Songwriter Michael James has fielded songs for Eurovision selection contests held everywhere from Iceland to Estonia. In 2013 Samanta Tina came second in Latvia’s national selection with Michael’s song “I Need a Hero”. And that same year Birgitta Haukdal came third with his song “Medal Andanna”, while Boris Covali came second in Moldova with his song “Runaways”. Now Michael is working on music for himself. He’s just released a Latin-fueled summer single “Take My Body Close”. He’s ready to dive into summer—and into his own pop music career. We recently caught up with Michael to talk about songwriting, Eurovision and his new single.
You’ve written songs for several national finals. Which do you consider your biggest success?
That’s right. I’ve participated in quite a few countries’ national finals and the experience really does change from country to country, artist to artist, song to song. Obviously the participations which really stay in my mind are when we nearly won! Coming second in Latvia in 2013 by 69 televotes was crazy! Also coming second in Moldova and third in Iceland in the same year was really exciting! In terms of success I am proud of all the songs I have written… even the ones you haven’t heard yet!
Which ones didn’t fare as well as you had expected?
To be honest I don’t really have expectations once the songs have been selected for a national final. There are so many other factors that come into play…many of which are out of the writers’ control. But of course I always hope for the best! Eurovision is so unpredictable! Isn’t that why we all love it?
Do you fly to the NFs to watch artists sing your songs or do you watch from the comfort of your home?
It depends – sometimes we attend the live shows, sometimes we don’t. We have been fortunate enough to be selected for quite a few national finals in recent years so it’s impossible to attend them all. Sometimes they take place on the same night as one another! But we do try to attend if we think it’s neccessary. In the majority of cases the TV station, artist and local team have everything under control. If I’m not there I always watch from home. I don’t get nervous as such, more excited! It’s always so exciting to see and hear a song you have written on TV!
When did you start thinking about moving from songwriter to performing artist?
It’s funny, everyone asks me this, but actually I was a performer long before I was a songwriter. I performed in many musicals and theatre shows when I was a child and teen and I even studied music performance at the Royal College of Music in Manchester, England. In recent years I have focused more on songwriting because I love it, but I think it’s time for me to let the artist back out! Of course, I also will continue to write as normal. Now I have double the amount of work.
Could you tell us about your song “Take My Body Close”? It’s got a great summer vibe!
Yes! I love this song! I am a huge fan of summer pop… is that a genre?! Haha. I always remember as a child going on holiday to Spain and Greece and hearing all the Europop summer hits – and I always loved them! Recently, mostly female artists such as Inna and Alexandra Stan have been creating this type of music and I wanted to put my male spin on it. I co-wrote the song with the mega-talented Primoz Poglajen and Niklas Hast – without those guys the song wouldn’t exist! Bring on the summer!!
Are you thinking about anyone in particular when you sing it?
Now that would be telling! Actually, the song hasn’t been written with one person in mind. It’s about 20 people. Haha. I’m joking. The song is about when you meet someone reallyyyy HOT on holiday and you know you only have a few days with that person… cut to the chase, take my body close!