Ahead of Eesti Laul, which will begin airing on January 12th, Shiloh interviews Janek. Janek will compete in the first semifinal of Eesti Laul on January 12th with his song “House of Glass”.
Can you tell our readers a little about yourself? Why did you decide to become a singer?
I was born to a half Estonian, half Russian/Ukrainian family. My name is a common Estonian name with some Scandinavian influences, but sometimes people think I am Polish, although I have no Polish roots 🙂 As of 2014, I live in London. I currently work in asset management firm. I sang since I was 6 and also have a music degree from London. I had a long break from performing as an artist, but music never left me so I kept recording and singing from home.
What made you decide to participate in Eesti Laul this year?
I wanted to participate in Eesti Laul for a long time to set my foot in the industry, but it was very difficult to get into the competition. I am very happy that I got through this year and can share my music with people in Estonia and around the world. I think there is that right time for every artist. I do have a dream to represent Estonia in Eurovision one day, I want to make my country proud and hopefully, even win it one day.
Do you have a favorite Eurovision entry from previous years, or other favorite memories of the contest?
I haven’t followed Eurovision as actively as I used to in the past like watching rehearsals or listening the songs before the show, but I do watch the finals every year, and also Eesti Laul and Melodifestivalen. I did even go and see Eurovision 2016 in Sweden when Jamala won, I think that has been the best Eurovision ever, the stage, the show, the songs, it was just wow! However, my favourite songs and performances are Loreen’s ‘Euphoria’ and Conchita’s ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’, probably because I like to sing them as well. I also like mystery and exceptional charisma, this is what attracts me in them most.
What was it like working with Mørland on your entry “House of Glass”?
It was very nice working with Kjetil, I was lucky that he lives in the UK so it was easy for us to catch up and write this beautiful song. His family was lovely and offered us cheesy toasts and tea! It was great. We didn’t just write a song for Eesti Laul or Eurovision, we wanted to be honest, so he did question me quite a bit about me, my life, my relationships, so that I can relate to the song we write, and that it comes from my heart. I came to him with the chorus melody that he tweaked a little bit, and that’s where we got started.
What do you think makes your song stand out from the other entries?
I think this is very subjective as tastes differ so it’s difficult to answer, but I personally like that my song has the energy and growth that personally satisfies me when I listen to it. But this is not how, or what other people may feel. I think there are many great songs in EL 2023 that stand out in their own ways.
Do you have a favorite song among the other Eesti Laul entries? Who do you think is your biggest competition?
I think this year’s Eesti Laul is quite even in quality so it’s very difficult to say who is my personal favourite or who could even win. Majority of Estonian audience/voters don’t listen or watch our music videos before they actually see those artists performing live on TV so everything can change during the show, so I can’t say anything just based from the recordings, I need to see them live. I am also not a very competition-hungry person, I just want to enjoy the moment and support all the artists that compete this year 🙂
Can you give us any hints as to what we can expect from the live performance?
We are putting effort into the staging to support my song fairly, I hope it will be great, I am very excited for you all to see it!
Finally, what would you like to say to people who may be discovering your music for the first time through Eesti Laul?
Your great feedback has been overwhelming, my heart melts from all the support I have received. My life has changed overnight. I hope to write a lot of great new songs to keep the momentum going 🙂
Eesti Laul will have semifinals occurring on January 12th and January 14th at the Viimsi Artium, and the finale occurring on February 11th at Tallinn’s Tondiraba Ice Hall. Both shows will be hosted by Tõnis Niinemets and Grete Kuld. You can read about all the songs participating in this year’s Eesti Laul here.
Janek Valgepea, known mononymously as Janek for this year’s Eesti Laul, currently lives and works in London. He can play the piano and violin in addition to singing, and participated in the composition for his song “House of Glass”. Prior to moving to London, he was a participant on Eesti Otsib Superstaari 2012.
Estonia’s Eurovision Journey
Estonia has appeared at almost every Eurovision since their debut in 1994. They have won the contest once with Tanel Padar, Dave Benton and 2XL in 2001, singing “Everybody”. Other notable Estonian entrants include 3rd placer Sahlene with “Runaway” in 2002 and Ines with Once In A Lifetime in 2000, who placed 4th. More recently, their highest-placing entries have been Urban Symphony with “Randajad” in 2009 and Ott Lepland with “Kuula” in 2012, both of whom finished in 6th place. In 2022, they elected to send STEFAN through Eesti Laul to the contest with “Hope”. He successfully qualified for the final and finished in 13th place with 141 points.
Estonia has used Eesti Laul to decide their competing entry every year since 2009. Before then, they used another national final format, Eurolaul, dating back to their first attempt at participation in 1993, where they failed to make it through the pre-qualifying round.
Will Janek succeed STEFAN as Estonia’s Eurovision representative? What do you think of his song “House of Glass”? As always, let us know what you think by commenting below. Also, be sure to follow “That Eurovision Site” on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tiktok as we prepare for Eurovision 2023!
News Source: That Eurovision Site
Photo Credit: Siim Lõvi