22 September 2017

In 2014, France 3 decided to host a selection process for their participation in the Eurovision Song Contest, making it their first in seven years since Les Fatals Picards and their entry L’Amour à la Français. One of the three (3) shortlisted artists, Joanna has just given an interview to eurovision-quotidien where she revealed that her entry Ma Liberté (My Freedom) is composed by Philip Vella with lyrics by Gerard James Borg. Nevertheless, she will be performing the song in French and has thus enlisted the services of Yann Guilon.

Philip Vella and Gerard James Borg, the most successful songwriters in Malta when it comes to the Eurovision Song Contest with no less than five entries to their name; Desire (2000), 7th Wonder (2002), On Again .. Off Again (2004), Vertigo (2007) and Vodka (2008) have competed in other international selections in the past, including in The Netherlands with Ebonique and their entry Heatwave (2003), finishing in fourth place and in Norway with the track Absolutely Fabulous performed by Queentastic (2007) managing a third place finish. 

This news comes in just after Ally, Elton Zarb and Natasha Turner made it to the Lithuanian finals as songwriters. Joanna will be competing alongside Twin Twin and Destan for the right to represent France at the 2014 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest set to take place in Copenhagen, Denmark. The songs will officially be presented on the 26th January 2014 during the programme Les Chansons D’Abord hosted by former representative; Natasha St-Pier on France 3. We urge you to stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all of the latest news.

Source: eurovision-quotidien

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Wednesday, 15 January 2014 06:30

MESC 2014: Reviewing the track ‘Hypnotica’

In 2014, the Public Broadcasting Services, responsible for Malta’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest decided to conduct a national final with just twenty (20) entries, rather than the typical twenty-four (24) which many had become accustomed to in recent years. Promotion is always vital, and escflashmalta.com has sent each entry to a professional panel of individuals in the music industry, who have in turn passed on their comments. This year, we have asked the likes of John Scott from the United States, Martin Isherwood from the United Kingdom, Sharon Vaughn from the United States but based in Sweden, Stano Simor from the Czech Republic and Greig Watts from the United Kingdom to do the honours. Today’s review is centred on Hypnotica, composed by Philip Vella to the lyrics of Gerard James Borg with vocals provided by the group Jessika.

Jessika, one of the most popular artists in the local music scene for the time being, mostly due to her main role in the hit television series, Il-Klikka which airs Thursday nights on ONE. Following her debut at the Malta Eurovision Song Contest back in 2008 with the track Tangled composed by Philip Vella to the lyrics of Gerard James Borg, she has never looked back and made it through to the live stages on a further three occasions; in 2011 with Down Down Down which she co-wrote with Philip Vella; in 2012 with Dance Romance also co-written with Philip Vella and finally with Ultraviolet composed by Philip Vella and Thomas G:son to the lyrics of Gerard James Borg in 2013. Amongst the vocal coaches that Jessika has had the pleasure to work with, there have been none other than Seth Riggs and Joshua Alamu, the latter having just released a duet with Valentina Monetta.

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Philip Vella and Gerard James Borg, the most successful songwriters in Malta, having been given the opportunity to represent the country in the Eurovision Song Contest on no less than five (5) occasions, all of which came in the past decade; kicking things off with Desire in 2000, and moving onto 7th Wonder in 2002, On Again .. Off Again in 2004, Vertigo in 2007 and Vodka in 2008, respectively. It has been six (6) years since their last victory and whilst they have been close, most notably with Claudia Faniello and her entry Pure back in 2012, they are yet to head over to the international competition for a sixth (6th) time. Apart from being a successful combination on a local level, it is well worth pointing out that they have also achieved national final success in Norway and The Netherlands where their entries managing third and fourth place, respectively.

The Critics Speak Out

Rating: 65%

John Scott: Reminds me a lot of the 2012 winner ‘Euphoria’, but I feel it’s not as strong. The vocals are not strong at all. Overall, it is not a great or memorable performance.

Martin Isherwood: Nice raincoat style dress. I'm in Hypnotica'? Where is that? Is this in English? Some strange lyrics - seven shades of you? Something’s roaming over my …? Shades of the David Guetta – Titanium. Given the 2012 winner 'Euphoria', it's probably not going to be a winner, but it is a decent track.

Sharon Vaughn: Again, an over-used approach but this somehow moves into pure Eurovision territory. A little too close to Euphoria on the title line, but very commercial.

Stano Simor: Jessika looks very good on stage. She also has a nice strong voice. I believe that Hypnotica should be at least one tone lower, in order to fit better with the colour of her voice. Definitely a very good dance song and with the right performance, it will look great on screen.

Greig Watts: Opening riff is reminiscent of Cry for you by September but just in feeling not in notes. I like the song, I worry that this will be performed well live though as not all dance songs come across well live, also from an English lyric perspective, what is Hypnotica?

Source: Public Broadcasting Services, escflashmalta.com

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Published in Opinions

In the local music industry, Gerard James Borg does not require any introduction, having been responsible to penning the lyrics for no less than five entries, the last of which was back in 2008, entitled Vodka performed by Morena to the composition of Philip Vella. He was also partly responsible for almost bringing the Eurovision Song Contest to Malta, noting that he wrote the lyrics of 7th Wonder, runner-up at the international event back in 2002 with vocals by Ira Losco and music by Philip Vella once more. Despite his focus still on songwriting, he has a brand new project, one in the form of a book, entitled Sliema Wives.

The novel is a fast paced work of fiction set in the beautiful town of Sliema and promises to be exciting and intriguing.  Five local women have been nominated for The Woman of The Year Award by an elite fashion publication, LUSHLIFE. One wins; four lose. But in the run to the award there are many things going on in this thrilling and entertaining mix which is also flavoured with passing mentions of local personalities. And since the author is a known name in the Eurovision circle we also find some Eurovision related gossip in one of the chapters. The book, published by Midsea Books is available from all leading bookstores in Malta and Gozo and €2 from each sale will go towards Puttinu Cares.

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At the moment, Gerard James Borg is preparing for another edition of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, as four (4) of his entries got through to the semi-final stage of the competition. This is extraordinary and continues to show the prowess of the individual on the local arts stage. He has garnered traction all over the continent having also competed in several other national selections including in Norway, The Netherlands and Belgium. We urge you to stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all of the latest news about the local music scene and the esteemed individuals who represent the nations’ past, present and future.

Source: Press Release

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Published in Latest News - Local

Last year, Melanie Zammit made her debut within the Malta Eurovision Song Contest with a song entitled Loverdose co-written by Maria Lundin, Niclas Lundin and Gerard James Borg. Despite being one of the public favourites, finishing in fifth place in the escflashmalta.com poll which saw to Chris Grech being awarded the coveted Public Award, the track failed to make it to the final stage of the competition.

The editorial board at escflashmalta.com can indeed confirm that Melanie Zammit will not be submitting an entry for the Malta Eurovision Song Contest 2014. During a number of chats held with the female vocalist, she stated on more than one occasion that she is currently busy with other projects. We would like to wish her the very best and hope for her return in future years. This is the third former Malta Eurovision Song Contest contestant to confirm absence for next years' event together with former runner-up Klinsmann and veteran Nadine Axisa. More stories will be revealed by escflashmalta.com in the coming days. 

Source: Melanie Zammit, escflashmalta.com

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Published in Latest News - Local

Richard Edwards, first runner-up at the Malta Eurovision Song Contest in 2011 with the track Finally which he co-wrote with Jan Van Dijck is the latest vocalist to confirm his intentions to return to the pre-selection process. It does not really come as a surprise denoting that the male artist has been ever so present in the competition since his success, being a finalist in 2012 and 2013 with the tracks Look At Me Now co-written with Jan Van Dijck, Fall Like Rome composed by Philip Vella and Magnus Kaxe to the lyrics of Gerard James Borg and a duet with Petra entitled Wonderful Today a co-write with Wayne Micallef.

Richard Micallef took to his personal account through Social Networking website, Facebook stating 'Just finished two new songs that I will submit for the Malta Eurovision Song Contest. Something different from what I normally write ... I feel like I need to change it up a bit...' This is actually good news, and somewhat bodes well especially following the disappointing announcements made by Nadine Axisa and Klinsmann who will not be submitting any entries for the upcoming edition of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest. Submissions will be received by the Public Broadcasting Services at the Creativity Hub between the 30th and the 31st October 2013. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all of the latest news.

Source: escflashmalta.com

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Published in Latest News - Local

In 2007, Klinsmann made his debut within the Malta Eurovision Song Contest with the track She Gives Me Wings composed by Mark Spiteri Lucas to the lyrics of Rita Pace and for the next six consecutive years found his way into at least the semi-final stage of the competition. In fact, his last participation was earlier this year as he presented a track entitled The Remedy composed by Philip Vella and Magnus Kaxe with lyrics by Gerard James Borg.

escflashmalta.com is in a position to confirm that after seven consecutive years, Klinsmann will not be submitting a song for the Malta Eurovision Song Contest 2014. On a post on his Official Page on Facebook, he stated 'I'm not gonna take part as a performer this year. I'm gonna give it a miss after 7 consecutive years.' Technically speaking, it could very much mean that Klinsmann could join another act on stage as a band member or possibly co-write an entry, something which he is getting accustomed to do alongside his band, Planet Seed. This is the second former Malta Eurovision Song Contest to confirm absence from the event at the first hurdle following the likes of Nadine Axisa. More stories will be unveiled by escflashmalta.com in the coming days, so stay tuned.

Source: escflashmalta.com, Emil Calleja Bayliss (Image)

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Published in Latest News - Local
Sunday, 01 September 2013 18:20

Malta: Olivia Lewis Kept Busy During Summer

Olivia Lewis, Malta's representative at the 2007 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Vertigo composed by Philip Vella to the lyrics of Gerard James Borg has somewhat been busy in the past couple of weeks with several guest appearances. One of her most recent was on the programme Indifest hosted by Christine Haber and Mark Azzopardi and broadcast on NET Television. The programme which accompanies the annual Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza is supported by escflashmalta.com and invites special guests to add to the entertainment. Olivia Lewis has the opportunity to perform one of her signature tracks and she decided to sing Fil-Fond tal-Qalb composed by Paul Abela to the lyrics of Joe Julian Farrugia.

Amongst the guests which have been invited to the programme in recent weeks, there have been one other than former Eurovision Song Contest representatives; Gianluca and Kurt Calleja who both promoted their debut albums, Waiting for Tomorrow and Love on Mars as well as Kevin Paul Calleja, Amber, Maxine Pace, Mary Rose Mallia, Christabelle, Lyndsay and The Greenfields. Olivia Lewis is reportedly set to return to the local music scene with rumours going round stating that she might be looking to submit within the International Festival of Maltese Song. In the past couple of days, she was an instrumental figure within the Pink Floyd Show in Żabbar as a backing vocalist alongside the likes of Talitha Dimech, Rachael Tedesco Triccas and Cheryl Camilleri amongst others. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all of the latest news.

Source: escflashmalta.com

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Published in Latest News - Local

Jessika, one of the younger vocalists in the local music scene with ample experience achieved within the festival circuit, having been a contender at the Malta Eurovision Song Contest on four occasions, reaching the final round on two of such occasions. In recent months, she has taken up a lead role on the television series Il-Klikka which has sparked her popularity even further and saw her place at an even better position at this years' showcase. escflashmalta.com has been in touch with the vocalist turned actress about her current career endeavours in both music and film.

Jessika, one of the fast rising stars in the local music industry especially following your latest participation within the Malta Eurovision Song Contest where you presented the track Ultraviolet composed by Philip Vella and Thomas G:Son with lyrics provided by Gerard James Borg. This was the very first time that the trio has collaborated together on an original song and you were fronting their product, one which was very much appreciated by the public. What was your initial reaction when listening to the demo version of the song and do you have a clue to how the collaboration between such talented songwriters came about? 

I immediately fell in love and I think that’s quite important as it’s perceived by the audience when I’m performing it. Philip Vella and Gerard James Borg were always friends with Thomas G:Son but never had the chance to collaborate on something. This year they had the chance to do it and I was the lucky chosen one to perform the song Ultraviolet and I will always cherish the opportunity given as it was one of the greatest experiences so far.   

In 2008, Jessika formerly known as Jessica Muscat made it through to the Malta Song for Europe for the very first time and the blonde haired, green wearing lady took to the stage in a supposedly angry manner as she performed the track Tangled composed by Philip Vella to the lyrics of Gerard James Borg. On that occasion, it was not meant to be and you did not get through to the final but so did a hefty amount of established artists including former Eurovision Song Contest representative; Mary Spiteri amongst others. Looking back, how did you view the experience and what would you have done differently?

It was my very first experience in a contest of that calibre and I performed in an energetic manner rather than an angry one, if I can correct you. I was still in my first year at University and looking back I find I did a good job in performing and doing exams at the same time. Thus getting an A and many more good grades and conjunctionally giving a good performance. That year, the set up of the contest was a bit different because only 8 of the 16 made it to the final round. Still an experience to remember and I believe that I learned a lot and grew a lot as an artist from my first experience.

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At this years’ edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, Malta was represented by Gianluca with the track Tomorrow co-written by Dean Muscat and Boris Cezek. Following both the performance of the semi-final and the final, Malta returned to the top ten for the very first time in eight years. The general public had not sought to send Gianluca to represent the nation at the international spectacle, opting to send Kevin Borg and his entry Needing You co-written with Thomas Thörnholm, Michael Clauss, Dan Attlerud and Simon Gribbe. What is your opinion on jury and public voting and do you agree with the current system?

I actually like the current system as it gives chance of expression from both the jury and the public voting. I always believe that a song and it’s singer should be judged by a team of experienced people in the music industry as they should know what is in, at the moment and other technicalities, on the other hand, I also believe that the public should have a say because at the end of the day it’s the same public who is buying and listening to the song and artist itself. 

During this years’ edition of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest, you were accompanied by a number of people on the main stage including Sean Vella on piano, as well as three female backing vocalists; Tezara Camilleri, Annabelle Debono and Yazmin Halledie. All the three have tremendous amount of experience in the industry especially Annabelle who accompanied Morena at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008, your debut year. Many people think that the choices of the backroom team might be somewhat random but clearly, everything is selected accordingly. How was the onstage team selected and do you see them take to the stage on their own?

I always choose my team really carefully and I do it together with my author and composer, this year I was very lucky and happy with my on stage team. It’s not only that I appreciate their vocal abilities but also their personality. There was never a dull moment this year and I believe it showed that we were enjoying our performances every time we were on stage. And yes I do see them all take to the stage on their own as I believe in them, their voices and personalities... why would I have chosen them huh?!!

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Apart from singing, the general public have now got used to seeing you on the television screens as you act out a leading role in the television series Il-Klikka created by V Squared Productions. We had the opportunity to introduce the series through escflashmalta.com in the beginning of the autumn/winter schedule and describe ourselves as true and avid followers. Your character is an aspiring performer who becomes part of a girl band, one which is set to take the nation by storm, hopefully also succeed abroad. Truthfully, how much do you relate to the actual storyline and on another note, would you actually be interested to become part of a girl band or would you rather be a solo performer?

I’m really enjoying the experience with Il-Klikka as I’m meeting many beautiful and talented people and it’s always great to have the publics’ support as it takes a lot of hard work and time from all the actors and the production team to have a television series to the liking of the audience. I sometimes see resemblance in my character and that of Audrey (played in the series) as I’m always aspiring to hit it big time as a singer. However in some other areas I find that I’m much more spontaneous and talkative rather than the silent and timid Audrey whom I believe I was a bit alike before I became a Spanish teacher... being a teacher makes you talk a lot to explain for the benefit of the students’ themselves. Since I began my singing career at the tender age of 6 years old, I always sang solo only on occasions I sang duets which I enjoyed as well. In life I’ve learned to never say never because no one knows what the future might hold. 

In just a year, you became a lead actress in a television series, a notable performer in the eyes of the public and the brand new recipient of a stage name, something that the local music industry seems to be adopting at a rather astonishing pace. Amongst the most notable stage names in Malta at the moment, there are surely the ones of Kaya (Priscilla Psaila) and Minik (Dominic Cini). You went from Jessica to Jessika and this is something that has also been very much respected by the public. How did you manage to have such a smooth transition in promoting yourself and do you think it was the right time to carry out this process?

I actually think that the new stage name isn’t that different from the real one and that is why I believe the transition was a good one. I also believe it happened at the right time, as together with my producer Paul Powell we were releasing the new single Golden ways not only in Malta but internationally and Muscat sometimes isn’t easily pronounced abroad.

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Davinia, second runner-up at this years’ edition of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest with the track Betrayed composed by Elton Zarb and penned by Matt Mercieca has already confirmed through the programme, TVPM that she will be submitting an entry into next years’ edition of the competition and therefore, you can imagine where this question is leading. With the support of the public, having garnered their fourth preference, are you interested in returning to next years’ edition of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest and if so, will you be working with the same mixture of local and foreign songwriters who helped you achieve your best result thus far?

I believe the Malta Eurovision Song Contest is one of the greatest platforms and in these last three years it always improved in all areas and I always liked the experiences I’ve had so far, therefore I might consider to take part again, however I have to make sure I’m competing with a good song as it’s my dream to represent Malta in the Eurovision Contest. I’m always up to working with authors and composers with a good product and I also collaborate therefore I’m hoping to have a good song to return again.

Would you like to say to the readers of escflashmalta.com?

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the readers that continuously show their support to the Maltese talent. It’s incredible that in this tiny island we’re blessed with so many talents. I believe that through your continuous support, artists like me can reach their dreams as it’s always awesome to have people appreciate what you’re doing.

Source: Official Facebook Page, Emil Calleja Bayliss (Image)

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Published in Interviews

In 2007, Olivia Lewis represented Malta in the Eurovision Song Contest with the track Vertigo composed by Philip Vella and penned by Gerard James Borg which unsuccessfully did not make it through to the final despite positive expectations. Six years later, following a University Degree and a weight loss programme, Olivia is taking back to the stage in stunning fashion especially following her recent performance at the Beland Music Festival where the crowd clearly enjoyed her return to live performing. Nerves of the past are somewhat long gone and this lady definitely has a voice when she puts herself to the test. 

In recent months, there had been speculation that Olivia Lewis would be trying to return to the Eurovision Song Contest and set her sights on another possible representation. The editorial board of escflashmalta.com got in touch with her and revealed that it had indeed been on her mind for quite 'some time' but is nevertheless 'very much undecided'. Receiving more than the lionshare of the votes back in the 2007 Malta Song for Europe competition, the public perception might be slightly altered but nevertheless, Olivia is still a draw card to an event and the crowd seems to enjoy her performances. 'I can wait. I am in no rush' were her closing statements. With a fine tuned vocal performance at the end of the week and with more events being lined-up including the Pink Floyd's The Wall in Ta' Qali, it seems that things are taking a step in that direction. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all of the latest news. 

Source: escflashmalta.com

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Published in Latest News - Local

Kelly Schembri, a finalist in the 2011 edition of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest which took place at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta has somewhat been busy in recent months with both modelling and vocal performing. Apart from being part of the girl-group Monroe who performed in Malta during the recent Malta Music Awards broadcasted on Television Malta, she has also collaborated with Stephen Davids and Honorebel on another track entitled Strip Search which has received positive acclaim upon it's release.

Honorebel is a well known recording artist hailing from Jamaica and has worked with the likes of Pitbull, Akon, Flo-Rida, Sean Kingston, Shaggy and Afrojack. Strip Search which was released late in 2012 is an electro-pop track which a number of interludes which feature the hip/hop genre. A catchy beat and a thumping bass line is surely enough to get the crowd going and it seems that the people behind the song are trying to create a true summer hit considering the fact that the release of the official video took place in the past couple of hours. One of the co-writers of the track is also Gerard James Borg, a leading lyricist in the industry who has worked on a number of successful chart successes in Belgium, Iceland, Sweden and Malta. He was also the man behind five entries at the Eurovision Song Contest, including 2002 first runner-up 7th Wonder performed by Ira Losco. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all of the latest news and enjoy the official video of Strip Search performed by Honorebel and featuring Stephen Davids and Kelly Schembri.

Source: YouTube

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Published in Latest News - Local
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