On January 15, Cyprus will stage the first semi-final, or “Eurochallenge 1”, of the Eurovision Song Project. The twenty qualifiers will fight for 10 tickets to the second semi-final. Ioanna Protopapa, the successful Cypriot singer who took part on the first season of the Greek X-Factor, is among them, having advanced from the second audition back in December. She recently caught up with our Greek correspondent Billy Xifaras. Below she dishes on her song, X Factor and why Sakis Rouvas gives her strength.
Many of our readers in Greece, Cyprus and even the UK will remember you for appearing on Greek X Factor. How significant was that experience for you?
The best moments of my life include participating on the Greek X-Factor at the age of 16. It was the most important step on the music path I choose and I still feel proud for myself.
How did you end up participating on the show?
I took part at the auditions of the Greek X-Factor while vacationing in Cyprus, as I live in London.
You worked with some major stars on the show. Do you still use any of their advice?
The only advice I use comes from Sakis Rouvas, when he told me that my future in music will be a long way through happiness and sadness, and that I have already made my first steps. It was the night of my elimination and his words gave me strength.
How did you feel working with Sakis Rouvas and other successful musicians?
It was really nice to work with Sakis and other professionals I used to hold as idols, such as Helena Paparizou, Kalomira and Anna Vissi. I understood that they are simple people like everyone.
Your participation on the X-Factor coincided with your studies. Did teachers and classmates treat you differently?
When I took part at the competition I left my studies for some time and then returned to finish them. No one treated me differently because those who know me know that I am myself and generally very simple in my everyday life. I only transform on the stage.
Why do you want to sing at the Eurovision?
I want to participate at the Eurovision as I love this competition and I have watched it since I was a kid. It is my goal to sing on the stage and represent my homeland.
Can you describe your competing entry “Beat Of My Heart”?
My entry has a dance-ethnic beat, with music by John Themis and lyrics by me! It took me a few days to write my entry.
What do you say to those who believe dance entries have no place in Eurovision?
I like dance entries at Eurovision and I always used to cheer for them. For me, Eurovision is a big party which brings the whole of Europe together, and in parties you dance to these songs. I do like ballads, but this year I would like to send a dance beat. I do not know what will happen next, but if I ever participated again I would like to send a dance song and a ballad.
Who is your favourite judge in Cyprus?
The Eurovision Song Project gives young artists the chance to show their talent. It is a really nice experience. I do not have a favourite judge, they are all equal to me and I respect all of them them.