Heidy Purga re-affirms commitment to Eesti Laul

In 2008 after Estonia’s 5th consecutive failure to qualify, Heidy Purga was asked to take over as executive producer of Estonia’s national final and transform Eurolaul into something ‘new and fresh’. Six editions later Eesti Laul has become much more than just a vehicle to select a Eurovision song and is now a popular institution in the Estonian music scene.
Purga was perhaps an obvious choice for ERR, having already contributed to a number of television and radio programs with the broadcaster. We caught up with Heidy (who is also the co-Head of Delegation for Estonia) in Copenhagen and asked her a few questions about her involvement with Eesti Laul. On the creation of the new format, Purga said that “ERR invited me to try and create something different for the National Final, and I thought why not? We wanted to make something different and put the focus on selecting something Estonians could be proud of, rather than trying to pick a ‘Eurovision song’”.
The selection of the participants in Eesti Laul has become harder and harder each year. With the growing popularity of the contest more submissions are received and sorted through and the show has had to grow from a single final of 10 songs in to a three show song with 20 songs. Purga is pleased with this growth stating “I’m really happy that Eesti Laul has developed into what we hoped it would become, one of the biggest music festivals in Estonia”.
The selection process itself can be rather contentious in itself with a wider variety of genres than would be present at most Eurovision selections. “We look for really diverse styles of music to try and show all the different sides of Estonian performers. You can’t please everyone, but we try to include something in there that all viewers can enjoy” Purga mused.
Obviously 2014 was not quite as hoped with Estonia failing to qualify for the second time under the Eesti Laul format, but Purga was quite frank stating “Obviously we hoped that we would qualify, but we were up against some very good songs. Tanja worked her very hardest and I don’t think there was anything else we could do”.
Despite the disappointing result, ERR have already committed to Eurovision 2015 as well as unsurprisingly the continuing use of Eesti Laul as their selection format. When asked what we can expect from the 7th edition of Eesti Laul, Purga answered thoughtfully by commenting “2015 is kind of a crucial year for us; on one hand we have already achieved a dream of turning something old to something new from the very beginning. On the other hand you must plan and grow every season.” On a lighter note she also joked “I just hope this will be once again fun to work with all the new talent here in Estonia as well with our A list stars, so that everybody is counted in. This is an Estonian pop music festival after all!”
2015 will mark the 21st participation of Estonia in the Eurovision Song Contest. We would like to thank Heidy Purga for her time and responses and wish her and all of ERR a successful Eesti Laul next year.

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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