Lauris Reiniks’ “Your Morning Lullaby” has been accepted for the finals of Latvia’s Eurovision preliminaries Eirodziesma 2010, which will take place on February 27, 2010, at the Ventspils theater house “Jūras Vārti”. Before this major event, Lauris has been happy to answer those questions that are posed to him most frequently. Read the interview, listen to the song, learn why he has decided to return to the Eurovision stage, find out his plans, his ideas about Eurovision, and many other interesting things.
Q: What’s “Your Morning Lullaby” about?
A: The song is about hope that we find when we are away from home for a longer period of time. It’s not usually the case that we miss an entire village, city or country. We mostly miss little elements from our homes and our dear ones. When we think of those, we feel warmth in our heart, and we feel positive sadness and yearning for home. “Your Morning Lullaby” is about a boy who is forced to leave home. When abroad, he misses a song which his girlfriend used to hum into his ear in the morning, the idea being that she wanted them to stay in bed a bit longer. The song only had a melody, and he named it the “morning lullaby.” They both know that the only hope that they have is that someday he will return, and all will be well. When I was writing the lyrics, I was thinking about a soldier on mission, but once the song was recorded, I came to understand that in truth it’s a much broader story which has to do with the present-day situation in Latvia. Due to a crisis and lack of work so many Latvians have been forced to leave the country to start their lives somewhere else. I’m a Latvian patriot and believe that all will be well, and that’s very upsetting to me. Incidentally, the song has also been recorded in Latvian and Russian under the titles “Nebeidzamais stāsts” (Endless Story) and “Прерванный Романс” (Interrupted Romance). It’s like a dedication to all the people who have left Latvia and hopefully one day will come return.
Q: It’s been seven years since you have performed at Eurovision yourself. Why are you getting back on stage?
A: Yes, it’s been seven years, but I’ve always been involved in the competition in various respects. This year I decided to sing the song myself, because I have something to say, and I feel more ready for this than ever before. That’s largely because colleagues in Europe encouraged me to submit the song for the competition. They think that it’s very melodic and will easily be understood by anyone. As an author of this song I very much feel the subject and know that I have to tell the story myself. I cannot offer the song to a performer for whom it means nothing, because then the audience will feel the falsehood. I learned about those emotions back when I was a teenager and left Latvia for the first time study at a high school in America. They return from time to time in various manifestations.
Q: Was the song written specifically for Eurovision?
A: Not at first. I wrote the song last spring, right after the Eurovision Song Contest in Russia. I was terribly sad for a variety of reasons. Later, though, I thought about Eurovision, and I don’t think that I’ve ever worked on a single song for such a long period of time to get it to where it is right now. I am deeply grateful to the conductor Aigars Āboliņš who senses my music wonderfully and wrote a beautiful string instrument arrangement which he and his orchestra recorded. Then the whole song was mixed by my trusted producer Gints Stankevičs. Everyone who was involved did an outstanding job, and I am very thankful to them.
Q: Have you started thinking about your performance on stage?
A: Yes, we’ve come up with an abandoned a number of ideas. We’ve decided that the basis for the performance will be hope, which is also the central theme of the song. I can’t reveal everything, but I want the performance to be tasteful, emotional and not exaggerated. It is very easy to mess things up if you have too many elements and show tricks on stage and the song and its story disappear. I hope that we’ll succeed.
Q: You’ve taken part in Eurovision as a songwriter, as a results announcer and, when the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Riga, as a performer in the group FLY. Have you learned anything during these years? Do you understand where the key of success is?
A: I’m always learning new things, and there are many things, of course, which I’ve understood. The first and main thing is that Eurovision is a big show and a song competition – something that has been seen more vividly in recent years. Showmanship reaches us the best if performances are true and not exaggerated. Incidentally, I understand why FLY did poorly at the Eurovision Song Contest back then. Each of us was and, thank God, still is a successful stage artist. When we established the trio in 2003, perhaps we weren’t quite ourselves, and the message of the song did not reach the European audience. I was terribly upset and didn’t understand what had happened, because I thought that we did what performers at Eurovision are supposed to do. I remember having a cocktail at the banquet in the Skonto hall, and then I just couldn’t control my emotions any further. I was so sad, I thought that we had disappointed all of Latvia. The good news, however, is that we gained enormous experience and became battle-hardened. There were so many people who supported us and lived along with us. Interestingly, Eurovision fans still remember us very well and think that we were not appreciated sufficiently. Now I think that everything happened as it had to happen. My homepage is still regularly visited by people from Europe who follow along with what’s happening and that’s great.
Q: What will you do if you are given an opportunity to represent Latvia at Eurovision 2010 in Oslo?
A: Eurovision is the largest show in Europe, and Latvia’s name is heard in it once a year – that’s a sure thing. But this can be used in favour of our country. I would try not only to present a good performance, but also to use the Eurovision contest to advertise Latvia and encourage tourists to come and visit us. With careful planning, that would be possible. There are always hundreds of journalists from all over Europe at the contest. If the audience in Latvia believes in me, then I will do everything possible to make sure lots of people associate Latvia with things that are good, beautiful and interesting. I have years of experience, and I’m sure that I can do that. I am not shy, I love music and Latvia, I like people and contacts with them, and I freely speak English and Russian. The human factor is always the main thing, and that’s true for me, as well.
Q: You’ve already popularised Latvia in different countries. Last year, your song “I Wish I Could Pretend” took 2nd place in the Irish Eurovision finals, and before that an American ABC network television channel in California did a story about you.
A: On Irish TV, the funny thing was that on a live broadcast I didn’t start by talking about my song. Instead I informed the popular American television showman Jerry Springer as to where Latvia is located. He said that he would never forget that it’s in Northern Europe. I know that Latvians in Ireland were delighted about this. So was I. It is a bit silly, but I always get goose bumps when someone in the foreign media speaks the word Latvia, Lettland, Letonia or Lettonie. I have learned to say the word in several languages so that there are no misunderstandings, and we are not confused with Lithuania. As far as the television channel in America is concerned, that was a dream of mine – not to have them show me on TV, but so that I could talk about Latvia. We don’t have any real chance to get on American news shows with things that happen in Latvia. But my dream of getting Latvia into American television news has come true, and it was in a light context, not via anything negative or tragic.
Jerry Springer and Lauris Reiniks at Irish Eurovision.
Lauris Reiniks at ABC 7 News in California, USA – 2008
Q: There are those who compare Eurovision to the New Wave competition. What are your views, and do you think about that?
A: I see them as two different competitions which should not and cannot be compared. The only thing that they have in common is that people from different countries take part. Eurovision is a song contest in which the main things are emotions, stories and songs. It means presenting your ideas in a performance. New Wave, however, is one of many vocalist competitions, but it is broadcast on Russian television. Participants are corrected and instructed by the director, and they are judged by members of a jury. We might remember that Dima Bilan took 4th place in New Wave, but won the Eurovision Song Contest. I like watching the competition, I keep my fingers crossed for my friends, and I’m glad that it popularises the town of Jūrmala and brings in lots of cash. I have never thought about taking part in it, however, because I’m past the age group, and I have never seen myself as a true virtuoso when it comes to vocals. The competition’s format is not mine. I have an academic education from the Jelgava College of Music, I am a pop artist, I compose my own music, and I perform it in line with what I am feeling. I am happy if it speaks to people, if they listen to it and await new songs. I love the work that I do. I have always respect my audience, because without it, I would be nothing.
Q: What would you say to those people who will watch the Latvian Eurovision final and make a choice?
A: I would recommend that people listen to their hearts and emotions. We often ask whether Europe will understand us, but people in Europe are the same as people in Latvia. They live in cities, villages and the countryside, and they listen to songs and evaluate them just like we do – on the basis of feelings and emotions. When it comes to me, I would ask for support not because you have enjoyed any of my previous songs or things that I have done, but because the song and performance speak to you and move you – that is what European viewers will see and judge. I’ll be delighted, of course, if the audience believes in the song and its potential success as I do. If we all believe together, then that will give us strength and bear fruit. The main thing for me is to put together a good performance and sound so that the audience perceives our musical message.
Q: Do you still get nervous before going onstage?
A: Always, I can’t help myself. No matter what I’m going to be doing onstage, I am always very nervous shortly before it starts – even just a few seconds before I step onstage. Once I get to work, however, I lose my nervousness. The main thing is to hide your nerves – the audience doesn’t have to see it. I’m still learning. But I know that you have to be nervous, because that means that you are going onstage with a sense of responsibility, and it’s not like you don’t care. You have to worry if the nervousness disappears altogether. Then something is wrong. In my case, everything’s OK. I still get nervous.
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Listen to “Your Morning Lullaby”
Highlights of Lauris Reiniks’ career
The experienced pop musician has released 5 solo albums. As a composer and recording artist, Lauris has received more than 20 national awards. Twice he has been the winner of the prestigious Universality Prize, which is offered by AKKA/LAA the Latvian copyright agency for those songs that have been heard most often on the radio and television. The album “Lidot savādāk” (“To Fly Differently”) went gold.
In 2004 the popular pop music magazine “Top of the Pops” awarded Lauris with a title of “Latvian National Megastar” but in 2009 marketing and public relations specialists from 7guru.lv who presented a list of Latvia’s seven most successful pop musicians ranked Lauris second, right after the band Brainstorm.
Reiniks’ most popular and renowned songs are ballads such as “Sirds Sadeg Neparasti”, “Es Neesmu Neprātīgs”, “Tik Balti”, “Es Tev Apmulsis”, “Tev Šodien Vienalga”, 2008 smash “Es Esmu Tev Dzīslās” which he recorded as a duet with his sister, Ruta and 2009 hit “Pasakā” in a duet with Aisha.
In 2007 Lauris partnered by Aleksandra Kurusova won the first season of Latvian “Dancing With The Stars” show on TV3 Latvia.