In February, he won Hungary’s A Dal with his alluring and mysterious song “Origo”. And on Saturday, Joci Pápai launched his charm offensive on Europe as he travelled to Amsterdam for Eurovision in Concert 2017.
Prior to hitting the stage in Melkweg — one of the most renowned music venues in Amsterdam — the 35-year-old attended the EiC press day. There, Joci told wiwibloggs about the struggles faced by the Romani community, the pain he’s suffered as a result of being part of the ethnic minority and what it’s like to be embraced by his fellow Hungarians.
Watch: Jovi Pápai Interview at Eurovision in Concert
“Origo” certainly sounds different from anything else in Eurovision 2017. The Romani dialect brings the listener to a whole new sound. Joci uses the language to sing about his own story and struggles.
“It might sound a bit cheesy, but I’m singing about hope,” Joci says. “I’m the first Romani born Hungarian representing my country in Eurovision, and I want to set an example for everyone with this cultural background, and tell them never to give up hope”.
To those who may not understand the struggles that Romani people face everyday, Joci is more than happy to explain: “The first and maybe the biggest struggle is that Romani’s don’t have a country. We are a minority everywhere we go. We are kind of rootless”.
Both the video for “Origo”, as well as Joci’s performance in A Dal, centre around a woman. Joci says that her presence is an essential part of the show. “She is the love of the protagonist’s life. It’s a sad love story really”.
In more detail, the issue present is that the woman is not Romani — but Joci is — and as much as they love each other, they can’t work out the differences they face of coming from different backgrounds. “It’s unfulfilled love,” Joci says, adding that his dancer, Alexandra, will of course accompany him to Kiev.
Recently, Joci was invited to sing at Hungary’s national day. The Hungarian government is very conservative and history shows that Romani people haven’t been afforded much respect. What did Joci feel about such an honor?
“It was a huge, breakthrough moment for me! I did not see that one coming. It showed me that my work paid off!”
As Eurovision fans know, rap has been tried in so many different ways in Eurovision — most of the time, missing the mark. But Joci’s rap seems different and he expects people to see that.
“The rap is important for the song. I have to say a lot of things in three minutes, and the best way to express all the things I wanted to say was to add a rap part. And I see the rap part as a prayer, questions to a higher force.”
Watch: Joci Pápai — “Origo” at Eurovision in Concert 2017
There we have it. Not only is Joci a true charmer, but he also has a lot on his mind and a lot to say.
What are your thoughts about Joci Pápai and his song, “Origo”? Does he capture your heart, our do you think this tragic love story will face the same fate in Kyiv? You can let us know on the wiwibloggs app, or in the comments section below!