Who’s this talking to Eurovision Blog? It’s the lovely Evelina Sasenko from Lithuania – and she’s got a lot to talk about….
Introduce yourselves and tell us how you ended up representing Lithuania in Eurovision this year! Well, I’ve been singing solo since I was six – taking part in Lithuania’s most popular TV contest for kids and teenagers and becoming a laureate six times. I’ve performed in a number of music competitions and concerts in various countries and my big break came a couple of years ago when I took part in a popular TV contest for clasiccal singers. Since then, I’m doing concerts, playing in musicals, taking part in TV shows – with repertoire ranging from pop, jazz songs to Edith Piaf or Chopin tributes. Last year I tried to get to Eurovision and finished 3rd in a National selection. And this year I came first. There was no big plan or strategy behind it, frankly, I just felt we had a good song last year and this year, and Eurovision selection is a well-watched show in Lithuania, so it was a good chance to showcase them.
Are you looking forward to going to Dusseldorf? What can we expect from your stage show? I’m looking forward to it impatiently 🙂 There was a lot of tension and preparations, as you can imagine, and now I kind of feel fully prepared mentally and ready to go on that stage. So another two weeks or so is just prolonging the tension. Regarding the stage show – it will be quite similar to to what people saw at the National Lithuanian final. Me and a piano player, no ballerinas, disco balls or stage-diving. However, there might be little extra element which I hope audience will enjoy but I want to keep it a secret at this stage.
Lithuania failed to make it out of the semi-final last year, how do you plan to change that this year? I think you can’t plan a result in Eurovision. It’s a cliché phrase, for sure, but I don’t want to make God laugh at my plans. I don’t really concentrate my attention on thoughts about the result (and I mean it, sincerely, it’s not just a safety net phrase that many artists use in case they fare really badly). I just want to sing my song in the best way possible – if I succeed at that, I’ll be happywhatever the result is.
Which of this year’s other entries do you rate? I kind of dig the French entry. Not saying it’s a masterpiece or anything but it makes me listen and take notice. And the guy singing it is a man of my taste :))
Which is your favourite Eurovision entry of all time and which is your favourite from your home country? Hold On Be Strong by Maria Haukaas Storeng (Norway 2008). And regarding Lithuanian entries – I think Strazdas by Aiste Smilgeviciute (1999). I think it’s a brilliant song, very professional. And I feel it was ahead of its time – Eurovision was just not ready for this kind of folk-infused music. It would have done way better 4 or 5 years later or even now, I guess.
Here in the UK Eurovision is regarded by many as a bit of a joke (something we are aiming to change this year with our entry). How is it regarded in Lithuania? Eurovision is very important for Lithuanians. Musical event of the year, more or less. I’ve been watching it since my childhood although I wouldn’t say I was a die-hard fan of it. Last year it seemed a joke to me, as well – but then again, we had a gimmick song. Winning the ticket changed my attitude considerably – taking a closer look I find there’s a lot of interesting songs/performers here.
Why do you think so many people still love it so much even after all this time? Nostalgia is one thing. I think many people in Western Europe have memories of watching it 30, 40 years ago with their parents and that’s a strong sentiment. Also, you just get used to that. A strange comparison, maybe, but it’s kind of like visiting a church with your family every Sunday. You’ll do it even on days when you don’t necessarily want to pray. People check out Eurovision every year even if they say they don’t like it.
On the other hand, it’s top notch TV entertainment and no one can deny that. It’s dynamic, there’s a competition going on, some great melodies and performances. You can always bet on how your country is going to perform on the scoreboard and see dozens of singers from different countries in front of you, performing their songs which often feature a special twist somehow connected to the country’s culture and tradition. What’s not to like?
What will be the first thing you do if you win? I’ll visit a church.
Have you heard the UK entry and what do you think of it? Is it a bit better than our recent entries or are we going to come last again? Be honest……:) A memorable, catchy pop tune, and certainly better than some of the predecessors. Would be surprised if this came last. Many people know, love and remember Blue (although I’m sure they have their haters, too, just like every act that achieved chart success). No, seriously – I think in case of internationally established acts taking part in Eurovision, song is not what matters the most. And that can be great for the act but it can also be really bad. If you hated the act before Eurovision, I’m afraid no performance can change your opinion and vice versa – sometimes a well-known act can get away with pretty much anything. The thing about Eurovision predictions – I find them quite useless. Remember how everyone thought t.A.T.u were going to win. I mean, even if UK was represented by Take That feat. Paul McCartney (well, there can be six of them), could you REALLY be 100 per cent sure about your victory?
And finally, tell me why Lithuania should have the chance to host Eurovision in 2012 and whichcity would you choose to host it?
The city? Rudiskes. Joking, that’s a little town I grew up in. Well, it obviously should be Vilnius,the capital. We have a great, modern arena, nice hotels and everything that’s needed to stage Eurovision.
2012? That would mean I’d need to win this year, right? Well, that’s for the audience and juries to decide. But seriously, besides music, Lithuania should be given a chance as I feel everyone who comes over would enjoy it here. Beautiful nature, warm-hearted and friendly people, beautiful architecture, good restaurants, tasty food and drinks that are also very cheap– a perfect place to party or to relax that Europe needs to see. And Lithuanians would manage to stage a great show – no matter what stereotypical thinking about former Soviet/Eastern European countries sometimes is.