Clarissa and Josh Standing have emerged as favourites to win UMK 2014, Finland’s selection for Eurovision 2014. They may be busy practicing their wicked dance moves, but they recently took some time to chat with our Finland correspondent Sami Luukela about their style, hip-hop and their song “Top of the World”.
First of all, congratulations on making the top 12. Where you were when you found out?
Josh: I was at home and Clarissa phoned me to tell me and I was so excited I had to take my inhaler.
Clarissa: Thank you so much! I’m working in a music shop at Tammisaari and I was in a meeting at an insurance company with my boss when my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, so I said that I had to answer and I went to the lobby. Then I found out that I’d been chosen for the top 12 of UMK. I wanted to scream and dance because I was so happy, but I couldn’t do it there, so I had to hold it until we left. So, it felt really awesome and still does. I’m so happy and grateful.
I don’t want to cause any extra pressure, but right now you are one of the fan favourites. How does it feel and does it cause you more stress?
Josh: That’s great to hear! I love the fans. They make me laugh. And maybe it should but I’m just keeping it real. I’m pretty laid back.
Clarissa: Wow, it feels so fantastic that we’ve already got so much attention, great comments and amazing supporters and that we’re already being considered as a favorite to win. I’m so happy about that. I want to fulfill all the expectations and provide the best performance, so of course I’m nervous but I try not to take too much pressure.
How did the two of you meet? And how is the dueting going?
Josh: We met in Sweden, recorded the song and it just clicked. Now we are best friends and we work well together. The song was written by Paul Oxley and he planned to enter the song into UMK… And also we love Eurovision.
Clarissa: For a long time I’ve wanted to take part in the Finnish selection for Eurovison. In 2013 I released my first two singles, which received a lot of good feedback so taking part in UMK felt like a good next step. The person who introduced me to Josh was Paul Oxley. He knew us both and suggested that we would be a good pair on stage. We are both young and eager singers and dancers. When me and Josh met the first time, we gathered together an international team of songwriters and producers, Paul Oxley from United Kingdom, David Neisser from Germany and Christian Rabb from Sweden. We all met in Stockholm where we produced the song “Top of the World”. We thought this is a perfect song for Eurovision so we decided to send a demo to the competition.
You both have a background in hiphop and street dancing. How much of it will you bring to your performance? We’ve already seen your jury performance, which already had some moves, but will there be more in the semi-finals?
Josh: Oh yeah! There’s defo going to be some moves. I think you will all be pretty happy with what we have come up with. But you’ll just have to wait.
Clarissa: There will definitely be more dancing in the first live show. Dance is our trump card!
What else can you tell us?
Josh: Well I don’t want to spoil it for anything but there will be some tricks…
Clarissa: In the first live show we will give you an amazing show with more dancing and more voice! We will have three backing singers this time, but we also have some surprises planned for the final and we hope that we get a chance to show them.
You are both gorgeous. How much does styling mean to you? Do you think it could help you in the contest, even if you are competing with your song?
Josh: Why thank you very much, you’re making me blush. We have some pretty cool stylists and they have some outfits that will fit with the song. I don’t think looks matter at all, it’s about the talent, if you have the voice to carry you through then the audience should see that.
Clarissa: I think styling is also big part of the show. On stage I dare to be more brave than in private. I want glorious clothes which support the style of our show.
The winner of UMK gets to represent Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest. Are you big Eurovision fans? Any favourite Eurovision songs?
Josh: We are huge Eurovision fans. I once had a Eurovision party!! Hard rock hallelujah is one of my favourites.
Clarissa: I’ve been a Eurovision fan since I was a little girl and I remember how we sat in front of the tv and watched the contest together with my mom. I have many favourite Eurovision songs, but to name some, Charlotte Nilsson with Take me to your heaven, Helena Paparizou with My number one and Margaret Berger with I Feed You My Love.
Thank you so much for the interview. I really hope we can meet in the UMK final and lots of luck in the contest! Do you have a message for our readers?
Josh: No problem! And yes!!! Thank you all so much for believing in us we really hope you like what you see, keep believing in #teamclarissajosh.
Clarissa: Thank you! I want to send my sincere greetings for all of the readers. I’m looking forward for the live shows very eagerly and hope you do too!
Photo: Courtesy of YLE