Iceland’s Svala: “I’m excited to get to know the Eurovision madness”

She won Söngvakeppni 2017 in a landslide last Saturday night with “Paper” — her thoroughly modern and fresh track which she delivered with pitch-perfect vocals.

And shortly after being crowned the winner in Iceland, Svala sounded off on it all during her press conferences staged inside the Laugardagshöll arena in Reykjavík.

Svala oozed gratitude and happiness, saying she’s been overwhelmed by the love and support she’s felt at home. But she isn’t counting her chickens before they’re hatched. When asked if she can improve on Selma and Yohana’s two second-place finishes for Iceland at Eurovision, she remained as humble as ever.

“It would be such an honor to end up in second place like they did,” she says. “But one never knows how Europe will react to the song — if people out there will love it as much as Iceland. But I will do my absolute very best to take it as far as I can.”

Iceland: Svala Björgvinsdóttir wins Söngvakeppnin 2017 with “Paper”

Her act was simple yet stirring. Standing alone on stage, wearing white, and using strobe lights to set the atmosphere of the song, she didn’t want to rehash the same old tropes — random geometric shapes, a galaxy of stars — that so many Eurovision artists use.

“We wanted to do something original and different,” she says. “I feel like my song and myself differ a bit from what has been going on in this year’s Eurovision. That excites me, having something original and cool.”

Will she go the extra mile in Kiev? Her husband Einar Egilsson — a fellow songwriter and the brains behind her stage act — thinks so.

“We’re working on it,” he says. “There is a lot of planning going on, and we have a great team with us.”

Being a known musician, both in Iceland as well as in America, was Svala feeling an extra pressure, and did she have any idea about the madness circling around Eurovision?

“The biggest pressure comes from me, that is how I function,” she answered. “But this is a task I will proudly tackle and I will do my very, very best not to disappoint. I love my country and my people and I want to make them proud. I’m always nervous to perform for Icelanders. But as soon as I introduced my song to the public, I felt immense support. It’s so good to know that there are people out there that have the same passion for this as I do.”

Svala wrote “Paper” herself along with Lily Elise and Lester Mendez, and she has always been very adamant about performing her own music.

“I’ve been asked before to enter Söngvakeppni as a performer, singing songs written by others. And all of those songs were great! But I’ve always wanted to do my own thing, and sing my own songs,” she said.

Her last entry in Söngvakeppni was “The Wiggle Wiggle Song” performed by Haffi Haff, which became a cult favorite after its stint in 2008, despite not making it to the finals.

Why did she decide to enter again and why now? “Originally, when we wrote ‘Paper’ I never thought about Eurovision as such,” she admits. “But Einar, my husband, became certain that the song was perfect for Söngvakeppni because it had potential to become a hit. So we decided to give it a go and enter.”

And enter they did, winning both the jury vote and the televote by a huge margin. It’s something that Svala didn’t quite expect and she had prepared herself for any and all outcomes at Söngvakeppni. “I believed in ‘Paper’ so much, and I knew I could stand behind it 100%, despite the results.”

What are your thoughts? Is Svala a shoe in for the finals in Kiev, thus ending an eight-year dry spell for Iceland? Or will Europe fold her like paper and send her flying back to Iceland? Please comment below.

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