Dreams can come true. That is no exception with Janis Polis, who went from digital advertising professional to songwriter for one of the 24 semi-finalists for the Latvian National Selection, Dziesma 2013. His song “Never Let Me Go” will be performed by Olafs Bergmanis & The Random People. We are fortunate enough to have caught up with him for some questions.
ESC UNITED: Janis, congratulations of your success in making Dziesma 2013. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became a songwriter.
JANIS: My name is Janis Polis, I’m a 29 years old digital advertising pro from Riga and by no means a professional songwriter. Still, I’ve been occasionally writing songs since I remember myself. I guess writing and performing music is just another way for me to express myself. I occasionally collaborate with some well-known Latvian artists.
ESC UNITED: How would describe your song “Never Let Me Go,” and what led you to submitting it to Dziesma 2013?
JANIS: “Never Let Me Go” is a simple, catchy tune that I wrote and initially recorded in 3 hours on the final day when it was possible to submit songs for the Latvian pre-selection. I was stupid enough to tweet that it seems to me that all Eurovision songs are written in 3 hours, so when my followers challenged me to try I could not say no. Well, I guess I at least proved that I had a point!
ESC UNITED: Where were you when you found out that your song was selected to compete in Dziesma 2013? What was the first thing you did to celebrate?
JANIS: This was actually my first try at producing my own songs, so that and the fact that the first version of the song was quickly recorded in my bedroom and sounded terrible, left little hope that it would actually be selected. Therefore, I was really surprised to hear my name in the press conference. First thing I did was let people on Twitter know in what kind of mess they’ve landed me.
ESC UNITED: So your song is in Dziesma 2013 but you now have to find an artist to sing it. Tell us a bit about how you found your artist, and what qualities made that artist the perfect choice for your song.
JANIS: I already had my vacation in Maldives planned for the time of “Dziesma 2013” semifinal, so I went to Twitter again asking if anyone wants to perform the song. It took some time, but I ended up with great team that has completely taken over the preparation. Our lead singer Olafs Bergmanis actually is a Eurovision veteran, having participated in Latvian final three times as part of pop band “C-Stones” some years ago. He is launching his solo career now, so this will be a great opportunity for him to show the public what he can do. The other part of this equation is “The Random People” – called that way because these are really random musicians that responded to my tweets. Most of them are really into completely different kinds of music and they see this as a great chance to have some fun on the stage. I see this as a fantastic demonstration of what social media can do. We call it “crowd-sourced entertainment.”
ESC UNITED: That is awesome! Now that we are a few days away from Dziesma 2013, how are you feeling? How are you and your team of “crowd-sourced entertainment” preparing for your Semi-Final?
JANIS: The team is back on Riga preparing for the show. There will be no fireworks or carefully choreographed dance routines for us – we believe that there is no need for that, because “Never Let Me Go” is a song that allows everyone to enjoy themselves. We hope that everyone will see that “Olafs Bergmanis and The Random People” really love what they do on stage and will join us in having a lot of fun.
ESC UNITED: What do you believe is the key to winning a song contest like Dziesma or Eurovision?
JANIS: There is really no clear answer to what makes a song win Eurovision. Some part of it is popularity of the artist and block voting, but the song still has to connect with the audience. And there is no formulae for that – the audience seems to change its mind every year.
ESC UNITED: Do you have any favorite Eurovision songs?
JANIS: I believe that Latvia’s “Brainstorm” with their “My Star” had one of the best songs ever entered into the Eurovision Song contest.
ESC UNITED: What advice would you give to anyone interested in songwriting?
JANIS: Learn to play as much instruments as possible. For a long time I only played piano which is great, but after learning a little guitar I found out that I suddenly can express myself in a much broader way.
ESC UNITED: Any closing thoughts you would you like to share with your fans?
JANIS: Don’t take this Eurovision stuff to seriously. The less you do that, the more fun you will have!
ESC UNITED: Janis, thank you again for taking the time. We wish you the best of luck this upcoming week and do enjoy your trip to the Maldives!
Catch Janis’s song at Dziesma 2013! “Never Let Me Go” will be performed by Olafs Bergmanis & The Random People on February 8, 2013.