MNTHA: “The song is about existence, about how I see the world.” [Interview]

Latvia have for 2015 completely overhauled their national final, leaving Dziesma behind in Ventspils and instead trying to discover a Supernova in Riga. With only 8 performers left in the competition we decided to speak to those that passed the quarterfinals and first up we speak to electronic artist MNTHA.
escXtra: Hello MNTHA! 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 Supernova!
MNTHA: Hej! No problem! Thank you very much!
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?
M: I am MNTHA, but my real name is Maria Mickiewicz. I understood that I wanted music in my life when I was very small, so I started singing in choirs and went to music school in vocal class. I also participated in singing contests organized by the school I went to. Now, for half a year, maybe a bit more I started to make music, just for fun, and then when I tried to add vocals, I understood that this is it – I have to make this serious.
Fun fact: Cats are my spirit animals.
X: Is there a story behind your stage name of MNTHA?
M: I just took the word menthol, mint, and tried to come to the conclusion that’s who I should be. So then I became MNTHA.  Why mint and menthol? Because I really want to bring something fresh in music and arts.
X: You wrote your song ‘Nefelibata’ yourself; do you think that gives you an advantage over the other Supernova contestants?
M: I actually haven’t thought about that, maybe. But I wouldn’t like to think so. But it probably gives a little bit more appreciation.
X: What was the inspiration behind the song?
M: A really weird existential dream in which I felt I was everything and nothing at the same time.
X: What does ‘Nefelibata’ mean and what is the song about?
M: It is an unused word in the Portuguese and Spanish languages, which stands for a person who lives in the clouds of their own imagination, or one who does not obey by the conventions of society, literature, or art.
The song is about existence, about how I see the world. I am a solipsist, therefore I think that only I exist and no one else. Everything that I see hear, touch, smell, etc., is an imaginary product of my consciousness.
MNTHA3X: How would you describe the “sound” of MNTHA?
M: Right now it is has the “less is more” feeling. But I am still finding how I want to sound.
X: In the history of Latvia at Eurovision, we have only once had a song in the Latvian language. What was behind your decision to perform in English, and would you create a Latvian version of the song?
M: Well, when I am making songs, I am mostly thinking international, so that’s why it is in English. I haven’t thought about Latvian version, but it seems like good idea, maybe i could create it.
X: Your performance on Saturday was like the song, very minimalist. Can we expect anything different from your semi-final performance?
M: I am not going to say anything about this – it could change a bit … or maybe it won’t. You never know.
X: Participation in shows such as Supernova can mean many different things for different people. What was behind the decision to enter Supernova and what are your overall aims for the contest?
M: Well, Just a while ago no one knew me, and now, I am here, doing an interview. My aim was to be seen, to have people see what I do, and to know that I am here, doing something.
X:  What are your feelings on the fact that if you win you will be representing your nation at Eurovision in Vienna in May?
M: Well, that’s cool. I didn’t think I would actually come this far in this contest but I did, and if I already did this much, why not to continue?
X: Are you a Eurovision fan, and if so do you have any favourite Eurovision songs? Perhaps a favourite Latvian entry?
M: I would like to be honest, and say no, I haven’t watched Eurovision much, only when I was a child, and last year, because i liked our Latvian entry from Aarzemnieki; Cake to Bake. I won’t be original, I really liked Marija Naumova’s winning act in 2002.
MNTHA2X: Now some questions to get to know you a little better, how did you spend your most recent birthday?
M: It was pretty quiet, with friends and family.
X: Can you tell us a secret about yourself that very few people know?
M: I hate chocolate.
X: What is your favourite thing to drink?
M: To this I would like to answer with a quote from Twin Peaks’ Dale Cooper “I like my coffee black as midnight on a moonless night.”
X: Where is your favourite place in Latvia and/or where would you recommend someone visiting Latvia go see?
M: Any meadow in summer. Fantastic.
X: What is your favourite food to cook?
M: Cheesecake or also chicken with rice noodles in soy and honey sauce.
X: If you could have any animal in the world as a pet, what would you choose?
M: A panda. With no second thoughts.
X: What is your favourite colour?
M: Black. It is the happiest of all.
X: What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you, that you don’t mind sharing?
M: Living is pretty embarrassing.
X: Finally, do you have a message for our readers?
M: To be themselves. Because that, in my opinion, is one of the bravest things a person can do.
MNTHA takes part in the Supernova semi-final on Sunday, February 15th with the song “Nefelibata” which you can hear below. On behalf of everyone at escXtra we would like to thank MNTHA for her time and wish her all the best in the contest and beyond.

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