Krassimir Avramov, the Bulgarian representative in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, has spoken to esctoday.com about the turbulent times he went through after winning the Bulgarian final, his plans for the staging of the song, his promo tour and his views on the contest in general. Krassimir will soon be travelling around Europe with FYR Macedonia and Greece as his first stops.
After you won the Bulgarian final, there were certain attacks against you. What happened?
After the final, some colleagues, people who had lost in the competition, decided to attack me by saying "why am I here?" that I shouldn't be here, that I should go back to the States. They even said that I hadn't paid my taxes for ten years. There were some horrible, horrible attacks against me and against my family. Illusion, actually, became a symbol of love and hate at the same time. I had been away from Bulgaria for 10 years and came back especially for Eurovision and I really, really wanted to represent my country in Moscow. I had missed Bulgaria so much, wanted to be part of it again, wanted to meet my fans, my friends. It was a really long time for me to be away from my country.
Certain people even claimed I had bought all the votes to win the final. Illusion won with 55% of the votes, with the second song getting only 11%, so it was a real shock, even to me, how much the public supported my song. Even the video we made was attacked. You know, we made a really impressive, expensive video clip, so people started saying "How come he has so much money to pay for such an expensive video clip?", "who is behind him?" I was massively attacked for twenty days and that really hurt me. Never before in the music history of my country, has there been such an orchestrated attack on a single artist but not by the public, by a certain group of people. It was like a mine field. Some people asked for the song to be withdrawn, writing letters to the EBU headquarters in Geneva . But, of course, everything had been done according to the regulations and what is more important the people themselves here really supported the song.
To be honest, this is not a new thing to me. I remember, back in the States, two years ago, there was this article on LA Times saying: "You love it or you hate it, popera has arrived and Krassimir is here to present it!" So you see there is no middle way, either you love it or you hate it.
In the end, it was clear that the song has the support of the Bulgarian public and from those people who openly attacked me, many called to apologise. So I think the worst is behind us now. All this negative energy turned out to be positive in the end and now we are working hard on the song and the performance to ensure the best presentation in Moscow.
Tell us a bit more about your song, please. Have you made any changes to it?
I made Illusion especially for Eurovision and by Eurovision standards, blending an up tempo tune, modern at the same time, with my pop opera style mixed with Bulgarian folk elements and the people loved it. It has already become a great hit here, in every night club, on TV, everywhere.
We made some changes in the song to make it better for the live, we got good names behind it as vocalists supporting me so I think it's gonna be pretty cool, we are preparing a super show!
Who will be with you on stage in Moscow?
We have a great team comprising some of the best vocalists in Bulgaria right now: Ani Lozanova, who is a great rock singer, folk singer Albena Veskova and Petia Buyuklieva who is one of the best pop singers in the country, with possibly the highest vocal range for a female artist. Every single lady is an exceptional individual but I hope we have managed to blend those sounds and make them into one.
We also have two performers from Stiltworld, you know those terrific guys on stilts for the show.
What's the concept behind the video for Illusion?
The hero gets seriously wounded on the battle field and is carried away by Death, as this beautiful woman in the video symbolises death. She takes him to the world of misery, sin, aggression. Despite that, love is stronger than him and he falls for her, this is his illusion. A fatal one, as it proves, as with her kiss she takes his life away in the end.
Will the concept of the video with the medieval knights be transferred on stage as well?
The idea is this but it is going to be done in a more modern way rather than the old fashioned knights and the fights. All the costumes will be in a modern, 21st century concept.
What about a promo tour?
I will be in FYR Macedonia, then Greece from the 10th to the 12th of April, Romania, Turkey, Germany, probably Russia and maybe a couple more but I am awaiting confirmation. The Netherlands and London are also in our plans.
Have you heard the songs from this year's competition? What do you think of them?
Yes, I have heard all of them and I think we have some pretty good songs too. I was really impressed to hear about Andrew Lloyd Webber who is behind the UK entry and especially legendary Diane Warren, the lyricist , who I met a couple of times in the States. I think Norway has a pretty interesting song too, Romania, Turkey, Greece and many others.
Unfortunately, only one will get the crystal microphone but to me every artist who gets to go to Moscow is already a winner. Eurovision is like this huge musical forum where music from all over Europe is presented. We will get to enjoy great shows and have a good time because we will have all been through the hardest part by then.
What do you think about the 50-50 split of jury vote and televote in the final?
I think it is a brilliant idea! The juries, comprising music professionals, will listen to the songs more carefully and the people will listen but watch the show as well. So, I think, the balance between the two of them will be the perfect way to evaluate our efforts.
What is more important for an artist, to win the jury vote or the televote?
That is an interesting question and a difficult one! Well, both would be ideal (laugh). The support of the audience is of major importance to every artist because, you know, this is what we stand for, we present our music, our soul, in fact, and see the people respond to us is just amazing. But also the opinion of the experts is quite important too.
What is your message to the Eurovision fans?
In the 21st century there is a lot of suffering and aggression in the world. Eurovision is a musical forum for uniting people of all colours and races, touch the heart with music and hope. We are not there to conquer, we are here to unite the world, and bring in some much needed love.