Exclusive: escflashmalta Speaks to Kurt Calleja (Malta 2012)Written by Marc Calleja Bayliss
The 2012 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest is just a couple of weeks away and most of the countries are currently working on their promotional strategy in order to gain credibility in a number of countries and therefore, they set themselves up for television and radio appearances along with conducting a number of interviews with magazines, journals, newspapers and even websites. It is always a privilege to gain access to an artist and this is the case with Kurt Calleja who will be representing our very own country of Malta. What is quite intriguing that the artist is somewhat still a newcomer to the local music scene making only appearances in this competition in terms of background having missed out on the finals of the 'Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza' won by Amber just two years ago. Nevertheless, his rise to national stardom is attached to a sensible character and a brilliant vocal teamed up with dashing good looks according to the comments roaming around the internet. Following the release of the video and the final version of the song, it is quite smashing that the Maltese representative found some time to speak to us exclusively on www.escflashmalta.com with this being his first web-based interview.
Kurt Calleja came into the local music scene just three years ago when entering a reality singing competition entitled 'Don't Stop Me Now' hosted by Eileen Montesin on a private television station but his first successful venture was surely the 2010 edition of the Maltese national final when he had entered in a duet with Kaya entitled 'Waterfall' composed by Marco Debono and penned by Rita Pace. Despite the mid-table result, you continued to grow as an artist and would ultimately try your luck with the song 'Over and Over' which was written by you and Johan Jämtberg finishing in an astonishing third place. The story from then onwards is now the talk on everyone’s' lips but when looking back, how would you sum up your competitive experience thus far?
It has been interesting. I think the reason singers compete is not merely to win but also to meet people who can potentially help them move forward in their music career. That is the reason I ever entered competitions like Don’t Stop Me Now, Orfeo in Italia and naturally the Malta Eurovision Song Contest. I got to meet a bunch of people I used to always see on tv and now they are my friends and I got to meet big celebrities like: Blue, Cocciante, Zucchero. Now in Eurovision I will be meeting Englebert Humperdink and Jedward too – who knows what else is in store?
This is an interesting question. I am not a set designer or a tv producer nor will I pretend to be one. I am a singer and thus my personal experience in these last two Malta Eurovisions have been great. I liked the sound, the design, the somewhat stricter rules (which I agreed with 100%) and that it all looked awesome on TV.
When the list of semi-finalists of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest was announced, you were ecstatic in having made it with the song ‘This Is The Night’ co-written between Johan Jämtberg, Mikael Gunnerås and yourself but what is remarkable is that the song changed quite a hefty bit from the initial previews recorded by the Public Broadcasting Services to the one presented at the Malta Fairs and Conventions Centre. Some people even went on record stating that it was a different song but this was definitely not the case. Each year, there are a number of tracks which go through alterations prior to the selection so basically I understand the process but for the benefit of the people, why did the song change so much and do you believe that it required such an important overhaul?
I had several song offers so I rounded my band and we did a mini-Eurovision in my rehearsal studio. We listened to each song and asked ourselves: “Is this a potential Eurovision entry?” We would cringe at some, and enjoy some others but really we were eagerly awaiting Johan’s song because he is part of the team – the official band composer if you please. When we received ‘This is the Night’ and we liked the tune immediately. At the time, I was flat broke and even though I loved ‘This is the Night’ I couldn't afford the recording and the submission fee so I emailed Johan saying that as much as I loved the song, I don’t have the resources to record it. Then Chris (my lead guitarist) said: Why don’t we record it in our rehearsal studio and submit it like so? So we did, now bear in mind, we are just musicians not sound or studio engineers. Then when it made it through we thought – ok we need to work on it if we want to even stand a chance. So we re-did it and without this remake I can actually state, we wouldn’t have even made it through the semi-final probably.