He’s a legendary composer, producer and performer, who recently placed second on the Forbes list of Russian power celebrities.
And on Sunday evening Philipp Kirkorov worked his magic yet again on-stage at Zhara Fest in Baku, Azerbaijan, before inviting wiwibloggs backstage for an exclusive interview.
Wearing an ornate Balmain kaftan top, he channeled luxury and glamour as he spoke with us about everything from his work with The Tolmachevy Sisters and Sergey Lazarev to his thoughts on the Eurovision jury system, which saw Russia get blanked by half of the 42 juries in 2016.
Philipp has a very strong track record at Eurovision, having written and produced Koldun’s “Work Your Magic” (sixth place), Ani Lorak’s “Shady Lady” (second place) and Sergey Lazarev’s “You Are The Only One” (third place).
Sergey, who won the televote, got snubbed by 21 juries and Philipp has been outspoken about the matter in the past. How does he feel about it now?
“This makes me very sad because I always believe that Eurovision is a very true story,” he says.
“How is it possible five people in one room [could reach that decision]. I was very disappointed for all the Eurovision idea. Because the idea is to make people happy, to come together. How it possible?”
More troubling for him, however, was the public’s treatment of The Tolmachevy Sisters during Eurovision 2014.
“[It was the] most hard year for Russia in Eurovision because there was booo,” he says. “But the sisters were strong. It was a very hard period for everybody in our country.”
Julia Samoylova at Eurovision 2018?
Another hard period for Russian Eurovision fans came with the banning of Julia Samoylova from Eurovision 2017 in Ukraine.
“I was very sad because the political never has nothing to do with Eurovision and it happened this year. What can I do? I hope…next year in Lisbon Russia will participate with a singer. I don’t know who it will be.”
Philipp points out that he was a host of Faktor-A — Russia’s version of the X Factor — when Julia competed and he knows her well. He’s not sure if Eurovision is right for her right now.
“[It was] very hard. She is a very warm girl. She is very talented and she has a problem. How is it possible to do this [to her]?”
Philipp is clearly a fan of the “Flame Is Burning” singer. So would he lend his talents to her should she be chosen for 2018?
“If she asks for a song from me, sure. I always work for Eurovision with all my heart.”
“And I want to say hi to all my friends in the Eurovision world — in Greece, in Israel, in Norway, in Sweden, Carola my very big friend — I love her so much. Helena Paparizou, Anna Visi, Sakis Rouvas.”
It’s a given, but Philipp is a diehard Eurovision fan. As he says: “It’s a fantastic event — the magic moment of Saturday night.”
Russia’s 1995 participant has fond memories of his own time at the contest.
“I miss this period of my life even if it didn’t start successfully for me. 1995 — it was the first participation of Russia in Eurovision — no experience, we don’t know nothing and I have no to time to preparing, maybe not right song. But I never forget this amazing moment of my life in Dublin.”
“All time journalists, they think they make me crazy, they always say, ‘And 17th place — the worst place of Russia at Eurovision — Philip Kirkorov.’ And they think that I will be very angry. I love it. I was the first. I never forget this period. It was an amazing time in my life. I have amazing memories from Dublin, Ireland”
Since then he’s gone on to perform a series of noted covers of songs from Eurovision — including Scott Fitzgerald’s “Go”, which finished one point behind Celine Dion’s “Ne partez pas sans moi” in 1988, and “Diva” — the song that took Israel’s Dana International to the top ten years later.
“It’s my respect to all Eurovision people who make music, lyrics,” he says.
Would he compete again?
“I think if I want to go again to Eurovision — only as a producer or composer. I prefer to be backstage. It is even more nervous than to be on stage because I always put all my heart into my singers — Dima Bilan, Ani Lorak, Koldun, Tolmachevy, Sergey. But I never back to Eurovision stage as a singer. But who knows. I’m a crazy star — maybe I change my mind.”