It’s hard to believe that just six months ago Netta — the winner of Eurovision 2018 and an Israeli icon — was a complete outsider struggling to find her way in the music industry. But from the moment she appeared on HaKochav Haba (“The Next Star”), she captivated audiences with her talent and sincere connection with viewers. Her message was simple yet powerful: I’m different, this is who I am, take it or leave it. This approach later touched people’s hearts all over Europe.
Since her victory, which came 20 years after Dana International’s historic win, Israel has returned to “Eurovision Mania”. It’s gripped not only fans, but also average TV viewers who didn’t particularly care about the contest and even underestimated its value and worth. There’s been a lot of drama and hype surrounding the upcoming edition of the contest and it’s not coincidental. We doubt any other Israeli candidate would have made the same impact had he or she won.
We recently spoke with Netta on the telephone to make sense of the madness before she embarks on her tour around Europe. We also gave her a nudge to see if she would reveal any of KAN’s plans ahead of Eurovision 2019. And guess what: their vision is definitely looking DIVINE!
Wonder woman, don’t you ever forget…
Wiwibloggs: How would you describe your life since you won Eurovision?
Netta: Like a Hurricane, with so much love but also with many unreasonable and extreme feelings. I found myself very occasionally feeling low and then feeling high at the very same moment. But mostly I have been learning so much about myself. I am so grateful for all that happened to me and I feel that I have grown up so much during this time. I turned 20 years older at once and at the same time became a child again.
You mentioned that there have also been some bad feelings since you won. Why is that?
Because there were some moments and situations in which I was not able to understand and to deal with what has been happening.
Can you give us an example?
The standards are now very different, and the expectations are so high. I was invited to perform during Berlin Pride in front of 1.5 million people and just before I was about to go on stage, a storm started, and they had to evacuate everyone and cancel the whole thing!
That must have been very frustrating!
Exactly! You get prepared and very excited, you get a huge surge of energy and literally just before you go on stage they tell you it’s not happening. I was so sad and couldn’t stop crying. The crowd was so disappointed, and I felt devastated. Then we had to look for around four hours until we were able to find another location for the show, and then again you need to find positive energy in yourself after such a frustrating event. I would probably say that every experience I now have makes me feel “on the edge” with a lot of moments of hope – because people are telling you “great things are going to happen to you” and then they don’t. It is all very shaking.
Look at me, I’m a beautiful creature
As with any Eurovision winner, there was criticism about your victory with some abusive comments — especially on YouTube — regarding your appearance and weight. Some even described “Toy” as “fast food music”. How did you feel about that?
I don’t care because I know what people say is simply not true. I am very keen to create something which I can relate to and this is what matters for me. If it’s true for me then this is what counts.
Do you think that this is why people voted for you across Europe? Because of this authenticity you are speaking about?
Probably. I guess it’s because I’m not trying to hide or to be something I am not. This is who I am. ‘Toy’ is a song that has been written for ME — I’m happy with how I look, and I love myself.
Self-acceptance — feeling happy with who you are and loving yourself — is very relevant to the LGBT community. Do you feel that connection?
I feel very connected to the gay community — their acceptance makes me accept myself. Every step we make basically puts us one step forward and pushes us from darkness to light.”
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Link to the full version in my bio! With all the stuff happening, I almost forgot to share with you this piece that we have been working on for over a month now. Together with my producer @avshalomariel on the track, directed by the great @hochmakaren and a massive Alist of talented artist that worked so hard for this to be the best Netflix-partner commercial ever. Thank you all. <3
Dancing with my dolls on the European tour
Tell us about your tour in Europe — how did you pick your six cities?
I’m going to perform in 6 different cities across Europe. I will start in Vienna on 12 November and finish in London on 21 November. I’ve chosen Vienna to begin with because I wanted to do a tribute for Conchita Wurst who is a true heroine for me. Unfortunately, I will not be able to perform with her because she will not be available. But I think she is one of the most important winners in the recent history of the contest and, like myself, she broke many concepts and conventions. Both Conchita and Tom, the man behind her, are true examples of authenticity and I admire them.
What about the other cities in your tour?
I have been in Cologne recently during Pride and the energy there were amazing. Pride there is like a national holiday and you can see families celebrating the event. I felt very good there. You feel that Pride has become something common and normal rather than a political event.
“Toy” crossed the ocean and became a huge success in the US, leading the Billboard Dance Club Song chart. Does this make you dream about a career in the US?
Well, it does make me think about a career abroad both in the US and in Europe. But to be honest? I simply want to do my music and see where it takes me.
Have you met with Dana International? After all you are her successor and she also marked a milestone in the history of the contest.
Dana has made history there is no doubt about it. I’ve recently watched her performance at Eurovision 1999 where she did her own version of “Free” and I was amazed. To think that Israel allowed a transgender to do such an act in front of the walls of Jerusalem 20 years ago is unbelievable.
When you won, Prime Minister Netanyahu called you. After Dana won, no one called her. How do you feel about it?
It’s a bit sad but then again Dana doesn’t need the prime minister to call her [Ed. note: Curiously, Netanyahu was also PM back in 1998]. To be honest, I was excited when he called because I understood what an impact I had on Israelis but not because he is the prime minister. As far as I am concerned, we are all human beings. I have become a role model for many Israelis and it’s interesting because I remember that I had been saying to myself after HaKohcav Haba: “Be that role model — the one that you didn’t have when you were a child”. This is exactly the world in which I would like to see myself live where “idols” or role models love themselves and create the art they believe in”.
Let me show you Tel Aviv
When you won Eurovision 2018, you spontaneously announced “next time in Jerusalem”. However Tel Aviv won the right to be host city after some political turmoil and drama. Are you happy that Tel Aviv has been selected as host city and not Jerusalem?
I’m very happy that Eurovision will take place in Israel and very happy that Tel Aviv is the host city. I hope that many people will arrive in Israel for the celebration. To be honest, I don’t understand what all the noise was about. Jerusalem is only 30 minutes away. People like dramas. What matters is that Eurovision is coming to Israel and people all over the world will see what an amazing place it is. I think we deserve it. I just want people to know how wonderful Israel is.
What about Eurovision 2019? Did you get any offers from Kan?
Of course I did! There are going to be many surprises.
Such as? Are you going take part as a host or maybe a host in the green room?
Not sure about it yet but it’s going to be fun.
What about other future plans? Are you working on something new?
Actually I am. I am working on some new songs now but I want this to be perfect so this is why it hasn’t gone out yet. But very soon it will and I am excited about it.
Sounds amazing and something to look forward to!
I do feel that I need to apologise to my fans as it takes me time.
No rush, let it be.
Exactly, this is how I see it.
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Today on wiwibloggs.com: Our Izhar chats with #Eurovision 2018 winner @nettabarzi about life since her victory, plans for the 2019 contest in #TelAviv and her upcoming European tour. “I feel very connected to the gay community,” she says. “Their acceptance makes me accept myself” ??? #eurovisionsongcontest #eurovision2019
We also heard about your new love so congratulations!
Wow! Thank you… but we just started dating and people are already speculating so let’s see what happens.
Do you have any message for our readers?
Wiwi I miss you so much and all the fuss about Eurovision. We are all gonna meet next year in Israel and I can’t wait for this to happen and I can’t wait for you to see what we’re planning so let’s do this!