This week, ESCXTRA had the privilege of attending VICTORIA’s artist showcase in London. This exclusive opportunity allowed us to not only speak to this year’s Bulgarian representative but also offered us the chance to further understand her musical inspirations. Oliver Lewis and Tom O’Donoghue were on hand to cover the event which includes a series of performances from VICTORIA herself, live and unplugged.
VICTORIA: Versatile, contemporary and emotive
VICTORIA’s artist showcase was an intimate, exclusive evening full of music professionals, singers and songwriters. Although the poster and other promo material mentioned her participation in Rotterdam, it was not the focal point. Instead, the evening focused on VICTORIA as an artist, her journey, growth and versatility as an artist.
However, the evening was not detached from Eurovision. Instead, the contest was used as a ‘bookending’ mechanism. Prior to her performances, many in the room only knew VICTORIA as ‘Bulgaria’s Eurovision entrant’. After she finished her set, the room knew her as VICTORIA: a competent and contemporary artist who happens to be representing Bulgaria but is at the periphery of contemporary commercial music.
Before she took to the performing space in the Vinyl Café, the artist reveal video from the Eurovision YouTube channel was played to the audience. It acted as a clever means of introducing VICTORIA to us, while poignantly outlining her artistic vision and narrative.
A setlist representing modern women in the music industry
VICTORIA was accompanied by Alex, an astonishing and passionate keyboard player (who flew in from Bulgaria that afternoon!). It was an incredibly intimate evening but that played into her strengths as a performer. This was encapsulated by her opening number, “I Wanna Know”. It was a poignant performance and you could clearly see and hear how she meant every word.
She has a distinctive and emotive tone to her voice which was explored through each song. Covering the likes of Lady Gaga, Adele, Billie Eilish, Tones & I and Dua Lipa showed an impressive range of soundscapes, tempo and vocal mastery. However, it was her confident reinterpretation of the songs she covered that indicated a keen eye for mapping herself in the contemporary music scene. Given the setlist, it is fair to say the evening demonstrated a sense of musical versatility and love of musicality.
However, it seems VICTORIA’s real USP lies in her ability to tell an emotive story through song, complimenting her dark, somewhat melancholic and at times moody tones found in her vocal range. At the time of writing, it’s a struggle to work out if selecting VICTORIA intentionally or coincidentally matches the clear trajectory Bulgaria has recently taken in the contest, favouring darker pop and striking melancholy. Nonetheless, you can certainly see an evolution from Kristian Kostov in 2017 and Equinox in 2018 to VICTORIA in 2020.
As a fan of the contest, internal selections are usually either hit or miss. Ironically, there are usually more questions than answers:
- What type of sound or performance will they bring?
- Can they perform live?
- Will the selected song be an authentic representation of the act?
- What involvement will the act have in creating/finalising the selected song?
Where an act is universally recognised – Sergey Lazarev – for example, we all have a decent idea and expectation of the song/performance. Sometimes when songs are released, we do not hear a live version/performance until pre-parties or until the first rehearsal in the host city. As fans we have a tendency to overhype a song without realising that live on stage, it doesn’t work. For acts with a smaller back catalogue, it can be difficult to work out where they might go stylistically. However, VICTORIA’s artist showcase was an invaluable opportunity to get some answers to the above.
We did not hear her Eurovision entry, but the evening provided some fruitful answers to what we could or should expect in Rotterdam.
During the interview, VICTORIA was incredibly engaging and warm (despite the fact it was pretty cold outside!). Despite the fact she is friends with Eurovision-alum Kristian Kostov and Poli Genova, it appears the contest is a ‘theoretical blob’ to VICTORIA. That is, May seems so far away she may not realise the enormity and scale of the contest. Perhaps this is a common thought for many participating acts. VICTORIA is now part of the rich tapestry of Eurovision (and Bulgarian!) history. Here modesty, bright demeanour and a strong team will serve her well over the next few months and years.
You can watch the full interview with VICTORIA:
Are you excited to hear the entry that VICTORIA will perform in Rotterdam? Which is your favourite performance from the Artist Showcase? Let us know! Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter, @escxtra on Instagram and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates!