The Bicycling reporter Robert has a chat next with the Cypriot entrant Despina Olympiou, and a chat turns into a long conversation of this and that. She's very lovely, without further ado, find out yourself here:
Hello and thank you for this interview, Despina Olympiou. What a beautiful name!
Thank you! But you can call me Denna like my family and friends call me :-) It's like a shortened version of my name, pronounced very quickly. A very Cypriot thing!
Your musical career covers some 21 years. Could you name some highlights of your career?
I feel blessed for having had such a wonderful career so far, with so many nice moments. I have been singing to many beautiful theaters all over Europe, in Greece and Cyprus. In some theaters that have a historical meaning to us. Then of course when I sung in the studio for the first time, all the big events... like the Badminton Theater in Athens singing songs by great Greek composers... singing with Giorgios Dalaras.... there are so many! I have been doing this for so long. I don't want to call my singing work but it is becaus it gives me my living.
And since when have you been able to support yourself as a professional singer? Since the beginning?
Yes! You know I started singing when I was 16, I didn't do it very seriously, I was just having fun. My hobby turned to job. I do get tired of it sometimes but through my singing and music I feel confortable and relaxed.
Do you also compose music yourself?
No, I'm not a composer. I try to write lyrics sometimes but I'm a bit shy to show them to anyone! But I have released one of my songs, and now I have another ready waiting to be released, so.....
What is it that you like the most in music business? Releasing CDs or performing in front of the audience, the studio work...
Actually I like a lot the procedure of producing! I like to be there with every musician when the record their instruments and being part of that. But of course I prefer live singing to studio. It's something that you can do only once! In studio you can stop and start again.
Can you recall a performance that you think you were really great, that it went really well?
Yes. It was an unique one night only evening with a specific theme in a jazz club. Even if my discography is more pop we did a selection of songs with only two instruments: acoustic bass and electric bass. We had a wonderful night that I still cherish in my heart and in my mind. I had no economical profit from that, it was just something that I really liked and loved. All the people who came to hear me that night told me the same thing. We all felt it. It was a magical night! That was some 3 years ago.
You have sung so many songs over the years. Which one is dearest to you? Or you biggest success?
Ah, I will tell you some titles now: Pes to dinata, Vale mousiki.... And I really love a song that never had a radio success, Alithini agapi. It means True love. I don't care if the songs I like have a huge success or not, I just want to make them mine, be part of them. Then of course, being in this music industry of course everybody wants to have success but I don't want to use some technical tricks to achieve it. If I love the song, success is secondary.
But then you must have a song that you thought is so beautiful and good that it will be a success and then it wasn't...
Yes, I have an example from last summer. I did a duet with Stereo Mike and we thought this song will be a success, so did everyone else who heard it but it didn't have the radio success we expected. It was Den s' afino apo ta matia mou. All the radios are centred in Athens and it wasn't played there. It did get airtime everywhere else and was a hit in Cyprus but as it didn't make it in Athens, it effected eveything else. We have a very small market. And we follow too much the American and European thing, and sometimes it leads us to the wrong way. It's hard to find a balance.
You want to keep the Greek-Cypriot flavor in your music?
I have my roots and get my incluencec from the place I was born. Where I was raised. But I'm also influenced by classical music that I studied and music I listened when growing up, disco pop. Then I discovered rock. Ballads. The Beatles. The Queen. I'm influenced by everything helping me to create my own style.
Has your musical style changed a lot over the 21 years you are doing music?
Actually I have been doing totally different things in my live concerts. I've been doing folk, pop, traditional music sometimes... I like to support the traditonal music and try to make it known.... I try to combine it in my music. Sometimes it might be confusing to the audience but it's what I like to do! But my discography is rather uniform but it's growing with me. I discover new things about me as the years go by.
And do you do any Eurovision songs?
No. Or.... let me think. No, not until now when I have my own .-) But now that I'm officially an Eurovision singer maybe I'll do that! Ha ha! mabe I'll dedicate a whole music night to Eurovision songs!
That'd be nice, please invite me!
I will. Give me your phone number! Then you have a reason to travel again for your work! Ha ha!
Are there any Greek or Cypriot Eurovision songs that you like the most?
I liked Mono i agapi, Anna Vissi's song (and here Robert goes singing... and Despina joins in. Shame you readers can't hear this duet!. Ed.note). I liked Kleopatra's song. For Greece that was. Aspro-mavro by Alexia! (and here they both go singing again! Ed.note). I remember those years well, it was a huuuge event in Cyprus back then. So nostalgic! Participating was something very important for Cyprus. And don't forget we had only one channel on TV then, starting 6pm and finishing 11pm daily, only 5 hours.
And do you now expect the whole of Cyprus watch you on that stage?
Yes! ha ha! I think so!
Also because you are a very wellknown name in Cyprus and they want to see you?
They want to see me, some of them are curious, some of them like my music. I feel a lot of support and very honoured because I was chosen to represent my country. It's a big thing!
Do you feel any pressure?
When I stand on stage and sing I feel so nice. I leave everything behind. I want my people to feel proud of me, have a nice presentation and get some good comments. We are very happy how the stage looks and how everything's going, all is very professional. For an artist it's very nice to work here. Love the stage and my dress that is by a famous Greek designer. It's black lace and skin color inside. He did it for me very quickly and I'm very grateful (And it's a stunning dress! Ed.note) We had a little change of plans so I needed a dress quickly only 2-3 weeks ago. I'm a little bit like a Cypriot mermaid, ha ha!
You also decided to keep the song in Greek...
Yes, I first heard the song in Greek. It's the language I speak and express myself. We liked it in Greek (Blogilkar wants to compliment the Cypriot team for keeping it in Greek. σας ευχαριστώ! Ed.note) We discussed a lot about it. But we decided to support what the song is about. I'll just have to sing my soul out and hope people who don't understand the lyrics will get it!
Was it only this song in the running or did you have more to choose from?
We had 2-3 songs in mind but we all preferred this one. I knew this song beforehand, I had the demo in my files as I had worked with the writers before and that's why I accepted the proposal from CyBC. I knew the song already. I wouldn't be here if I didn't like the song they were proposing me :-)
For some reason this year many countries have sent a ballad instead of uptempo song for some reason, there are many...
They have? Really, I didn't know! I focuse on my song, I'm not so interested in what other countries do. I know there are a lot of good songs and productions but I'm interested in my own performance. I want to be honest on stage, sing as good as I can and be part of this music party! It's very nice to be here. I have been enjoying my time here very much! And I'm making friends here, I see happy smiley people, with a positive attitude everywhere. This is a competition but I don't feel it.
Are the any artists from other countries that you thought beforehand you want especially meet?
I want, and I will meet Anouk! I like her so much, and her song, too. I'd also like to meet Bonnie Tyler. Of course!
And have you planned any gigs with Anouk here in Malmö?
I havent met her yet! No, I'm too shy..... But if she wants! I can do backing vocals for her! Ha ha
How abaout you and Eurovision. Was it a dream, have you thought about it before in all these years?
No, actually I didn't. It's the first time I was proposed..... No, I'm lying. It was the first time I was officially proposed. I was offered a song 3 years ago but I didn't like it. This time I liked the song so I accepted.
If you weren't a singer, what would you be?
A nurse! That's what I wanted to be before I became a singer. I want to be close to people and help.
Do you feel you also help people with your music?
Yes, somehow. Also, when I finished high school I didn't have money to study so I started singing to get some and one thing led to another.
You could have become a singing nurse!
Yes, ha ha ha! But.... people I don't know come to me time to time and tell me things. I'm a good listener...
I can feel that, too. I don't know you but I can imagine people opening up to you very easily...
And I can keep a secret also! ha ha! Which is a rarity these days! So, I didn't become a nurse but I think I can soften people's problems with my music.
And now, who would you like to see on Eurovision stage next year for Cyprus?
I'd like it to be a Cypriot. Hmm, let me think.... hit the pause button, I have to think! Ha ha. .... Hmm.... Hmm.... George Michael perhaps? His father is Cypriot. Just imagine! George Michael on Eurovision stage! For Cyprus! maybe we should ask him, ha ha ha..... But let's think.... hmmm..... hmmmm.... (a lot of mumbo-jumbo in Greek, Ed.note) .... Michalis Hatzigiannis has been already and he's too busy..... (more mutter. Ed.note) Alexia and Evridiki have been already.... maybe we should wait for a young new star next year? We have many artists with good voices....
Ok, we may have to come back to that, ha ha. You have done a lot of duets. Why?
Well, I like duets. Sometimes it's better .. with some company, ha ha! Even if I never feel alone on stage. I'm singing to all of you. But then, I have done only 4 duets, it isn't that much.
And who would you like to add to this list of your duet partners?
Whoever who has a good voice and is talented! I want him next to me! ha ha ha . I would like to collaborate with Orfeus Peridis.... OOOH, I have a name for next year! Alkinoos Ioannides. He sould go, he's great!
It's been a wonderful chat, thank you so much Denna! Good luck on Tuesday and see you in final then!