EUROVISION SONG CONTEST 2008
"I would love to perform in one of the Semi Finals"
Andy Abraham was the United Kingdom representative in the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 with his own composition along with Andy Watkins & Paul Wilson with the song Even If.
Before the Contest he told us about his preparations and plans prior to going to Belgrade.
songs4europe.com: First of all congratulations on winning Eurovision - Your Decision. Can you tell us more about how your participation in that contest came about?
Andy Abraham: "I got a call from the BBC asking if I would be interested in entering for the Eurovision, and at that time I was writing and recording my third album, so I had songs already written and Even If was the first song I thought would be great for Eurovision"
Did you aim to write a Eurovision song, or a chart song? What was your inspiration for the song?
"My song Even If was written specifically for my album, and the thinking behind the song was it had to be single material, upbeat, with an uplifting feel and a great groove, and like the album it had to reflect my style (retro) and what I'm into."
Presumably you have seen the Eurovision Song Contest at some time in the past? Any songs you can remember as being particular favourites? Any song you would consider doing a cover version of?
"Yes, I have watched Eurovision through the years, and some of the most memorable songs I can remember have been the likes of ABBA and Waterloo, Bucks Fizz Making Your Mind Up, Johnny Logan What's Another Year etc. I'm not sure I would cover any songs from the Eurovision, because I have so many songs outside the Eurovision that I love, and would consider singing first."
If someone had said to you a few years ago, that one day you'd be representing the United Kingdom at Eurovision, what would your reaction have been?
"If someone had said I'd be representing the United Kingdom in the Eurovision even one year ago, I would have said "How much have you had to drink?!"
How did you family and friends feel about you entering another television show that relied on public phone in votes? Were they thinking "here we go again"? Perhaps worried that you might finish a narrow second again? In fact did anyone say "Don't do it!"
"I think everyone, family and friends, were very supportive. Although I remember my daughter saying she wasn't sure if I should do the competition, because it's perceived as quite chessy. Regarding the whole voting situation we treated the Eurovision like the X Factor, and didn't worry too much about it because it was out of our hands. The only thing I had control over was my performance."
As we all know you were the wild card choice to go through to the second round in Eurovision - Your Decision. Did you think then "that's it, I'm not going to be the winner"? Or did you think the public knows best? Are you at all worried that perhaps the British public, as often happens in TV phone in shows, picked you, seeing you as the outsider of the final four?
"When I was considered the wild card, I never thought I would win the competition, but at the same time the public had the last say, so anything was possible in my eyes. But I do believe I won because the majority liked my song more than the rest."
"Well, apart from my song, I truly thought either The Revelations or Michelle Gayle would win it. One sounding like a mixture of ABBA and The Supremes, and in recent years, the other, like most Eurovision song entries. I think the other contestants were too concentrated on their disappointments to worry about me, even though I got congratulations from all of them. I didn't get the chance to talk to Katrina on the night, but recently I had messages from Katrina, Bucks Fizz and Brotherhood Of Man wishing me the very best, and saying I'm the perfect representative for the United Kingdom, and to enjoy every minute I'm in Serbia."
Where are you planning to go to promote Even If in Europe, between now and the contest?
"I'm looking to promote Even If the single and album to as many European countries as possible."
You have been drawn to sing second in the Final, an unlucky position, as no one has ever won the Eurovision Song Contest in its entire history from this position. Do you have any superstitions or routines you go through before going on stage to bring you luck?
"I have no set routine before I go on stage, but I do make sure I'm warmed up properly, and the idea of going second in the competition really doesn't hold any fears for me, because I think if the song and performance is memorable, then the judges won't forget."
Yours is one of the five automatic qualified entries for the Final. In recent years, generally the Semi Finalisst have out performed the Finalists in the final result. Do you know if there are any plans for the automatic Finalists to have the opportunity to perform at a Semi Final? Therefore giving the artists a chance to perform before the television audience, prior to the Final, and perhaps making things more equal?
"I would love to perform my song in one of the Semi Finals, but I have to accept the rules are what they are. I think it would be good for the automatic entries to perform before the big show, or even compete to enter, instead of automatically going forward."
Will the performance, the band etc be the same as at Eurovision - Your Decision? Do you plan to make any changes at all?
"Well I will be going out with the band, but the outfits will change, and the energy levels will go through the roof, ha,ha,ha,ha. The band will consist of Drums, Bass, Guitar, Keyboards and Backing Vocalist and me! We're performing like it's my own concert."
You've said elsewhere that you hope the audience that votes in the Eurovision Song Contest will vote for songs they like, rather than in a political way. How realistic do you think this is? What sort of result would you consider a success and be happy with?
"Well, because I've heard so much about this so called political voting, I'm just highlighting it is a song competition, that the Eurovision is famed for, so, I hope the respective countries vote for what moves them the most. What I would consider a successful position in the Eurovision would be a top ten."
You strike me as being a very down to earth person, perhaps because your success has come a bit later in life, and you have had experience of life outside the music industry, indeed much is made of the former dustman tag in many articles. If the success ended tomorrow, what would you be happiest doing instead?
"You are so right about the dustman tag, and considering I've had many jobs for far longer than the eight months I was a dustman, it still baffles me. But, if it all ended today, I'd probably carry on writing songs for other acts, or, join a production team, cause I love music."
You will probably be amongst, if not, the oldest artists at the contest, do you see that as an advantage or disadvantage? In what ways can you bring your experience to the contest, given the vast television audience of millions? Do you get nervous before appearing on stage?
"I don't worry about the age thing, and I don't see it as an advantage or disadvantage, and neither do the audience or judges. The only thing they care about is if the songs are great and they like them. I certainly will be nervous, which I think is healthy, but I'll be itching to get on stage by then."
Looking beyond the Eurovision Song Contest, what are your plans after that?
"My plans after the Eurovision will be to promote my album entitled Even If, so I hope it will continue to be a very busy 2008/2009 for me."
One of your previous songs December Brings Me Back To You, was a duet with TV presenter Michael Underwood, who himself has a Eurovision connection, as presenter and comentator for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2005. What chances of doing a duet with another Eurovision commentator and chart hit artist Terry Wogan??!! On a more serious note is there any singer(s) you would love to record a duet with?
"You know something tells me Terry Wogan may have finished with singing, no matter how much money he is offered. But seriously there are so many artists I would love to duet with, here are some Robbie Williams, John Legend, Oasis, Coldplay, Tom Jones, Kenny Thomas, Roachford, Madonna, George Michael and many, many, many more."
Finally Andy on behalf of all visitors to the songs4europe.com website, I'd like to wish you the very best of luck at the contest. I hope to catch up with you in Belgrade and keep everyone posted on how rehearsals are going etc. Any messages in the meantime for visitors to the site?
"I'd like to say, thank you to all visitors and people connected to songs4europe.com, your support and encouragement are truly appreciated, and I hope to see you all in concert soon. Peace, love and respect. Andy Abraham."
songs4europe.com would like to thank Andy Abraham very much for his time for this interview, and to thank Paul Piggott for arranging it.
Watch Gordon Roxburgh's video Interview with Andy Abraham (Wednesday 21st May 2008):
In co-operation with www.eurovisionary.com
Interviewer: Gordon Roxburgh
Camera: Charlotte Jensen
Andy Abraham at The Eurovision Song Contest 2008