Kali Briis: “I myself hope that Stig and Elina represent Estonia” [Interview]

Once again Estonia is using its popular Eesti Laul format to select not only Estonia’s representative at the Eurovision Song Contest, but as a showcase for local talent. With not long to go until the live shows begin, we took the opportunity to speak to a few of the contestants, and today we speak to Alan Olonen aka Kali Briis, who is the frontman of the Kali Briis Band.
escXtra: Hello Kali! Thanks for taking some time to speak to us today! Firstly we’d like to congratulate you on your qualification to the semi-finals of Eesti Laul 2015!
Kali Briis: Hey man.
X: For those of us who aren’t so familiar with you, can you please introduce yourself?
Kali Briis aka Alan Olonen matured on his dad’s Pink Floyd records from the age of 3. Never professionally trained, he grabbed a guitar at the age of 7 and never stopped making music since then. He describes his music a bit naive and simple, but also sharp by the sound and well systemated because he is a pedant in real life.
The soundscapes he creates depend a lot on his emotions – when he’s depressed he makes electronica, when he’s excited he makes electro, when he’s relaxed he makes rnb, when he’s bursting with energy he makes rock and when he feels elvish he makes pop.
X: Kali Briis is usually a solo project, why did you decide to include other members?
K: Kali Briis is actually my alias, but after 7 years of working alone I met Laura Junson who gave me the courage to go live by supporting me on stage. Through her I befriended with other talented musicians with whom we formed a live band so I could perform my music in live. The band consists of 5 irreplaceable members: me – Kali Briis, Laura Junson – second lead and keyboards, Erko Niit – guitar, Kaarel Kuusk – keyboards and Tõnu Tubli on the drums.
X: Is there a story behind your stage name of Kali Briis?
Actually in the beginning years I made hip hop and took the name from Planet Asia’s song Cali Breeze, because it had a nice ring to it. In years I changed a few letters and promised to stick with it to the end.
Kali Briis 2X: Where were you and how did you feel when you found out that you had made it to the Semi-Finals of Eesti Laul?
K: I was driving home from school and was actually quite shocked, because we thought our song would be too hipstery for the competition.
X:  Was your song “Idiot” made specifically with Eesti Laul in mind, and what was the inspiration behind the song?
K: It was an experiment as usual. This time we tried to mix rock with synthpop. Then I had a feeling we should finish it before the competition and now here we are. The song even by its composition sounds more like a statement and is inspired by everyday contacts with people who talk bad about others to feel better about themselves.
X: In your own words, what is your song “Idiot” about?
K: That idiots aren’t those who don’t know anything, but those who think they know everything.
X: How would you describe the ‘sound’ of Kali Briis Band?
K: I think whatever genre we take on, we always sound funky, electric and sharp.
X: This year there is a direct 50/50 split between Eesti Laul songs in English and in Estonian. Why have you chosen to sing in English and would you record an Estonian version?
K: I wouldn’t record it in Estonian because even though my mother language is Estonian, we live in an English speaking world.
X: Can you give us a hint as to what we might expect to see from your live stage performance?
K: We’ll try to be as sincere as possible and avoid over doing it, but I think that strobe lights are a must for this song.
X: Participation in Eesti Laul means many things to many people. Why did you enter Eesti Laul 2015 and what do you hope to achieve from the contest?
K: Most of our band members have been following Eurovision contest since they were little, so with us being musicians, it’s obvious that we have dreamed of participating in it.
X: What are your feelings on the fact that if you win you will be representing your nation at Eurovision in Vienna in May?
K: That won’t happen, because there are more potential and traditional entries this year. In my opinion there’s no crime in staying true to traditions. I myself hope that Stig and Elina Born represent Estonia.
X: Are you a Eurovision fan, and if so do you have any favourite Eurovision songs? 
K: I have watched Eurovision since I was 7 so you might say I’m into it, but not a hardcore fan, meaning I wouldn’t trash my apartment when my favourite song doesn’t win. My favourite Eurovision song would be Brainstorm – My Star.
X: Now some questions to get to know you a little better, how did you spend your most recent birthday?
K: At my summer house with my closest friends.
X: Can you tell us a secret about yourself that very few people know?
K: My parents named me after Alan Prost.
X: Do you have a favourite alcoholic beverage?
K: Jägermeister
X: Where is your favourite place in Estonia and/or where would you recommend someone visiting Estonia go see?
K: My favourite place in Estonia is the whole South-East of Estonia because of its unique culture, people and landscape.
X: What is your favourite food to cook?
K: Cheese and Omelette.
X: If you could have any animal in the world as a pet, what would you choose?
K: A monkey.
X: What is your favourite colour?
K: Light blue
X: What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you? (that you don’t mind sharing)
K: When I won best alternative album award at EMA 2014 (Estonian Music Awards), but couldn’t receive it, because at the same time I was behind the door and security wouldn’t let me into the hall during the broadcast.
X: Finally, do you have a message for our readers?
K: Always wear a helmet.
Kali Briis and his band take part in the second semi-final on Saturday, February 14th with the song “Idiot” which you can hear below. On behalf of everyone at escXtra we would like to thank Kali Briis for his time and wish him and the rest of the band all the best in the contest and with whatever comes next.

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