She’s one of the most talked-about contestants of Eurovision 2016, having already courted headlines from New York to London to Berlin.

And on Saturday Ukraine’s Jamala reminded us why she’s worthy of all the attention when she sat down for a Skype interview with wiwibloggs.

The 32-year-old singer — real name Susana Jamaladinova — was warm, open and thoughtful as she fielded questions on everything from Stalin’s purges to accusations that her song is too political to her adorable dog Badu.

In an industry filled with faux air kisses and scripted responses, she’s keeping it real and winning fans for her voice and her personality.

In short, Jamala slays.

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Jamala, who previously entered Ukraine’s 2011 selection for Eurovision, says she wanted to make another go this year because she had a story to tell.

“I wrote this song last year, but the origins of it are in my childhood,” she says. “It’s inspired by my great grandmother. She told me about the Crimean Tatar deportation from Crimea to Central Asia on the 18th of May, 1944. It was a horrible time when she with five children on her arms was locked into cattle trains without food, water or fresh air and moved out of Crimea. During this deportation she lost one of her daughters.”

The lullaby part of her song — which is accompanied by Jamala’s loud calling — refers to the moment her great grandmother recognised the death of her daughter.

“I understand that it is quite a sad story, but in my opinion all musicians have to sing what really touches them.”

As international media worked itself into a frenzy over the supposedly political nature of her song, Jamala kept her cool.

She says she never worried about being disqualified, because her song is personal and historical. It certainly wasn’t “aimed at Russia” as the BBC suggested.

“There is no politics on my song. I think there are two important messages in this song. When we create the future we should remember our roots and where we came from. And if you respect your own family, your own history, you know 100% how to respect other cultures. There is no political statement on my song.”

Press play to hear Jamala’s dog sing

Our @williamleeadams just met amazing @jamalajaaa and her dog Badu. ???? #Eurovision #Eurovision2016 #ukraine

A video posted by wiwibloggs (@wiwibloggs) on

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Pollaski
Pollaski
5 years ago

Maybe if the Russians weren’t so hilariously thin-skinned, the song wouldn’t be getting the attention it’s getting.

And to the special little snowflakes who are crying “It’s too angry! Eurovision should be about happiness and joy and rainbows and unicorns!”… No it shouldn’t be. Eurovision should be about MUSIC, and good music invokes all kinds of emotions both positive and negative. And I’d much rather see a piece based on real emotion than some manufactured schlock.

oxyk
oxyk
5 years ago

@Anton, looks like everyone in the world except Russia follows our “Ukr”-reality. don’t you think there’s something wrong with your “Moskovian” reality? I bet you have heard that our Rada adopted the draft of law to rename Russia to Moskovia in Ukrainian language and to return to our country historical name Ukraine-Rus or Kievan Rus? the only one who’s been hysterical about this change is you, Moskovia. why is that? if you believe that you never stole your “Rus” sticker from us, why then you’re so desperate and lie about Ukraine’s history? it’s on english wiki, everyone can read it.… Read more »

Anton
Anton
5 years ago

oxyk

Your «ukr»-fantasies is just ridiculous. Anyway, ESC is NOT about politics, I suggest you to keep it in mind. ESC scene is NOT a place for political statements.

oxyk
oxyk
5 years ago

@Anton, you’re uneducated Russian.
“Ukraine was ALWAYS part of Russia” should be read as
“Russia emerged from Ukraine and was a colony land for Ukrainian rulers. Russia stole it’s name from Ukraine-Rus (Kievan Rus) in 18th century. Russian’s real name is Moskovia. First Ukrainian banner with current national colors and signs appeared in 970”.
do not thank me for this short history lesson. you’re welcome 🙂

LEO ESC AUT
LEO ESC AUT
5 years ago

Presentation of JAMALA’s new song “BREATH” – In Concert. 1st song in the VIDEO: https://youtu.be/Q65XlvL2xDo ESC 2016: At the very moment Jamala is preparing a completely NEW PERFORMANCE for her ESC entry song “1944”, even her dress will be new too. Perhaps with some dancers and with a BIG BIG SURPRISE for the ESC 2016 stage. How about JAMALA’s chances reaching for ESC GOLD this years she says: “My aim is to win. If you don’t want to win then participation does not make any sense.” If you’re rooting for Jamala, don’t forget that she’ll be competing in second semi… Read more »

David Who
David Who
5 years ago

That was a really good interview. All interviews with Jamala this year are my favourites; she’s definitely my favourite ESC 2016 star even though the song is controversial. Thanks William for asking about her dog as well; that moment actually also revealed Jamala’s astonishing voice as well as the dog’s! Interesting that she mentions the song was inspired by trance roots – actually I did pick up on that before as I have written similarly inspired material. Nice to know i was hearing correctly. There is a lot of “experimental” going on with Jamala’s voice… sometimes i wonder if she… Read more »

Anton
Anton
5 years ago

Ewan

When strangers are coming…
They come to your house,
They kill you all and say,
We’re not guilty not guilty.
Where is your mind?
Humanity cries.
You think you are gods.
But everyone dies.

If that’s not political, then I don’t know what is…

Anton
Anton
5 years ago

oxyk
LOL Ukraine was ALWAYS part of Russia

Anton
Anton
5 years ago

John Doe
Because Ukraine must make a statement, Jamala is just a soldier, it’s obvious to all and ESC authority knows it but permits.

oxyk
oxyk
5 years ago

@Julian, yes, historically Ukraine always had 3 enemies: Poland, Turkey and Russia. it’s historical fact. Poland and Turkey learned how to be civilized neighbors, that’s most important in our relations than recalling any accidents in the past. Russia haven’t learned their lesson and wages a war against Ukraine. What kind of excuse they can have for that? Crimea is not Russian and it never was in old ages. There’s plenty of historical documents that describe Turkey-Ukrainian spheres of influence in the Black Sea and in Crimea. What makes Russia to claim Crimea as their land is 170 years(!) of their… Read more »

John Doe
John Doe
5 years ago

Why does she deny the obvious?

Julian
Julian
5 years ago

There are hundreds of years of conflict between Russians/Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars, including 2-3 million people taken to slavery by Tatars and sold in the Ottoman (Turk) Empire. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimean%E2%80%93Nogai_raids_into_East_Slavic_lands

Also strategically Crimea and Ukraine are almost at the gates of Moscow therefore these are battles that Russia cannot afford to lose.

Anton
Anton
5 years ago

Ewan, tou are talking about politics. Jamala sings about her personal resentements. I just want to say that it is not appropriate for ESC format, that’s all.

Hugh
Hugh
5 years ago

I bloody love Jamala <3

Ewan
Ewan
5 years ago

@Anton hate? More like rejection of hate and violence, and embracing unity, peace and love. “We could build a future where people are free to live and love the happiest time.” If that’s a message of hate then I’m the Pope. @Hebbuzz but it is bringing people together. People won’t get behind it because they’re anti-Putin, they’ll get behind it because they’re anti-tyranny, which is the message. It just so happens that what Putin has done recently happens to come off as tyrannical to many in Europe and across the world. And how is it not personal to her when… Read more »

Anton
Anton
5 years ago

There is no political statement? OK, but this song is so full of hate. I don’t think it’s a good thing for Eurovision, let’s sing about love, joy and other good things, not about hate and your personal resentments!

Shijie Yu
Shijie Yu
5 years ago

She just simply claims the pain minorites had at that time in Ukriane. Saying this song is not acceptable is like saying you should not say anything after somebody cut a big hole on your body.

oxyk
oxyk
5 years ago

@Hebbuzz, she claims feelings of millions Ukrainian people and millions of other ex-Soviet people who suffered the same fate. so f*k you, my friend, with love from our big family.

Hebbuzz
Hebbuzz
5 years ago

No off course it’s not about politics. that would mean disqualification. She might say so, but I just think it’s a sick entry, just like last years song from Armenia. It’s against the Eurovision thought of joining people, it brings division! And will mainly gets votes as an Anti-Putin song. There might be no statement literally in it, but everyone feels what is meant. What other reason could one have to sing about 1944? She wasn;t born then, so f*ck the personal feelings she claims.

mocosuburbian
mocosuburbian
5 years ago

kremlinbots
kremlinbots everywhere vvv

Never forget
Never forget
5 years ago

mistake in writing. Maybe we don t have deportatiton in 1944 if many people from Crimean Tatars did not joined to Nazis trouup and suport Nazis Germany invasion of Soviet Union, instead Maybe we don t have deportatiton in 1944 if many people from Crimean Tatars joins to Nazis and suport Nazis Germany invasion of Soviet Union.

Never forget
Never forget
5 years ago

Official justification related with involvement about 20.000 Crimea Tatars in SS criminal actions of Waffen-Gebirgsjäger-Regiment der SS (tatarische), Waffen-Verbände der SS and “Schuma”. Waffen SS soldiers from Crimea Tatars killed at least 15.000 civilians near “Krasny” village. SS-Waffengruppe Krim of Osttürkischer Waffenverband der SS killed many Poland people during Warsaw Uprising

Never forget
Never forget
5 years ago

oxyk

Why she didnt wrote song 1941, about how many Crimean Tatars joinst to Nazis troup and kill many people in Soviet Union during that war. Maybe we don t have deportatiton in 1944 if many people from Crimean Tatars joins to Nazis and suport Nazis Germany invasion of Soviet Union.

Never forget
Never forget
5 years ago

oxyk

The Tatar Legions were auxiliary units of the SS formed after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.
It included:
Crimean Tatar Legion – Crimean Tatars, Qarays, Nogais
Volga Tatar Legion – included also Bashkirs, Chuvashes, Mari, Udmurt, Mordwa
Crimean Jaegers

Maybe song is dedicated also for people in that Nazis troup durign WW II.

j
j
5 years ago

This is not a song! Just politics, really awful !!

oxyk
oxyk
5 years ago

@Never forget, the whole world is so anti Russian. why don’t you quit? look at small exhausted by war Ukraine. it participate in all activities, still have international peacekeeping contingent in other countries, and survives all your Russian hate and slanders with its head high. and look at you, pathetic Russians. came here to ask for sympathy for your mother terroRussia? not in Ukrainian topic.

oxyk
oxyk
5 years ago

@Never forget, koly tobi vzhe gorlyanka pir’yam poroste? hto tebe, kacaps’le laino, klykav sjudy zhalitys’, sho nihto ne ljubyt’ rashu? zgyn’, ork vatnogolovyj

ct_greece
ct_greece
5 years ago

* for Belgium instead of Sweden

ct_greece
ct_greece
5 years ago

@ Eugene

If that was the case last year, they should have voted for Belgium, Sweden. What “originality” did they find in “Heroes”? Everything, including the graphics, was “borrowed” from some other source!

However I do think that when all is said and done the trophy will be contested by Russia, France, Serbia or Ukraine.

SpirK
SpirK
5 years ago

My absolute favorite this year. Strong, deep, emotional, authentic and with a breathtaking, heartfelt performance. Wow, I didn’t know about the lullaby part, but thinking of it now, she interprets the story with a fantastic way. With a great stage performance, which is almost sure because we are talking about Ukraine, this could be the one to watch. Dark horse alert!!

Bård
Bård
5 years ago

By far the most genuine entry this year. I love it!

Charles
Charles
5 years ago

For once Ukraine is actually sending an actual song and focusing on music then following the same Russian and Azerbaijan’s desperate approach to win this no matter what including sending bs music if necessary. Ukraine was excellent in doing that … thank God they chose someone who understands music and has all the musical elements that allow Jamala to be a serious contender at this year’s Eurovision. Kinda reminds me of 1976’s Greek entry whose song was far more political than this and indeed send a very in-your-face message to the one country not taking part of it that year:… Read more »

Never forget
Never forget
5 years ago

This song is so political, but because everybody hates Russia from 2014, this song is allow to perform on Eurovison stage thanks to EBU reference group full of members from western and many members are from nordic countries. See how MF 2010 interval act in final was so anti russian .

Thomasfan22
Thomasfan22
5 years ago

OMG BADU IS SO CUTE IC ANT EVEN

Per
Per
5 years ago

Ukrain always bee in top 5. It dosent matter what they have for song. This year is the whorst ever.

SaraD
SaraD
5 years ago

Very warm interview ) like my friends are talking to me <3

ct_greece
ct_greece
5 years ago

Her great-grandmother sings a lulluby to her child and then cries out when she realises it’s dead. At 2:15 in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxS6eKEOdLQ

Goosebumps. If there is any justice, this should win…

Margaret
Margaret
5 years ago

I love this song <3 Emotional and sincere.

This is my opinion (TIMO)
This is my opinion (TIMO)
5 years ago

This is top 5 song for me because it’s based on real world rather than fake story of love that leads to writing a cheap songs there are many examples in this year’s contest as well as in previous contests which l won’t bother to mention but those cheap songs gets what they deserve anyway, good luck Ukraine thanks for hitting my top 5

eduard
eduard
5 years ago

she is so pretty and warm i love her after seeing this interview <3 i gotta say that dog is more clever than me

Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly
5 years ago

Deserves the win)

Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly
5 years ago

<3

cheesecake
cheesecake
5 years ago

Amazing interview, lovely 🙂

MarioMario
MarioMario
5 years ago

Her song is beautiful.