We continue our Pabandom iš naujo interview series today with Justė Kraujelytė, who is back for her second time in the national selection.

Justė Kraujelytė has a long history of performing and with the Eurovision Song Contest. Throughout her childhood she performed and travelled with a jazz ensemble and made her debut on national television during the 2017 season of The Voice Lithuania. She was also a member of the 2015 Eurovision delegation, performing on stage as a backing vocalist for fellow PiN 2023 competitor Monika Linkytė and Vaidas Baumila.

Welcome back to ESCUnited.com Justė – I’m so excited to get a chance to talk with you once again! How have you been since our interview last year and your participation in Pabandom iš naujo 2022?

2022 was a quite busy year for me. I released my second album ‘’Nejausmas’’ (insensitivity), had a lot of private events, concerts and also I had the biggest event of my life – my wedding! This autumn I started working on my third album. I’m planning to release it in September with a short movie so there is a lot of work and creating processes in the near future.

Oh my goodness a wedding congratulations Justė! It sounds like there’s a lot people might not know about you then – What is one thing our readers would be surprised to learn about you?

This year I’m even more involved in my performance and our stage look was created by me. I had an idea of the outfits for ‘’NEED MORE FUN’’ and a lot of people told me that this stage look of my team is fabulous. I am very happy to create every detail of my performance and usually me and my team have a lot of discussions and pay a lot of attention to preparation work – lights, cameras, visualizations and choreography.

Every move and symbol in the performance has a meaning and explanation. I started thinking about the visual side of the performance and this song at the same time. I started thinking about participation just after the previous year final of Pabandom is Naujo.

What was the last concert or live performance that you attended as an audience member?

The last concert that I attended and enjoyed as an audience member was Lilas, a lot of great musicians and my friends are members of the band so It was a real pleasure for me to see them on stage and doing a great professional work, I think it is very important for every musician to go to the concerts that inspires and also support our colleagues in that way.

On top of being a singer you’re also a songwriter and you write a fair number of your own songs. What does your songwriting process look like and how long does it take for you to write a new song?

It depends on a lot of things. Sometimes you have an idea that was written as a hook or a vocal melody, part of the melody a long time ago. I enjoy listening to recordings on my phone. That is convenient because 9/10 times an idea occurs when you’re walking, doing other things or even when you’re in a rush. I just sing some lines and save them for the time when I come to the studio. Sometimes I live with those melodies in my mind for several months and years when finally I start combining them. 

Working on ‘’NEED MORE FUN’’ was very fast and easy, I just played some harmony, bass part and all the vocals, brought this demo version as a raw version to producers that created ‘’How to get my life back’’ and they were really excited about the song. We felt that we were on the same page and it was very easy to explain what I wanted. It took about two to have a final version of the song. Writing the lyrics of my songs is the last step before the recording session, I usually focus on harmony and melody at first.

Justė Kraujelytė (far right) at the 2015 Eurovision contest as a backing vocalist.

Now last we talked you dropped an information nugget I didn’t know about you, that you’d gone to Eurovision 2015 as one of the backing vocalists for Vaidas and Monika! What was your favorite memory of being at the contest? 

I really enjoyed even all the rehearsals and all the working process in such a professional way with a large team working in this show. I remember standing on the stage in the semi-final  and feeling full of joy and so excited, just wanting to explode all that energy and power inside me to the audience.

I remember that it was a moment of my life when I understood that this is where I belong, this is what I really have to do in my life.

 And I just learned today that you competed on the Voice of Lithuania back in 2017! What did you learn about yourself as an artist while you were on the show?

To be honest, it was a long time ago and the best lesson from the project was that it doesn’t matter how much experience you have, the competition is always a game in which you have to play by the rules and sometimes experiences can be traumatizing or even give you more insecurities and doubts about yourself. 

After that I clearly understood that even if I was quite competitive in my childhood (I competed and traveled all around the world while singing in a jazz ensemble) I’m not anymore. I prefer collaborating and creating music together, searching for a way to support and join forces but not to compete. ESC is the only competition where I make an exception.

Now your song this year “Need More Fun” is certainly a more upbeat pop song compared to your last entry. What made you decide to go such a different direction with this entry?

I wanted to stay unexpected and create something that is not typical of me and my music, have a challenge and let myself experiment more. I have this side in me as well and I really enjoy listening or creating electronic, even dance music. People who know me well usually see me as not that melancholic in my music, I have a spontaneous and very energetic character as well. I enjoy colors as much as the darkness. Irony even more than seriousness or sadness. The idea of that kind of song is part of my plan for 2023. I’m choosing the main theme of the year that I’m going to work on and now I’m digging into imposter syndrome that in a few words is known as a sense of insecurity that you are a fraud and soon or later you will be exposed and everyone is going to find out that you are incompetent in something. 

Despite the fact that you are working very hard and you are really talented or competent you can’t get rid of that sense. A lot of people have this internal psychological experience and even the most talented ones can have lots of insecurities and believe that they are undeserving of their achievements and the high esteem they are held. This entry is part of a bigger plan and my next album with a short movie, I think that my hard fans will do the math. I think that every artist should think more about their future plans and sometimes they are building something bigger than one performance.

Your 2022 entry for Pabandom iš naujo told the story of anxiety and being bogged down in the pressures of life. What message are you planning to share through your 2023 entry?

We work too hard, we are pushing ourselves to the edge, every day. So much pressure, so many tasks, so many things in life that we must put our attention to. We think that all of them will lead us to a better state of mind and we will be happier after achieving more in our career, work, etc. In fact – no. Media is full of perfect cures to stay more productive, efficient, and full of advice on how to live. This makes you work, plan, write your to do lists even more. After days full of stress we are searching for some cheap thrills and spending time scrolling videos of cats or some weird stuff just to relax, we are trying so hard to cope with our negative emotions that one day are going to explode. 

Our lifestyle leads us to serious burnouts when we have to stop and ask ourselves why we are doing this? Is this our happiness? Where is the joy? Where is FUN in our lives? This song is an ironic view in all of this chaos and a friendly request to stop and add some FUN to everyday life. This doesn’t mean that it has to be something huge, little steps, little things that remind you that you’re playing your own game and you’re the master of your time.

Based on what you learned from your first experience in PiN – what, if anything, do you plan to do differently this time around?

I’m planning to have even more rehearsals and preparation work than the previous time. Also, a really important part is team work. As a team leader I have to focus not only on my performance but also encourage everyone to do their best.

In closing, do you have a final message you’d like to share with the readers of ESCUnited?

Search for your own way of FUN. Try different things. Life is too short to be stuck in your plans and hard work, seeking and trying too hard. Be creative, let your inner child play more and focus on little things that can change your mindset and bring more joy to an ordinary day.

Justė Kraujelytė is set to compete in the first heat of Pabandom iš Naujo 2023 set for January 21st at 20:00 CET. The winner of the show will earn the right to represent Lithuania at the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool this coming May.

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

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