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Elitsa and her drums

23 April 2013 / 00:04:07  GRReporter
5973 reads

Victoria Mindova

A week before the semi-final of Eurovision, the representative of the Bulgarian participation in Eurovision, Elitsa Todorova, has arrived in Athens to present the song "Only champions." Smiling and ready to conquer the hearts of Greek fans for the second time, Elitsa is sharing with GRReporter her sources of inspiration for her new song, which she performs with her musical partner and legendary drummer Stoyan Yankulov (Stundzhi).

You are in Athens again. How are you feeling?

I have the honour of representing Bulgaria in the Eurovision Song Contest for the second time. In 2007 we represented, along with Stoyan Yankulov, our country with the song "Water". An extremely large number of people voted for our song then. We received strong support not only from Bulgarians but also from foreigners. We ranked fifth with it and since then, this result of the contest has not been improved on.

I feel like I am participating in the Olympics. We achieved a good result the first time. Now, not only must we defend our positions, but we must also improve them.

Does this bother you?

I cannot say it bothers me. It was my dream to represent Bulgaria at Eurovision again. A couple of years had passed since our previous participation and I told Stoyan, "I feel that we can win Eurovision and I would be very happy if we had an opportunity to represent the country again."  And the Bulgarian National Television has invited us to do so.

It is a great honour and responsibility for us. Now, everyone expects us not only to leave the semifinals behind us, but also to improve our fifth position. So, I cannot get involved with any forecasts. My inner feeling is that we have the power and the training, and the support and love from our fans, which are strong enough to enable us to represent Bulgaria and reach a decent position.

You are a very positive person, full of positive energy. What is the source of your energy?

It’s because I'm in love (she is laughing). Generally, I do not discuss my personal life in public. These are cherished feelings and I keep them for the person I care about and for myself but there is one special person who makes me very happy in many different, surprising ways. I think that any woman, who enjoys particular attention from the male sex, is pleased when she may be surprised in unusual ways. It gives me strength and the faith that I can really give this to the audience, not only to those who already like us but also to those who will see us for the first time. I hope to give them the love that I feel and infect them with my smile.

Does this means that your performance will be charged with particular emotions drawn from a lot of personal moments?

Things sometimes happen by themselves. When a person follows his or her dreams and believes in them, things happen. There are always difficulties, which is at the heart of our song. It is dedicated not only to the athletes and to the Olympians, of whom we are very proud.

I'm glad I had the opportunity of meeting in person Kubrat Pulev, Stanka Zlateva, Ivet Lalova, the golden girls of Bulgaria. I had close personal contacts with each of them and they have given me a piece of the Olympic spirit. I think that musicians and athletes are the ones who can encourage our entire nation and make us move with our heads held high.

Tell us a bit more about the song. "Only champions" is not a usual title for the Eurovision song contest. You have mixed traditional folk music with house beats. What is your message and to whom do you address it?

The first title of the song was "Bulgarians-champions." I wanted to show in the video all Bulgarians who have inspired me - from athletes, musicians, Paralympians, who are a symbol of the strong spirit, to the children who represent our country in competitions in mathematics, chess, and succeed in them. We have many examples that we can be proud of.

I want to hear and talk about these people more, about the children who make efforts and achieve a lot. Those involved in ballet, music or sports. I can feel even now that many of them are future champions. It has turned out that a three-minute song is a very short time to show all these talents we have. Last but not least, I can say that the single mother of three children is also a champion. I'm talking about those people who are experiencing serious difficulties, but continue to struggle, who want to find a way to move on and do not give up. These are the champions of spirit.

What's your message for the Greek fans?

I want to appeal to all who love sports, have a favourite player or go in for sports to be healthy, or somehow carry the spirit of sports inside themselves to support the Bulgarian participation with an SMS. I am turning to the sports guild, inviting them to support us too.

Wherever I travel, when I say that I am from Bulgaria, I always hear the names of Stoichkov and Berbatov. They are associated with the positive achievements of Bulgaria. Therefore, I think the support of fans can help us win more votes.

Particularly in Greece, I would like to appeal to all fans of soccer players George Karagounis, Kostas Dimanadidis and basketball player Vassilis Spanoulis to support the Bulgarian song. If we get 12 points at Eurovision, I'll come and warm up your matches with my drums during the next championship.

You're a fine woman. Drums are very heavy, even a barbaric instrument. How do you manage it?

Yesterday, before we left for Greece, I was looking at Lili Ivanova’s pictures. She is in shorts in the pictures, which show the perfect, sculpted legs of a statue. What I thought when I saw these pictures was what a strong woman she is and how strong her spirit is. I never judge people by their appearances. The soul is what comes to the fore for me. The beauty of the thoughts of a man and goodwill are important.

Was not it a challenge to you to maintain your femininity while playing those big drums we see in the video?

I compare playing drums with boxing or karate. Drums are a fighting instrument. They are not like the harp, for example. The process of exercising is like the training of an athlete. You take a figure and pratice it for hours just like boxers warm up – they jump rope for 30 minutes, then they have a power training programme followed by a lighter training programme. I have seen a lot of trainings of athletes and I think the drums are a very sportsmanlike instrument.

Furthermore, voice requires good sleep, which helps it be colourful and use its highest tones to be in a brilliant form. Second, it is a challenge to play and sing at the same time. Fast rhythms make heartbeats more frequent. Singing then is like running and singing a slow melody. So, you should master very well your body, spirit and mind to achieve the best possible result. When there are extreme situations, you take the microphone to rehearse as a kind of choreography. It is even more difficult with the big drums, which I have been playing for years now (the Olympic drum and the Tree of Life). They are played with straight arms, which is even more burdening.

What will we see at Eurovision?

We are preparing a few surprises, but we are still in the rehearsal process and we are clearing up the details with Stoyan. We have three backing vocals from "Dragostin Folk" formation and a young performer in whom I see great potential. His name is Ventsi Chanov. I hope that he will not only develop his talent but that he will remain a natural person because when you are young, the big stage can easily sweep you away. I see in him the charge that I undergone 10 years ago when I was his age. He learns very quickly the things I tell and show him.

As I said, we are preparing a few surprises, but the biggest one is a drum, of which I have dreamt for more than a year now. I insist on being unique when we perform on such important stages. The European audience already knows us for "Water." They know that we can sing and play the drums. Now, they will see more of what they know about us.

How is the promotional tour for Eurovision 2013 going?

We were in the Netherlands. We sang “Only champions” in Amsterdam. At the same time, Stoyan was in Brussels. During my visit to Athens, he is in Siberia. We have deliberately split into two in order to be able to cover more countries and to make the song more popular by the time of the contest. I really believe that our work will be recompensed because we have strongly devoted ourselves to it. Personally, I am preparing more for this Eurovision than for the previous one, because I think that the Bulgarian people need events to raise our spirits as a nation, to make Bulgaria known for good things for the sake of young athletes and the new generation in which I see great charge and potential.

What do you think of this year's song for Greece by Koza Mostra?

Greece is generally known for its beautiful voices. I like Anna Vissi, Elena Paparizou very much; many Greek musicians are friends of mine. Nikos Toliatos who is the best Greek drummer is one of them. In 2004, we played along with him in the Olympics under the Acropolis. People here are musicians at heart. They sing about love and their music is always distinguished by its romantic messages. I do not know whether it is due to the climate and the mythology, with which the minds and mentality of the people here are imbued, but there is magic in the Greek song. Greeks traditionally rank well at Eurovision and I think that this year it will be the same.

What do you think about the music scene in Bulgaria? Your songs have a direct connection with Bulgarian tradition and folk songs but they are “dressed” in the spirit of the new time. How should the Bulgarian music scene develop in your opinion?

The thing our country lacks most is management, which can help talented people evolve. I do not mean just to be noticed, but to allow them to emerge, to have a successful career and to succeed in their creative development. There are no managers to care about the artist and the details connected with him or her in order for him or her to be able to think mainly about the condition of his or her voice, to rest enough in order to be able to devote him- or herself to the oscillations and vibrations of the creative process. At present, we, the singers, care about many of these details alone and this takes our time and our concentration.

Do you think that chalga in Bulgaria has a better management than pop music, since it has been prospering in recent years?

Apparently, yes. This scheme obviously works. There are much better and beautiful videos with beautiful and meaningful lyrics. We can say that chalga has undergone a metamorphosis. This does not mean that I cannot invite any colleague from that scene to perform a kind of singing live with two drumsticks in hand.

This was just for fun. The truth is that my job resembles fighting, with drums and sticks in hand, and I am always ready for an impromptu musical duel.

Remember that each of us is a champion in the hearts of those who love and support us. They are with us in the most important moments and fill our souls with love and light.

Tags: MusicDanceEurovisionGreeceElitsa TodorovaKOZA MOSTRA
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