Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Slovenia: Exclusive! Interview with Omar Naber "Eurovision fans are very loyal and this is another aspect of the whole Eurovision experience that I find incredible"

Omar Naber won the Slovenian national final of EMA 2017. Omar will represent Slovenia at the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 with the song "On My Way".

We spoke to Omar before the Eurovision pre-party season has started. Read our interview with him below to find out what he had to say...

Hello Omar, welcome back to Eurovision!

Congratulations for winning the Slovenian national final of “EMA 2017”!

How does it feel to return to Eurovision? Could you describe your first reaction as it was clear you won the competition?
Omar: I was very honoured to once again be accepted to participate at EMA 2017. I had no real expectations of winning. I knew that I had a good song and I knew that I could deliver a good performance. But apart from that, it is out of my hands. I was very pleased to win of course and it is a huge honour to be given the opportunity to represent my country again at Eurovision.

What should people outside Slovenia know if they never heard about you before? Could you introduce yourself a bit?
Omar: My name is Omar Naber.. haha.. I’m a singer, musician songwriter and performer from Slovenia. I’ve been involved in the music industry in my country for the past 16 years. And … I have past experience with Eurovision!

Who had the idea that you could participate in the Slovenian national selection “EMA 2017”?
Omar: The song was written several years ago and something I kept coming back to from time to time. It was only after discussion with friends last year that the potential for the song in EMA/Eurovision became clearer. I was not approached to enter EMA on this occasion as I had been in other years. So I submitted the song directly myself and was very pleased that it was accepted to EMA.

What is the message of "On My Way"?
Omar: It's about my personal experience, when I was lost, lonely and had no path ahead. But I always knew I'll find a way and that there is always a light somewhere ahead even if we don't see it sometimes. If you’re looking for a message then I guess in simple terms it is one of hope.

Can you tell us something about the beginning of your career?
Omar: I had been interested in music from a young age and after some years of playing small local gigs, at the end of 2004, I won a talent show hosted by Slovenian TV. Part of the prize was to be placed as an entrant in the Slovenian EMA show to select the country’s entry to Eurovision 2005. I won!

What are you expecting in Kyiv, are you excited?
Omar: Very excited to be returning to Kyiv and Ukraine again. I go with no expectations other than to give a good performance and to do my best for my country – the rest is out of my hands.

How will you prepare yourself for the show?
Omar: I prepare with great respect. The huge event that Eurovision is, which is probably even bigger now than it was back in 2005 – and it was big then! If I am honest, I probably did not have much of an understanding back then just how huge this show is and so I feel more prepared now for what lies ahead. And it’s a very exciting time.

You already represented Slovenia in Eurovision 2005 with “Stop”. What memories do you have if you look back in time?
Omar: It was a very enjoyable experience. I met many nice people and I had this opportunity to present myself and my song to an international audience. It was exciting to be a part of such a big TV production. And, with the Eurovision family, I found many new fans. Even 12 years after I first went to Eurovision, those fans have stayed true over the years, always keeping in touch and following my career. They are very loyal and this is another aspect of the whole Eurovision experience that I find incredible.
Do you think it’s an advantage that you already represented Slovenia in Eurovision?
Omar: Probabably an advantage in that I have some idea of the whole procedure in this huge event. I really did not back in 2005.

Which are your favorite Eurovision songs and what are your all time favorites from Slovenian entries?
Omar: In over 60 years of the Eurovision, of course there have been some great songs in the early years which have become classic standards down the years. ‘Volare’, ‘Non ho l’eta’, ‘Puppet on a string’, ‘Tu te reconnaitras’, ‘Waterloo’, ‘Hold me now’, through to recent years with ‘Molitva’, ‘Fairytale’ and ‘Euphoria’.I did like ‘Insieme:1992’ by Toto Cutugno so much so that I did a cover of it. 
For Slovenia … Some guy sang a song called ‘Stop’ once. That was good ;-) Seriously, I think Slovenia has contributed some great songs to Eurovision, a very diverse set of entries over the years. Not so easy to choose a ‘best’ song as music is subjective. But I loved Maja Keuc, now Amaya, in 2011.

What are your first Eurovision memories?
Omar: I remenber our first entry in 1993 and being excited seeing Slovenia in this huge music event going across the whole Europe. For a small country to be part of somethign so big, it was exciting to see.

What are your plans for 2017 besides being part of ESC 2017, are you working on a album?
Omar: I am writing many new songs and revisiting old ones so perhaps it is time to get to work on selecting them for my next album which I hope will be available later in 2017. I want to continue to perform both solo and with my excellent band in Slovenia and beyond. And, a holiday might be nice too!!

Why should Europe vote for you?
Omar: If they like my song and my interpretation of it, then that is good for me. If they want to vote for me as a result of that, then I am extremely grateful for the support.

Do you have a message for “Join Us on Eurovision” readers and your fans?
Omar: Thank you for the continued support you show not just to me but to all the artists that take part in Eurovision. And in particular, the great support and love you show towards the Eurovision Song Contest itself. Without that support, Eurovision would not be able to continue. As it is, the love and support you show to this event sees it growing and going from strength to strength each year. Long may it continue to do so. I hope you all have a fantastic Eurovision 2017 and I send you my love and thanks as always! If you’re in Kyiv, say hello! :-) 
Support Omar Naber and his music. Stream his Eurovision entry "On My Way" on Spotify:

For other possibilities check the stores in your country.

Omar Naber will represent Slovenia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2017. He will participate with "On My Way" in the first semi-final on 9th May 2017 in Kyiv. Will he make it to the Eurovision final?

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