Azerbaijan’s Aisel is a veteran of international jazz festivals and is known for her smooth, sexy voice. After visiting her YouTube channel for the first time in November, we quickly learned that this beauty from the Land of Fire smoulders. Her sexy, melodic voice reminded us instantly of a young Norah Jones.
But since the release of her Eurovision 2018 song “X My Heart”, Aisel has proven that she’s much more than a jazz siren. She’s able to tackle more mainstream radio-pop — and in this instance, a song with electro flair. “For me it’s a new experience to try myself in the pop genre,” she told me on the Moscow red carpet in April. “But there’s no genres. I’m a musician and I like quality music.”
And she’s serving exactly that with her Eurovision 2018 entry, which was written by Eurovision winning composer Sandra Bjurman (“Running Scared” — Azerbaijan, 2011) and Greek legend Dimitris Kontopoulous (“You Are The Only One” — Russia, 2016).
Thematically it’s clear she wants listeners to unleash their inner strength. Whether standing on your own two feet or leaning on a loved one or friend, you’ve got the power to move forward. As she sings: “Heaven knows we are/ made perfect we are/ tailored by the stars/ Once we set our mind/ We become divine/ Take my hand it’s time…”
As you chew on that, we thought we’d pull together 10 facts you may not know about the gorgeous Aisel.
1. Her name means “The path of the moon”
One of the most memorable lines of Aisel’s entry is the phrase “Luna moon me up”. In a song about perseverance and self-belief, it seems to carry the message “the universe is ready to take me higher!”
But beyond that it’s also a clever play on words. In Azerbaijani, Aisel means “the path of the moon”. Lyricist Sandra Bjurman created the line “Luna moon me up” since luna means moon in several languages.
2. She loves animals
Aisel is a very active member of the Baku Animal Rescue Society, an organisation that tries to find homes for homeless dogs and cats. If you follow her on Instagram, you’ll see she frequently advertises adorable pooches who are looking for their forever homes. Aisel believes in the #endlesslove between man and animal, and frequently uses that hashtag. And PS: We love this pic of her getting up close and personal with a donkey in Jerusalem.
3. She’s a talented pianist
Aisel may be known to Eurovision fans as a singer, but she’s also an accomplished pianist, having honed her skills at the Azerbaijan State Conservatory in Baku. Her mother and father were both pianists, which may partly explain her ease at the bench. As you can see in the video below, she’s able to let loose when she starts tickling the keys — and can even improvise and experiment.
4. Tim Bran produced her Eurovision entry
Tim, a well known British producer, was the genius behind “City Lights”, which took Belgium to fourth place in 2017. He’s also worked with several well-known artists including The Verve, London Grammar, Birdy, Halsey and Bloc Party. It was Tim who thought to create a more electro version of the song.
“At the beginning we had already two versions,” Aisel told me in Moscow. “The first was more mainstream. The second was more electronic. We thought about how this contest needs more of the second version. It’s not a global change. We just put in some tricks.”
5. She was married
When Aisel sings of love, romance and heartache, it’s not an act. She’s experienced all of these feelings, having fallen in love and been married. Unfortunately her husband passed away a few years ago, leaving her a widow. But this difficult experience has given her new perspective on the beauty and value of life. When you speak to Aisel, there’s an underlying sense of wisdom built on countless life experiences, both good and bad. She really is “stronger than cannonballs”.
In Moscow, she told us that the lyrics to her song are deeply personal. Given her personal history, it’s hard not to read these lyrics without feeling something: “I can hear you when I wake, I can see you when I dream, I can feel you when I break, as you hold me as you beam.”
6. She lived in Israel for two years
Aisel recently performed in front of 20,000+ fans as part of Israel Calling — the massive Eurovision concert and promotional event held in Tel Aviv. For Aisel the trip was much more than an opportunity to sing in front of a vast audience. It was also a bit of a homecoming, as she actually lived there for two years during her twenties.
7. She’s been friends with Elnur Huseynov since childhood
The musical elite of any country often run in similar circles or socialise together. But with Aisel the bonds run much deeper. She attended the same school as Azerbaijan’s Eurovision 2015 singer and The Voice of Turkey winner Elnur Huseynov. Both have played piano since childhood and we’re sure they share many secrets!
8. She used to have very short hair
A strong contender to win Eurovision’s Next Top Model, Aisel is a fashion chameleon. Her Instagram page shows a woman in total control of herself who isn’t afraid to mix it up in the fashion stakes. From her avant-garde yellow fold dress in Moscow to her thigh-skimming sparkle number in Tel Aviv, she knows that variety is the spice of life…and the runway.
And that goes for her hair, too. As you can see below, she once chopped off her dark locks and kept her hair short. She’s got a strong enough face to pull it off…and with ease!
9. She’s learned from the best
During a trip to Moscow last fall, she met with Eurovision legends Phillip Kirkorov, Sergey Lazarev and Ani Lorak. All three of them gave her valuable advice and wished her the best of luck with her Eurovision performance. Aisel had nothing but praise for them afterwards. She wrote, “[Philipp Kirkorov], it was great meeting you again. Thank you for your valuable advice and your support. Hope to see you again soon. [Ani Lorak], your performance at Eurovision was amazing and will be an inspiration for all future participants.”
10. She’s an optimist
From the moment she was chosen for Eurovision, she wanted to sing an uplifting and positive song. It’s a way to lift people’s spirits amid all the bad news we hear every single day. Speaking of her song, she’s said that “if it was a season it would be summer, if it was a day it would be Friday, if it was colour it would be white — everything that brings a smile to people’s face.”
That same optimism shined through in our interview in Moscow. While many artists would be daunted by the task of performing first in the first semi-final, she is living it. “The whole year people wait for Eurovision and I will be first, so it’s an honour for me,” she said. “It’s a big responsibility too.”
What does she think about while singing? “I think about the power inside each person. The song is very personal, the lyrics are very personal. It’s about believing in yourself. It’s a very motivating and uplifting song. I think about positive emotions and positive vibes.”
Are you loving Aisel and her song “X My Heart”? Do you think Azerbaijan is headed straight to the final? And will you be downloading more of her music? Let us know in the comments box below.