They’re two singers with incredibly different styles. But when alyona alyona and Jerry Heil come together, it’s pure magic. That’s one lesson we’ve taken from their Vidbir 2024 song “Teresa & Maria,” which has emerged as a huge fan favourite in Ukraine’s Eurovision 2024 national selection.

Ahead of the song contest, they sat down to take some questions about their collaboration, their vision, and why they want to perform at Eurovision. Here are the highlights.

Ukraine’s alyona alyona and Jerry Heil: “Teresa & Maria” interview

Alyona, in the past you have said that your style isn’t suited for Eurovision. But now you are competing in Vidbir. What made you change your mind?

alyona alyona: I haven’t actually changed my mind. As you can see, I’m not competing in Vidbir alone, so I still can’t imagine participating as a solo artist. However, I am confident that with Jerry Heil, we will present a fantastic song and deliver an amazing performance. Together, we make a great team.

Alyona, what made you want to collaborate with Jerry on this Eurovision project?

alyona alyona: First and foremost, she is an exceptional singer. The lyrics of her songs resonate with me deeply, and I feel like we’re on the same wavelength when it comes to our song choices or opinions. So, if someone were to ask me who the best Ukrainian singer to collaborate with is, I would undoubtedly choose Jerry. Her voice, style, and energy align perfectly with mine.

Jerry, what made YOU want to collaborate with alyona alyona?

Jerry: Synergy. I adore the power that Alyona translates, and in combination with my “softness,” it transforms into perfectly balanced energy on stage.

What can you tell us about your Vidbir entry and its message?

Jerry: No one was born holy — we all came here as human beings, so who we become is our responsibility. The rules of today’s reality game are all about taking responsibility. If you want the change — be the change.

What was the writing process like?

Jerry: I love writing with Alyona for the same reason that I love to perform with her. We would never create such a thing apart from each other. It’s chemistry, the result of the reaction of talents.

We met at the studio knowing that we are creating for Eurovision. This song has to inspire. And it has to inspire us in the first place! I started with the harmony and the “oooh” part at the beginning, and it sounded sooo “holy”… like we were rising above the sky listening to it. That’s where we realized what this song has to be about. And then Alyona came out with her fast flow part where she raps about the strength of the modern woman, that despite everything knows what she wants and takes responsibility for doing it! 

Alyona, what was it like for you?

alyona alyona: The writing process was fantastic! The three of us – Jerry Heil, Ivan Klymenko (my sound producer, who also works with Jerry), and I – gathered to create something special. Jerry Heil laid down some harmonies on the piano, and we started thinking about the message we wanted to convey in our song. After creating a loop, each of us sought inspiration independently. We spent about an hour working on lyrics, and when we reconvened, the synergy was incredible. Surprisingly, our initial ideas usually turn out to be the best.

Some people may wonder, “How can their different styles work together?” What is your answer?

Jerry: Matching different styles is my purpose in life, honestly. All the styles were already created, so working on just one field per track is boring. Only fusion gives me the feeling that I create something unique. 

Alyona: Our diverse styles are our strength. We bring different dynamics, not just monotone sounds, but varied flows and melodies. We’re like a mix of M&M’s (laughs). I feel that working in synergy results in something entirely new and intriguing.

 

Who of you has more creative control in this project — not just the music, but also with staging? Or is it really 50-50?

Jerry: 50/50. This has to tell you something about Ukrainians, I guess. We share the work, and then we share the result.

alyona alyona: The whole control is in Ivan Klymenko’s hands (smiles). He guides us in the right direction, considering both Jerry and I are highly creative and emotional. While he doesn’t dictate things we don’t want to do, he provides a solid direction for making the right decisions. But jokes aside, I’d say it’s about 33% for each of us.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has impacted every Ukrainian. As artists, how has it affected each of you? Does it change how you make music?

alyona alyona: The war has infused our songs with new messages. People now seek more hope, truth, and ways to release emotions such as anger, grief, or sadness through music. Sometimes, they just need to dance as if it’s their last opportunity, and we aim to provide that through our music. Our personalities have also changed. Music feels louder and stronger now because every song could be the last for someone. Deciding when to release a song takes on a different meaning; we don’t overthink it as much as we used to. It’s like we have to seize every opportunity here and now, as it might be the last.

In these difficult times, how do you persevere and stay strong?

Jerry: I don’t stay strong. I’m not fearless! I’m scared, I cry, I want just a normal peaceful life. But if I stop doing what I do — I stop being helpful for this country. And I need you to understand what this country means for me. It’s not just the motherland. It’s not just the land. It’s a heritage that is a part of every cell in my body and soul. My cosmos sounds like a Ukrainian folk song. The main reason why we are standing for Ukraine is that we are Ukraine.

Finally some sillier questions. Alyona, we read that you were once a kindergarten teacher. What is more difficult: teaching children or rapping and why?

alyona alyona: Teaching children is undoubtedly more challenging than rapping. It’s like becoming a mother figure to them, teaching not only school lessons but also instilling an appreciation for beauty, kindness, happiness, and peace. While we teach them, they, in turn, teach us about pure, unconditional love. It’s a reciprocal process. Regardless of your problems, appearance, or attire, they still love you.

Jerry, at Vidbir 2020 you sang about baby carrots and tofu. Please tell us: Are you vegan and what is your favorite food?

Jerry: I am! Here’s the “funny” story. My mother and dad used to be butchers, so I heard the scream of another pig that was about to become meat in the backyard every single day. And ate that meat and everything until I was 23. Then something just changed in me. Nothing special happened, but I just couldn’t eat it anymore. When the big invasion happened, I said to my mother that I’d like them to stop killing animals because there’s already enough violence in the world. And to my big surprise, they agreed! That also meant that my parents wouldn’t be able to get money for a living anymore, so I took responsibility for that, and my father became my tour driver since then, and my mother is now finally doing music, as she was dreaming for all her life.

Thank you both for speaking with us!

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Tania
Tania
2 months ago

This is a beautiful song. It touched my heart deeply. The melody and the bits are amazing. Besides, the context is powerful, too. As I am Ukrainian, I can understand the lyrics very well. “Mama Teresa and Diva Maria are with us. Mother Teresa and Virgin Mary are walking on Earth like on the blade, barefooted”. I’m listening to this song and crying, because there is so much evil in this world. We have to fight it, and live a life, the lifetime is running out so quickly. Life’s not easy, but there are ancestors who had lived long before.… Read more »

embrace_obscurity
embrace_obscurity
2 months ago

sad that the fact alyona alyona was eurovision jury once was not mentioned. good interview anyway

vetrina
vetrina
2 months ago

The lyrics in english are cringey! The better sing in Ukrainian only!

M B
M B
2 months ago

It’s good but STASYA – Rika was robbed tbh.

Dida
Dida
2 months ago

Winner vibes

Musiclover
2 months ago
Reply to  Dida

I hope not

Antananarivo
Antananarivo
2 months ago

Thank you, Jerry. I´m a vegan too !

The Voice of Reason
The Voice of Reason
2 months ago

I’m glad Jerry came back strong. She was one of the ‘robbed’ acts last year (though I did LOVE Heart of Steel!)

eri
eri
2 months ago

its literally a billie eilish ripoff
“if i knew it all then would i do it again would i do it again …” – oh wait wrong song they sing “with us mama teresa diva maria …” but use the same melody
im so tired of esc songs being just ripoffs of popular songs its bad for esc s reputation
last year we had the same issue with loreen, andrew, alika …

Olena
Olena
2 months ago
Reply to  eri

You can’t be right because only the tempo is similar, there are totally different melofies, sorry.

MartyMcCu
MartyMcCu
2 months ago

Merit alone on the song itself this is a potential winner of Eurovision imho. Beautiful song.

Tom Hendryk
Tom Hendryk
2 months ago

A potential winner?

Kate
Kate
2 months ago

wish my queens luck! please win 😀

Californian
Californian
2 months ago

They are my favorite at Vidbir.

Tipi Tii
Tipi Tii
2 months ago

Mother Teresa was not a saint. She was quite the opposite. I recommend people to research more about her, if people want to know the truth.

Bejba
Bejba
2 months ago
Reply to  Tipi Tii

Literally A Pedophile Lover Lmfao, This Song Is A MESS

Tania
Tania
2 months ago
Reply to  Tipi Tii

It is not mentioned in the song that she was a Saint.

NoMoreEscAddicted
NoMoreEscAddicted
2 months ago

Very beautiful and effective song, if they manage to win Vidbir they will be among the ones to watch in May I guess.

ESC Serg
ESC Serg
2 months ago

Just why did they have to use specifically Mother Teresa and Virgin Mary to convey that message…

Californian
Californian
2 months ago
Reply to  ESC Serg

I view it as Mother Nature. Mother Nature: World.

Th16
2 months ago
Reply to  ESC Serg

Because they inspired them. That is enough of an answer I think. It doesn’t matter if they don’t inspire you

Eve
Eve
2 months ago

Like the song-dislike the lyrics.

Kate
Kate
2 months ago
Reply to  Eve

80% lyrics of the song is Alyona rap, did you read it? its amazing

Liam Lindsay
Liam Lindsay
2 months ago

This is a very good song, however the strength of this will be in the live performance. However given the very small stage that Vidbir has had over the past few years given the obvious circumstances, if this were to win and it looks very likely according to bookmakers, we have to take it with a huge pinch of salt, as songs that win pre-selections on smaller stages may or may not translate as well on to larger trans-continental stages; there have been many examples of this over the years. With Teresa & Maria, there are many elements of the… Read more »

Itchymonkey
Itchymonkey
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam Lindsay

All that doesn’t matter. They have 1 million immigrants around Europe. They get an automatic 200 points from televote guaranteed.
It’s sad for the war, immigrants and contest

Yuarith
Yuarith
2 months ago
Reply to  Itchymonkey

I think Ukrainians would rather live in their country without rxssian invaders than getting a ton of “pity votes” at ESC. It is a sad situation bc they didn’t want to leave home nor asked for any of this.

Itchymonkey
Itchymonkey
2 months ago
Reply to  Yuarith

I stated that in my message. Read carefully

Liam Lindsay
Liam Lindsay
2 months ago
Reply to  Itchymonkey

How would they get that much? They received 189 points in 2023 in the televote. The contest in Malmo is not for another 4 months or so and still have songs waiting to be chosen and revealed, so I don’t see much validity to that argument. Furthermore, remember in the 2023 pre-season when people were so uppity about the prospect of a 2nd Ukrainian victory back-to-back with Heart of Steel and it only came 6th overall, cause Loreen swept it all away people always get their emotions up in the pre-season because they look at the form and odds and… Read more »

Itchymonkey
Itchymonkey
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam Lindsay

I’ll bookmark this for when they get top three and win with 200 points plus in televote. People really need to start getting real with facts. Tvorchi was awful and still came 4th in televote

The Voice of Reason
The Voice of Reason
2 months ago
Reply to  Itchymonkey

They weren’t awful but agreed they still got pity points. If one or two other songs hadn’t been there they would have gone top.

The Voice of Reason
The Voice of Reason
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam Lindsay

189 is quite a lot actually.

Liam Lindsay
Liam Lindsay
2 months ago

I’m not disputing that, what I meant by what I said is even with the “diaspora” of displaced Ukrainians across Europe, people are thinking because of that they will continously storm the televote, year on year from now on. I mean look at how many Polish people live across Europe and since 2016, not a single song has came close to it since. I don’t dispute the numbers, I dispute the “logic” being some peoples ideas on how this contest will be voted upon.

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam Lindsay

Nice to read from you again, Liam. 🙂
Indeed, this isn’t a simple song to perform, so best of luck to them.
As for Ukraine taking a musical risk at ESC, this is why I have liked their entries in the past: They often take musical risks that pay off well.

Liam Lindsay
Liam Lindsay
2 months ago
Reply to  Purple Mask

My points exactly. It needs every little thing to go exactly right, to the letter. The slightest of mis-steps and its over. Its dead in the water.

The Voice of Reason
The Voice of Reason
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam Lindsay

They wont need to worry about staging, because this is the kind of song that does well based on the MUSIC and the vocals alone.

Devito
Devito
2 months ago

Agree to disagree.

grft
grft
2 months ago

Come on Eurovision 2024 winners

Jonas
Jonas
2 months ago

“Who we become is our own responsibility”

Hard disagree.

We are born innocent little souls, reliant on others for at least 18 years. Sometimes the harsh realities of life beat us down. Not everyone can withstand them, and that’s okay. I believe in society, not every man for himself.

Jonas
Jonas
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

“No one was born holy”

The reverse is true! There is nothing holier than a newborn baby.

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

(Cough), Or, perhaps you “respectfully disagree”?

The Voice of Reason
The Voice of Reason
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

I’ll agree with you there, Babies can’t murder people…unless we’re talking about Maggie Simpson! But yeah if they were inherently bad, people would be scare mongering about ‘the Great Baby takeover’ of the world!

The Voice of Reason
The Voice of Reason
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

And you believe you are the arbiter of that society, trying to ‘reel’ people in with your preaching.

Th16
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

I disagree with you. We are born innocent souls , but we grow up and become adults. We are innocent because we don’t know about the world and we mature in the process of coming in touch with it. Our parents and society guide us and interfere on this process , but it’s also an individual process. You are responsible for what you are or stand for. Our little everyday choices matter for what we become. You are responsible for your own self

Itchymonkey
Itchymonkey
2 months ago

We are all a product of our mind programming. Free the mind and you are anything you want to be

Jonas
Jonas
2 months ago
Reply to  Itchymonkey

Yeah, easier said than done.

Yuarith
Yuarith
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

Indeed it is, but there’s the possibility