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Wednesday, 11 March 2015 19:00

GħTP 2015: Interview with Rita Pace

On the 21st March 2015, L-Għanja tal-Poplu, a local music competition known to breathe life into the music industry, will be turning thirty-nine. Following the huge success of "Jien Ma Naħdimx", composed by Mark Scicluna to the lyrics of Rita Pace, with vocals provided by Karen DeBattista, a surge of interest was reported, as a record number of 105 submissions were received.

escflashmalta.com in partnership with the organising committee has been given the opportunity to have a chat with the sixteen competing acts, whilst also presenting an exclusive 30 second snippet of each respective entry in contention. Act number seven is Rita Pace, and her entry is entitled "Battibekk", penned by Emil Calleja Bayliss and Paul Attard

During the years, this particular competition has been extremely kind to your work, having been rewarded with various successes both as a songwriter, and a vocalist. How difficult is it to separate the roles from one another, and have you opted to perform lyrics written by others because you feel intimidated to perform your own work?

Being a singer helps me understand what singers go through and this helps me adapt my lyrics to different personalities and voices. I can empathise with other singers and write something that is suitable for them. It also helps to be a composer because when I work with other composers I can understand them better. So even when the roles of singer and songwriter are separated, they are still symbiotic and help each other. I am not intimidated by singing my own lyrics and I do it most of the time. 

It helps me to express my moods, opinions and feelings more directly, but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't work with other people too because I am also a performer and I accept to perform anything which I think could be fun. When Emil asked to work with me on this song I thought the outcome could be interesting so I accepted. I havewon numerous awards as an author, composer and also as a performer in this festival but composing was something I enjoyed doing because I don't get to do it very often. 

“Battibekk’, which you composed to the lyrics of Emil Calleja Bayliss and Paul Attard is the song that you will be presenting in this years’ edition of L-Għanja tal-Poplu. Would you care to explain the meaning behind the lyrics and the genre that the song encompasses?

It's a long story :) Emil started this off as a quarrel arising from someone being the victim of malicious rumours in a traditional Maltese village. Then my husband Paul made changes to it and added more lyrics and transposed the situation into a modern setting, so there is the juxtaposition of the traditional and modern contexts of mud-slinging. The modern context, internet, as the substitute evolved from the traditional pjazza has made rumours more devastating as one can destroy a person effectively with the touch of a button. Melodically, it is cheeky and dramatic and explores a range of vocal styles.


Although the music and lyrics have a mischievous quality, the song is also tragic because it shows that people haven't changed and they are as cruel and alienated as ever, maybe even more alienated because people can hurt each other without having to see the distress they are causing. They find it easier to spread sordid details about other people's lives than live their own lives. So in a way, the song makes you smile but then you realize that you may be laughing at the yourself because everyone can identify with this experience.

In 2015, L-Għanja tal-Poplu is turning thirty-nine (39), and during the years, it has earned a positive reputation, by virtue of breathing life into the music industry. It is no secret that the lyrics of each entry could cause controversy amongst the public. What is your view with regards to this statement, and do you believe that your entry challenges public perception?

I believe that a song must cause a reaction to be effective. I didn't expect Jien Ma Nahdimx to cause such an uproar though. It was a theme I felt strongly about and my  intuition led me to go for it. Sometimes a songwriter cannot predict whether a song will fuel controversy or  not because different people think differently about different things. I guess the best option is to write about what matters to you because if you don't believe in what you write nobody else will. Battibekk is a song that can challenge the audience lyrically and musically on many levels so I'm curious to see how they will respond to it.

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

Please support Maltese music and follow this year's edition of Għanja tal-Poplu. It is not just an opportunity to listen to new material but also a means of discovering how versatile and beautiful our language can be while spending a pleasant evening out with your friends. 

Published in Local Music News