Right now, newcomer Alika Milova is widely regarded by fans and bookmakers as one of the front-runners of Eesti Laul 2023. But the rising star doesn’t like reading into the statistics.

Instead, she’s focusing on her busy calendar ahead of Saturday’s grand final, and possibly trying to score some tickets to Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour if she catches a free moment.

Some Estonian readers may remember ALIKA as the winner of Eesti otsib superstaari, an Estonian competition show that’s part of the Idol franchise. She went on to take this year’s Eurovision national final by storm with the raw, emotional piano ballad “Bridges.” ALIKA’s song explores feelings of anxiety and the way they affect her relationship with both herself and the people around her.

Today, we’re stepping into ALIKA’s world for her first interview with ESC United!

Congratulations on being a finalist! These few weeks must be a crazy time. How are you doing?

I’m doing great! Every day, I have some tasks to do. For me, it’s a pleasure to do my job and I really enjoy it. I’m really excited about the final.

You’ve emerged as one of the biggest fan favorites this year. How does that feel?

It feels a little strange. I don’t watch all the bookmaker stuff — I just don’t want to. Maybe after the finals. On one side, it’s a really great feeling that people like me and my song, and that they’re looking forward to it and giving me their highest points. But on the other side, it’s a little overwhelming. People trust you and trust that you will rock the stage. I have a responsibility.

So this is your first time at Eesti Laul, but you have been on TV before! What sets this experience apart?

Of course, Eesti Laul is so different. The other competitions depend on a few songs you present to the juries, and they decide if you have a good place or not. In Eesti Laul, the opportunity to go to Eurovision is a big deal. I was watching Eurovision since as long as I remember. I was watching it all the way to the end. I remember, my parents would be asleep, but I was really excited every year and I still am.

When I was a child, I always knew my career would be singing and doing music. I always dreamed of it. The other dream in my childhood was the Eurovision stage, and to share that energy with millions of people. At this moment, it’s the right time for me and the right place to be.

How did you realize your dream at such a young age?

I sang in an ensemble as a kid, starting when I was 4 years old. When I first got onto a stage, I felt really great, which was surprising because a lot of people get scared to go onstage. I felt amazing, and it felt good to know people were watching and enjoying, that people were giving me energy and I was giving energy back to them. When I was 4, I understood that maybe that’s what I want to do all of my life.

As someone who grew up watching Eurovision, what are some of your favorite songs or artists?

Ukraine’s song “1944” by Jamala was really powerful. I think the most exciting win for me, and the most exciting song, was “Zitti e buoni” by Måneskin. From day one when I was born, I was listening to only rock. My dad really likes rock music. I grew up on it. When Måneskin won and Damiano said “Rock ’n’ roll never dies,” I was really happy. I remember calling my dad at 2 a.m. The last few years, the rock genre felt alternative for teenagers. But when Måneskin won, I understood immediately that it’s going to be a blast from this moment on, because teenagers and young people would start to listen to rock, and that’s cool for me!

Let’s talk about your Eesti Laul entry. What was the inspiration for “Bridges”?

It was the second studio session day in Holland, where (producer and songwriter) Wouter Hardy lives, and I was having some kind of anxiety. It was really strange. It was because we started some new music and I didn’t really feel it or like it. My mood was bad, and I was crying on the toilet somewhere. Afterwards, Wouter saw that I had been crying, and he proposed to go on lunch and just talk about my thoughts and feelings. At first, I didn’t want to. I wanted to lie on the studio couch and be sad. But I realized that wasn’t a good idea.

So we went on lunch, and began to talk about the future, the past, and the present especially. We went back to the studio, and I remember leaving to wash my hands for one minute. When I got back, Wouter was sitting behind the piano playing this intro. I immediately sat on the floor — that’s my favorite place to be when I write music — and I tried some melodies on it. It went really fast. We ended the recording, vocals and lyrics in three hours. I always write music when I’m in a bad mood. It seems to be a better thing to do than just cry on your pillow.

The song talks about those feelings. I say, “I forgive myself for all the lies.” Of course all people lie to each other. It’s kind of a nature thing. People get lost, and I was writing from my experience of feeling lost in a big world, with a lot of people surrounding you. Why “Bridges?” It’s about people’s communication and your communication with yourself. My song talks about hope in the choruses. I really, strongly believe that every person is strong enough to stand up and go forward.

Since this song came out of anxiety and personal experiences, I believe people will feel that. This problem is inside every one of us! If they can just for three minutes, go to another planet and be with me, and fly with me in this song, it’s a win for me.

Who are some artists that inspire you the most?

My inspiration comes from all the things happening in my life, good or bad. Zemfira is one of my favorite artists, and of course, rock bands from the 70s and 80s — Led Zeppelin and Queen are really inspiring to me. I also love Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse. And of course, Beyonce. She’s doing a tour! I’m very excited about that.

Same! Are you trying to get Renaissance Tour tickets?

I would love to! She’s not coming to Estonia or Finland. But maybe I’d go to Amsterdam.

Can you tell us something that fans might be surprised to know about you?

I was born the same day as Freddie Mercury! If we’re talking about music, it would also be great to mention all of my favorite artists who I talked about — Zemfira, Freddie Mercury, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson, Beyoncé — they’re all Virgos, and I’m a Virgo too.

ALIKA is one of the 12 artists competing in the final of Eesti Laul 2023. Three superfinalists will be determined by 50% jury and 50% televoting, followed by a Superfinal, where the winner will be determined by 100% televoting. The final begins at 18:30 Central European Time on ERR.

Are #YOU team ALIKA this year for Estonia? Let us know on social media @ESCUnited, on our discord, or on our forum page!

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