Watch the end of the article for our video interview with Safura and a special acoustic version of Drip Drop.
In Azerbaijan, nothing goes unnoticed in the preparations for the Eurovision Song Contest. When Eurovision.tv meets Safura, she had ended up in Stockholm for the recording of her song for Oslo. She is also working on her upcoming album in Sweden.
“I’m working with very talented people here. It’s a new project for me to do an album, so it’s very interesting for me,” she says.
Besides recording, Safura is also practicing choreography and vocal coaching in Stockholm. Her schedule is strict and requires work all day, which has prevented her from checking the other songs competing in Oslo on YouTube. Instead, when she has spare time these days, she tries to get rest and sleep to keep the voice in shape.
Sweden and Ukraine
Safura is not spending much time in her home country when preparing for Oslo. When she’s not in Stockholm it’s Kyiv, where she does promotional work and other preparations.
“It’s mostly about Sweden and Ukraine. I’m recording my album here in Sweden, and in Kyiv I work with other talented people. We’re shooting the video clip for Drip Drop there,” she says.
While working in Ukraine recently, Safura attended the national selection show and met Vasyl Lazarovych, the first Ukrainian representative. But recently the news broke that Ukraine was to prepare a new national selection – and eventually Alyosha was the one to go to Oslo with the song Sweet People. Although not disagreeing about other artists, Safura has misgivings for the decision to circumvent Vasyl Lazarovych.
“I was very surprised when I heard the news; it was a shock to me, actually. I liked Vasyl as an artist, he is very talented and knows how to carry himself on a stage,” she tells.
To get the steam going for Oslo, Safura recently appeared in several smaller shows in Sweden. On the 20th of March she performed three of her songs, including Drip Drop, at the establishment Klubben outside of Stockholm to an enthusiastic crowd. Photo: Gustav Dahlander (EBU)
Recently, the long-awaited news finally came from Azerbaijan. The song Drip Drop, written by the Swedes Anders Bagge, Stefan Örn and Sandra Bjurman, was the entry to bring to Oslo. The songwriters, along with the producer Niklas Flyckt, boasts previous collaborations with artists such as Madonna, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys and the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest winner Celine Dion.
The decision for Drip Drop was made by the Azerbaijani jury after several rounds of closed-doors auditions of the finalist songs, recorded by Safura in Sweden earlier this month. According to the jury, Drip Drop impressed them with its sheer power and potential. Safura is quick to point out that she wasn’t involved in choosing the song, but the also reveals that she has a close relationship to it.
“It wasn’t my decision; but Drip Drop was actually my favourite, so I was glad that it was chosen. I feel the song very deeply. It’s an interesting and hard song, but I feel very comfortable singing it,” she says.
As a 17-year-old from Azerbaijan, speaking English doesn’t come natural for Safura. When doing interviews, she still needs an interpreter, and even though she understands most of the questions, she prefers to answer in her own language.
Safura is well aware of that when she goes to Oslo, she will be faced with thousands of journalists asking her questions in English. But the problem of language doesn’t seem to bother her much.
“I’m working on my English, and I hope that I will understand everything that people say in May. Now, I do understand most of the things people say, but it’s hard to speak sometimes, even though I could do it a bit if I had to. I’m not so nervous about that.”
In Azerbaijan, the Eurovision Song Contest means big news. The public interest for the competition is very high since the country first entered in 2008.
“All people are very much into the contest there, it’s all over the news. That’s why this is so big for me, and why I’m trying so hard to represent my country as good as I can,” Safura says.
Some artists might have found the pressure of carrying the expectations from such a Eurovision Song Contest loving country nerve-wracking. But Safura says that her intense period of work takes her mind away from the pressure.
“I knew what I was doing when I entered the national final in Azerbaijan, so I understand the responsibility. I don’t think about nerves now, I’m just working.”
On the 22nd of March Safura appeared at the club Golden Hits in central Stockholm as a guest star in a show with the group Schlagerfeber ("schlager fever"). Photo: Gustav Dahlander (EBU)
Studying Eurovision history
After singing for most of her life, Safura came to the attention of the public eye in her home country when winning the national Pop Idol competition. After the victory, she started preparing for the Eurovision Song Contest national selection.
Since Azerbaijan entered the contest in 2008, Safura has herself started to take interest in the show. She is fond of the previous Azerbaijani entries by Elnur & Samir and Arash & AySel, and also a few other songs from the last two years.
“I like Fairytale, of course, and also Kalomira’s song Secret Combination, Ani Lorak’s Shady Lady, Svetlana Loboda’s Be My Valentine and a couple of others. And now I’m watching the history of Eurovision when I have time. When I go to Oslo, I will know most of it!”
Safura talking to Eurovision.tv
Watch our video interview with Safura and her performance of a special acoustic version of Drip Drop:
Video interview by Jan Demulder; camera by Thomas Delaetere. Acoustic version footage: Zaphire Music Group. Written interview and still-frame photography by Gustav Dahlander.
Listen to Drip Drop and watch a live performance from Safura in the Eurovision.tv preview video.