Belarus: Interview with Teo!

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In less than a month, Teo will fly the Belorusian flag in Copenhagen with his song Cheesecake. Today we are heading to Minsk for our 11th interview in our series of  the 2014 Eurovision ESCTOday Interviews.got the chance to speak with the hopeful from Belarus and he gave some very interesting answers. You can read them below.

We all know about your successful writing / composing career, but what prompted you to create and become Teo?

I’m a pop performer and wanted to differentiate this part of myself from Yuriy, who is already known in Belarus for a TV show and other song writing work.  It was easy to pick my name actually as it was done with a Google search.  I clicked ‘T’ and saw Teo immediately. I liked it instantly and that was it.  Simple, but good: like me!

After your appearances (either as a performer or writer/composer) in prior Belorussian National Finals, Eurovision seems to have been on your mind for a long time. Now you are here, what do you expect from it in terms of value to your musical career?

You’re right – Eurovision has been on my mind since 2008 when Anna Blagova and I sang a duet in the national finals.  After that I wrote songs for other Eurovision singers including Alyona Lanskaya; and this year for both Natalie Tamelo and Tasha Odi.  My entry was a last minute idea, I just thought it would be fun to have another try and submitted my song just less than two hours before the deadline.  Both the performing and the song writing aspects of Eurovision appeal to me, so I hope that my participation in Copenhagen gives me more opportunities to continue doing what I love.

Historically, since its debut in 2004, Belarus has had a low pass rating from Semi-Finals to Finals. What are your plans to try to get Belarus through to the final and get votes from all over Europe?

I’m not sure I have the ‘answers’ – if I did, Belarus would have won every single Eurovision event of the past decade and I’d be a billionaire by now.  If you look at the winning songs for the past ten years, you’ll see that every single one is different but brilliant in their own unique way.  All I can do is put everything I have into my performance and show Europe that I love the song, the crowd and being part of this event.

Statistically, Belarus receives most of its votes from neighbouring countries. Do you believe the current political scenario in the region could impact the voting and therefore outcome of your entry?

I’m a singer, not a politician or even a mathematician. Despite this, I do realise that lots of countries are natural allies and there are also some fractures, but the hope of Eurovision is always that everyone has a great time and the best song is selected.  By everyone.

Cheesecake is a cheeky, catchy and playful song. What are your plans for the performance and staging? Shall we expect a gimmicky act?

No, not gimmicky but the song is a light heart one that is supposed to make you smile.  I can’t reveal much or my team will kill me, but I have two dancers and three back-up singers and am working hard with choreographer Tine Matelussy and vocal coach Alex Panayi.

What inspired you to come up with Cheesecake? What does it mean to you and what message do you want to send to Europe and the world through your song?

The meaning behind Cheesecake is simple but a good one.  It’s a positive song because even though I’ve broken up with a girl because I’m tired of her calling me her sweet cheesecake, the message is that we all want to be treated with respect.

Now that all entries have been submitted, are you up to date with who and what you are competing against? If so, who presents the biggest competition for you?

They all do!  Everyone I met in Amsterdam for the ‘Eurovision in Concert’ this past weekend are brilliant performers.  The songs and styles this year are very different.  To name a few: Conchita’s James Bond-style ballad, Risky Kidd’s dance song with rap, Aarzemnieki’s fun Cake To Bake, Sebalter’s use of traditional instruments and whistling; Ruth Lorenzo’s power ballad, the adorable Maria Yaremchuk, Molly from the UK……  On the 20th April I’ll be singing with the winning Junior Eurovision ‘graduates’ the Tolmachevy Sisters, Sanna Neilsen, Paula & Ovi and Dilara Kazimova.  Every entry is individual but of a very high standard: anyone could win.

What are your plans after Eurovision?

I’d love to have a quick break before resuming the planning for more episodes of co-hosting the TV program ‘Наперад у мiнулае’ (Forward to the Past) shown on the Belarus 1 channel.  Oksana Vecher rediscovers the authentic music culture that still remains in Belarus.  We find singers of the traditional and ancient songs, usually the village grandmothers and grandfathers from small villages and select one of their songs.  I am then given the challenge of rearranging this song before it is recorded and sung with a much more modern sound by a well-known artist. You can see the episodes of the program here.

And let’s not forget song writing and performing.  I have many more ideas swirling about in my head!

Tell us more about Teo the person? What do you do when you are not on stage and performing?

I’m always trying to catch up on sleep when I can and my perfect day would see me rise later than usual, go to the gym or swim, do a bit of fishing on the River Pripyat, hang out with my friends and family.  I also love to travel and am always planning the next holiday in my mind. And song writing and playing music, of course.

Now let’s go with the question that everyone has been waiting for…. What’s your favourite cheesecake?

All of them, especially if they’re homemade: plain, baked, berry, chocolate, coffee, caramel, rum and the traditional Belarusian version which is savory with potatoes. I can’t eat too much of them though or I won’t have the energy to sing and dance!

Have you spoken to any of the former Belarusian Eurovision participants? If so what advice have they given you?

Alyona Lanskaya is wonderful – she’s a friend as well as an amazing performer and just told me to get out there, do my best and enjoy every second of it. I also recently caught up with Dima Koldun (Eurovision, Belarus 2007).  His advice was the same – to soak up every moment of the experience – and then we ended up singing karaoke together – once a singer, always a singer!

What message would like to give to your European fans and our readers on esctoday.com?

You have a terrific website and I want to thank everyone for their support and messages. I’m so honoured to part of this incredible event and am working hard to make my part a memorable one.

ESCToday would like to thank Teo, his management and BTRC for this interview and we would like to wish and Belarus him the best of luck at the forthcomign Eurovision Song Contest  in Copenhagen!

 

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