Last weekend Latvian voters sent 12 acts through to the final of Dziesma 2014, the Latvian selection for the Eurovision Song Contest. The dozen finalists are now busy preparing for the big show on 22 February. Patrick Melbler, our Austrian correspondent, recently spoke with Markus Riva, one of the favourites to win it all. You can read the highlights below.
First of all, a big thank you for taking the time to chat. And congratulations on making the final. How big of a dream is it to sing for Latvia at Eurovision?
Hello, Patrick! Hello Wiwibloggs!
It is my pleasure! Thank you! Warm greetings from Riga! I am happy too that we are in the final! My dream is very big and we are currently working on our show to make it better. It would be a dream-come-true if we will have this chance to represent Latvia with “Lights On”. I love the song and I love the message of the song.
Can you tell us a little bit about it? What is your song about and does it have a special meaning for you?
I wrote this song in the beginning of May. I can clearly remember that day – it was sunny Sunday and I was at the house of Gaitis Lazdans (the co-author of “Lights On”). I sat outside in the first spring’s sunshine and it really felt uplifting and I wanted to “turn the lights on” in my life, I wanted to fall in love, I wanted to go and do big things! There is this feeling in our life and I think that song could be related to lot of people who are watching Eurovision. The song was not written specially for Eurovision but somehow we submitted the final version.
How did you feel when you entered the stage and sang your song in the semi-finals? Do you have special plans for the final?
I was more or less calm, maybe too calm (as I watch over and over my performance to make it better). I love being on the stage and perform. I perform every weekend as a DJ but not so often as a singer. So it felt really worth-to-wait being back on the stage with the mic in my hand. I think that I won’t change anything big in my show, just some good details and we are upgrading the light show. And of course, we are working on vocals so it sounds less messy and more perfect.
Do you get nervous when you think about potentially singing on the big stage at Eurovision?
I try to not think about that because then I get over excited. I try to concentrate on this moment. That was my key for the semi finals. I did not listen to other performers and was in my own world to get rid of the stress. And it really helped. When I saw our name, I was feeling really blessed, we rehearsed and involved lot of work in the show so it felt crazy good to make it through to the final.
Do you have a role model who inspired you to enter Dziesma 2014?
My role models are all around me. One of my best friends is Yana Kay who has been a part of the show many times. She inspires me a lot. Also my vocal coach Baiba is helping and inspiring me a lot and we are doing impossible in the vocal trainings. As I mentioned, I did not wrote the song for the contest–it came all natural and it is a perfect formula for Eurovision.
Have you heard the other songs competing for the ticket to Copenhagen? Which songs do you like and who do you think is your biggest competition?
I have heard the other songs after the semi finals and there are good songs in the competition. My biggest competitor is me, myself. I wanna do the maximum of myself, the best of myself and brake myself in a good way. There should be no artistically limits for myself.
Who are your musical influences?
Since I am a DJ I listen lot of random music, starting from deep house to the techno and trance. I prefer classical music too since I was studying classical music all my life. And of course mainstream TOP40 is on my playlist. But for my music I listen lot of Scandinavian electro pop like Robyn, Royksopp or Loreen. I enjoy 90’s dance music at the moment and I love the sound of Dinah Washington, the Jazz singer.
Are you a Eurovision fan? If so, who is your favourite Latvian act?
I could say I am a fan because somehow (more or less) I watch it every year, at least on Youtube. I was a very little boy when Latvia took part in the first Eurovision with Brainstorm, then I was watching TV and dreaming – one day I am going to be on that stage. After some years I got a chance to work for the big Eurovision in Riga (2003) as a stand-in for the show. It was massive experience for me, so I have been already on the big stage of Eurovision [giggles]. My favourite entry is FLY ( Yana Kay, Lauris Reiniks, Martins Freimanis), I think because it was in Riga and I saw them in the big final and it feels personal.
Do you have a message for our readers on wiwibloggs.com?
Light up your life with good music! Lights on! Don’t give up, don’t be afraid and start to live this life right now! And keep fingers crossed! God Bless! Xo, Markus
It was a honour to speak with you. I wish you good luck and maybe you’ll “turn the lights” on in Copenhagen in May!
Thank you so much! I hope so! It would be insanely moment!
Patrick Melbler contributed this report from Austria. Follow him on Twitter @eurovisionboy77. You can also keep up with the latest Eurovision news and gossip by following wiwibloggs.com on Twitter and Facebook.