Wednesday, October 02, 2019

10 Questions For: Ira Losco


We are now landing in Malta, to talk to one of the biggest divas of European music. We love her songs, we love her voice, and, after this interview, we are sure we love her as a person, too – with views and opinions we respect and agree with. These are our 10 questions for Ira Losco:

Sounds European!: We like to start our interviews getting to know a bit about the artists' music backgrounds. What are your first memories with music? What artists did you enjoy listening when you were growing up? Do you feel they have, in any sense, helped shape the artist you are today? Going further in time, what were your first steps as a professional singer?

Ira Losco: My parents listened to a variety of music while I was growing up. My dad had loads of LPs from the psychedelic rock era, my mum listened to lots of pop. I got a really good mix of everything. I studied piano from the age of seven and started appreciating and loving classical music too. Then at school I discovered musical theatre. I also joined a choir and we got to do lots of standard numbers. I then met my best friend Jamie who introduced me to alternative music and grunge at age 14. I fronted our band for six years, also sang with another band, a death metal band, a punk band, also, and then started doing festivals. There was no stopping me, I wanted to do it all. Then after that I did pop-rock. I've always loved all genres. Of course all of this has taught me and geared me towards who I am today as an artist. What inspired me the most was watching other artists take the stage. It's another world and you must be brave in that world. It takes know-how and experience to get there.

SE!: In 2002, you were 12 points from winning Eurovision Song Contest, with "7th wonder". It is, to this day, Malta's best result in the festival. What are your memories of that day? How did it feel then, and does it feel now, to know you were so close to winning, yet still giving your country such a historic result?

IL: I didn't expect it, I don't think anyone in my country did. I was very much liked, but no one thought Malta could ever win unless it was some ballad. During the week of rehearsals in Estonia, the press started taking daily interest in me and many said I was the dark horse of the competition. They were right, it seemed. It was an exciting time for me. I had stars in my eyes. I came back to Malta and started writing my first album. Then I toured and never looked back. I'm very happy to still be doing music and to have collaborated and sung with some of the world's biggest artists.

SE!: In 2016, you decided to return to Eurovision. What made you want to participate in the contest for the second time? And how was your experience, comparing it to 2002? Did the way you face the competition change after 14 years? Last but not least, you were pregnant when you performed in Stockholm. Did that have any impact in what you lived there?

IL: The differences were many. In 2002 there were no semis, I was one of the youngest participants in the contest and record labels weren't exactly involved in the choice of the artists or songs. As years went by and social media was on the rise, more Eurovision fans took to the socials and congregated into a substantial reachable audience. That's when record labels started seeing the potential of the contest for selling records and taking some of their artists to Eurovision. The competition has become wider. There are over 40 countries participating with two semifinals, so statistically it is a much harder competition. Being pregnant didn't hinder me physically, neither emotionally. Vocally I felt I had an advantage, my second trimester made me feel I was super woman. :-)

SE!: You have recently featured in the Coca-Cola anthem for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, "Colors", with Jason Derulo. How did the invitation happen? And how did you feel being part of one of the biggest events in the world?

IL: I've been an ambassador for Coca-Cola for many years. In fact I also collaborated with former The X Factor USA participant David Correy for "The world is ours". In 2018 Jason Derulo asked artists from all over the world to collaborate with him on the official anthem for the FIFA World Cup and I was the one approached from Malta. It was a huge honour and I met him a bit after the video release, he was full of praise and it was lovely to talk with him.

SE!: We really enjoy your work – "We are the soldiers", for example, was in our list of the 50 best songs of Europe in 2017. As we see it, your songs are very powerful. You can go through different styles, but you always keep a personal touch, with strong and passionate melodies and choruses. What are your musical goals when you are developing a new work? How do you like your songs to be? What would you like people to feel when listening to your songs?

IL: I like to write without parameters. I do not like to write with the intention of a song having to be liked by others. Obviously when a song is liked by many, it's a win-win situation. However, I write because I feel the need to, and only when I'm inspired. I have co-written with my songwriting partner and producer Howard Keith for 17 years now and we really know when we have something great in our hands. I think the most exciting part about songwriting is the release. I am an overthinker by nature, but this helps me to meticulously store my thoughts to then use them accordingly in my songs.

"I have a voice which I use to sing, but also to speak about things which I feel very strongly about"

SE!: In addition to your work with music, you also deal with important social issues. You are an advocate for LGBTI rights, you support anti-bullying initiatives and you are part of campaigns to fight revenge porn. What made you choose these causes, and what can you tell us about them and your work with them? And how do you see the role of influential people in dealing with such issues?

IL: Nowadays people are hailed influencers because they own an Instagram account and fill it with content which is interesting to small or larger communities. Many of these communities are consumed with fashion, make-up and physical appearance. I think age has taught me that when all that fades, you can't just have been an individual with no strong beliefs or a gut which doesn't allow you to be quiet about certain issues that need to be dealt with and issues which need awareness. I have a voice which I use to sing, but also to speak about things which I feel very strongly about. I believe that influencers should use their voices to speak about important issues too.

SE!: In 2008, you were awarded the Midalja għall-Qadi tar-Repubblika (Medal for Service to the Republic), a medal which is presented by the Republic of Malta to citizens and organizations with distinguished service to the country. That is a huge recognition! How do you feel knowing that your music has made you achieve things that are seen as a distinguished service by your country?

IL: All I have ever wanted to do is to write songs and perform them on stage to audiences. It fills me with joy when people get in touch to tell me how much my music has helped them through tough times or how much they enjoy my shows. I put a lot of heart in what I do so I really appreciate these things.

SE!: We have already mentioned your collaboration with Jason Derulo for the World Cup song. But there are several other amazing artists you have performed alongside, such as Elton John, Enrique Iglesias, Maroon 5 and Ronan Keating. Who were some of the artists you most enjoyed working with? What are some good memories you have with them? And if you could choose anyone, who would be some Maltese and international artists you would still like to collaborate with?

IL: Recently I had the honour of singing a duet with maestro Andrea Bocelli that is one moment I will treasure forever. For the simple reason that I kept looking at him while we were singing and his face was so expressive and I could tell how much he loves what he does. To share music with people who have the same passion is really something. I also had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Joseph Calleja, our very own Maltese tenor. It was a very special moment.

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

IL: There are a lot of exciting projects I've got in mind. Obviously I cannot disclose any. I will continue to release new music and music videos. I am always so eager to share my work with my audience.

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

IL: There are over 100 songs in my repertoire, mostly written about personal experiences, so it's extremely difficult for me to choose an ultimate favourite. If I had to pick one of the most important songs, it would be "Love me or hate me" as it very quickly described who I was to an audience who had only experienced "7th wonder" from me. "The person I am" is also a track which is important to me. It came at a time after I had a very painful writer's block and also during a time where I didn't like myself all.

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