State of Zoe: “The song is about misunderstanding and lack of communication in all relationships” [Interview]

For the sixth consecutive year Estonia is using the popular Eesti Laul format to select its entry to the Eurovision Song Contest. With only a few days until the first semi-final, we took the chance to catch up with some of the singers taking part and today we speak to Anneliis Kits from State of Zoe.
escXtra: Hello Anneliis, thanks for taking some to speak to us today! Firstly we’d like to congratulate you and the band on your qualification to the semi-finals of Eesti Laul 2014!
Anneliis Kits: Hey! Thank you so much! 🙂

X: Let’s start at the very beginning, how did you guys come together to form State of Zoe, and is there a story behind the name of the band?
A: Well that is actually a quite long and even a bumpy road which started already three years ago. It was somewhat of a fortunate accident and kind of just happened. It started off with me and Sander writing together and we released an EP just the two of us. Then we ended up on stage warming up for Tortures Soul during the Autumn Jazz Festival in Tallinn in 2010. And so it started. A lot has changed since, there are new members, new music, new style… and I even think it’s all a work-in-progress kind of a thing. I have no idea, what is going to happen. We just have to see what life offers.
X: Where were you and how did you feel when you found out that you were one of the acts who had made it to the Semi-Finals of Eesti Laul? Also who found out first?
A: We were rehearsing and I had a missed call on my phone. I called back, but no one answered. After couple of hours I decided to call back again. Heidy Purga who is the producer of the Eesti Laul contest, answered the phone and congratulated me, for being a semi-finalist. It was all a bit confusing at first. Then quite awesome. I remember even walking on the street and doing my kind of a victory-dance kind of thing. It was funny and embarrassing at the same time, but I was really happy. So even if it was embarrassing, I didn’t care much … 🙂

X: How did you and Sander Mölder come together to write your entry ‘Solina’ and was it always intended to be entered in Eesti Laul?
A: Well me and Sander have written music for 5 years now. State of Zoe started off as just the two of us and in ways it will always stay that way. I will write and he will produce. Now there are Raul, Siim and Caspar who are also a bit part of the writing process, so new rules need to be applied. I’m still trying to work that out. But “Solina” was part of the new State of Zoe’s EP which we were thinking of releasing in December. We decided to also send it to Eesti Laul and we got quite lucky. The idea of the EP, turned into a full album, which we are trying to release in the beginning of summer. Half of it is done. Half needs to be written. So whenever the contest is done, I’m going straight back to writing. Can’t wait.
X: Could you tell us a little about what the song is about?
A: The song is about a difficult situation that occurs in relationships. It’s a combination of misunderstanding, miscommunication, lack of all communication and understanding and overall silence. It’s when one half needs and wants to talk things out. The other, is not willing or able. So everything gets quite complicated and unbearable. And the question “Should I talk?” appears. Both parties lose the ability to speak to one another, to reach out. They stay silent and the drift apart. So it tears down all trust, caring and love for one another . This certain situation is quite familiar everywhere, in all sorts of relationships, not only a relationship between a man and a woman. The saddest part of it is, that we can also find that kind of hardship in society. The miscommunication, silence and mistrust.
X: Eesti Laul has developed in recent years to be much more than just a Eurovision preselection and in this year’s contest you will be up against many big names in the Estonian music industry as well as several strong newcomers. For you, what does it mean to participate in Eesti Laul?
A: It’s quite true. The format of the contest plays a big role in the Estonian music scene and gives a big opportunity to a lot of musicians to show themselves and play their music to a wider audience. Lots of subgenre music gets thrown into the mainstream scene. I think in ways, it applies also for us. I mostly see it as an opportunity to do something a bit different and let our music be heard by people who maybe might not usually find their way to us or to our concerts.
X: What are your feelings on the fact that if you win you will be representing your nation at Eurovision in Copenhagen in May?
A: Well to be quite frank, we haven’t thought about that much. Even at all. The main energy goes to rehearsals and preparations for the semifinals. To start thinking about such responsibility, might be too much pressure and there’s no room for unnecessary pressure.  We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Until then, we’re focused on giving the best possible show and performance that we can.
X: Are you Eurovision fans, and if so do you guys have any favorite Eurovision songs? Perhaps a favourite Estonian entry?
A: Well I’m not a very big fan of the Eurovision contest. I use to be more into it when I was younger, but now I try to keep myself posted with the Eesti Laul contest. I’ve had couple of Estonian favorites over the years – Malcolm Lincoln with their song “Siren”, Ruffus’s hit “Eighties Coming Back” and an old tune called “Nagu Merelaine” by the late Silvi Vrait.
X: Now some questions to get to know you a  little better, how did you spend your Christmas and New Year?
A: I took both of them quite easy. Typical Christmas – the only real time to take some time off and spend it with my family. Eat traditional Estonian food , read books, watched lots of interesting movies, searched for new music and all sorts of interesting information from the web and just enjoyed spending time with people. New Years – a fabulous time out with friends and music.
X: Where is your favourite place in Estonia and/or where would you recommend someone visiting Estonia go see?
A: There are so many wonderful places in Estonia. To just name one is quite hard. If I need to recommend something then both the big islands are just wonderful – Saaremaa & Hiiumaa. The Lahemaa National Park, especially the whole sea area. Tallinn with everything it has to offer. Tolkuse swamp which also has a nature trail. I love that place. My grand-grandparents home is very near to that place, so this is the place I have built all my magical childhood memories around. Also, when visiting Estonia, it wise not only to  just travel around, but also take part of our cultural experience – concerts, exhibitions, performances etc.. We have a very rich and active cultural life which is as much part of us than our beautiful nature and old traditions. So lots to experience!
X: What is your favourite food to cook?
A: I think my best dish would be zucchini-potato cutlets with mango-cucumber salad. I love to cook. I’ve always knows that two of my biggest passions in life are music and food. Like them both served hot, fresh and high-graded. And the best part of them both is that it involves other people. I love to cook for my band mates and friends, just wish I’d have more free time to do it.
X: If you could have any animal in the world as a pet, what would you choose?
A: I’d love to have a tiger, but not so much as a pet animal. Tigers are not that easy to be house-broken, so it would be wiser to live near to a zoo or a wildlife park. Or live in a zoo. Animals in general are so interesting and maybe in ways much smarter than us humans. They are natural and in that sense the most honest. Tigers on the other hand are quite mystical and mysterious – the mind of a cat. A BIG cat. I have a small one at home and can’t really even figure that guy out. A tiger – that be really something, a real puzzle.
X: What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
A: Maybe the most embarrassing moments are still ahead? Who knows?
X: Finally, do you guys have a message for our readers?
A: Not much of a message, but maybe a remainder in a form a question? When was the last time you said something nice to someone, just to be kind and positive towards the people around you? To a total stranger! If you can’t remember, than maybe it has been to long. Go fix it! Cheers!
Anneliis and State of Zoe along with 9 other hopefuls take part in Eesti Laul’s first semi-final next Friday. Listen to their song ‘Solina’ below! You can connect with State of Zoe either on their Facebook or Soundcloud pages. On behalf of all the team at escXtra I would like to thank Anneliis for speaking with us and wish her and State of Zoe all the best with whatever may be next!

Liam Clark

I am a founding editor of escXtra who now works as a member of the Estonian Delegation's Press Team. Even though my Xtra days are behind me, I still like writing the odd piece here and there. P.S vote for Estonia 😘 🇪🇪 ❤️

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