In 2011, France announced Anggun as their entrant for the Eurovision Song Contest 2012. In January, her song Echo (You And I) was revealed. escXtra.com spoke to Anggun about her song, her career and Eurovision.
Read what Anggun had to say below!
escXtra.com: Hello Anggun! First of all, congratulations on being the French representative this year!
Anggun: Thanks a lot! And thanks for your support.
X: Could you tell us something about who you are, for the people who don’t know?
A: My name is Anggun. I was born in Jakarta, Indonesia. I live in France and I’m a French citizen for more than a decade now. I am a singer since the age of 9, I am a music lover and the proud mother of a beautiful little girl. And I will represent France at this year’s Eurovision song contest
X: Your career started over twenty years ago. Could you give us a summary of your career so far?
A: I started my career in Eastern Asia at a very early age. In Indonesia, music is part of people’s genetics and part of every child’s education. My first album became a massive success in Indonesia and I did numerous albums after this, selling over 9 million copies in Eastern Asia. I even opened my own record company. Then, I have decided to start an international career and decided to move to Europe.
X: While you have moved to France and are now a citizen, do you still feel a connection to your homeland of Indonesia?
A: Of course. I was born and raised in Indonesia. I still love my native country a lot. I have my family there and I miss them a lot. But I’m proud to have acquired a new identity with my life in France for over a decade now. I’m like someone who has been genetically modified I’m French with Indonesian roots. And my life is now in Paris. I’m signed to Warner Music in France, my husband is French and I am the mother of the most adorable little girl I feel lucky to share this multiculturalism.
X: When the French broadcaster asked you to go to Eurovision, did you say ‘yes’ immediately or did you hesitate?
A: It took me less than 3 seconds to say yes. I knew my name has been circulating over the last few years at France Televisions. But no one has ever contacted me officially. So when I got a call from Marie-Claire Mezerette and Frederic Valencak from France 3, I was quite surprised. I really feel honoured to be representing France this year. I have always been a big fan of the contest.
X: You have scored quite a few hits worldwide. Do you think your popularity and being known outside France can help you for Eurovision?
A: I don’t think it will help really. Again, we are talking about a song contest. The song is the true star. The artist is just the messenger. I don’t think people will vote for me because I’m Anggun but because they like the song and the performance. That’s why I’m working hard right now on the performance in Baku. I want to deliver something fresh and unexpected. Just like the video of ‘Echo (You and I)’ which has surprised many.
X: Did you get any reactions from Indonesia, where you’re originally from, on your Eurovision participation?
A: Most of Indonesian people seem to be very happy. I’m a child of Indonesia after all J Besides, I know that the Indonesian diaspora, mainly located in The Netherlands, is very excited of my participation. It’s great to see that Indonesia, with its 250m population, will get addicted to the Eurovision song contest for the first time. Before, almost nobody was familiar with the contest. Now they are!
X: Your Eurovision entry is in both French and English. Why did you and your team decide to do that, instead of going with one language?
A: The song remains in French for 80%. A small part of the chorus is performed in English in order for people who do not understand French to relate to the song. I know there has been some controversy in France about that but I do think that people need to understand a song to love it.
X: Did you ever think about putting a few lines in Indonesian in the song?
A: No. I don’t it would have been relevant. I’m singing in French, as I’m representing France and I added a few words in English, the international language of nowadays.
X: Your song is called Echo (You and I). What is the message you want to carry out with the song?
A: That what’s really important is the love and the relationship between 2 human beings. Our consumerist quest for more things and our frenzy for social networking let us forget what’s really significant in our lives: being in love and sharing love. So the song says that whatever the distance, whatever happens, what’s important is that there is You and I. I think this is a song that relates to everyone.
X: You put some photos of the video clip shoot on Facebook and it seems to have a military theme. Why was that theme chosen?
A: The video is a bit crazy and people did not expect such a concept. It has a lot of second degree as it reverses the roles. Women are too often “used” as sensual objects in videos or advertising. This time I wanted to show men used as objects of desire. Let’s say there is some feminism in it I truly believe our society is aspiring towards a new feminism.
X: What can we expect from you in Baku, performance wise?
A: I want to surprise the audience. Just like the video has surprised many people. You’ll see. I’m working hard on ideas right now
X: The last time France won the contest was in 1977. Will France win again, 35 years later?
A: It’s the voters of 41 countries who will decide this…
X: Did you have a look at the competition you’re facing in Baku? If so, what is your favourite of the other entries?
A: I love many entries. Level is high this year. There are some very very very good songs. Would I surprise you If I’m telling you that I like Loreen? I really liked her performance at the Melodifestival.
X: Among fans, there has been a lot of speculation about why you haven’t performed your song live yet (on television). Could you tell us why you haven’t done that so far?
A: I know this is something that has sparkled lots of controversy. I can see that on twitter Well, I have performed my song live already for a French TV show that has not yet been broadcast. I always want to perform live. I hate performing full playback. But you have to understand something. I usually arrive in the country I’m visiting a few hours before the TV show actually starts airing. Sometimes I cannot even do a “camera rehearsals” so the TV producer does not have a single clue of how I will handle my stage performance. My schedule has been quite hectic and I don’t have a body double yet. So when you don’t have time to rehearse properly, you play it safe and perform full playback, even though as a singer I always prefer live vocals.
X: You are doing a big promotional tour around Europe. Did you discover new places you want to go back to or do you expect to discover new places?
A: I’ve visited great cities. For example Ljubljana is a beautiful city. And I have met great artists too. Like Varga Viktor from Hungary. Claudia Faniello from Malta. Or KEO from Romania. I have received an amazing welcome in Sofia (Bulgaria), in Kiev (Ukraine), in Vilnius (Lithunania) or in Athens (Greece). I had great moments visiting all these countries.
X: Are you a Eurovision fan? Do you watch it every year?
A: I’m a huge fan of Eurovision. When I arrived in Europe 15 years ago, I immediately fell in love with the concept! I watch it every year of course!
X: What is your favourite Eurovision entry ever?
A: I don’t have a favourite entry ever. So many great songs and performers have shined over the last few years. Sertab, Dana International, Patricia Kaas, Ell & Nikki, and… Lordi also!
X: Do you have a message for our readers?
A: Thanks for all your support. I’m so happy to be part of this exciting Eurovision adventure. Thanks for all your positive messages. Let’s rock the stage in Baku in a few weeks.
Watch Anggun’s song ‘Echo (You And I)’ below!