Our final interview ahead of Dora 2023 in Croatia features retutnee Barbara Munjas.

Barbara first competed in Dora 2007 and at that time failed to advance to the selection’s final. Following her participation she joined the folk-rock band Gustafi where she was the lead vocalist until 2012. She would go on to form her own band Barbari from 2013 and began her solo musical career. Her debut album Right Place and Right Time was nominated earlier this year for Album of the Year at the Rock&Off Awards.

It’s my pleasure to welcome Barbara Munjas to ESCUnited for our next interview! How are you all doing today ahead of the Dora final?

As I write this we’re all getting ready for Dora and our last week before the final night. This week is gonna be all rehearsals, preps and setting final touches on the performance. We will finally see how it all works and looks on stage, which makes me and the rest of my team very excited! It’s interesting because simultaneously, Dora is happening in my hometown which feels more chill and calm.

We have to talk about how this is not your first time performing in Dora, as you performed during the 2007 selection with your debut single “Ti si tu”. What did you learn about yourself as an artist from that experience?

I became aware of the direction I wanted to steer my music career. I didn’t feel entirely comfortable telling other people stories through my singing, I wanted to learn how to do my own thing. My Dora 2007 performance got some attention and everyone thought I would proceed in that direction but I decided to explore another path by becoming a backup singer for a famous Croatian band from Istra called Gustafi. This is where my passion for music and performing exploded, although in the beginning everyone thought I was disregarding myself, but that was actually the beginning of my artistic growth. 

In the six years spent in that band I played numerous shows, big stages, festivals, was involved in two of their albums, traveled a lot, learned to play guitar, started to write songs and finally decided to work on my own thing, my own band, and since then I’m an author, finally playing and singing my own stories I resonate with completely. So what I basically learned is that every moment in your life could be crucial for making choices that will greatly impact and change your future. Dora 2007 put me on a path of becoming an artist.

And it’s been 16 years since that participation – what made you decide that 2023 was the year you wanted to return to the Croatian national selection? Had you considered a return previously?

Reality hit me the second I read this question – it’s 16 years! As all the work around “Putem snova” and this Dora started in 2022 I was convinced it was 15 years… but, yeah, we’re already in February 2023 and it’s 16 years since my last Dora, because time flies, haha! 

Anyway I wanted to complete a full circle and show my work to a wider audience after this 16 year journey. Dora is an amazing platform to show your music and art and I believe that every artist and performer who finds itself on Dora will be discovered by some new listeners! I come from an alternative music world and in this world there’s not enough media support, I don’t say there isn’t any but considering the quality and diversity of the artists in that scene it’s all been unfairly neglected.

Alright time for some rapid fire questions to help our readers get to know you better – how would you describe your music and sound to someone who’s never heard your music before? Are there any musicians who influence or inspire you musically?

My music goes through a lot of genres, I can’t put a tag on it, but people like to say it’s alternative, indie pop, flirting with many genres and sounds. I am a huge admirer of PJ Harvey who I find authentic, always changing, growing and giving something brand new to her audience. She is my forever inspiration but I tend to have phases and crushes on some other artists. My recent ones are Billy Nomates and Lewis OfMan.

What is one thing that our readers would be surprised to learn about each of you?

There are probably some things that would surprise me also as this is my first collaboration with most of my on stage team. Backing singer Cristina, who is also a keyboard player in my band, is the only one I’ve known for a bit longer. I’ve also collaborated with one of the dancers before, but it was so brief that we didn’t have an opportunity to get to know each other. So, nothing surprising so far… but you might get surprised watching our show on Dora!

If you had the ability to collaborate with a Eurovision artist of your choice on a new single, who would you choose to work with and why?

I find last year’s contestant Konstrakta and Laka, who competed in 2008 one of the most remarkable artists that ever set foot on the Eurovision stage in recent history. There were also some other great musicians that I liked but I have a feeling that I would easily get along with Konstrakta and Laka. I get the impression we’re feeling music in a very similar way and that they’re really using music as the instrument of their souls. I believe them absolutely, they are authentic and they both spread some beautiful weird energy, they have something special and unique. Those kinds of people have always intrigued me. I love when artists have something mysterious in their presence but at the same time you feel like you know them, their charisma is so special.

Speaking of songs, let’s talk about your Dora song “Putem snova”. What was the songwriting process like to create this song, and about how long did it take until you said “yep it’s finished”.

“Putem snova” is a song that was made in one day so to say. We recorded most of it in few hours. I wanted to write a song for last year’s Dora but I wasn’t able to because I had some unexpected breaks that stopped me for a period of time but this year was the year to do it. 

Anyway, first I made a guitar 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 maybe an hour or two. 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 was 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 the studio and play their parts…and voila, here’s “Putem snova”.

If I only gave you ten words to describe what we’ll see from you on the Dora stage, what words would you use?

Six fierce women putting spell on you, hypnotizing your mind. Hahaha!

As we wrap up, for those who want to connect with you ahead of or after the selection– where can they find you and your music?

Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Youtube, Spotify, Deezer and all the other streaming platforms.

Last question – is there any message you’d want to share with the ESCUnited readers?

As my Dora song has lyrics in Croatian unlike my last album “Right place & right time” which is written in English I’d like to share some thoughts that are the very core of the song. Go for your dreams and trust your instincts because this is your soul navigating you in the right direction. And yeah, play smart by pretending stupid.

Hana Mašić is set to compete seventh during the Croatian national final Dora, which will select the country’s next artist and song for the Eurovision Song Contest 2023. The show is set to air at 20:05 PM CET on February 11th on HRT1 and HRTi.

Are #YOU team Barbara Munjas for Croatia? Let us know on social media @ESCUnited, on our discord, or on our forum page!

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