Sofi Marinova came to Greece to take part in the final selection of the Mediterranean country song for Eurovision. She was invited by the Official Eurovision Fan Club of Greece to present her song "Love Unlimited" to the local audience and win as many votes from the fans of the contest as possible.
With her hair tied back, small black shoes and a leather jacket, Sofi arrived at the Parthenon Hotel on Monday afternoon straight from Geneva, where she had a performance last night. Slightly tired but all smiling, she greeted us in Bulgarian and the first thing she said was, "How glad I am to be in Athens." Like the previous Bulgarian participants in Eurovision, Marinova honoured the invitation of the Greek fans to visit the ancient capital as part of the promotion of the song selection, although Bulgaria and Greece are not competing in the first semi-finals. She asked for some time to refresh and an hour later, came down to the hotel lobby dressed in an elegant black suit and high heels. Time was getting on and Sofi gave the interview for GRReporter in the car on the way to River West Mall, where the final selection of the Greek participation took place.
How do you feel as a representative of Bulgaria in the Eurovision Song Contest?
I am very happy. Nothing special has happened in the last five or six years – I was making new songs and videos, but there was no excitement. My participation in the Eurovision Song Contest is a dream that has come true, as you can understand, because this is my third time in the contest. I'm walking on air - I'm so happy.
What made you believe in yourself this time and manage to win the right to represent Bulgaria this year?
The team is very important - my producer Krum Krumov, the musicians, who wrote the song Yasen Kozev and Krum Georgiev, the author of the lyrics Donnie. We all did our best and worked on the song with love. So, I just believe that it will do this time.
Who is your favourite Greek performer?
Now, this is Nikos Verdis. I want to do a duet with him. I like him very much and his songs are known in Bulgaria. Many of our artists “borrow” from him and I would like to do a song together.
Music may be love to you, but it is also your job. What kind of music do you listen to in your spare time?
Music is divided into two main groups - bad and good music. So, I would say that there is not a certain kind of music that I listen to. I listen to what I feel like listening to every time. Even sometimes, when I am by myself and tired, I listen to opera, but mostly, I love the rhythms of the Balkans. I like Greek, Turkish, Serbian and Gypsy music. I like to listen to BG Radio because it broadcasts good songs by Bulgarian pop singers.
I grew up with popular music and I love Lili Ivanova, Vasil Naydenov, Tonika SV, Yordanka Hristova, Kristina Dimitrova, Orlin Goranov. From the young singers, I like Maria Ilieva, Orlin, Grafa, Lubo.
So, do you think Bulgaria has a good pop stage?
Of course, we have a good pop stage because the young artists are talented. Furthermore, I would like to add that I listen to pop-folk music too. I love being up to date with what is released in our country. We should be careful not to wear the same outfits as the other singers and to repeat some of the songs. Some pop-folk singers are really good.
In this connection, I would like to ask you how you respond to the criticisms that were heard in Bulgaria that a folk music singer should not represent Bulgaria at Eurovision.
When someone says that a folk music singer will represent us in Eurovision, I say that this is very good. What is folk music – very good musicians from among the people. Even in the past, they called folk musicians who played live the best. This is a merry music performed by very good performers.
It has happened very often to get into companies or be with individual friends who say, "We do not listen to such music," but later the same evening, I find them dancing on the table and snapping their fingers.
How do you define your singing school or in other words, how do you define your own music?
I do not want to boast, but I sing in my own way, individually. It cannot be said that I am a pop singer, or just a pop-folk or a gypsy singer. I am somehow authentic, that is how I define myself. I can sing anything. Even the recent criticism of me that I did not know the English language has made me eager to start learning it. When I have more spare time I will start learning and then, I am going to sing many songs in English.
When did you find out that you have the talent to sing and wanted to do this?
It sounds like a cliché but "I have been singing for as long as I can remember," and it's true. My mother said that I loved listening to music since I was a small child and I sang along. She used to sing folk songs. She used to sing in pubs, but after she got married, she stopped singing. Then, she gave birth to five children, among whom I was the only girl. Seeing that I could sing, she began teaching me songs. When I grew up a bit, she taught me some turns and if I could not sing them as I should, she ran after me with a rolling pin. So, I started trying harder.
When was the first big success?