Interviews with Festivali i Kenges 53: Offchestra

by Helio Qendro 276 views

Offchestra is a musical line-up from Pristina, established in 2011 by Sezgin Curi and Ilir Livoreka. After many changes in the band structure, lastly Offchestra forms a unique style which is defined as a synthesis of traditional Albanian and world music. The inspiration for the creations of the band mainly flows from the reality and everyday life in Kosovo. Texts of the songs usually exhibit a satire about the events, problems and experiences of people who are part of our society. Undoubtedly the fame and success of the band comes after release of the single A bon? at TopFest 10, where Offchestra won Best Group award in 2013. This was a new beginning for next performances and more powerful presentations at other festivals. Also the publication of the video clip for the same song has aroused interest among people as it was a product which has managed to attract many viewers and listeners, the single A bon? hit various Kosovo and regional charts and stayed at the top for a considerable amount of time. In 2014, A bon? video won the Best Editing award at the Netet e Klipit Shqiptar (Albanian Music Videos Night).

Hello Offchestra and thanks for agreeing on this interview with! The first thing that draws attention in you is your band’s name. Why Offchestra?

Hello ESCToday. Firstly we would like to thank you on the invitation for this interview. Offchestra was formed in 2011. The name came asa a combination of two words: Official Orchestra. The idea was to find a synonym to a name which characterizes the concept of our band but also the orchestra formation that we have. Even though we see that it is somehow hard for people to understand the name when we tell them about it, we hope that with time they will get used to it.

This year 50 songs were submitted for Festivali I Kenges. How did you feel when you saw your band’s name in the list of the 28 chosen participants? How important is this participation for you?

Since we chose to participate in the festival that means that we appreciate the festival as a good opportunity to be promoted even more. We believe in our song for this festival that’s why it was a special pleasure to see that it was one of the chosen ones.

Besides the new names, the list of participants included big names of Albanian music like Elhaida Dani, Linda Halimi and Enver Petrovci. How do you think this will impact the competition?

Every participant that competes is obviously in it for the big prize. Without wanting to underestimate anyone, I think that the festival this year has a lot of “big” names that have proved themselves in the music scene. I don’t think that the participation should be divided into big names or small names. I don’t see any Michael Jackson in the festival that would make us scared of competition! I believe that the competition will be more in ballad/pop/rock songs. As for rythmic songs, I have not seen any artist who cultivates such music that we make. Actually, we aim to strive with our unique style.

Your song differentiates from all the other beginning from the title: Bajram. Your lyrics are known for a satirical touch, are these lyrics satirical? What is the song about?

It’s in the group’s nature that our lyrics have a deeper meaning and have some satirical words here and there. The song Bajram also shows a different side that we have in our society. The word Bajram (Celebration in Albanian) is one of the syndromes that we as a country have. Every chance for a party or celebration is welcome and celebrated with the same emotion. (may that be Independence Day, Halloween, birthdays or New Year). Even though we may have a lot of reasons to not be happy, we forget the reality that makes us feel bad, replace it with positive feelings and of course, celebrate!

Your music has always had the presence of Albanian folk music elements. Is Bajram any different?

The song that we realized for the festival is the same as our other songs in sounds. So, it will still have the folk elements. Of course that it is a synthesis of Albanian music with reggae, jazz, dancehall, latin etc. Artists that create their music, should be cautious to make something that makes them special and not fit in the environment.

It’s a tradition for the Festival now that the winning song represents Albania in the Eurovision Song Contest. Does this increase the responsibility of participating in FiK and how has this influenced the creation of the song?

We have a song which made us feel good, feel who we truly are. It’s true that the Eurovision factor increases the importance of  our participation, but this didn’t affect our final product. What we wanted was to serve the public a different song from those that have participated in the festival so far.

What would it mean for you to have the opportunity of representing Albania in a catapulting fame platform like Eurovision in this phase of your musical career?

As I stated before, the fact that the winner of FiK will represent Albania in the Eurovision Song Contest increases the importance of our participation. For us it’s a privilege and at the same time an honor to represent Albania with a song which has a different style. Of course the Eurovision Song Contest is a catapult platform for all the participants. But not every artist has touched that scene so we hope we are one of those.

The winner of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, Conchita Wurst, shocked the European public opinion with her stage persona whom she represented. What is your opinion on her?

To be honest I didn’t watch the Contest last year but as I heard the song was one of the toughest competing entries. As it should be since it triumphed in such a prestigious contest.

Thank you for your time! wishes you success on your participation in the 53rd Festivali I Kenges.

I also thank you for the invitation.

Below you can listen to some songs from Offchestra:

Stay tuned to for more interviews with Festivali i Kenges 53 participants.