Bluestocking: “My song could be a good starting point for encouraging you to learn our beautiful Estonian language” [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 hear what Maria Soikonen aka Bluestocking has to say.
escXtra: Hello Maria! Thanks for taking some time to speak to us today! Firstly we’d like to congratulate you all on your qualification to the semi-finals of Eesti Laul 2015!
Bluestocking: Thank you very much indeed 🙂
X: For those of us who aren’t so familiar with you, can you please introduce yourself and tell us an interesting fact about yourself?
B: I’ve been trying to get to the final or semi-final of the Estonian pre-selection for 18-19 years now. My songs have been performed by very professional and well-known Estonian singers such as Sofia Rubina, Hatuna, Marilin Kongo, Anne Arrak, Siiri Koodres, Jelena Juzvik, Maian Kärmas, Sandra Nurmsalu – only as a demo – and others. I’d never planned to sing at Eurovision myself, I’d always imagined myself being the producer-in-chief of my song as it was performed by a professional Estonian singer. By producer I mean assistant choreographer, fashion-designer, stylist etc. December 2014 was the first time ever when I submitted only one song and only performed by myself, since in the end I didn’t have enough time to find a singer for my song :). This song was originally meant to be performed by Mari , but in the end we both went into the pre-selections with our own songs and both got to the semi-final, which I’m very happy about.
X: Is there a story behind your stage name of Bluestocking?
B: I guess you can google it and read it from Wikipedia :). That will tell you enough background, but I guess the main reason we’re called this is because I’m going to wear a blue stocking both on one leg and on one hand when I’m performing.
X: Where were you and how did you feel when you found out that you had made it to the Semi-Finals of Eesti Laul?
B: I was teaching an Italian class at work and since I had been waiting for another very important call I apologized to my client and accepted the phone call from an unknown number. It was Mart Normet from ETV saying he wanted to give me this good news personally :). I thanked him and said that I’d been waiting for that moment for almost 20 yearsJ. However, I had mixed feelings about the whole thing – I was both happy and terrified at the same time. I knew I wouldn’t be able only to sit in the audience enjoying my song being performed by a professional singer – I would have to either withdraw myself from the competition or go and perform live on the stage myself. I decided I’d go and perform no matter what.
Bluestocking 2X: Was your song “Kordumatu” made specifically with Eesti Laul in mind, and what was the inspiration behind the song?
B: It was written at Christmas time two years ago and was inspired by a funny remark by someone I know. We planned to release the song with Mari in April 2014, so it wasn’t meant to be in Eurovision at all. In December 2014 I just wanted to present something to continue my old tradition of participating without ever getting any result, but this time it bore fruit.
X: What does “Kordumatu” mean and what is the song about?
B: “Kordumatu” means both “unique” and “non-recurrring” and this song is very multi-layered. It’s about scoring points, cleaning (both literally and metaphorically), exes and ex-exes and about love, of course. Love that can have many different shapes and forms. Love that will save the world! 🙂
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 Estonian and would you record an English version?
B: Thanks for this question. I remember 13 years ago Estonian producers wanted to encourage young people to sing more in Estonian rather than in English. I didn’t quite understand it at the time, but now I do understand why. Both English and Estonian are my favourite languages, I love them so much, but we have all heard too much English in songs by now and I think every new language is like a new melody, which is why I would encourage different countries to come up with songs in their national language – it would add more diversity to the contest. I guess each song has its own perfect language and my song’s language is Estonian. I would rather encourage everybody to take up Estonian lessons to be able to understand the depth of this song’s meaning and sound :). Estonian is my second language – my first language is Russian, so I also had to learn it myself. My first Estonian word, which I learned at the age of six, was “kass”. It means “cat”. As it happens, my song this year contains the word “Kiisu”, which means “kitten” :). I guess my song could be a good starting point for encouraging you to learn our beautiful Estonian language. It will seem even more beautiful once you start to understand more :). I’ll think about the English version though 🙂
X: Can you give us a hint as to what we might expect to see from your live stage performance?
B: We are all dressed up, we have two kittens, a bunny, a bee, a teddy bear, and a chick. The two kittens are Maria Goltsman, a ballerina, and Elena Muhhina, a figure-skater, who was Estonian Champion in 2006.
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?
B: As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve been doing it out of habit, because after having done it for so long I just can’t imagine stopping any more :). It means a lot to so many people because for songwriters it’s the opportunity that comes round only once a year to be actually heard. There are many good musicians in Estonia so it’s like buying a lottery ticket, but unless you do it you will never have a chance to win :). I’ve made my voice heard by now and that is already an achievement for me.
X: How would you describe the “sound” of Bluestocking?
B: I’m not an expert on this, but I like Raido Kurri’s drums and Vilho Meier’s guitars so much and both Vilho Meier’s and Kristo Kotkas’s different mixes of this song, and the backing vocals, of course. I’m very grateful to Anne Arrak, Sulev Võrno and Denise Fontoura.
X: What are your feelings on the fact that if you win you will be representing your nation at Eurovision in Vienna in May?
B: I first imagined myself representing Estonia at the Eurovision Song Contest as a songwriter 18 years ago. This has always been my dream, but I never imagined myself singing on the Eurovision stage. So I have mixed feelings about that. I have no experience of live performance whatsoever and I would describe my singing experience more as  experience of being silent, although I do have done some studio recordings. I’m not a professional singer, so I don’t think my song can be chosen to represent my country purely because of my singing skills. I didn’t sing well in the semi-final, because I’d been too busy working on all aspects of my show, but I would like to have a second chance to sing in the Final just to be able to show I can sing betterJ
X: Are you a Eurovision fan, and if so do you have any favourite Eurovision songs? Perhaps a favourite Estonian entry?
B: I don’t like the word “fan”, but I’ve been watching Eurovision for many years now and I always look forward to it. My favourite Estonian entries are “Kaelakee hääl” (1996), “Runaway” (2002) and “Et uus saaks alguse”. One of my favourite songs that didn’t win the Estonian final was Hedvig Hanson’s song “When we’re flying high” performed by Hendvig Hanson and Mac McFall (2000), also “Open up your heart” performed by Sofia Rubina.
X: Where is your favourite place in Estonia and/or where would you recommend someone visiting Estonia go see?
B: I love all of it and highly recommend you all to visit my beautiful country. Every time I come back from abroad I kiss the air as soon as I arrive at Tallinn Airport 🙂
X: Finally, do you have a message for our readers?
B: Friendship and love will save the world!
Bluestocking takes part in the first semi-final tomorrow with the song “Kordumatu” which you can hear below. On behalf of everyone at escXtra we would like to thank Maria for her time and wish her all the best in the contest and with whatever comes 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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