In 2011, Rachel Traets won Junior Songfestival in the Netherlands. She then went on to place second at Junior Eurovision in Armenia, missing out on the trophy by just five points. Since then Rachel has recorded several singles—in both Duth and English—and continued her charity work raising awareness about chronic illnesses. With Junior Eurovision 2014 fast approaching, Rachel caught up with Renske ten Veen, one of our Dutch correspondents. Here are the highlights of their conversation.
It’s already been three years ago since we met you. What do you remember the most about Junior Songfestival in the Netherlands and the international final in Armenia?
The big final in Armenia was the most impressive moment. The final of Junior Songfestival in the Netherlands was also very nice and an amazing experience, but the whole happening back then in Armenia was something I’ll never forget. The enormous stage, the full hall totally filled with flags, all countries together—and then you have to stay in the spotlight yourself. Magical!
You finished as runner-up. Did you expect that you would do so well?
I totally did not expect to come so close, in second place, because it’s of course a big international competition with so many good competitors. I have to admit that I was unhappy at that moment that we grabbed next-to-first-place, only five points behind, but afterwards I was very happy that I scored so well.
Do you think “Teenager” still suits you?
I’ve grown up and became a little bit more of an adult, because I’m 16 years old already. But “Teenager” still fits me, because it describes the life of a teenager. And yes, when you’re 16, you’re still a little bit of a teenager!
Do you stay in contact with the other finalists from your year? For example Polle or Femke, the representative of Belgium that year?
I stay in contact with the Dutch finalists, but not with the international finalists anymore. Some time ago there was a mini-reunion organised during the presentation of the CD from the new finalists of Junior Songfestival 2014, so I saw nearly all of them and chatted with them again.
We know you have a small “handicap” in one of your arms. Could you tell us about it and what it’s like to be a role model for other children in a similar situation?
Since my birth I have had Erb’s Palsy at my left arm, a kind of paralyses. I can pretty much do everything, but with my left arm I have more difficulties picking things up, hanging on to something, and pushing. I’ve been an ambassador for an organisation for chronic illness, and I have performed for the Dutch foundation for Erb’s Palsy (EPVN). I’m also a member of this foundation. Of course I hope to inspire them, to tell them to chase their dreams and that they don’t have to let their handicap keep them from doing the same as I did, making my dreams come true.
In 2011 “In Da House” reported that you’re a fashionista. Have you still got the same big walk-in closet? What clothes have come and gone since then?
I have to admit that my closet is still the same size, but I have added new items to my collection. A short time ago I removed a lot of clothes, but for me that’s an excuse to buy some new pieces.
How do you describe your fashion style?
I have been searching for my own style since last year and have made a little mix between tough and girly. Like in the morning I stand in front of the closet and I put on skinny jeans, a blouse and a leather jacket and finish it with tough rings and a pair of high heels. Everything is possible with me!
Did you keep any of your clothes from Junior Eurovision? What about the scaffold?
I’ve kept a lot of clothes from JESC. I’ve still got my jacket and the rest of the outfit from the big final in Armenia. The scaffold didn’t fit in my room, so I had to leave it behind.
Since JESC you’ve recorded a lot of new songs like “Never Nooit” and your most recent single “Bad Ringtone”—your first single completely in English. Do you want to sing in English from now on, and will your musical style change in the coming years?
My last single was totally in English and I want to keep singing in English, because I think it’s a beautiful language and I think the language itself is very nice to sing in. I hope that my musical style will become more grown up, more tough and some more dance and R&B.
Because you’re sixteen now, you can participate in Eurovision. Would you like to do it in the future?
I would like to participate maybe, but for now I don’t really think about it. But who knows, maybe you’ll see me again on Eurovision!
Do you have a favourite Eurovision song?
On this question I’ve got just one answer: Euphoria by Loreen.
Have you listened to all of the songs from the JSF finalists this year? Do you have any advice for the singer who goes to Malta?
I’ve listened to all the songs and I think there are some very nice songs of course. But it strikes me that there is a mix between calm songs—ballads—and energetic songs. I really like that and I’m super excited for the live shows. Of course they already get a lot of advice, but I think the most important advice is just to enjoy it! An experience like this you will always remember, so have fun and enjoy!
Finally, do you have a message for your fans on wiwibloggs?
Never Stop Dreaming! That’s my life quote and I think you should never stop dreaming. And if you’ve found a dream, make it come true!
You can follow all of our Junior Eurovision coverage by clicking here.