Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Eurovision 2009: Through the Eyes of a Participant

The annual Eurovision Song Contest consists of forty-three participating nations, including most of NATO, the Eastern European block and Israel. It is one of the most anticipated television events in all of Europe, attracting anywhere from 100 to 200 million viewers worldwide on a yearly basis.

Originally conceived in 1956, as a means for peaceful reunification of European countries following the Second World War, the premier international song festival has also served as a career launching platform for some bright musical careers. Celine Dion, ABBA, Julio Iglesias and many other household names have established themselves in this massive kaleidoscope of contemporary music.

The ESC winner is determined by an hour-long (and a rather nerve-wrecking) telephone and jury voting system. There is one strict rule that no one is allowed to break - the callers cannot choose their own nation's entry. Fair enough! But the Scandinavian countries will always vote for each other no matter what, and so will the Eastern European block – over the years, the geopolitical aspect of the contest has unfortunately proved insurmountable!

Ironically, Eurovision 2009 will be taking place in the Russian capital for the first time in the 54 year history of the event, from May 12-16. And I say "ironically" because the idea of applying as either a songwriter or an artist in the national pre-selection process has never really entered my mind, until just recently.

In 1999-2000, when I was just starting out as an aspiring musician, there were casual talks in Moscow about sending me to ESC to represent Russia as its Georgian-born Russkiy citizen. However, the chances of beating famous Russian pop stars in the internal polls were minimal as a completely unknown 15-year-old girl. So I decided to wait, and take my chances at a later stage in my career...

Almost a decade - and many songs - later, I got a call from Reykjavik in October, from my long-time collaborator (and very well-known Icelandic songwriter/producer) Oskar Pall Sveinsson (known for his UK & US hits as Oskar Paul). He asked if I had any objections to his idea of pitching a song we had co-written together with the legendary producer Christopher Neil, as a possible contender to represent Iceland at the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest in May of 2009.

"We'll have to find an Icelandic artist to sing the song in order to qualify, but a multi-national songwriting team should go down well in the pre-selection process," Oskar promised. "And besides, the contest will be held in Moscow next year - could it be any better for you?"

To make a long story short, 217 songs, 4 weeks of semifinals and a nationally televised grand finale later, the wonderfully gifted Yohanna's performance of "Is It True" granted us a staggering 44% of the national votes across the country. Thanks to overwhelming support, the song immediately qualified as the official Icelandic entry, and it will compete against 41 of the best pop songs from Europe in mid-May... Just a few weeks away!

Since the primary concept of ESC is to find the best pop song, some the most renowned scribes in the world team up to compete. This year's "contestants" include Andrew Lloyd Webber, Ronan Keating, my hero Diane Warren, and many more. Really, why wouldn't they want to write the signature song of the year?

Could I be anymore humbled looking at the list of my colleagues and "competitors"? In fact, I'd be lying if I said that I'm not nervous - but at the same time I am oh so excited!

BTR will bring you exclusive coverage of this event through the eyes of a participant - up close, personal and totally unplugged at the biggest European song festival of the year. It just might be a first for the American media.

You can follow the three-week journey, promo tour, semi-finals and grand finale (we simply must qualify - and you'll be the first to know about the outcome!) right here on my DJ blog. I'll be sharing the latest news and pictures from my all my Eurovision adventures.

So, gear up, hop on my train of ESC madness and let's make it true for Iceland together!

Tinatin's Eurovision Ride with BTR

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tinatin on HFM, Sunday April 26th!

Tinatin will be a special guest on the Dave Charles show on HFM radio in the UK.

You can listen to the exclusive phone interview featuring some of Tinatin's songs on 102.3 across South Leicestershire and Northhamptonshire (no, not the Hamptons in Long Island!!!) around 21:20 UK Time or right here on the HFM website on your computer!

Be sure to tune in and check back again soon for details on the upcoming SecretCity radio interview in Germany... "Thinking of Someone Else" radio promo is in full gear!!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

ESCtime Interview (Part I & Part II)

Exclusive interview for ESCtime with Tinatin & Christopher Neil.....

Esctime speaks to Tinatin & Chris (Part 1)

Esctime had the pleasure of exclusively interviewing both Tinatin Japaridze and Christopher Neil, the Icelandic songwriters of this year.

To see the full Iceland 2009 profile, click here. Thanks to the fans that submitted their questions!!!

01 - Were you tempted at all to put more instruments in the track, or was the intention from the start to strip it right back to concentrate on Yohanna's vocals? (Anne)
Chris: The song has a quiet, reflective quality, and at the start at least, we didn’t want make the instrumentation too busy. Also when you have such a great vocalist it’s best not to let the arrangement get in the way.

02 - “I love your song, but I would love it even more if it had a bridge”. Is there any chance of adding a bridge to make the song even more complete, either before or after the contest? (Stefanos)
C: We felt we had said in the verses and choruses all we had to say. Plus the fact that with a bridge the song would come in at almost 4 minutes….a little too long, especially for Eurovision.

03 - What does the song “Is it true” mean to you? A personal experience? (Theo)
C: Not really….it’s just the universal story of a relationship breaking up….nothing personal.

04 - Besides Eurovision, what kind of song writing and composing are you involved in? Do you write for yourself or others? (Renee)
C: I write and produce regular pop/rock songs for various artists.
Tinatin: I have very recently started writing for other artists as well as myself. I’ve just written a new song with Sertab (she won ESC for Turkey in 2003) for her upcoming album – it’s a completely different experience than writing for my own project. Unlike Chris who has written for some of the biggest artists out there, I had never worn that cap before and I’m really getting into it!

05 - Is this your first entry in Eurovision?
C & T: Yes…..for both of us.

06 - What does the future hold for Tinatin? Do you plan to enter Eurovision again? What are your plans?
T: To be honest, the ESC entry was never on the cards – it was all an accident, a very good one, of course, but we had never planned it beforehand. The song was written for me back then but the direction was somewhat different from the rest of the material, so we ended up putting it away for the time being… And I’m glad we did as it has really found its home now.

As for my future plans, I’m involved in a number of ventures at the moment, from music (my priority, as always) to radio journalism and a literary project that I’m completing at the moment which is going to be my debut novel based on a true story.

Naturally, music is always the ultimate driving force behind everything I do, and I’m writing new material both for myself and a few other artists right now.

I’ve come to realize recently that writing and experimenting as a musician is an endless process and you just never know what’s going to «click» - it’s usually the most unexpected collaborations and the least predictable songs that really work in the end… «Is It True» is a perfect example – we wrote and recorded the demo a week before I left London after three-and-a-half years and moved to NY… so who would have thought? It was also our only co-write with Oskar (Oskar Pall Sveinsson) so it’s very special!

Eurovision entry in the future? Never say never, obviously, but as of now, we’re still not through with this year’s upcoming semis and hopefully the grand finale, so I’m still in the ESC 2009 mode

07 - How long did it take you to write ‘Is It True?’ (Dan)
C: About a day to write, and another day to record the demo, as far as I remember.
T: Hmm… I recall it taking a few days, actually. The melody was written fairly quickly and I demoed the basic «la la la» the same day we sat down to write the song, but the lyrics took a couple of days. Some songs take absolute ages, but this was not the case…

I have to admit, Chris was instrumental in coming up with the storyline and also the title! Oskar and I loved it immediately – we had the title, we just needed the lyrics so it was a matter of sitting down together and brainstorming That’s always the fun part.

I do remember being completely obsessed with Kit Kat chocolate in-between the takes when we were recording!

08 - This is for Tinatin; what do you think about the Georgian entry? (Nathan)
T: Since I’m Georgian-born myself, I really wanted the Georgian entry to make an impact in a positive way this year. But when I first heard the song, it was obvious that the overly political theme of the lyric was going to arouse negative emotions, especially with the committee – and it’s understandable.

Eurovision as a major entertainment TV show is a wonderful escape from the madness we live in for at least a few hours once a year, and burdening the public with more politics and negative emotions is just not fair.

This is my personal opinion, but as much as I instinctively wanted to support the Georgian entry, it didn’t strike me as an appropriate move in the already complicated political climate we live in today.

09 - What do you both think about the Russian entry?
C & T: Heard it once…we both think it stands as good a chance as any other song in the contest. It’s very hard to predict how the songs will «translate» or come across to the viewers on the night of the finals… A majority of these people haven’t heard the entries yet and will only be able to make their judgment based on that one night’s performance!

10 - What is your favourite Eurovision entry ever?
C: «Waterloo» - ABBA
T: I know I’m very cheesy but I can’t help it! Celine Dion, «Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi» - you can’t really beat that voice and the power of her performance is always mesmerizing and really convincing no matter what she sings!

11 - How is the visual performance going to look on-stage in May, can you reveal anything to us?
C & T: We are not involved in the visual production, so we have no idea and we’re as curious and intrigued as you are!!!

12 - What are your favourite Broadway and West End musicals?
C: “ West Side Story” and “ Pippin”
T: Personally I love Broadway from the 40’s, 50’s and the early 60’s… The great American classics, of course – but an actual favorite? “Funny Girl”, no doubt.

13 - Did you watch Melodifestivalen 2009? If so, what was your favourite song? Mine was Scotts’ “Jag tror på oss” because I prefer upbeat music to ballads usually!
T: I quite liked EMD’s «Baby Goodbye» but to be honest, I didn’t watch the entire contest… the chorus was very catchy, though!

14 - Who has been inspirational for you in your life?
C: Musical inspiration – Paul Simon!
T: In reference to «Funny Girl» - Barbra Streisand. Not only musically but also creatively and personally – it’s admirable to watch an amazingly talented and smart woman in a man’s world achieve so much without losing her feminine side through it all.

15 - Why did you both decide to enter this song for Iceland and not any other country?
C & T: We wrote the song with Oskar Paul… And as he is Icelandic, it was a natural choice.

(Part 2)

16 - What do you think of the new voting system? (Nathan)
C & T: We hope it works!

17 - What do you think of Dima Bilan’s song “Believe” and his previous entry “Never Let You Go”? Which one was your favourite?
C & T: “Never Let You Go”, which actually didn’t win the contest in 2006 – so here’s the perfect example that you just never know, it’s so hard to predict the outcome! We are following the pre-charts and the polls all over the Net from time to time, but at the end of the day, what happens on the night is still very much a secret for everybody and that’s what makes it fun!

18 - What’s your favourite Icelandic entry?
T: I only watched the Icelandic SF & NF this year for the first time ever – I liked «Lygin Ein» - I’ve still got it on my iPod J The competition between us and Kaja was pretty much 50/50 during the semifinals… it was a matter of either going for a ballad or a dance song, and as you know, Iceland chose the former – I’m glad they did! J

19 - Chris - what is your favourite UK entry?
C: “ Making Your Mind Up”

20 - Tinatin - which Georgian entry do you prefer? Sopho’s “Visionary Dream” or Diana’s “Peace Will Come”?
T: Diana’s “Peace Will Come”…

21 - Which are your favourite 2009 songs? (Antons)
T: I haven’t made my mind up about an absolute favorite but it will probably be one of the least predictable ones… it’s very easy to get bored with the same songs when you’ve heard them over and over again during the selection process, so I’m trying not to overdo it for now – we’ll have to sit through the semis in Moscow and the finals as well, hopefully, so we have plenty of time!!!

22 - Which part of “Is It True?” do you like best?
C: The key change!
T: Definitely! The modulation has always been a favorite even when we did the demo, but Yohanna’s performance and the final version in particular have really emphasized the key change without overdoing or exaggerating it, which is always a bit risky… That’s why I agree with Chris – having a full blown bridge in the song would have been a bit too much….

23 - How did you decide that Yohanna would sing the song? (Yoni)
C: It was decided in Iceland……..good choice!
T: When I first saw Yohanna on TV after Oskar told us about her, I thought to myself: «she’s so beautiful but can she sing?» What a great surprise when she opened her mouth– she certainly can sing, we are really happy with the choice!

24 - What do you think about Iceland’s chances at Eurovision this year? How do you react to “Is It True?” becoming a fan favourite?
C & T: We think we have a good chance…and we are thrilled it has become so popular with the fans!

25 - A lot of bad comments have been towards Eurovision music in recent years, do you think that the level of music at Eurovision is lowered because of that?
C & T: It is a show as well as a song contest…a lot of critics don’t like that…..but over two hundred million viewers can’t be wrong!!!!!

Thanks guys and good luck!!! would sincerely like to thank Chris and Tinatin for this interview, well more like chat!!! Which you can only find on! Good luck in the future!

Currently Tinatin is working in the studio with Sertab Erener (Turkey 2003 ESC winner) on her next English album which is planned to be released this June!!! We will keep you updated on this.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Radio Promo Kicks Off...

The track was released today through Music2Mix/Media2Radio, the pioneers in radio marketing... And it's immediately gone to #1 as the top rated track !

Radio spins in the USA, UK and throughout the World, on many ground-breaking music shows via the radio and club DJs on the extensive Media2Radio database will follow shortly...

But so far here's the M2M Top 10 chart and the official press release from M2M on Tinatin and "Thinking of Someone Else"....

Watch this space for more!!!

Top rated tracks - the Media2Radio Top 10

1. Tinatin - “Thinking of Someone Else” - Vox Humana
2. Ralf GUM feat. Daniel Thomas - "Higher High" - GOGO Music
3. Mixgeselle - "Weekend Warm Up Show 5"
4. DJ Dealer - "Whatcha Gonna Do" - Look At You
5. Tristan Garner vs. Crystal Waters - "Gypsy Woman" - Pool e Music
6. Seamus Blake Quartet - "Way Out of Willy" - Jazz Eyes
7. Radio Slave - "Koma Koma" - Rekids
8. Daddy’s Groove vs Little Mark - "Violin Theme – Fairy Tale" - Test Pressing Records
9. Phil England Pres. Sunstitute Ft Larisa - "Open Up (Retribute)" - BoomBoxx Records
10. Spencer Gray - "Spencer Gray Radio Sampler" - Loveslap!

Tinatin - “Thinking of Someone Else” - Vox Humana

Tinatin - Thinking Of Somebody Else - the Puerta Del Sol Vs To SEFast Distance Presents Suncoast Tinatin DJ Simon Cox Rework is wave after wave of melodic lines over relentless rhythms this track gets into your heart and pulses like a 100ml shot of serotonin - euphorically building, sending the eyes of the dance floor heaven bound. This UK remix is a masterpiece of studio work. EG

Tinatin - an artist of infinite pedigree who writes and performs, has her own Radio show interviewing powerful people as a UN correspondent in New York City, writes songs that get accepted as the national entry into this years 2009 Eurovision song contest. She is the model of a sophisticated professional - then she lets her hair down and gives the dance world a track to really take her to their hearts. The American media from Billboard right across are on her case - she's destined to be known in everybody's home this girl. Tinatin, ain't she something.......

In addition, apart from her weekly UN radio show on Progressive Radio Network, “United Nations Uncovered”, Tinatin’s brand new show on Break Thru Radio “Russkiy in the Mix” features some of the hottest post-USSR hits from the other side of the Iron Curtain, along with interviews and exclusive live performances from the modern-day New Russia’s biggest alternative bands and top dance outfits. Russkiy in the Mix is currently the only English-language source of fresh Russian music on totally American radio, where Tinatin brings her listeners a monthly dose of what’s fresh and “happening” in Moscow, St. Petersburg and beyond…

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More Russkiy in Amerikansky...!

A fine gap between UN Radio and Russkiy electronic mixed with some alternativa, but who ever said it was forbidden?!

If you've only heard Russian "popsa" and don't know much about the particular genre apart from T.a.t.u. and a few rare exceptions that have actually managed to "translate" into the Western pop market, here's your chance to listen to what's really cool, underground and "happening" in Moscow & St. Petersburg at the moment.

Some of the best chill-out, electronica, house, rockapops alternativa and more... right here on Break Thru Radio with DJ Tinatin.... check it out and let us know what you love, hate and so on... open to suggestions, criticism and of course loyalty !!! :-)

Yours truly,

DJ Tinatinsky :-)