Put on your bell bottoms and get ready to dance! Turkish-born Serhat , who will represent San Marino at Eurovision 2016, is ready to make you move with his disco number “I Didn’t Know”.
And last week the beloved crooner built a bridge to Tbilisi, where he met with Georgia’s Eurovision representatives Nika Kocharov & the Young Georgian Lolitaz.
Our Georgia correspondent Rezo Mamsikashvili caught up with Serhat at the Holiday Inn Tbilisi, where they discussed his musical experiences, why he switched to the disco version of his song and the complications that switch brings in terms of staging and preparation. Yes, he’s gone back to the drawing board, but he isn’t upset about it. As he says: “I like challenges.”
Hello Serhat! We’re all wondering: What’s your connection to San Marino?
Hello! My connection is music right now. Before the contest I knew San Marino, but after they paid attention to my work in the music business in Europe, they asked me to represent San Marino at the Eurovision Song Contest. Now I have been in San Marino several times and I feel very comfortable in this very small country. I think our connection will grow.
Your biography is long and extensive. Among other things you’ve hosted the Turkish edition of Jeopardy. Do you consider yourself primarily a TV personality or a musician?
Actually, I started my show business life with television as a producer and presenter. Jeopardy was really successful in Turkey. I recorded more than a thousand shows and I’m proud — I got all the possible awards as a presenter and producer. Right now, television is a part of my life, but I’ve been focusing more on music over the past ten years. That’s why I can say music is the priority in my life.
Has your long career as a TV producer given you any particular skills that you’ll be taking to Eurovision? Are you very involved with your staging?
Yeah. I am not only a producer of TV shows, I’m also a producer of different festivals in Turkey, like the Mediterranean Song Contest, a high school music contest, and that’s why I’ve a lot of experience with how to organise a festival, and the background from the staging to, like, everything else — administration, etc.
Please tell us about your Eurovision song. What’s the message?
Actually, I love this song. It’s a very personal song. It’s a reflection of part of my life and, of course, as we started from the ballad version, it was more emotional. But even the disco version — it looks more up-tempo and cheerful — but there is also an emotional part inside. So the message is very simple – Love.
Photo Gallery: San Marino’s Serhat
Why did you decide to switch to the disco version of “I Didn’t Know” for Eurovision?
Actually, I love all versions of the song. We produced five different versions, so we spent more time than any other country. We had different languages, too — French, Italian — and the disco version and also a more modern dance version. The first idea was to perform the ballad version, which I love. But after we put the disco version on YouTube we got a lot of positive reactions especially from Eurovision fans. I think for any artist it is very important to listen to the expectations of the fans. I always take it very seriously. The Eurovision Song Contest is strong, and it exists for fans, so it’s a very specific group and I appreciate it all. We’re singing for fans at the Eurovision stage. Then why not sing the disco version? So, if Eurovision fans want to see my show this way, I’ll do it.
We react to the disco version of “I Didn’t Know”
Will the song have different staging now that it has been changed to the disco version?
Of course. Everything was ready and fixed. Actually, it was a risky decision, because you must change the whole staging and costumes. I like challenges. Of course, I didn’t have a problem with the ballad version, but I started from the beginning, from zero again, to build up the staging.
How do you isolate yourself from negative feedback?
My friend, who has experience at the Eurovision, told me three months ago: ”You have to cut your connection with social media. Don’t listen, don’t look, don’t do anything. It was not important for me, because I’ve enough experience with good and bad things. I never fly high after good comments and I never die after bad comments. In life 100% can’t love you.
A photo posted by wiwibloggs (@wiwibloggs) on
Turkey has not participated at Eurovision since 2012. Why do you think Turkey is staying away and can it be encouraged to come back?
I don’t know. I can’t talk at that time. From my side, actually, I made a lot of contests, festivals…I was on the jury of many international festivals and for the first time I will be as a contestant on the stage. So it was maybe not my first idea even years ago as I started to sing. It just happened. It’s nice, because I’m a Eurovision fan. I love the Eurovision Song Contest.
What do you think your chances are of winning the contest?
I think that all of the countries have a chance and want to win. We’ll see everything on the 10th and 12th of May and everyone can win. We’ll see what kind of performances will be performed in the semi-final. I think I’ve got a chance as others.
Finally, do you have a message for your fans on wiwibloggs?
First of all, it’s really nice, this kind of interview. I hope we’ll all enjoy together — all countries, correspondents from other countries. They come to Stockholm and I think we’ll have a good time all together. Because this is mission of Eurovision — come together. We all come together. The most important thing is to be there, enjoy it, to make best perfomances and then waiting for next year. Thank you!
Thank you Serhat!