After their first rounds of rehearsals here at La Seine Musicale in Paris, the JuniorEurovision.tv team took a moment to chat with Ayana from the Netherlands, Pauline from Germany, and Elisabetta from Italy.
Dutch entrant Ayana has performed for some pretty major audiences as a member of the youth band Kinderen voor Kinderen (like King Willem-Alexander, for a start!), but now she’s taking her first steps as a soloist with the song Mata Sugu Aō Ne, which is Japanese for ‘When I See You Again’.
Even though Ayana is singing alone, she’s certainly not solitary on stage; she’s being joined by her dancers and friends, Rowenaly and Janera!
It’s a very personal story for 14-year-old Ayana, who has extended family in Japan that she would visit often before the pandemic made travel difficult. At the same time, it’s a universal story, as so many people around the world are missing their distant loved ones. When asked what advice she’d offer to other people who are in similar situations, Ayana said:
'I want you to know that you’re not alone! It’ll be over soon, we hope! We have FaceTime, we can send letters, so even if you can’t see someone in person, there are other ways to connect!'
The Netherlands holds the singular record of having participated in every Junior Eurovision Song Contest held since it first aired in 2003, and she’s said that a number of former JESC artists have told her to enjoy herself as much as possible, but not so much that she loses her voice!
Ayana, who speaks Japanese and English as well as Dutch, would like to say to all of the other contestants, 'ganbatte ne', or 'best of luck’!
Pauline’s song Imagine Us envisions a brighter world, where people of all ages, races, religions, and backgrounds come together in friendship to achieve great things as a team, especially when it comes to the environment. It’s a beautiful sentiment, and a wonderful goal that we can all work towards! And Pauline likes to practice what she preaches…
'I try to not use so much plastic or so much water, and when it comes to friendship, it’s important than nobody feels excluded. I always try to make everyone feel welcome!'
When she’s not preparing to sing in front of an audience of millions like she will on Sunday, Pauline is living the life of a pretty normal 13-year-old: balancing school, time with her friends, and her hobbies, both musical and not. She also loves art… maybe this week’s experience will inspire some new creations?
Imagine Us is only Germany’s second entry into the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, as the country only debuted at the event last year. That puts Pauline into a very exclusive club! She met last year’s singer, Susan, at the German National Final, and she offered Pauline some great advice:
'She said I have to have fun, and that’s the most important thing!'
Italy won on their first attempt at Junior Eurovision back in 2014, and are the reigning champions at Eurovision, as well! Elisabetta Lizza is a big fan of Måneskin, and is bringing a rock flavor to Junior Eurovision this year, too, with her song Specchio (Mirror on the Wall).
The song deals honestly with issues of self-esteem and self-doubt, important topics in all of our lives, but particularly relevant to young people like 12-year-old Elisabetta.
'The song talks about the relationship between people and the mirror, and how each person perceives his or her image. People are always, always, looking at a stereotype that doesn’t exist! I always say to be yourself!'
Betta is an experienced performer, having taken part in local and international competitions, as well as a number of musicals. Before joining the Junior Eurovision roster, she says that her proudest moment as a singer came at the Bucharest Music Festival in Romania, not only because of her positive results, but also because the people she met were so wonderful.
She is so excited that the Eurovision family will be coming to Italy next year, and recommends that visitors to the area should check out the famous Egyptian Museum in Turin! She’d welcome people to her country with the universal language of rock music and great Italian food.
Elisabetta will be joined on stage by a quartet of dancers: Stella Nobile, Alessia Alagia, Nicol Fantini, and Irene Vacondio.