The second heat of Pabandom iš Naujo is set to air tomorrow, and we here at ESCUnited were fortunate enough to have a conversation with contestant and debutant Mario Junes before that happens.

Mario Junes is an up-and-coming pop artist from Lithuania who is a big fan of the Eurovision Song Contest. He’s also part of another fandom outside of Eurovision, but we won’t spoil that just yet. Get to know Mario Junes better below!

Hello there Mario and welcome to! Why don’t you introduce yourself to our readers before we begin our interview?

Hello to everyone, who’s reading this right now! My name is Marius Kijauskas aka Mario Junes and I am a 25 year old Lithuanian singer/songwriter participating in this year’s “Pabandom iš naujo!” here in Lithuania.

Let’s help our readers get to know you better – how would you describe your music and sound?

The best way to describe my sound (at least so far) is as clean, melancholic pop music with a dash of drama in it. But I’m definitely bringing more attitude and grunge with this particular Eurovision song.

What is one thing that our readers would be surprised to learn about you, like a funny fact, talent, obsession, etc.?

That I am a diehard Nicki Minaj fan aka a barb. Been so since I was 13 years old, she even follows me on twitter and has once uploaded a photo of me to her instagram 😀

On top of being a singer you also write your own songs – what does your songwriting process usually look like, and how long does it usually take you?

Because I also have 9-5 as a project manager at a stage technology company, I do have to admit that inspiration does not strike as frequently as I might want it to. But once it does it usually starts with words, maybe even one single line that just comes to my mind and starts making circles. I am not much of a musician, I don’t really play an instrument, so I usually sit down by my keyboard and start looking for chords that sound right to me and build the base of the melody.

I never know where I’ll start whether a chorus or a verse but I am very lyrically oriented and that is usually where I shine. The amount of time that it takes for me to write a song is unpredictable, I’ve done it in 30 minutes but sometimes it takes weeks or months, some songs don’t even get finished.

This will be the first time that you’ve participated in the Lithuanian Eurovision selection process, what made you decide to apply for the selection this year?

It felt right, it felt like the right time to show this new side of me as an artist and a songwriter and I’ve always been somewhat a fan of Eurovision because it’s a great platform for young or unknown artists to be seen to be heard and to try and find their own listeners.

Was your eventual Pabandom iš Naujo entry “Do What You Do” written with the selection in mind, or have you just been holding onto it?

Oh no! I wrote the song probably almost 2 years ago and started recording it with a Lithuanian producer Faustas Venckus sometime last year and on the first day he literally turned to me and said “so are you going to Eurovision with this one?” And I guess that was that because I knew I wanted to participate in “Pabandom iš naujo” at some point, just never knew what song it would be.

That’s crazy that you’ve been holding onto this song for nearly two years now! But while the song is extremely important for this kind of contest, it’s also important to have a stage concept in mind for the performance. What should our readers expect to see from you? Any teases you want to give?

All I can say is that it’s going to be clean and quite simplistic, there will be no dancers or big props, I’m trying to stick to what comes organically and is the most important to me – vocals, emotion and overall aesthetic.

Now as you know the winner of the preselection will get to compete at Eurovision 2023. Do you consider yourself a big fan of the contest? Any favorite entries you’d like to share?

I definitely am a fan and have been watching Eurovision since I was a kid (it’s kind of a big deal here in Lithuania). For me personally I love nothing more than a powerhouse performance of some sort, a ballad or an emotional touching song. I guess at the top of my head the first ones that come to mind are Loreen with Euphoria (although, controversially enough, I was and still am obsessed with My Heart Is Refusing Me), Conchita Wurst with Rise Like A Phoenix and from last year my favorites Saudade by Maro and Hold Me Closer by Cornelia Jacobs!

For those who want to connect with you ahead of or after the selection– where can they find you and your music?

You can find me on Facebook and instagram as Mario Junes or Marius Kijauskas. And you can also find me as Mario Junes and my music on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal.

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

I just wanted to say that Eurovision is one of the prime examples of how people can come together and celebrate life, celebrate music, celebrate cultural differences and more and I’m just happy to be a part of it and am grateful for ESCUnited for helping spread the love!

Mario Junes is set to compete in the second heat of Pabandom iš Naujo 2023 set for January 28th 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 Mario Junes this year? Let us know on social media @ESCUnited, on our discord, or on our forum page

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