Carl Espen recently won the 2014 Melodi Grand Prix in Norway and the ticket to represent the country in Copenhagen at the Eurovision Song Contest Semi-final 2. ESCToday got the chance to come up close and personal with the Norwegian artist who revealed more deatails about his song and himself.
Your life, so far, doesn’t seem to have been heading toward a singing career. Was there a particular time when you discovered that you had this vocal talent?
I entered a local singing competition when I was 17 years old, before that I had only been singing alone in my bedroom. I performed «Wild World» by Cat Stevens, and won the whole competition. This was really inspiring for me, and I realized that I loved singing for people. Fun fact: My songwriter Josefin Winther, was in the audience, 13 years old at the time.
Which came first, the song or the invitation to take part on Melodi Grand Prix?
The song. Josefin showed it to me, and asked if I wanted to sing it. I said yes, and we recorded the song. She then suggested that we send it to MGP, and I agreed right away. I felt that this was something I could be proud of, and that it represented me.
As the author is your cousin, does this mean that the song is more personal than if anyone else had written it?
Definitely. She knows me very well, both my personal struggles and my dream to sing. She sat down and thought about me for a long time, and then tried to write a song to express my feelings and my place in life. The result was «Silent Storm». No one else could have written this song for me.
What is the story behind your song? What message would like to convey to the listeners through your song?
The story is that my cousin saw me for who I am, and understood that it would be good for me to express the feeling I carry inside. She felt that I was still searching for my place in the world, and that I keep many of my difficult feelings closed inside. She feels that I am calm and quiet on the outside, but that strong feeling whirl around right underneath my surface. These feelings are like a silent storm inside me. The message is this expression of my looking for a home, and also a growing hope that someday I’ll be calm.
Having met you a couple of times over the MGP weekend, you come across as someone who finds the spotlight a little overpowering. Will you explain what this adjustment has been like?
It is no doubt that the transition from my ordinary life to the winner of MGP has been quite extreme, but only in a good way. All this positive attention, support and love is an incredible thing for me, that I don’t take for granted. I feel that it’s more overwhelming than overpowering, and I have good people around me, like my manager and Josefin, to advice me and support me when it gets really intense. The adjustment has been going well, although there are definitely big differences. For now I still go to work, and I continue the life I had before MGP, with singing lessons in the evenings. The difference is that my days are filled with greetings from all over the world, interviews and a lot of love. I am very thankful.
Have you had an input into the presentation on stage? How do you plan to stage your entry in Copenhagen?
We are in the process of planning the new stage show. For me, the song will always be the main point of focus, and we will never do anything on stage that moves the attention away from my presence in the song. But we are excited about new possibilities and will try to make it a really beautiful stage show, that is perfect for the song and the message.
Life must have changed over the past few weeks. What advice have you been given for your forthcoming experience in Copenhagen?
The people I have around me, have the same focus as I have. We know that I still have a lot to learn as a singer and as a performer. So we all try to put as much effort as possible into working hard with singing technique, performance and getting more stage experience. I am still an unexperienced artist in a bigger perspective, and this means that I can develop from day to day. Other than that, people keep reminding me to enjoy this fairytale, and that’s something I try to remember everyday.
Do you think about the other songs in Eurovision and, if so, are there any you particularly like?
Yes, I have listened to the other contestants, and I am very impressed and humbled by all the fantastic music, performance and great artists out there. Many of them are also very experienced. My favorite so far is Finland.
Whether or not you win the contest have you any further plans for performing or recording other material?
Yes, I will definitely continue to grow my career as an artist, and will release a second single. An album will also come at some point, but so much depends on the development in ESC. This is also my main focus, so the plans after May are for now in the back of our heads.
You are currently among the top 5 favorites according to the bookies to win the grand prix next May. Does this put more preassure on you?
To me it was an amazing honor to be chosen to represent my country in the biggest music contest in the world. Yes, there is pressure, but more than anything I feel so much trust and support. I feel that the listeners don’t pay much attention to bookies. They listen to the song and watch the artist, and if they feel touched or happy or excited, they will vote. If not, the will not vote. So the most important thing for me, is to be present in the words I sing, and be in contact with the feelings I carry inside while singing it. Only then, will the listeners hear my story, and see that it’s a genuine song.
What message would like to give to your fans in Europe and to our readers at esctoday.com?
I want to send a message of thankfulness. The last months have been an incredible adventure for me, and I have the fans all over the world to thank for this. I am so humbled by the support you show me, the messages you send and that you listen to my song. Thank you for that.
ESCToday would like to thank Carl Espen for the first interview and wish him good luck in May!