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Teo: Music industry requires you to keep trying and keep working

dng_img_2109teo_belar_2014Author: MÁDI Sándor

Belarus celebrated its 10th participation with Alyona Lanskaya last year. She managed to qualify for the Grand Final after 2 years of non-qualifying. This time Teo have the chance to represent Belarus and even to bring the Eurovision to Minsk next year. We still have some days to see the results, unti this, ready my interview!

How did your singing career start?

That’s a hard one, because singing and playing instruments has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My love of music was noticed very early by my family and after four years of learning to play the accordion, I was lucky enough to win the international children’s contest Praleska. When school ended, I was invited to work with the National Academic Concert Orchestra of Belarus and gained experience in singing, composing and arranging. This helped my studies in Music from the Grodno College of Arts and Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts. But pop music started to become a reality when I first participated in the Belarusian national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest 2009.

This year you were selected to represent Belarus at Eurovision Song Contest 2014 in Copenhagen. What does it mean for you?

It’s a combination of being a wonderful surprise, hard work and an incredible honour. It took a while to sink in but since then it’s been a whirlwind of rehearsals, interviews, travelling, live performances and working with a team of great people.

How was your song (Cheesecake) created? What’s the message of your song?

I had already written two songs for the national finals (for Natalie Tamelo and Tasha Odi) and then decided that I’d like to try again too. My song was submitted about two hours before entries closed! The meaning behind ‘Cheesecake’ is simple but a good one. It’s a positive song because even though I’ve broken up with a girl because I’m tired of her calling me her ‘sweet cheesecake,’ the message is that we all want to be treated with respect.

As far as I know, you already won 2 previous Eurofest in Belarus: with the songs Far away (2010) and All my life (2012), but unfortunately both songs were replaced.

It felt a little bit frustrating for a short while, but as a songwriter you do have to get used to having your work changed or even rejected totally. It’s an industry that requires you to keep trying; keep working; keep being enthusiastic and creative. Each setback should drive you on and make you even more determined and that’s the way I decided to approach these two changes.

Do you follow Eurovision Song Contest? If yes, since when?

I have loved Eurovision for years and always watched the semi finals and finals every year since Belarus joined a decade ago. If you look at the winning songs for the past ten years, you’ll see that every single one is unique in their own unique way. I wish that I had written them all!

Who are your favourite singers? (In the world, not only Eurovision singers.)

Any classical, pop or rock singer who performs with passion and professionalism. There are too many to single out – all sorts of music and singers appeal to me.

Who is your favourite performer from previous Belarussian representatives and why?

Alyona Lanskaya is not only a good friend but is undoubtedly an incredibly talented singer and performer. I would say ’yes’ to a duet to her any day.

This year there will be 37 countries in the contest. Do you have your favourites?

I’ve listened to them all now; especially those that are in the second semi-final with me. All of them stand out because they are all so different from each other. There’s traditional instruments and ‘sound’ from Switzerland, Malta, Georgia, Slovenia and Ireland; great dance songs from Greece, Romania, Finland and FYR Macedonia; power tracks from Austria, Israel, Lithuania and cheekiness from Poland and a heartfelt ballad from Norway – I can’t pick out a single one because they’re all terrific.

What are your expectations, your main aims at Eurovision?

To do my very best, to show the crowds in the arena and at home that I’m honoured to be there and am enjoying every single moment of it. And to have fun, too.

What inspires you?

Everything. It can be while I’m at the gym, or sipping coffee, or meeting someone or noticing something out in the street. Relationships also give you little ideas to think about and work on. Tunes can emerge when I least expect it but often when I’m playing around with an instrument.

What are your plans after Eurovision? Will you relax?

SLEEP will be my top priority, as well as catching up with my family and friends. I love to travel, so hopefully there’ll be time for a relaxing holiday somewhere before my TV work starts up again (I co-host the TV program ‘Наперад у мiнулае’ (Forward to the Past) which shown on the Belarus 1 channel. We rediscover the authentic music culture that still remains in Belarus by travelling the rural areas of the country to find the singers of the traditional and ancient songs, usually the village grandmothers and grandfathers. A song is then selected to be revamped. I rearrange the song that is recorded and with a much more modern sound by a well-known artist. You can see the episodes of the program here:

What would you like to send to the Hungarian readers and fans of Teo?

I am very impressed with Hungary’s entry – – a terrific song, performed brilliantly that also has a very powerful message. I hope to one day visit Hungary and will always like anybody from Hungary who is a fan of Eurovision!

Thanks Teo for this interview and special thanks to Kath Lockett.

We wish all the best for you in Copenhagen!

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