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Thursday, 11 April 2013 03:00

Ukraine: Interview with Zlata Ognevich (2013)

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Robin Stjernberg and Despina Olympiou will both be hoping to achieve success at this years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest and it is intriguing to note that their selection was quite different with the lady from Cyprus chosen internally as opposed to the man from Sweden who had to go through several phases within the annual Melodifestivalen. Both artists have had the chance to speak to the editorial board of with interviews being conducted by Marc Calleja Bayliss and Antoine Farrugia. As a matter of fact, our third interview in the build up towards the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden is with Zlata Ognevich who will be representing Ukraine with Gravity composed by Mikhail Nekrasov to the lyrics of Karen Kavaleryan.

2003 was the year in which Ukraine joined the family of the Eurovision Song Contest with this year marking the eleventh participation. The nation has been quite successful having managed to finish in the top ten on six occasions including a win back in 2004 thanks to Wild Dances performed by Ruslana and two runner-up finishes in 2007 with Verka Serduchka and her flamboyant entry Dancing Lasha Tumbai and the following year in 2008 with Shady Lady sung by Ani Lorak. Do you feel like you have a successful record to protect as you take on the role of representative and how do you perceive such history?

It’s an honor for me to have been selected to represent Ukraine. And yes, it’s a big responsibility. I feel confident though. I very much believe in my song which was written by Mikhail Nekrasov. Mikhail was the co-author of Ruslana’s song. Karen Kavaleryan wrote the lyrics for Gravity. He was also the author of Ani Lorak’s Shady lady lyrics. 4 powerful backing vocals will add value to my live performance. One of the backing vocalists has been acknowledged as one of the world’s best male jazz voices. So I am placing high hopes on my entry.

Gravity, the track that you will be performing during the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest is composed by Mikhael Nekrasov and penned by Karen Kaveleryan who have worked on a number of successful songs in the past including Never Let You Go by Dima Bilan and Shady Lady by Ani Lorak. What kind of advice and support have they given you as you prepare to take on millions of viewers across the continent?

Mikhail is not only the author of my song, he is also my producer and author of all my songs. Mikhail has always been a great support and I fully trust him and his music. Every day we rehearse together trying to make the song absolutely perfect.

Between 2010 and 2011, you were given the ‘Person of the Year’ accolade in Ukraine and then in the middle of the latter you, the Embassy for Argentina also bestowed on you the title of ‘Best Voice of Ukraine’. You have had a number of successes in this manner apart from several more within the music field by virtue of competing in local and foreign competitions. How do such prestigious moments in your career help you plan for this upcoming adventure as well as the future?

Experience in competitions gives a good practice of taking control over emotions. My main rivals are not other contenders for the win, but my own worries and emotions. Confidence is what an artist gains when performs on a big stage. Then comes pleasure. My main goal is to get pleasure from my performance.

According to several sources, your father is a military doctor whilst your mother is a teacher of literature and language inRussia and nevertheless, their daughter is a vocal performer which is definitely different from their occupations. Your passion for music is believed to have emerged when you moved to Ukraine, a nation which has become not only the place where you live but also your home. Do you still perceive your move to Ukraine was positive and do you have the support of your family in music?

Yes, my move to Ukraine predicted my future life. Crimean peninsula where I grew up taught me to reconcile with nature. I learnt to imitate the sounds of animals, practiced swimming and diving. All of these activities helped me a lot in my vocal career. In Ukraine I met with Mikhail Nekrasov, my producer and my coach. Although I am mixed-blood, Ukraine is my motherland.

Following the allocation draw held by the European Broadcasting Union last year, it became public knowledge that Ukraine would be competing in the first semi-final and just a couple of days ago it was revealed that you would be performing in slot number #7 during the show. You will be preceding Russia who will be represented by Dina Garipova and her entryWhat If as well as Anouk from The Netherlands with the song Birds. These are two ballads with you have a mid-tempo track. Do you think that the outcome of the semi-final will be decided on the draw and what is your opinion on the tracks mentioned?

I think Gravity really stands out from other entries. Its musical performance is different and new to the Eurovision Song Contest. At the same time, I am sure the production team of the show is very professional and their choice of the running order was not occasional. The main goal is to make the show interesting for TV viewers.

During the national selection which was organised way back in December, you were wearing a long white dress with your backing vocalists donning black all behind you. The use of props was not prohibited by the broadcaster but nevertheless you sought to make use of your vocal range and let nothing else distract you. What will you be changing for the live performance during the Eurovision Song Contest and what message do you wish to convey?

I didn’t want to reveal all the details at the National Final. At the same time, my performance in Malmo will be a big surprise. I can guarantee a grandiose show created by the top class director Maxim Litvinov. The main goal is to plunge into the atmosphere of a fairytale and to create a special world on stage.

Throughout the years, you have attended several music institutions and therefore have amassed a lot of knowledge on vocals techniques and so forth, clearly shown within each respective performance. In the Eurovision Song Contest, many people believe that whilst the focus of the juries will be on the voice, one agrees that the song along with the whole package has to be perfect. You are working hard and have engaged the public to help you out with the staging but nevertheless, the decisions will ultimately be yours. Whatever the result at the event is, what should one expect out of Zlata in the next couple of months?

I do have big plans for the after-Eurovision times. But still have to keep the intrigue. But watch out for updates in social networks. Friend me on Facebook and read my tweets!

Would you like to say anything to our readers at

I am very excited to get to know you all in person. Please, do not hesitate to come say hi, take pictures together and enjoy the show!

Last modified on Thursday, 11 April 2013 02:59