Elena Tsagrinou is set to represent Cyprus at Eurovision 2021 with the fiery “El Diablo”. While in the midst of her preparations for the contest, the star took time to have an interview with wiwibloggs about her entry and discredits ideas that the song is in any way paying homage to the devil.
Indeed, Elena’s entry was the subject of a petition from a local religious group who were campaigning for the song to be axed. The Association of Theologists in Cyprus claimed that “El Diablo” is “scandalous” and goes against Christian values. But the country’s broadcaster stood their ground. CyBC released a response to said petition, and say the song will not be withdrawn from Eurovision.
Speaking to us on Zoom from Panik Records Studios, Elena has her say on the matter and immediately sets the record straight by telling us what “El diablo” is all about.
Interview: Cyprus’ Elena Tsagrinou on “El Diablo”
“It’s not about the devil. We all fight, this song takes me inside of this position. When the song goes to the end, I get off from the relationship. I am inside the song from the beginning to the end.” Elena continues, “[It is about] a bad relationship with someone. I connect so much with “El Diablo”. That’s why I do this job and that’s why I am singing it. I am a singer and I want to feel what I am doing.”
Moving on from the meaning of the song, Elena also talks about her first impressions of “El Diablo” when she was initially offered the song: “From the first time I see that the production is very huge”. And while a good first impression is of course vital, the star notes that she developed an even stronger appreciation for the track further down the line. “It was a good quality song for the Eurovision Song Contest but when I got into the process and to the rehearsals, I see that it is not just about just a good song. It has everything, the attitude and the brokenness.”
Songs of course don’t have to be ballads to be emotional. Elena reveals to us where the song takes her when she is singing it. “I have a history and I take the history inside the rehearsals. I get emotional every time and I have a story in my mind”, she said. “Sometimes inside the song I feel dead, completely dead because they are destroying me. That guy, the situation, destroyed me so I cry and I am completely dead, then I get off of this.”
Elena Tsagrinou on the “El Diablo” music video
There is so much going on in Elena’s dark and pulsating music video for “El Diablo”. It leaves a lot for discussion and debate, especially the star’s battle with the demonic men painted in dark greys to blacks. Elena let’s us know exactly what is going on.
“It’s the angel and the devil inside us that talk to much in our heads and make us crazy”, she said. “In the end, in this relationship between the devil and the angel, I am the winner. They destroy my passion and I get it back again – freedom.”
Live-on-tape recording and stage performance
Elena recorded her live-on-tape recording for Eurovision 2021 last month in Sofia, Bulgaria. We wanted to see if we could get a flavour of what that was like. “It’s very very different because there was no audience, it’s like a video clip”, she said. “But it is completely different when we perform on stage. I don’t feel the same. I want to feel the real performance in the Eurovision Song Contest and I am really glad we will have it this year.”
Unfortunately for us, Elena Tsagrinou was tight lipped in the interview and wouldn’t reveal anything about her stage show for Rotterdam: “I will keep my little secrets for the live performance!”.
Elena did reveal though that Canadian Eurovision writer extraordinaire Laurell Barker will be singing backup on the night as part of an all-female backing singer team. Laurell was the mastermind who co-wrote “El Diablo” and had three songs competing at Eurovision 2019. “She does the best backing vocals ever! She is the best. I think her voice is amazing.”, notes Elena. “My voice is not so high, Laurel takes that personality in my voice and we connect with each other.”
Elena on support from previous acts and her Eurovision 2021 favourites
We love it when artists have a respect for the contest before they enter Eurovision and Elena is no different. She confesses to be a massive fan herself. “I love Eurovision, I am a huge fan too! So I want to have fun!”
As part of the interview, Elena Tsagrinou also revealed that previous Cypriot Eurovision artists have shown her a lot of support, including 2018 fire queen Eleni Fouriera and 2019 “Replay” singer Tamta. “We are all in Panik Records so we keep this vibe, they support me so much.”
The support for Elena transcends time as well. Her former band members from Greek group OtherView have also sent Elena wishes. “These guys have made my career what it is now, so I give it to them and thank them. They have made me who I am.”
Elena has also been keeping tabs on the competition for Eurovision 2021. She notes Montaigne as one of her favourites from this year’s contingent. “She is completely different, I like it. She reminds me of me last year when I had pink hair.” Other acts mentioned were Malta’s Destiny and Bulgaria’s Victoria. “I love [Victoria], I love her ballads, so emotional. We have a lot of good songs this year!”
Preparation for the contest
Schedules are incredibly busy for stars like Elena at the best of times. Throw in the biggest music contest in the world and you have anarchy. Elena explains what she gets up to and how she is staying calm in preparation for Rotterdam.
“I work a lot now. I have exactly the time when I am sleeping and exactly the time when I am eating. Exactly the time when I am on phone calls for work and friends. It’s all in boxes.” Elena continues, “I don’t want to be anxious. That is me and that’s good about me, the programme makes me not anxious, it keeps me relaxed. I am doing yoga all the time that keeps me sane. That is the secret.”
What did you take away from this interview with Elena Tsagrinou? Are you hoping she can go all the way with “El Diablo” at Eurovision 2021? Let us know in the comments box down below.