Singer Eleni Irakleous hopes to represent her country Cyprus at Eurovision 2015. She certainly has the experience to shine on a platform as big as Eurovision. She has taken part on The Voice Of Germany and, during the third audition of Cyprus’ Eurovision Song Project, she made Cypriot judge Alex Panayi cry with her outstanding performance of “Dawn”. Our Greece correspondent Billy Xifaras caught up with her recently. Here are the highlights.
Some of our readers may recognize you from “The Voice Of Germany”? What did you gain from that experience?
My experience from “The Voice” was stunning. Apart from the unbelievable co-ordination of the German production I was taken by surprise with the quality of the show. I learnt, though, that there are times I have to speak up more and not repeat “yes”. I was not in favour of the song the production team selected for me, and this is the reason I believe I didn’t pass through the Blind Auditions.
More recently, you passed the first audition of the Eurovision Song Project with your song “Dawn”. Do you think your song can win Eurovision?
I believe much in my song. It comes directly from my heart. I wrote it when I was eighteen. There is that simplicity and beauty of a young and relatively immature soul, a part of me that I want to remember always. I hope it touches more people!
“Dawn” discusses the death of a man you were close to. Was it your father?
The man I lost before I went to study was not my father, but the man who guided me to music and brought me up. He had no children. He was always opting for my music and supported me. After his death, I used to see him in my dreams. One night in Berlin, I dreamt of him giving me some musical scores for new songs, new anthems. The very next day I wrote “Dawn” in one hour. Surely, one hurts from someone’s loss. For me, it was really difficult to say goodbye to a man who believed in me more than anyone… But I learnt to be stronger.
Are you happy with the format of the “Eurovision Song Project”?
I am glad this competition has begun in Cyprus. I could clearly suggest some changes, but I do not need to. The only thing that I was not fond of was the fact that artists were given very little space. The production team put much pressure on the timetable owing to the little time remaining, sometimes it was not really clear what was following and participants had to obey in seconds and then sing when told so. Not everyone works with an On-Off switch… Especially in cases when you have to be judged too.
Have you met the other artists?
Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to get to know other singers. I knew some from the past and we were classmates with a participant at high school! What a coincidence!
What is your opinion about the judges? Who is your favourite?
Watching the rest of the auditions, I have to admit that the judges have something good to say for each artist. They are correct and objective and they do not embarrass the singer whatever their opinion is. For sure, each has his/her own taste and opinion on which style would fit Cyprus for the contest. But, above all, they want a respectful representation of the country. I trust them. My favourites are Alex Panayi and Tasos Tryfonos. I really liked Alex’s song “Fotia” in 1995 (Yes, I was six years old!) and I used to enjoy Tasos’s voice through my school years.
Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I would say I am trying to keep my life interesting in each aspect. I can not stand inactivity and monotony. After finishing my studies, I started working permanently in Berlin, where there is always a new play, a concert or a brand new project I work at.
What are your musical influences?
It may sound hilarious, but the first band I was addicted to was “Westlife”! Then, Norah Jones, Eva Cassidy, Jeff Buckley, Damien Rice, Diana Krall, Alkinoos Ioannidis, Chatzidakis and Attik followed. I was also influenced by classical music and its composers.