After two years of back-to-back Top 5 finishes at Eurovision, Bulgaria’s state broadcaster BNT decided that Equinox were the act most likely to keep the nation’s momentum going. The newly-formed 5-piece group, specifically created for Eurovision, was selected from an intense internal selection process, which saw producers accepting bids from artists and record companies. Europe will judge the fruits of the broadcaster’s labour on 8 May, when the group perform in the second half of the first semi-final.
Equinox — whose name is symbolic of where light meets darkness — consists of Zhana Bergendorrf, Vlado Mihailov, Johnny Manuel, Georgi Simeonov and Trey Campbell. They’ll sing the electro pop anthem “Bones”, which continues Bulgaria’s recent trend of ominous and dark art-pop with slick production.
As the competition edges closer, we compiled 10 facts about Equinox to shed a bit of light on them amid all the darkness.
1. THEY EMBODY THE SLOGAN ‘CELEBRATE DIVERSITY’
The group consists of 5 members, all with various ethnic backgrounds and cultural vantage points. As producers and songwriters hand-picked the group’s members, they sought a more international sound. So in addition to the Bulgarian members, Zhana, Vlado and Georgi, Equinox also consists of Trey and Johnny – both of whom hail from the United States. That’s what we like to call building bridges!
2. BONES WAS COMPOSED BY EUROVISION ELITES — SYMPHONIX
After the roaring successes of Kristian Kostov and Poli Genova in the two most recent editions of Eurovision, Borislav Milanov and his music production group, Symphonix, took it upon themselves to write another track that could steal the win in Lisbon this May. Equinox member Trey also co-wrote and co-produced “Bones”. Symphonix have composed songs for international artists such as Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez and Kelly Clarkson….as well as Eurovision darlings Jana Burceska and Tijana Bogicevic.
3. REALITY TELEVISION RUNS THROUGH THEIR VEINS
Three of the 5 members of Equinox participated in Reality TV competitions across Europe and indeed the US. Zhana won the second edition of X Factor Bulgaria in 2013, seizing the imagination and attention of the Bulgarian public with her avant-garde style.
Johnny Manuel captured the hearts of many Americans during his triumphant journey on America’s Got Talent 2017. He has racked up millions of views on Youtube; his rendition of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Have Nothing’ sealed him a golden buzzer. View that iconic performance below.
And Georgi Simeonov — aka JJ — made a huge impact on X Factor Romania, which catapulted him to stardom in Bucharest and beyond.
4. SASHA JEAN BAPTISTE WILL STAGE THEIR PERFORMANCE
Sasha Jean Baptiste is a renowned Eurovision and international artistic stage director who has created successful performances in the past for artists such as Iveta Mukuchyan, Kristian Kostov and Artsvik. And now Sasha will stage Equinox’s performance in Lisbon. BNT tweeted about Sasha’s involvement with Bulgaria for the second year running, mentioning Sasha’s love for dreaming up “contemporary performances” which “breathe arty”. We certainly cannot wait to see what she conjures up for Equinox.
"I think my strength lies in contemporary performances that breaths arty. The song #Bones is right up my alley and I look forward to show you our interpretation of the song." – Sacha Jean-Baptiste about @EquinoxBulgaria's staging #Eurovision #Bulgaria pic.twitter.com/Qt5gG3BOZX
— BNT Eurovision ?? (@bg_eurovision) March 29, 2018
5. EUROVISION FANS HELPED SELECT THEIR SONG
In a fiercely competitive internal selection process, Equinox’s song “Bones” went through various stages of judging and scrutinising by musical professionals, journalists, betting experts and a Bulgarian jury. However, BNT added one final stage: the fans. BNT launched a Twitter competition where Eurovision fans could express why they should be on a fan jury that would filter through the 13 songs in the Bulgarian selection process. At the end of it all, “Bones” came out on top.
6. ZHANA TRAVELLED THE WORLD IN SEARCH OF A MUSIC CAREER
The only female in the group took a huge leap of faith at the young age of 18 and travelled to South Korea in blind pursuit of building a successful music career. There she met her fiancé, and they moved to Denmark in 2010, as Zhana competed in X Factor Denmark. Zhana is an experienced polyglot who can speak four languages: Bulgarian, English, Korean and Danish.
7. JOHNNY MANUEL TOURED WITH N’SYNC
At the tender age of 14, Johnny got his first taste of stardom and the heated spotlight. He was spotted covering a Run-D.M.C hip-hop song, which eventually led to him singing a record contract with the stage-name Lil’ Johnny. This gave him the chance to tour and open for major artists such as N Sync and Lil’ Bow Wow.
8. VLADO IS A DEVOUT G.O.T FAN
In a recent interview with Wiwibloggs at the London Eurovision Pre-Party, Vladomir revealed his love for the fantasy fiction show ‘Game of Thrones’. He stated, in our interview, that “he hopes that a show like that [Game of Thrones] could pick up a song like ours,” perhaps as a route of gaining more listeners and fans. Perhaps they will introduce a new character soon: Vlado, Father of Equinox, Slayer of Eurovision, Uniter of the 43 Kingdoms.
9. TREY IS A SONGWRITER AND PRODUCER ON THE RISE
Trey Simpson was born in North Carolina, and is now a Los Angeles-based artist and producer. In addition to playing a significant part in the production of “Bones” as part of Symphonix, Trey has penned songs for major artists in the music industry such as Dua Lipa, Bebe Rexha, Adam Lambert and Kehlani. He’s the real deal, y’all.
10. GEORGI IS ESTABLISHED AS AN INDUSTRY-REGULAR
Georgi – who goes by the name JJ – made his debut on the music scene at 16 years of age as part of a successful Bulgarian boy-band called 032. Since then, he has expanded his music career by releasing solo singles and by teaching everything he knows to his students in Sofia.
What do you think of Bulgaria’s entry this year? Do you think Equinox can snatch a win in Lisbon with their song “Bones”? Do you love beyond the bones? Let us know in the comment section below.