Joan Franka won Holland’s Nationaal Songfestival on February 26. In the weeks that have followed, Eurovision fans have praised her soulful voice and touching lyrics, while naysayers have criticized her for wearing a Native American headdress on stage. Joan, 21, recently took some time to speak with wiwibloggs via e-mail about her Turkish roots, her love of folk music, and whether she’ll keep the Indian-inspired costume in Baku. You’ll notice that Joan uses a lot of smiley faces. We left them in to convey her refreshingly warm personality. There’s no diva here!

Congratulations on your victory in the Netherlands! Have you been busy since your victory?
Thank you 🙂 Yes I am on the road almost constantly! I’m enjoying it very much.

Why did you want to enter the Nationaal Songfestival this year?
I participated because I thought it was a nice idea! My manager heard the song “You And Me” that I wrote for my album, and asked me if I wanted to send it in for the Nationals. I saw it as a huge opportunity to let the people get to know me and my music 🙂

In recent years Holland has not held a national competition, and instead the state broadcaster has chosen the contestant. Do you think it’s better to stage national contests where the public can vote?
Yes! Because people can decide for themselves who they want to send to the ESC. All six of us were totally different, so there was a song for everyone.

What is the message or story of your song “You and Me”?
I wrote the song You And Me about my first childhood love, the song is a memory of mine and means a lot to me.

When did you write it, and how long did it take?
I wrote it last year, for my album. My manager asked me if I wanted to send it in for the Nationals. It was a nice surprise to hear my song was chosen for the final six of the Nationals 🙂

Many people have suggested that the feathered headdress and the Native American costumes are offensive. What is your response and how does it relate to your song?
I wore the Native American headdress because I used to dress up as an Indian as a child with the boy this song is about. I have beautiful memories about these particular moments, so the headdress was a symbol that you always carry your memories with you. I have respect for the Native American culture and I would never wear anything to offend anyone.

Many people forget that you had a video playing in the background of your performance. What did the video show and how does it relate to your message?
It showed two children playing cowboys and Indians and being in love. It was a projection of my memories.

Do you plan to utilize the same costumes and staging in Baku?
I want to change the act a little bit, but not much. 🙂

Is the sound of “You and Me” typical of your music? How would you describe your genre or style?
The music I make is folk/pop music, and “You And Me” definately fits in with the rest of my music.

How long have you been singing and playing the guitar?
I’ve been singing my whole life together with my sister. We were always entertaining the family at birthdays and weddings 🙂

When did you start writing your own songs?
I’ve been playing guitar for two years now. I always wrote poems but I started writing songs two years ago.

Joan is proud of her Turkish roots.

Many people don’t know this, but you are actually half Turkish. How important is your Turkish identity to you?
Yes! I am half Turkish. My father was Turkish and my mother is Dutch. Unfortunately my father passed away when I was very young, so I never really learned the Turkish language. Even though I don’t speak Turkish, I really do feel Turkish and am proud to be Turkish.

Have you ever been to Azerbaijan? What do you expect it will be like?
I have never been to Azerbeidjan, so I am very exited to go there! I love to travel and see the world. 🙂

Do you have a message for Europe?
Thank you for taking the time to read this interview! LOVE <3 Joan

Photo courtesy of Marcel Vossen/Joan Franka

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12 years ago

Wow, this song is really good. It’s stays in my head and I am singing it the whole day.
She is the dark horse of 2012. Hopefully in the final.