Returning to the stage for a second attempt at representing Iceland at Eurovision is Stefanía Svavarsdóttir. She reached the final of Söngvakeppnin in 2013 with Faroese star Jógvan Hansen, and aims to reach even higher in 2015. We had a chat to get to know a little more about Stefanía and her participation with ‘Ást eitt augnablik’ (‘Love for a moment’). Her entry for 2015 is composed by the same man -Sveinn Rúnar Sigurðsson- who wrote her collaboration with Jógvan.
X: “You’ve worked with Sveinn Rúnar Sigurðsson before at Söngvakeppnin – you must feel it’s a strong partnership? This time around, did he ask you or did you ask him?”
Stefanía: “He wrote this song for me quite a while ago and we hadn’t planned on sending in it to the competition. The recording turned out to be really good and he sent it in and it got through and here we are 🙂 Super excited.”
X: “I saw that he’s written quite a few songs for you recently – so I wonder, what is it about this song that makes it great for Eurovision?”
Stefanía: “I think the lyrics are beautiful and the song is very catchy, at least I couldn’t get it out of my head for months. That’s a really good element for a Eurovision song. It’s powerful and energetic, it’s a ballad and suits my voice perfectly and hopefully others will be as impressed as I was when I heard it. “
X: “Away from Eurovision, could you tell us about your favourite musical experiences?”
Stefanía: “I would have to say a concert I participated in last summer in a small fishing town in Iceland called Dalvík. I was there with so many amazing and insanely talented singers and musicians, performing for over 30 thousand people by the harbour. It completely blew my mind.”
Dalvik, on Iceland’s north coast, has a population of 1,400 and an economy based around fishing. Each summer it plays host to the Fiskidagurinn Mikli (Great Fish Day) festival, drawing crowds of 30,000 for musical festivities and free stunning seafood! On stage alongside Stefanía you’ll find Selma Björnsdóttir (ESC 1999, 2005), Eurobandið (Regína Ósk and Friðrik Ómar ESC 2008), Matthias Matthiasson (lead singer of Sjonni’s Friends ESC 2011), Eiríkur Hauksson (ESC 2007), Jónsi (ESC 2004 and with Greta Salome 2012), Söngvakeppni veteran Erna Hrönn and Dalvík’s very own Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson (ESC 2013).
X: “Am I right you’re studying at the FÍH music school right now – how is that?”
Stefanía: “Yes and I love it! I’m studying the basics for now, music theory, music history and taking singing lessons to improve my technique. The school has some of Iceland’s best vocal coaches/teachers and I look forward to every class because I’m always improving and learning something new. I told my teacher that I would just want to be able to sing all Céline Dion and Whitney Houston‘s hits and then I’d be good for life. We’ll get there, hahaha! And I’m learning a million other things on the way.”
X: “You work at the Söngskóli – what’s that work and experience like? You are colleagues with some of your opposition for Söngvakeppnin – is it hard to compete against people you know well?”
Stefanía: “I teach kids how to sing. It can be challenging but also very rewarding and I love being able to pass on the things I’ve learned throughout my career. I also see myself in many of the kids I teach because I was at the exact same spot when I was their age. All I wanted to do was sing and be the best at it. I drove my family crazy and that’s what I tell them to do. Practice makes perfect ;). As for my colleagues, no. It’s not at all hard competing with each other. We’re all very good friends and we’ve worked with each other many, many times. We’re very supportive of each other and set on doing our best and having the best time we can while doing it.”
X: “We know you’re a Eurovision fan – if you could take any Eurovision song from any country in the past and have it written just for you to perform, which song would you pick? And why?”
Stefanía: “Wow, that’s a tough one… Molitva by Marija Serifovic. It’s a very hard and challenging song to sing. It’s one of my all time favourites and I would have loved to have had it written for me.”
X: “Important questions to finish: Favourite day of the year?”
Stefanía: “New Year’s Eve”
X: “Favourite flavour for skyr?“
Stefanía: “Melon and passion fruit”
The countdown to Söngvakeppnin continues, with the first of two semifinals taking place on 31 January. Stefanía will be hoping to reach the final on Valentine’s night where escXtra will be in Reykjavík to bring you extensive coverage.
Melon and passionfruit skyr- a good choice!