Ahead of Dora on February 11th, Shiloh interviews Barbara Munjas. She will participate with the song “Putem snova” (“Through Dreams”).
Tell us about yourself! You have a long musical career; what made you decide to become a singer?
Well, music has always been a huge part of my life. It’s been clear to me since I was a kid that music brings joy to everyone around me. I would say my father played a huge part in influencing me. He is always the heart of the party with his accordion playing, singing surrounded by friends. This always seemed so fun and interesting when I was younger. My first appearance on stage was when I was four years old. The decision to go on stage was made completely on my own. For the first time I felt the joy of performing music and I was instantly in love. I was singing in a school choir and was frequently given some solo parts. Later in high school, I started to think about it more seriously and decided to steer my life in that direction. In the beginning, I was only a singer but later when I joined the band Gustafi I started to feel a need for a music instrument and decided to learn to play guitar so I can make my own music. Music is magic and it makes the human soul timeless. It’s also medicine and can heal all your wounds. With music, any challenges I experience can turn into something good with music. It was a logical and easy decision to become involved with it.
Do you have a favorite Eurovision memory, or a favorite song from previous years?
Yes, absolutely! I actually have few memories. There was one song in 2008. by Laka named “Pokušaj”. I really loved his song, it had so many great moments in it, even with funny lyrics. But one of the most important things it has both his and Lela’s charisma, stage presence, and theatrical approach and performance. Every second of their show was interesting, they kept me glued to the screen because they were absolutely unpredictable. Second memory is that of 2021 and the Ukrainian song. That singer was amazing and whole performance stood out with its dark-ish and edgy vibe. That woman was kicking the stage only with her presence, and you could tell from just looking at her eyes that she believed 100% in her performance and story she was telling. She absolutely dominated, adding her voice and everything else to it – I was totally blown away. Then there’s Maneskin, I don’t have to mention anything extra about them, we are all aware of their energy, along with ABBA, they might be one of the few to whom Eurovision brought global fame and recognition. And the freshest one and possibly one of my favorite memories is Konstrakta with her “In Corpore Sano”. She had all what it takes, song, message, presence, she was also the first artist in the Eurovision contest to include latin lyrics in her song. That charisma, attitude and vibe that was surrounding her, well she and her art are pure brilliance. Everything she does has some deeper meaning.
What made you decide to return to Dora this year?
After 16 years it’s time to complete a full circle and apart from that, I come from alternative music scene so Dora seems like a perfect platform to reach some new audience. You see, Croatian alternative music scene is hidden in the shade but it’s blooming and it’s full of amazing artists and music. Somehow media is not showing lots of interest nor attention to this scene, so this is a perfect opportunity to reveal my art to a wider audience and show them what I’ve been doing in the “shade”. I’m certain that there’s a lot of people who will find some new amazing artist on this year’s Dora they hadn’t heard of before.
What was your experience in Dora 2007 like, and how do you think it will be different this year?
Dora 2007 was a complete adventure. I was still in high school at the time. Song already got qualified but the singer decided to give up, then I jumped in and recorded my voice on it and that’s how I entered the contest. I was completely aware that I will not win Dora but it was fun to be there. Dora 2007 gave me idea where’s my place in music world so I headed on that journey, which was completely opposite from the direction everyone was expecting I would go. Everything since then has lead me to the place where I’m standing now. It is absolutely right time for me to be here competing for Dora. I believe in the song we made and I will give myself completely into that performance.
What was the composition process like for your song “Putem snova”?
As I knew I was making a song for Dora, my first challenge was to write song that doesn’t cross 3 minutes time limit. It was an amazing challenge due to my tendency to build atmospheres and write longer songs… I was so worried I’ll cross limit that I ended up making a song that lasted for 2 minutes and 30 seconds approx. Another challenge was to make it, from my perspective, fit to compete for Eurosong. Anyway, first I made a riff, second came a fragment of melody which gave me the idea of the vibe I wanted to get with lyrics. Then I gave myself time to breathe and do some other stuff. After two days I jumped on writing lyrics and wrote them in one evening. Next day I went into the studio with Alen Bernobić, we recorded the guitar, then my voice and after Alen did his magic with arranging and building the atmosphere creating all that you hear today. We felt it is a bit short so Alen came up with an idea for an additional part which came in perfectly. We called the rest of the band to come to studio and play their parts…and voila, song was finished pretty soon.
What do you think makes your song stand out from the other entries?
It’s different type of song from all the others that used to represent Croatia, and I can’t say I recall some similar songs competing on Eurovision. It’s dynamic and it has something positively weird in it. It might be that the lunar eclipse energy got into it as I was writing the lyrics on that day, haha! It has something dark in it but at the same time is very bright. Duality of life.
How do you think your previous experience will help you in the competition?
I gained a lot of experience on stage with the band I used to sing with for 6 years, played around the country, Europe and even played few gigs in Brasil, experienced big stages, festivals, Exit, Inmusic, played as a warmup act for Manu Chao… I learned to play guitar, make my own music, started a band Barbari and recorded two albums with them, and afterwards went under my own name and took a bit different turn in music, recorded another album that is currently nominated for “Rock&Off” prize in 3 categories…( results will be known after a ceremony that will take place in Zagreb on 3rd February). On that journey I’m always accompanied by amazing musicians who are working with me and contributing with their ideasand giving their creativity to the music completely!
Anyway, I’m not some kid anymore, I know what I want to do and I know how to stand up for myself as I’ve seen a lot and learnt a lot. Experience is the greatest teacher.
Is there another participant that you’re excited to see perform?
I’ve been so focused on my own show that I had no particular time to think about other performances. I’m sure that everyone will give their best so I’m looking forward to see them all!
What can we expect to see in the live performance of your song?
It’s gonna be a performance adequate for this kind of show, or at least how I imagine it. When you have that kind of production at hand you use it to the best of your ability!
And finally, what would you like to say to listeners who may be discovering your music for the first time through Dora 2023?
I hope it brings you joy, I hope it touches your soul.
Dora 2023 will be held on February 11th at the Marino Cvetković Sports Hall in Opatija. It will be hosted by Mario Lipovšek Battifiaca, Duško Ćurlić, Tomislav Štengl, and Marko Tolja.
About Barbara Munjas
Barbara Munjas’ career began with Dora 2007, where she competed with her debut single “Ti si tu”. While she didn’t succeed in representing Croatia at Eurovision, she did join the band Gustafi, where she was the main vocalist until 2012. After her departure from Gustafi, she started her own band, Barbari, and later continued her solo career to much success in Croatia. As an alternative artist, she sees Dora as a chance to reach a new audience and showcase the Croatian alternative scene. Barbara says of her experience at Dora 2007, “Everything since then has led me to the place where I’m standing now,” and believes that this year was the right time for her to return to the competition.
Croatia’s Eurovision Journey
Croatia has been a part of the Eurovision family since 1961, as part of Yugoslavia. Ten Croatian artists went on to represent Yugoslavia in the Contest – the most famous of which being Riva, who gave Yugoslavia its only win in 1989. The 1990 Contest was held in Zagreb as a tribute to their Croatian heritage.
Croatia debuted in the Contest as an independent nation in 1993 with the band Put and their song “Don’t Ever Cry”. Since then, Croatia has gone on to score as high as 4th place in 1996 and 1999. Last year, Mia Dimšić won Dora 2022 to represent Croatia at the Contest in Turin with her song “Guilty Pleasure”. However, at the close of voting, Mia failed to qualify for the final, finishing in 11th place with a total of 75 points.
Should Barbara Munjas represent Croatia at Eurovision this year? Is Dora 2023 your pick for Super Saturday? 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: Ira Tomić