ESC+Plus has talked to Mikael Saari, runner-up of UMK 2013 and semifinalist of this year’s Finnish national selection for Eurovision. Mikael will perform “On It Goes” in the second semi-final set on February 13.
ESC+Plus: Hello! First of all, thank you so much for your time and congratulations on having been selected to take part in the Finnish national selection for Eurovision 2016!
E+: Can you tell us about you, your musical career and important achievements?
For the last five years I have worked as a musician and an actor. I’ve worked in theaters all over Finland and gigged with various bands as a singer or instrumentalist. UMK 2013 was of course a great achievement for me as a singer and songwriter, and in 2014 I got my first big lead in a musical in Oulu City Theatre.
E+: What impelled you to take part in “UMK 2016”?
In August last year, I got a phone call from the producers of UMK, asking me to consider participating again. And after a bit of hesitation, here we go again!
E+: What it would mean for you to represent Finland?
It would be a massive honor and dream come true for me to represent Finland. There is no such stage anywhere else. The protagonist of the song has not been quite the best character there is, and has maybe done mistakes in his decisions about his relationships. It’s more of a depiction of the situation he is in, than a straightforward story. I hope every listener can get a feeling out of it, as everyone has their own personal experiences about love affairs.
E+: Why do you think your song has to be selected for Stockholm? What are you strengths to reach the top in the competition?
It’s really hard for me to say that our song is the best choice or the best of the songs, because there is no such thing as a better or worse piece of music or lyric. I think there are lots of songs in the UMK this year that deserve the opportunity to represent our country. I think that the distinctive thing about our music is the kind of ”rawness” to it that is unusual in the Eurovision. I mean both musically and lyrically.
The song consists of only real acoustic instruments played by real musicians, and the text. I hope, can be a bit depressing if you look into it that way. This is all my own speculation. It’s awesome to get to hear what people of think of us!
E+: Have you started to prepare your stage performance for “UMK 2016”?
Yes I have, but at this point I won’t be giving up any more intel on that subject:) My wish is that it’s going to be beautiful and powerful.
E+: How do you remember your participation in UMK 2013?
Of course I do! It was surreal: we were astounded that we even got to the finals, and then we hit the second place over so many great songs and artists… It was absolutely wonderful, and I’m forever thankful for that experience.
E+: Do you usually watch Eurovision? What are your favorite songs in the history of the competition?
Of course I do! Every year, from the semi-finals. I’m not that kind of fan who looks into the songs before that, but the competition itself I watch every time, there’s a unique feeling of grandeur and fairytale to it. I have a lot of favourite songs, from the last years maybe ”Birds” from Anouk. In Finland artists have recorded the great hits from the last decades in Finnish, so I don’t even remember their names in their original names!
E+: If you could choose a Eurovision former participant to sing along with, who would it be?
Oh that’s a hard one! Celine Dion of course would be one. Eurovision history is full of UNBELIEVABLE female artists. And male of course, but I would maybe prefer a dramatic femme fatale to duet with!
E+: Besides Eurovision, what are your plans for this year?
This spring I’ve laid off most work offers to spend time with my family. The summer will be full of gigs, and in August I’ll start rehearsing a production of ”Rock of Ages” in Turku City Theatre, in which I will have the lead. It will premiere in october. Can’t wait for that to begin!
E+: Finally, can you send a message for our readers and Eurovision fans?
To all of you a very happy beginning to the year 2016! I know it will the best year so far, so live it to the fullest! All the best to you.
E+: Thank you for your time and good luck!