gay or just considered inferior. It’s a very positive song which encourages these people never to give up and stand up to be counted!

As one of the judges during the competition Passport 2 Indifest organised by Spiteri Lucas Entertainment in accordance with the regulations stipulated by the committee of the Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza, you were responsible in whittling down the artists who ultimately came to the selection of Marie Claire Attard Bason and Karen DeBattista with the latter being selected to join the elite competition. Ultimately, the former managed to get through the typical submission process. Do you believe that they both merit their place in the competition?

During the competition Passport 2 Indifest this year, the level of singers was very high. I dare to say even higher than last year. It was extremely difficult to choose who was the best from the final 4. You can imagine how much more difficult it was to select a singer in the final. Both singers were extremely good and the final decision was taken due to very small things which ultimately made Karen prevail. However they were very close. I was very happy to see Marie Claire in the final selection as she is also a very good singer with a lot of potential. This made me feel a bit less guilty after she wasn’t chosen from our competition.

Would you like to say anything to our readers at

I don’t want to be repetitive as I know that many others have said it but I wish to say a very big thank you to this site for supporting local talent the way it does. I also wish to thank all those who have supported me over the years as it was cause of them that I am still in the business. This is not an easy job but all fans of Maltese music make the journey worthwile. Thanks!


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