‘Time’ for a chat: Ten Questions with Uzari & Maimuna from Belarus!
Well, the title of this post pretty much explains itself, doesn’t it. Not that I’m going to let that stop me from elaborating on it in a completely unnecessary fashion. It’s a Jaz trademark, for Stig Rästa’s sake!
So, cue the intro that needn’t be: you’ll all be aware by now that one of the (seemingly) many male/female duets competing in Eurovision 2015 is Uzari & Maimuna of Belarus. Uzari – singer and composer from a musical family, whose ESC representation has been years in the making – and Maimuna – violin prodigy, who played with the Belarusian presidential orchestra and has two solo albums to her name – formed a musical partnership after bonding over the majesty of The Lord of the Rings soundtrack (and, most likely, how badly both of them needed to pee after sitting through 3+ hours of cinema).
The eventual result? ‘Time’, which will carry the hopes of Belarus on its relatively up-tempo shoulders in Vienna. Uzari and Maimuna themselves will be carrying those hopes too, of course.
I recently had the chance to ask the pair how it feels for two soloists, talented in their own rights, to form something of a super-duet; what we can expect from their Eurovision performance (i.e. will there be a giant snake-and-Maimuna-filled hourglass onstage?); and, what their favourite 2015 entry is (you’ll never guess). That’s just to name a few of my probing questions, which would have been more out-of-the-box if I wasn’t such an interview newbie. I guess I’ll have to play that particularly rude round of ‘Would You Rather?’ with another Eurovision star, another time.
ANYWAY, read on to find out what Uzari & Maimuna had to say to EBJ, and let me know what you think of Belarus’ chances in Eurovision 2015 down below!
FYI: I know, I know…there are at least three other Belarusian interviews orbiting Planet Eurovision at the moment. But I figure that just means everyone wants a piece of the pair, and that their lovely PR expert (extra lovely seeing as she’s Australian) is very accommodating! Plus, this interview is still technically exclusive…to this blog. So there.
Good morning/afternoon/evening, guys! I’d like to kick off this interview with a question for Maimuna. As someone who is used to performing as a solo instrumentalist, how do you feel teaming up with a vocalist for an event as big as Eurovision? Do you think you and Uzari might continue your working partnership after the contest?
M: I hope so. We’re both so proud of ‘Time’ and how the song works with his vocals and my violin, so you never know what else we could end up doing afterwards.
One of your big hits has been ‘Queen of Africa’, which is always on my workout playlist because it’s so high energy and has such a great atmosphere. Is it as enjoyable to play as it is to listen to?
M: Thank you so much. I really love playing it as it shows what sounds and notes a violin can produce. Plus it keeps my fingers and my mind very nimble.
Uzari, you have tried to represent Belarus at Eurovision a few times in the past (‘Secret’ is one of my favourite national final entries from recent years, in fact!). What do you think made ‘Time’ the song that helped you get there?
U: Oh, that’s a tough question. I loved being backing singer for Anastasia [Vinnikova] in 2011 as it gave me the chance to see how the whole event worked and what effort was required; and to enjoy the opportunity. That’s why I entered the Eurofest national finals in 2012 and 2013. In 2014 I was focusing on Nadezdha for Junior Eurovision (with the song ‘Sokol’) but after writing ‘Time’ and working with Maimuna, we both agreed that it seemed ‘right’.
Do you think that Eurovision experience as a backup singer prepared you at all for what to expect as a lead artist in Vienna?
U: I hope so. Then again, that was four Eurovisions ago and each event has different themes, stars that emerge, and celebrated characters and songs. Maimuma and I met Arash (who came third in 2009 ESC) last week and he said what I think we both already knew: work as hard as you can, but somehow also find moments to simply take it all in and enjoy.
What does it mean to you both to be representing Belarus in the 60th Eurovision Song Contest?
U: A dream come true. It’s such an honour and the Belarusians have been so enthusiastic and supportive. We want to do our best for them.
M: I’m not sure it’s sunk in properly yet – maybe when I’m onstage in Vienna?
What do you think is the best part about performing as a duet?
U: You are not on your own. A duet becomes a team so that you both have a hand in what is created, performed and shown to the world. Maimuna’s talent just amazes me and she has the personality, intelligence and kindness to back it up.
M: I always wanted to work with Uzari and the song he wrote needed my violin: it just worked. We get along really well, we both love our work and are really looking forward to Vienna.
Have you listened to any of the other songs competing this year? If so, do you have any favourites?
U: Not all of them yet, but that’s only because they’re not all released [as of March 12] – I’m particularly interested in the songs from the first semi-final. Who are we up against? The variety and quality has been very impressive.
M: I have checked out the songs that are available. With ballads, retro-jazz and techno, there’s a big selection that has enough to appeal to everyone. I don’t have a favourite, or if I do, it’s ours, of course [jokingly].
The official video of ‘Time’ was released recently, and it’s stunning. Can we expect a similar theme to come through in your stage presentation in May, or will you be trying something different?
M: We are sworn to secrecy but we do want something stylish and strong. No glitter, unicycles or burlesque dancers for us! [Am I wrong to be a little disappointed about this?]
Do you have a particular goal for your result in the contest (qualifying, making the top 10 or going all the way) or do you just want to put on the best show possible and do Belarus proud?
U: You answered the question for us, in a way [sorry about that!]. We both want to do our best on stage, represent Belarus and enjoy every single moment of the experience.
Finally, do you have anything you’d like to say to your Australian fans (who can actually vote for Belarus this year!) and EBJ’s readers?
U: Our Aussie press lady, Kath, told me to say ‘G’day’ to you all and that Guy Sebastian is a really good choice. We hope to meet up with him – and the famous Julia Zemiro – in Vienna.
M: We hope that you guys enjoy the Eurovision experience – not just as viewers but also as a participating country who gets to vote!
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, guys. I wish you the best of luck in Vienna, all the way from the Land Down Under!
Whether you’re supporting Belarus or not this year, I hope you enjoyed this interview, because I think I’ve caught the bug now. Watch out, ESC representatives – I’m coming for you with mundane question after mundane question! Or perhaps that aforementioned round of ‘Would You Rather?’…
If you are on Team Belarus for 2015, here’s who to get in touch with and where to go for all things Uzari & Maimuna.
Kath Lockett (Media/PR)
Olga Salamakha (Belarusian/Russian contact)
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How do you think Belarus will fare in Eurovision this year? Can Uzari & Maimuna knock TEO’s cheesecake off the cake stand, or will it be ‘Time’ for them to go home after semi final 1?
3 Responses to “‘Time’ for a chat: Ten Questions with Uzari & Maimuna from Belarus!”
[…] interval act from Malmö into the true Eurovision duet of my dreams). I did also have the chance to interview the pair recently, which has clouded my judgment a bit. But I’ll try to keep myself honest here. Time is […]
Wonderful interview, Jazzo – Well, done. Move over, David Frost! (Actually, he’d probably need a hand moving over, given he’s no longer alive. A decent shove should do the trick.)
It probably wouldn’t have been fair (or polite) to have asked them:
‘In what way (if any), is time like thunder?’
After all, I don’t think either of them has a day job as a meteorologist, or a quantum physicist.
But, having viewed the video, and taken account of the lyrics, and added a dollop of undergraduate Freud, I believe there is a fairly obvious frontrunner:
Time is like thunder, because …
… at a certain point one’s biological clock starts clicking so freakin’ loud that it sounds like a non-stop thunderstorm, and you begin to have nightmares about being left alone, without offspring, stuck with (or, figuratively, inside) a dried out vessel, full of annoying sand, in the company of a taunting snake, whose potency is, however, not as a co-deliverer of life, but only as a twisted reminder of metaphorical death (i.e. ‘barrenness’). So, the song is basically about the singer’s fear that he and his (presumably female) lover may have been using the pill for too long, and they may now have missed the baby boat, a realization the harshness of which may be too much for their relationship to bear …
Tragedy, profundity, pathos, and a narrative! (What else would one expect from the ESC?) This song has just crept up in my rankings!
Alternative interpretations/analyses welcome, of course.
And keep the interviews coming please, Jaz (if you dare)!!
PS: Belated congrats on the 400th post – and, unlike the fallen that Boggie and Lisa Angell are inviting us to remember, may you never have a ‘last post’!
PPS: I need to let those 40 little ESC ‘teabags’ steep a bit longer so I can experience their full flavor before I give you my first cut of a full rankings list. Not far off, but I do like to do them all justice. Teaser: Finland is NOT last …
PPPS: RIP Jørgen Ingmann – What a class act those 1963 winners were. One of my all-time faves. And in 6:8 time!
Well, I think you may have hit the nail on the head there, Ali. Not even Uzari and Maimuna themselves, I suspect, have put that much thought into the meaning of their song. I wouldn’t feel right offering up another interpretation in the face of yours, although I did spend considerable time in my uni poetry classes reading between the lines in a similar manner (no motifs from music videos to draw from then, unfortunately). I do wonder if Uzari is referring less to generic thunder in ‘Time’ and more to ‘thundah-ah-ah-ah-ah’ which could be a different thing altogether.
BTW, if you could perform the same in-depth analysis on Jemini’s ‘Cry Baby’, or perhaps Georgia’s 2015 ‘Warrior’ (lyrical nonsense trumps inane lamenting about peace and love and joining hands, but is still lyrical nonsense) I would be even more impressed.
Merci for your kudos on the interview, and look out for a possible, potential, maybe maybe MAYBE second one coming pre-Vienna. *insert mysterious music here*
Don’t worry, Finland isn’t last in my rankings anymore either! Shocking. Happy steeping of those forty teabags. I look forward to hearing your flavoursome verdicts when the time is right
I second your RIP to Jørgen, the co-performer of a song that’s also one of my most-loved winners. If there’s a theatre in the afterlife, perhaps he’s putting on a dansevise in it as we speak. Or, you know…not.