Malta Eurovision Song Contest 2017: We chat with the finalists

Surf, sand, sun and some killer vocals — Malta is calling and we just have to answer! Tonight the Malta Eurovision Song Contest 2017 seeks to rise from the ashes of last year’s production. Producers are throwing out all the stops — we’re talking glam and bling bling, all mixed with high notes and Euro-drama! We couldn’t waste this opportunity. So we packed our tripods and travelled from café to studio to shopping mall to parking lot to meet all 16 contestants of the national selection. From serious stories of heartache to plenty of jokes and laughter, we shared some moments with Malta’s established and rising stars.

KLINSMANN COLEIRO – “LASERLIGHT”

Klinsmann’s Eurovision career started in 2007 at the tender age of sixteen. He placed third on his first outing and this year he’ll hope to improve on that as he opens the show. “My song is unique in its own way,” he tells us. “It’s a love-song after all but it gives you this fun feeling to it, and that’s what makes it special.”

RAQUELA DALLI GONZI – “RAY OF LIGHT”

Glamour meets adorable in Raquela. A fan-favourite back in 2011, Miss Dalli Gonzi recently took a three year break but is now back on stage, ready to shine like a “Ray of Light”. While having a cappuccino, we talked about her participating song, she dropped hints about her final dress and sounded off on performing second in the show. She says she is fine that the final won’t include a professional jury: “As long as the public chooses the right song, I am completely okay about the one-hundred-percent televoting.”

DEBORAH C & JOSEF TABONE – “TONIGHT”

A competition in Malta without Deborah C wouldn’t be a competition. And this year she returns with Josef Tabone and an atmospheric duet. It’s Deborah’s sixth consecutive time in Malta Eurovision. And Josef isn’t a newbie either! They invited us to their studio where we talked about their song, how they found each other and their lucky charms. “My manager Angie Laus didn’t even know that we qualified to the Live Show,” Deborah admits. “I had to tell her.”

KEVIN BORG – “FOLLOW”

In 2013 he was the fan favourite. Now Kevin Borg is back to finally claim his spot at Eurovision. The “Follow” singer won Swedish Idol in 2008 and hasn’t stopped making music since then. He explains the meaningful story behind his song, discusses the influence of the Swedish music scene on Eurovision and gives us some insight into his current projects in Sweden and Japan. “J-Pop is a different genre, maybe I should try it out in Malta Eurovision,” he says. “Or M-Pop would be better actually.” If anyone can own Maltese pop, it’s definitely Mr Borg.

JADE VELLA – “SECONDS AWAY”

The first newcomer in the line-up is 16-year-old Jade Vella who is just “Seconds Away” from a high impact debut. The rising star has already participated in prestigious local and international song and dance competitions. And she’s got a big backer behind her in the form of her father J. Anvil, one of the most experienced MESC veterans. “My father is more bubbly than I am,” she says. “I first need to know people more and than I’m fine.” Babes, you are beyond fine. You are fabulous.

CROSSWALK – “SO SIMPLE”

The song might be called “So Simple” but the band isn’t. The group consists of Steve Camilleri Bowman, Kenny D’Ugo, Boris Cezek and Janice Debattista and all of them are quite successful. For example, Janice was a solo act in the Malta Eurovision 2013 final and is known in the music industry, while Boris Cezek is a noted composer who wrote their number, but also songs for Cherton and Raquela. They are close-knit and it’s very sweet. As Janice says: “I prefer being in a band because you can share everything with people you love.”

FRANKLIN CALLEJA – “FOLLOW ME”

Franklin is a busy man. But we hope that, as with the 15 other acts, an interview is coming soon.

RHIANNON – “FEARLESS”

Another newcomer in Malta Eurovision but surely no newcomer in the music industry, Rhiannon is coached by Joshua Alamu, who has worked with Fleur East and Little Mix. The “Fearless” singer will try to win the island over with her impressive range. In our interview, she talks about her music career and her love for Eurovision. “My performance will be something that Malta Eurovision never has seen before, so be prepared,” she says.

MIRIANA CONTE – “DON’T LOOK DOWN”

Cute, cuter, the cutest? Miriana Conte will sing “Don’t Look Down”, serving sweet 16 realness as she does it. She started humming Ira Losco’s “7th wonder” when she was a toddler. And now the half Italian beauty is ready to hit the Eurovision stage herself, supported by her dream team of Muxu Mercieca and Cyprian Cassar. She says she was beyond surprised to make the final. “My mother was screaming to me ‘You passed, you passed’ and I was like ‘Passed? Where?'” she says. “I did not expect that at all.”

SHAUNA VASSALLO – “CRAZY GAMES”

There’s a lot of young blood in Malta Eurovision 2017 and Shauna stands proud among them. The 16-year-old debuts with “Crazy Games” and is a close friend of contestant Miriana Conte. Shauna started her career at the age of 10 and is now coached by our dear friend Gillian Camenzuli Attard — the amazing vocal coach behind countless JESC and Eurovision acts. Among other things, she explains her love of one Australian pop diva. “Sia puts meaningful lyrics into her music and that inspires me a lot,” she says. “She is a big influence for me and keeps me going.”

JANICE MANGION – “KEWKBA”

Janice Mangion wants to take the Maltese language to Eurovision. The talented artist is participating with her song “Kewkba” (Star), which is dreamy and dramatic and written by Mark Scicluna and Emil Calleja Bayliss. Janice is not a newcomer as she already took part in the 2012 semi-final, and has been steadily improving and working since then. “I took this risk to sing in Maltese as I am very proud and we have a beautiful language where you can feel emotion,” Janice said. It’s a risk that many feel will pay off big.

CHERTON CARUANA – “FIGHTING TO SURVIVE”

Another newcomer, another strong song. Cherton Caruana delivers with “Fighting to Survive”. She took a hiatus from her music career but ultimately surprised her husband on their wedding day with a special performance. Malta Eurovision is the next step in her journey. Cherton talks about her song, her family and friends and what it’s like being a newbie. “I am new to the Maltese public, so for me it’s a challenge to take and in the final I will try to give my best.”

MAXINE PACE – “BOMBSHELL”

From “Young Love” to “Bombshell”, Maxine Pace has defined her style and people are loving it. After last year’s fifth place finish, the singer is ready to drop another bomb — and one that explodes with fabulosity. The young artist is already well-known in Malta and has competed in music contests as far away as Hollywood. During our interview, Maxine told us what it’s like balancing promotion and her studies, how she will present her song on stage and also her private life. She says: “I love putting on a hoodie, watching series and staying on the sofa which is so comfy.”

RICHARD EDWARDS – “YOU”

Firelight represent Malta in 2014 on the big stage in Copenhagen, with Richard Edwards as the lead singer. This time he tries his luck alone on stage with “You”. The singer has already tried it a few times in the National Selection and this year he gives it another try — and we’re so glad he is! He shares the touching story behind his song, his views on Malta Eurovision and his band Firelight. “Firelight is on a little break,” he says, “as my sister just received her baby, my little brother married and so I thought why not try it alone?”

BROOKE BORG – “UNSTOPPABLE”

Golden – Unstoppable – Brooke. After finishing as runner-up on her debut in the contest last year, Brooke has come back hungry for the crown. The “Unstoppable” singer is riding a massive wave of support from Eurovision fans across the continent. But it hasn’t gone to her head. In our interview we talk about her last year’s journey, about her being a fan favourite this year and about life off the stage. “I am actually a very shy person,” she says. “I remember meeting you last year and I didn’t know what to expect but now I’m fine.” Haha — we love her!

CLAUDIA FANIELLO – “BREATHLESSLY”

Participating in a National Selection ten times is quite a lot of work — and Claudia Faniello understands that. After a three-year-break the “Breathlessly” singer is back with a soaring ballad. In our interview she talkes about the promotion involved with her entry, her past in Malta Eurovision and the emotional recording of her song. “They told me to stop crying when I heard the song so we could finally record it,” she says. “I was so emotional.”

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