Blending rich vocals with a bit of old-school Western flair, Estonia’s Stefan is giving the world a little bit of Hope this year in Turin.
Stefan comes to the Eurovision Song Contest this year with an anthemic country-pop song with more than a few nods to a few legendary influences. Stefan is a fan of American icons like Johnny Cash as well as Italian maestros like Ennio Morricone, the composer of iconic scores to a number of ‘spaghetti western’ classics. The official music video for Hope was even filmed in the Tabernas Desert near Almería, Spain, the same location as Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy.
Stefan’s international influences certainly aren’t limited to Italian and American media. The Estonian-born son of Armenian immigrants, he’s been surrounded by diverse languages and cultures his whole life. From a sip of his favorite Armenian brandy to the beads he wears around his neck (a gift from his grandmother), Stefan carries a bit of his family’s background wherever he goes.
Armenian culture has had a huge impact on my life, because my parents were immigrants from Armenia, and I grew up in a different environment. But I went to Estonian schools, so I have both cultures inside me.
He credits his older sister, Stefania, with giving him support and strength as they were growing up.
She’s an inspiration to me, and it’s because of her that I started singing. She always used to stand up for me when we were young, because we were different. Kids can be kids, but she would always be like ‘nobody’s going to touch my brother!’ Kids can bully each other because of their differences, even if your sandals are different!
Stefan is a veteran of Estonia’s National Final Eesti Laul, making it to Eurovision on his fourth attempt (third as a solo artist). In 2020, Stefan went undercover and performed as Aries the Ram on the first series of Estonia’s edition of The Masked Singer, taking home the trophy after belting out songs that ranged from Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon to System of a Down’s Chop Suey!
It was a new experience for me…this mask thing was a bit difficult, since I couldn’t breathe or see, but it was a nice opportunity to sing new songs and try something new. I felt freer, and I could be sillier!
As for the message of his song Hope, the lyrics are a universal rallying call amongst the chaos of the modern world to not lose faith. It is Stefan’s own hope that despite the bleak political times we live in, as well as the harsh reality of life in a pandemic, we all keep our hopes alive for a new day. Stefan puts it best:
'Hope’ is very simple. We all need it, and we have to stay strong and united. We all want peace in the world, and especially now we need hope for a better, brighter future.
Be sure to watch Stefan in the the Second Semi Final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest on 12 May 2022!