Our next stop takes us the Land of Fire, namely Azerbaijan in our series of the 2014 Eurovision ESCToday Interviews. We arrive in the majestic capital city of Baku where we catch up with the 2014 Azerbaijani representative Dilara Kazimova. The Azerbaijani hopeful speaks to us about her forthcoming Eurovision participation, Eurovision entry Start the fire and herself.
Dilara, you won the right to represent Azerbaijan in the forthcoming Eurovision Song Contest last March. How do you feel about representing your homeland? Has it hit you that you will be defending the ‘Land of Fire’ in the contest?
I’m happy! It’s an amazing feeling to know that you will stand on the Eurovision stage and sing for such a huge audience! Of course it is a great responsibility to be the sole representative of your country. It’s also a great honor for me.
Tell us about your experience in Böyük Səhnə (The big stage)? How did you live this whole process and selection? What memories do you cherish the most from this experience?
Böyük Səhnə was not just the national selection, it was a great show and a great school for singers. We worked with a very professional team and it was a great experience for me. All contestants were very friendly and we enjoyed spending time together. Probably the highlight for me was the moment when my name as a winner of the show was revealed. It was very emotional.
You have tried to represent Azerbaijan in the Eurovision Song Contest several times, having competed in the Azerbaijani national selection final in past years. Has going to Eurovision been your dream? What is your ultimate goal? What is the biggest achievement in your career so far?
It was my dream to become a part of the Eurovision family one day. I’ve taken part in the national selection two times: in 2008 and 2010. These attempts weren’t lucky for me, but every time I was very close. These experiences gave me time to learn, and guided me to take part in this year’s national selection. I am sure it’s the right time for me to represent my country this year. I want just to do my best to share the emotions and beauty of my song on Eurovision stage. I’m ready for it!
Who is Dilara, the artist? Share with us some details about your musical career. When did you start to sing? What influenced you to become a singer?
As I remember, I started to sing at age of seven. I’ve been influenced by music since childhood. My mother played piano and my father was a drummer in the band. Just few years later, when I took part in some contest, I realized that I wanted to be a professional singer.
How has your life changed since you won Boyuk Sehne and the golden ticket to Copenhagen?
My life now is subject to a strict schedule (laughing) I always know what will I be doing in one hour and I never get enough sleep! That’s what I really want after Eurovision. Just have a proper 24 hours of sleep (laughing)
What is the story behind your Eurovision entry, Start a fire? How was the song born? How did the song come to you?
One of the authors of the song, Stefan Örn, was a member of the international jury in the semi-finals of ‘Böyük səhnə’ which was a national selection in Azerbaijan this year. He liked my voice and wrote ‘Start a Fire’ especially for me and submitted it together with other national and international songwriters. It happens that the jury selected this song from among all the others. I’m absolutely happy with this choice. I have a strong emotional attachment to the song, and I believe in it.
What is the message behind Start a fire? What would you like to convey to the European audience through your song?
. The message is that ‘even the slightest light can start a fire’. It’s a bit tragic, but with hope. The melody of the song is hypnotizing and the story is deep and touching. I want to make my audiences feel its deep meaning.
Azerbaijan has enjoyed massive success in its short Eurovision history. It’s scored one victory and placed in the top 10 five times during just seven years. Does this put more pressure on you to achieve a good result in Copenhagen?
It puts no pressure on me. Every year is different. I’m grateful to each of Azerbaijan’s Eurovision artists for their great performances. I’ll do my best to touch every heart and every soul, to bring my song’s message to the Eurovision audience.
You have performed in Russian, Azerbaijani and English. Which is your favorite language when it comes to singing and performing on stage?
I like them all and easily can switch from one to another on the stage.
Which musical genre do you identify with most? What kind of music defines you as an artist? Who has influenced your musical style?
My mother played classical music and my father was a rock fan. For instance he introduced me to Queen. Of course, they influenced my musical style, which is why I like almost all genres from classical music and opera to rock. What I sing or listen to depends on my mood; sometimes it can be jazz or soul, sometimes rock, sometimes opera. So I can’t identify myself with any one style. My mood changes too fast!
How are you planning to stage your entry in Copenhagen? Shall we expect mesmerizing staging and choreography? Tell us more about the stage presentation, your dress and the choreography for your entry.
I think you must wait and see! I have been working really hard with my team to create an amazing show. You can be certain that the stage performance will be a surprise!
Have you spoken to any of the former Azerbaijani Eurovision contestants? What advice have they given you?
I’m a friend with Eldar Qasimov, he was a member of the jury of ‘Boyuk Sehne’. He told me many interesting facts about Eurovision and gave some helpful advice. He’s a winner of Eurovision, so his experience was very useful to me. I can call him or send text message at any time, and I know, that he will try to help me. It’s great to feel such support.
Have you heard any of the other entries in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest? Who are your favourites? Who do you see as your biggest rival?
I like the French guys from ‘Twin Twin’ and the Polish entry, ‘My Słowianie’, Andras from Hungary, Vilija from Lithuania and her song ‘Attention’, The Shin & Mariko from Georgia, ‘Firelight’ from Malta… I can carry on if you want but I really like many of this year’s songs, so it is not easy to name my favorite. But I definitely don’t think about them as rivals.
Do you have a message for your European fans and our readers on ESCToday.com?
Of course, I do! Spring is here, so wake up, do good things and help each other. Be happy! See you very soon in Copenhagen!
ESCToday would like to thank Dilara Kazimova, her management and Ictimai for this interview. We would like to wish Dilara and Azerbaijan the best of luck at the forthcoming Eurovision Song Contest!