Eurovision.tv: Can you start by telling us a little more about how you both came to work together on the Shady Lady project? Who contacted who and how was the idea born?
Philip: "Well, it's a long story of one friendship. We played together seven years ago in a movie which was a musical, folk music. We both played main roles. Our friendship started there. I had heard of Ani before this, and knew of her reputation as a great performer and artist. Two or three years later we met again on another movie. We then both had our own careers within Russia and Ukraine. Then, this year, when I heard that Ani was representing Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest, I had the chance to realise my dream, to compose for Ani on the Eurovision Song Contest stage. She was the one performer I really wanted to work with. We had never worked together on a song project before. The people chose my song in the Ukrainian national selection. From my point of view, I would say that it's every composers best wish to work with such an amazing singer. We worked very fast on the song, and travelled immediately to Greece to record it. In a way now, it's a little sad as we have lived with this project for so long, and we are almost at the end of the journey, but I hope that we will work together again in the future."
Ani: " I would also like to say that I trust Philip, I completely had belief in him within the first five minutes of working together on this. I knew the project would be a great success, he has such experience."
Eurovision.tv: Philip has a very vast experience, and knowledge of the Eurovision Song Contest. How has this helped you in your preparations for such a huge event Ani?
Ani: "As I said, it has been a real pleasure working with Philip. He is very experienced with this contest. And I think if Svante Stockselius ever leaves his post, the job of President of Eurovision Song Contest should be Philip! I got to love the contest because of Philip. It is an interesting contest, each year it becomes more difficult to predict as nobody knows how the voting will go. Let the music play! We wan't to be real on stage, present our feelings. I totally believe in the Shady Lady project and in all of the team members who put it together."
Eurovision.tv: Your stage show is very unique, and has drawn a lot of praise from the assembled press and media in Belgrade. Who dreamt up this idea for the presentation of Shady Lady?
Ani: "When I knew I would be competing in the Eurovision Song Contest, I watched old videos and DVD's of past contests. It was the Athens 2006 show which i was very impressed with from a directional point of view. I called Philip and asked him if he knew how to get hold of this director. It turned out that Philip was friends with this guy. His name is Fakas Evangelinos. I was delighted when he agreed to do it. It was great news for me."
Philip: "Fakas liked Ani, he liked the song. He was very impressed with Ani's character. He has a lot of performers from many countries. He did the direction and choreography for Sakis Rouvas in 2004 Eurovision Song Contest, and also the same when Greece won in 2005 with Helena Paparizou."
Eurovision.tv: Philip, you have been a performer, composer, and general advisor for teams in the Eurovision Song Contest in the past. Has there never been a time when you had the temptation to come back to the stage as the main performer?
Philip: "No, it was an unbelievable experience for me when I competed in the 1995 Eurovision Song Contest, but I said to myself, I am not a competitive singer. I want to keep this emotion from 1995, the result didn't matter. I decided I did want to come back to the contest, but as a producer or composer, but not a singer. I don't think it's a good idea for a singer to come twice to the Eurovision Song Contest. You are right, I have also supported artists in the contest. I was with tATu in 2003, and also Dima Bilan in 2006. I took the Greek team with me to help Dima and it was their idea for the piano. Last year I had my first experience as a composerwith Dima Koldun for Belarus. We achieved the 6th place and that was a great success for Belarus, as they never even qualified from the Semi-Final before. I consider this year with Ani Lorak to be my best ever work in the Eurovision Song Contest. We don't even need to speak sometimes, we think the same. There is great chemistry there."
Eurovision.tv: You have now had two full rehearsals, are you satisfied with everything so far? Are there any final changes you are planning to make before the full dress rehearsals?
Ani: "I'm very happy with everything, the choreography, the Roberto Cavalli dress is amazing. I am going to give 200% during my three minutes on stage. As a singer, it's pretty natural that you want to perform five or more songs during a show, Here, it is three minutes only, and we will concentrate on that completely."
Eurovision.tv: At the Ukrainian party, you invited last year's Ukrainian representative Verka Serduchka to join you. Were you not worried about whether Verka would maybe take over and upstage you? Or steal your limelight?
Philip: "No, not at all. Verka is so different. Verka is a fantastic person from Ukrainian folk background. Ani is a diva pop star. They are so different, and Verka is our friend, we are very grateful to Verka for supporting us."
Ani: "I have known Verka for a long time, I asked him to come here. People went crazy when we sang Shady Lady together at the party. It was a great moment that made the party complete."
Eurovision.tv: Did Verka Serduchka pass on any advice about participating in the Eurovision Song Contest, after his successful 2nd place last year?
Ani: "Yes, actually he said don't think too much. Enjoy the performance, have fun, blank out any negative thoughts. Do not get stressed by the whole thing."
Eurovision.tv: You have continued your HIV/AIDS awareness work whilst in Belgrade. Can you share a little more about the work you have done here?
Ani: "Yes, i'm very happy, one part of working here is the stage and the song, another is transmitting the message for people who are HIV positive.The message i'm trying to convey is that you can't get AIDS through friendship. We had a conference, and watched a movie. A Serbian journalist opened up to us about his illness, and confessed that he had his doubts about coming first of all. For me, this just confirmed that what we are doing is having some effect."
Eurovision.tv: A question for Philip, as you are an expert in most things related to the Eurovision Song Contest, would we be correct in assuming that you have watched and heard all of the songs competing? If so, what are your thoughts about the competition?
Philip: "I watched the First Semi-Final and I was very impressed with the Israeli song, a fantastic and great singer with an amazing melody. Even at the end of the show, I remembered Israel's song. I was also impressed with Russia, Greece and Armenia. From the Second Semi-Final, Sweden with Charlotte Perrelli, and Belarus with Ruslan Alehno would be my choices. I see two shady ladies, two diva's on the stage this year, Ani Lorak and Charlotte Perrelli."
Eurovision.tv: "Finally Ani, two previous Ukrainian Eurovision Song Contest artists, namely Ruslana and Verka Serduchka have both entered in to politics on the back of their successes as artists. Have you any aspirations of this nature yourself?"
Ani: " No, I hate politics. I don't believe that singers should do it. As they would be liars as singers, or liars as politicians. I have been singing all of my life. I will sing for as long as I can. If you take out the music from me, you take out my heart."
Eurovision.tv would like to thank Ani Lorak and Philip Kirkorov for spending time on the interview. Check out their personal message on the YouTube clip below.