Meet the ESCXTRA team! Part 20 – MATTEO

This summer, we are running a series of feature articles that is slightly different to the norm. We think this is the perfect time for you (and us!) to find out more about the ESCXTRA team! What is our personal Eurovision story? Why did we want to be a part of this website? What are our favourite Eurovision songs of all-time? How can you get in touch with us on social media? Read on to find out!

Matteo Manta

Bom dia! This is not just because we are going to Portugal (#seeyouinLisbon) next year, but also because I have been repeating this a lot when meeting Simon that it feels like the only appropriate salutation when in the Eurovision world. This pretty much to say that I have no idea how to introduce myself, but you might have noticed me in a few live streams here and there doing nip slips, singing, shouting or being rude. If the word Rotten means something to you, probably it is my fault.
Twitter: @matteo_manta – Instagram: @_matteom

Your first Eurovision memory?

Funnily* enough, my first Eurovision memory doesn’t involve a Eurovision broadcast.
*Term used quite loosely.
The first song from Eurovision I’ve ever listened to must have been Italian (you can pick one between “Nel blu dipinto di blu”, “Non ho l’età”, “Occhi di ragazza”, “Gente di mare” and “Fiumi di parole” – basically those that became classics of the Italian repertoire), but I wasn’t aware that they had been part of the contest (and if you ask my mother, she probably isn’t aware either).
But Italy had pulled out when I was 3 (well, 2 years and 353 days old), coming back for a one off in 1997 (which wasn’t even broadcast live on RAI, so I wasn’t really able to access it) and, in our pre-internet world (yes, that DID exist, children), the Eurovision Song Contest didn’t happen. And no, no one in Northern Italy cares about the Swiss television enough to watch it.
So there I was. Completely ignorant about the contest until a summer evening in 2005, at dinner with my family: we were watching the usual quiz show on at 7pm and one of the commercial breaks showed us the Greek tourism board video
Bear in mind that the commercial in Italy closed with a screen saying “Live your myth in Greece with Helena!” – which made me ask: who the hell is Helena?
And that’s how I found out that the contest existed. Even though it took me too years to start following it.

Your Eurovision journey?

I have been following religiously since 2007. In 2007 I remember watching on ERT world, 2008 and 2009 on Andorra Televisió (ANDORRA TELEVISIÓ, I REPEAT) and I was at a party in Milan in 2010 (we were watching it on the Swiss television). I remember following various websites (including ESCXTRA), but I’ve never been much of a fan of chatting to people on forums and such.
I have created and managed for almost 10 years an Italian blog, this introduced me to the San Marino delegation 2011, for which I worked, and helped me land an accreditation (as one of the very few blogs about Eurovision in Italy) for the 2013 contest. From Malmö to Stockholm (2013 – 2016) I have been following from the press centre, making connections and filling the live stream with joy.

Why is Eurovision special to you?

I have a degree in media studies, cultural studies, visual culture, storytelling and audio-visual techniques. Pretty much Eurovision. Ok, I actually graduated with a dissertation about Eurovision, but that’s a long story and there’s not enough space here.
I like seeing how a song can be narrated through a show – it is a very difficult art especially if you need to appeal to forty plus countries. There’s a lot more than just glitter and glam, there are hours of rehearsals and camera angles (25 cameras. TWENTY FIVE!) for three minutes that will, at times, be forgotten by everyone.
Obviously, it’s not all research and work: I have made a lot of friends at Eurovision that transformed into every-day-not-only-for-Eurovision friends. Plus: do you know how easy it is to break the ice when you can mention friends from all over the world?
(On an unrelated note: do you all realise this is a commercial contest, right? It’s a TV programme that costs money to a public broadcaster that is funded by your tax money and may or may not be funded by ads too – which means that whatever they do they have to be profitable otherwise it would be money wasted. And do you want that to happen to your tax money? DO YOU?)

What attracted you to ESCXTRA?

Already I had quite a few friends on ESCXTRA when I joined in August 2015, as I had been in the press centre sitting next to the xtra table back in Copenhagen, and I had been on and off on the Live Stream babysitting the Children in 2015 (all those early mornings working from the press centre…).
I think ESCXTRA is one of the heritage brands of Eurovision fan sites. I trusted what they said, I liked the style of reporting and I especially enjoyed the Live Stream (jury final 2012, Loreen chokes on a snow flake – I remember Rodrigo was hosting that evening – and I start screaming. Yes, thrilling). I was quite happy when I was approached by Simon to discuss whether I wanted to join the team, I don’t think I would have said yes to any other website: there are many other portals that provide great coverage, but they wouldn’t have fit my style. XTRA felt more like home.

And finally, your top 5 Eurovision song of all-time?

It is quite a task, especially for someone who struggles to do the yearly ranking, let alone 60+ years of contest. I want to express my appreciation for Sofi Marinova (and samba version), Poli Genova (slay kween etc), Valentina Monetta and all the other that are not in this top 5 but gave us great moments.
5. Battiato & Alice – I treni di Tozeur
I am generally a big fan of Battiato and I like Alice (well, the four hit songs she recorded in the 80s) and this is probably my favourite Italian song in the history of the contest. Battiato’s songs are pretty much what Eurovision is: a mash of cultures, world music, dances and random toponyms.
4. Iveta – LoveWave
I have fond(le) memories of me imitating Iveta during the live stream – and I am quite good at doing it, so…
3. Ofra Haza – Hi
A song about being alive, from Israel, performed in Germany, in Munich where the massacre happened in 1972. I don’t know about you, but Eurovision can’t go any more political than this.
2. Conchita Wurst – Rise like a phoenix
Seen that I don’t have any dignity, I can come out and say that I was crying when she won. Well, most of us were crying in the Press Centre, it was quite something.
1. Tommy Körberg – Stad i ljus
The best ballad in the world – especially when it’s 2am, you’re in a Vodka bar in Sweden and they are trying to kick you out. But you persist singing it all…
Stay tuned for the next part in our Meet the ESCXTRA team series. On Wednesday we will meet Connor! Remember you can share your Eurovision stories with us in the comments section below or via the comments sections on our Facebook page @ESCXTRA. We would love to hear them!

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