Croatia is set to begin their Eurovision selection Dora on February 19th from Opatija, Croatia and we were lucky enough to sit down with Dora vetran Elis Lovrić to chat for a bit. Together we talked about her love for performing in her local dialect, how life has been since the announcement, and most importantly – what the message behind her song “No Wars”.
Hello Elis – thank you for taking some time out of your day to speak with me today! Why don’t you introduce yourself to our readers and share a bit about yourself?
Hello everyone, I’m Elis Lovric. I’m an actress and a singer-songwriter from Croatia. I’m known for singing in my Istrian Labinian dialect but I also sing in many other languages. This is my third time on Dora and this year I will be performing the song NO WAR.
Thank you for helping us to get to know you better! And I’m curious to know, how has life been for you since you were announced as a Dora 2022 participant?
OMG!! It has really been hectic! So many interviews, so many last minute decisions, preparations. We had to define the stage performance really early on, prepare the audio tracks and stems for the live performance, and since I only have a small team we’re all working around the clock to get everything ready on time.
Now your music fits into the genre of contemporary folk, and features lyrics in Labinjonski cakavica, a subdialect of Chakavian native to the Adriatic coast (please correct me if I’m wrong!) What about this genre and lyrical combo inspires you as an artist?
When I started making music I would write lyrics in the Croatian standard, or in Italian since I lived there for many years, or even in English. But then I met a wonderful American screenwriter and teacher Lew Hunter who told me after he heard my songs in English: ”We want to hear something only YOURS, something WE DON’T HAVE, your specific moment in life, your culture, your childhood memories, something DIFFERENT from ours…and through that we will RECOGNIZE OUR TRUTH and RECALL our life MOMENTS. That’s what we’re looking for”. This struck a chord with me and I realized that what is different and authentic about me is the very incomprehensible dialect that is my mother tongue.
It is a dialect that has for a very long time been perceived as coarse and rough. The songs were mostly about peasants working on the land and having a tough life. I decided to start writing songs in that dialect that were about deeper human emotions and universal desires. I wrote about the individual’s struggle to break free from the herd, to follow his/her dream. I started writing about my inner truth in my own native language, and I think that the emotion behind those lyrics is reflected in my music so that everyone can feel what the songs are about regardless if they understand the lyrics or not.
You also write your own music – what does the writing process usually look like for you? Do songs just come together through experimentation over time, or do lyrics and melodies just randomly pop into your head?
I always say that my songs are smarter than me so I just let them lead the way, I let them do what they want with me. Some of them just can’t wait to get out and I wrote them in 10-15 minutes. Some of them are stubborn and shy and it takes years for them to mature and be ready. Most of the time I catch a tune in my head and a short verse, I usually sense what the song is about, but not always. When this happens, I love to let go and surrender to the song and let it come out at her own pace.
I turn on my recorder and I can spend hours on end with my guitar like in a trance listening to various combinations of chords and vocals. And the lyrics just pour out as well, sometimes they make perfect sense and sometimes they’re gibberish 🙂 When I’m happy with how a song turned out and I feel it is more or less finished, I go to the studio. I always have a pretty clear idea of how I want the arrangement and production to be done.
You had mentioned that this is not your first time participating in Dora. What made you decide to return to the selection this year?
I love both DORA and Eurovision. So, when I was working on my latest album a friend of mine whose opinion I value dearly commented that my song Škanjet would be an excellent entry for Eurovision, it got me thinking; if I applied with that song I would have to postpone the release of my new album. Then I started searching for another song that might be similar in mood and rhythm and overall, but at the same time innovative and out of the box – and the song NO WAR came to mind. And here we are!!
I can understand how submitting a song from an upcoming album could slow things down with the rules and regulations! So you submitted “No War” to HRT and got the call that you’d be competing in Dora, what was your first reaction?
I was over the moon! It was the 17 December and my small team and I were so busy with the final touch ups for the release of my new album, when I got a phone call from HRT – Croatian Television. First I thought they were calling regarding a different matter and I rolled my eyes – why are they bothering me now when I’m over my head with work? And when the guy on the phone said “You were selected for DORA, see you at HRT first thing Monday morning!” I was so happy I screamed at the poor guy who called, but he was so nice he just laughed and congratulated me.
Can you help our readers understand the story behind your song “No War” and its lyrics?
The song is half in English and half in my native dialect Labinjonski. Obviously, it is a song against war, but more importantly it carries a message of empathy and the strength of the individual standing alone against the senselessness of war. We often don’t know how much we are capable of as individuals. Too often we are pressured into group thinking against our own better judgment. If we realized how powerful vulnerability and solitude was, we wouldn’t be afraid to stand up to aggression, to mass hysteria, and to the delusion that we should hate those that are different from us.
Having participated before in the national final, I’m sure you know what to expect in terms of preparation, rehearsals, staging concepts, etc. How have all those little preparation pieces been going for you?
It’s so stressful!! 😀 You constantly question yourself, have I done enough, did I remember everything, maybe this could have been better if I did this or that, etc. There’s always ways to improve, and there’s work to be done until the last minute. It never ends. But so far, I’m quite pleased with how the preparations are going. We are also preparing something that I’m very excited about. A week before Dora we are launching the song “NO WAR” on an SD card in a shuttle especially designed for this occasion called HELIS.
Powered by a helium balloon It will travel into near space and upon its return to Earth it will become a song “with a taste of space” and as such it will be distributed to radio, tv, and streaming platforms as soon as the Dora regulations allow it. We are doing this in collaboration with a group of amazing space enthusiasts – the Istrian Space Program of the Astronomical Society Vidulini.
Wow that is really special, I wonder how many artists can say their song has been so close to space! And of course, it wouldn’t be a good interview if I didn’t ask about Eurovision – do you consider yourself a big fan of the contest?
I consider myself a huge Eurovision fan!! I remember when I was a child it was always a special occasion. We would be excited the whole week ahead of the Saturday when Eurovision was supposed to be broadcasted. And then on Saturday evening the whole family would be in front of the TV and commenting loudly, shouting over each other. And then when the voting began, I vividly remember how gripping it was. I absolutely loved it then, and I still do. The show is becoming bigger and better every year.
And the music… it seems to me it has become a stage for setting trends. Every year there are some entries that are so original, so innovative, almost ahead of time. And some of the performances have become so creative, like short plays or films with special effects and plot twists :). Being also an actress and having a background in theater, I really enjoy it very much.
Now for those who want to connect with you ahead of or after Dora, where can they find you and your music?
You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube or Spotify, or by email! I like to engage with fans and I usually reply to DMs and emails.
Alright, one final question for you – is there any message you’d like to share with our readers?
Stay true to yourself, be authentic, and follow your own way. Even if you come across obstacles, and even if you fall, always rise and keep on going. Laugh and love. Be brave enough to forgive yourself and others the mistakes that happen on the way. And in the meantime, relax and enjoy the show that will take place on 19 February in Opatija. And vote for number 11!! :))
Well Elis, I want to thank you again for your time and we wish you the best of luck in Dora!
What do #YOU think of Elis’ song “No War”? Let us know on social media @ESCUnited, on our discord, or on our forum page!
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