You have finished both of your rehearsals already. How satisfied are you with everything? Do you want to change anything in your performance?
Vlad: "We did our two rehearsals, and there were some problems in the beginning. But this is just normal for rehearsals. So I don't think we will change anything in our stage act."
Nico: "The rehearsals went very well. When I entered the stage for the first time, I thought: 'Oh my god! This is the best sound in my life!' Everything went fine from the first rehearsal, and I just hope that it will stay the same for the Final."
Have you performed together before? Will you continue your cooperation after the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest?
Vlad: "We met about five years ago. We did some concerts together, that's how we met. Of course we will perform together in the future, as we got really great feedback about our participation in the Eurovision Song Contest, and we enjoy singing together a lot. However, we still have our own solo projects that we have to finish in the next couple of months. We are both working on our albums. We'll see what will happen in the future. But Pe-o Margine De Lume will be on both our albums for sure."
Nico: "It was a great challenge for me to work with Vlad, who is a big, big tenor. I hope it will not be the last duet for us. We have another duet that we have been performing on various concerts together. Each of us has different projects. And, since the beginning of this year, we have another project in mind - I would love to perform opera music with Vlad."
Were you inspired by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman when you recorded Pe-o Margine De Lume?
Vlad: "You know, since 2002, when I was performing in a big competition, I got the nickname The Romanian Andrea Bocelli (laughs). But it was actually Andrea Bocelli who opened the door for that kind of music - pop-opera, classic style or crossover, whatever you name it. And it's right - Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman also performed a duet in that style for the first time, too. But then again, Nico and me are quite different from them, as we have totally different voices: Andrea Bocelli is a light tenor, whereas I am a quite dark tenor, like a spinto tenor, which is closer to a bariton. Nico also sounds different than Sarah Brightman. So, of course, there's a similar idea behind our song, but we did not intend to just copy Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman. It just came up."
When and why did you get the idea to enter such a song in the national selection for the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest? After all, it's something completely new to the Eurovision Song Contest.
Vlad: "We are very happy to bring something new to the Eurovision Song Contest. The idea just came up naturally. We recorded that duet together, and then, a very popular TV host in Romania suggested that we should enter this song for the Romanian national final for the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest. She was very confident in the song. Besides, since Ruslana won the Eurovision Song Contest, everyone was saying that you needed an energetic song with an elaborate choreography on stage, and this was the perfect recipe for success. After that, a lot of songs in that style emerged. So, it was an act of courage that we entered our song in the national selection, and we won! Now that we have received so much great feedback, we are very confident regarding our chances in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest, too."
This is already the third year in row that Romania sends a song that is partly in Italian language. Why? Is there a special relationship that Romanians have towards the Italian language or culture?
Nico: "Well, we didn't actually plan to sing it in Italian. It just happened: When I first heard the melody, I improvised to it in Italian. It just fit my feelings."
Vlad: "We really didn't do it on purpose, just because last year, we had something in Italian - in fact, there have been a lot more languages in the Romanian song last year, not just Italian. It was their recipe to sing in many languages, in order to receive points from all these countries. But we don't use this recipe for our song. It just came up that Nico sings in Italian. Furthermore, Romanian and Italian are quite similar too - both are Latin languages."
Have you performed in Italy before, and do you have any plans to release your music there or in other countries apart from Romania?
Vlad: "I have some big projects that I want to finish this year. One of them includes the United Kingdom and the United States. I mean, if you release an album in the UK, it will of course be also on the market in Italy. We'll record the songs mostly in Italian and in English. We will release a special version of the album for the Romanian market, with the songs being sung in Italian and Romanian. I'm also preparing another project, which is an album of a female artist, which will be released in Eastern Europe. It will include one duet song with my voice on it, too."
Nico: "For the moment, I am not planning any new projects outside Romania. But in the future, I would love to record a duet with Michael Bublé."
You have done an extensive promotional tour before your departure to Belgrade. How many countries did you visit, and in which way did it help you to prepare yourselves for your participation in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest?
Vlad: "It was not a big promo tour because we didn't have a lot of time. We only visited Greece, Moldova, Ukraine, Belgium and the United Kingdom. But anyway, it helped us a lot. You get some immediate feedback on your song and performance, so it's like a preview of the actual Eurovision Song Contest. In all events we visited, there were a lot of Eurovision fans around, and they honestly told us what was wrong and what we should change. Furthermore, we met some other contestants there, too, and we made friends with them. That's actually the best thing about the Eurovision Song Contest - you make friends with everyone so quickly."
Nico, you have participated in Romanian national finals for the Eurovision Song Contest many times before. Which was your favourite song, apart from Pe-o Margine De Lume? Were you more confident that you would win this year than in previous years?
Nico: "This year, it was the first time that I really believed in our song in a way that I was confident we would win. But of course I liked all the melodies which I performed in the six years I have been participating in the national selection. But Pe-o Margine De Lume really has something special, and it's tailored to the Eurovision Song Contest. As regards the other songs, Jokero, which I performed together with the band Akcent, was by far the most popular one. It was very heavily promoted, so everybody knows and likes the song - we even released it abroad."
Your video clip was filmed in a truly wonderful atmosphere on a beach. How did you manage to catch this atmosphere so well on TV? Can you tell us more about the story behind the video clip?
Vlad: "It was our director, Petre Nastase, who made the video clip - he is really a great artist. He found the locations. They were both very close to each other. One of them was on the seaside, an empty, let's say virgin, beach - there was nothing there, no people, no hotels. It looked like the end of the world, as the song itself describes it."
Nico: "And it was really windy and cold outside!"
Vlad: "Yes, that's true! We shot the first half of the video clip there, and then we moved on to the second location, which was about ten kilometres away, but it was very special. I don't know how the idea came up to our director. It looked almost like the Grand Canyon in the United States there. It was actually an abandoned stone pit, which looked like a huge cliff. When we reached the place, it was a bit cloudy - we didn't have any sun. But then, just before sunset, the sun appeared between the clouds and we had that magical light on the stone walls. And he shouted: 'Ok, NOW! Let's shoot!' We had that light for four minutes. We switched on the full playback, we went through it, and then the light was gone. We were very happy to get that scene. So, in fact, we recorded the whole clip in only twelve hours, and we were very happy that we got such a great result."
Nico: "I think the video clip only turned out that good because we had such a great time with our director and the whole crew. Everyone was so enthusiastic, and we were so pleased and proud to work with such a wonderful team."
What are your hopes and expectations regarding the result of your participation in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest?
Nico: "To win, of course! (laughs)"
Vlad: "I think everyone should think like that - aiming to hit the first place. We're here to make friends, to have some great parties, but in the end, it's a competition, and all performers have to give their best. It's too bad that only one song wins here. There are so many good songs that it's not fair to say that one song wins, and the rest of the participants are all losers."
Nico: "Whatever happens, it was a great experience for us to be here."
Eurovision.tv thanks Nico and Vlad for taking their time for this exclusive interview and wish them the best of luck for tonight's Semi-Final!