Monday, July 30, 2018

10 Questions For: Eldar


Sounds European! is proud to present an exclusive interview with one of the most important faces of Azerbaijani music. His name is part of the history of Eurovision, as a winner and as a host. His discography is excellent (one of his singles was in our list of the 50 best European songs of 2017) and varied. And besides all this, he is also a wonderful person! These are our 10 questions for Eldar:

Sounds European!: What are your first memories with music? What did you use to listen when you were a kid? When and how did you start singing? How about professionally?

Eldar: My very first musical memories are related to music tapes with Pavarotti and Julio Iglesias written on them. I had them as a gift from my grandpa. But my parents say I have a longer musical experience. When they weren't able to cope with me yelling, radio was the perfect lullaby, they say.
As a child, I had a very different sense of music. I could find beauty in every sound I heard, and that made me able to listen to all the music that ever came to my ears anywhere, anytime. Some of them were fascinating, some not as much, but still beautiful. That's what I still have in me from my childhood, alongside singing in the bathroom. So now you know where it all started.
But seriously, my first professional experience on stage was when I was 12 or 13 years old. I sang Caccini's "Ave Maria" in a German church in Baku. Still proud of this page!

SE!: You come from a family of artists. You are the great-grandson of Marziyya Davudova (who received the title of People's Artist of the Soviet Union) and Abbas Mirza Sharifzadeh (Honoured Artist of Azerbaijan), and grandson of Firangiz Sharifova (People's Artist of Azerbaijan). Therefore, we can say art is in your blood. Was art an obvious path, in your life? How did it happen for you?

E: Somehow, I have always known I belonged to stage. I was surrounded by this magic since I was very young, while visiting my grandma at the theater. Strangely, I was more interested in what was happening behind the curtain, on backstage. Once, I was so frustrated when I saw Snow White smoking and Pinocchio removing his paper nose – and I was a CHILD!
But I never betrayed stage, I wanted to show people that life can be the same on both sides of the stage. I wasn't pushing to be on stage or singing or whatever, I just took every opportunity in my school life and student years to express what I have inside. And then I realized singing is the best way for me to do that.

SE!: Now, let's talk about your general influences, besides family. When you were starting your career, what artists were your inspirations? In what ways did they affect, if they did, your current work?

E: Plenty of them. Robbie Williams, Céline Dion, Lara Fabian and Cher. First I was emulating them, how and what they talk or sing. Then I came to a point I understood that their souls and what they've been through are more important, and they became a kind of example to me.

SE!: Your name will be forever imprinted in the history of Eurovision, as one of the contest's winners. What can you tell us about your entire experience? How did it feel to take your country to the victory? And how does it feel now, more than half a decade later, when you look back at that moment?

E: The Eurovision journey was the most beautiful time of my life. Eurovision is one of the biggest celebrations of music, friends, equality and diversity at the same time. We all just had a great time there, and sometimes I still can't believe we came first. But they were really three months of hard working, I must say.
In Düsseldorf, I felt like I had done that hundreds of times in my life. I was focused and concentrated. I felt like a duck to water. Then came the victory, coming back home, proud eyes of loving and beloved people, fans. This was a great opportunity to be heard and spread souls to the world. And it's all on me now.

SE!: As we see it, after your victory, you have become one of the faces of Azerbaijani music – somewhat an ambassador of your country's music. How did your life change since then? And do you feel more pressure, as an important name of the music scene in Azerbaijan, when you are making and releasing new music?

E: This is a big responsibility. I try to control every step I take because I know someone is out there watching me, and maybe wanting to be like me. I just try to be a good example for them. This is the only one thing that adds pressure – but a pleasant one, you know. Music is so different, first of all it has to come out from deep inside your soul. Only then it can touch people.

"It [music] has to come out from deep inside your soul. Only then it can touch people" (Picture: official Facebook page)

SE!: Your current work is very good and, what really calls our attention, very varied. You have songs which sound more traditional, others which are more modern, going from sweet ballads until intense pop-rocks. What can you tell us about your music, nowadays? And how would you qualify it, in genre and style?

E: I guess I've found myself for now. I've always wanted to make music that comes from inside, but couldn't find a way out – and circumstances, you know, they force you, and they're stronger sometimes. But I'm happy now I'm able to do what I want, to make my own music and to put my story in every song. I admit it could be boring sometimes, but it's natural and honest with every word I sing. I'd call it emotional pop. Or just emotional. :)

SE!: Comparing to the rest of the continent, Azerbaijan is not the largest or the most populated country in Europe. So, we imagine developing a music career there must not be the easiest thing. What are the challenges of the Azerbaijani music scene? Also, we often see foreign composers and producers participating of your country's production – are these areas that you still need to grow, internally speaking?

E: Azeri national music has very deep roots and strong ancient traditions that are reflecting even now in local content. And it's not unusual. Music is about overlapping and kinship. For example: you can hear motives in Turkish, Indian, Pakistani and Balkan music which are very similar to the Azeri one. And vice versa. It's like songs in European or American countries, which are very similar, with mostly the same roots.
That's why, for me, music has no borders and boundaries. It's a common area where taste is rife. With international collaborations, it's the same. And if it's about Eurovision, obviously, it's double good to have a professional point of view from European songwriters. If you write a song for a movie with an Indian story, for example, you will definitely contact someone who has it in their blood. Music should unite and make people smile or cry or grieve or just have fun, no matter where you're from.

SE!: If you could choose anyone, who would be some Azerbaijani and international artists you would like to collaborate with?

E: My God, I never know the answers for questions like this (favorite color, movie...)! You can always find beautiful and awful sides of everything. But frankly speaking, I have several ideas about some Azeri artists – can't say names yet. Talking about international ones, I would need to think a bit more, because not only voices should fit... souls, lives are also important. For now, I could recognize my soulmates in Cher and Sia.

SE!: What are your professional projects for the near future? What can your fans expect from you?

E: New songs are coming up soon, let's say around fall. Working on new stuff with Azeri and Swedish producers. I promise to keep you up to date! :)

SE!: We would like to finish this interview with a song of yours. What is your favorite song by Eldar, and why?

E: Oh, not a huge fan of Eldar, but "I miss you" is touching somehow. :)
It's very personal to me, and I put so much soul and personal drama in it... I always wanted to tell a story like that, and I want people to recognize their own stories in it. But I also want to say that missing someone doesn't mean not moving on. It's just a beautiful sadness and beautiful memories.
I think I found myself, writing this song. I guess, and I know, that with "I miss you", an absolutely new age of my music starts. My heart could be broken and become stronger, it could be covered with scars, but it will never be a stone inside. I'm very proud of it.

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