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Tuuli Okkonen: “There is always a place for a good and touching ballad!” (Finnish semifinalist – Exclusive Interview)

ESC+Plus has talked to Tuuli Okkonen, semifinalist of this year’s Finnish national selection for Eurovision. Tuuli will perform “Don’t Wake Me Up” in the third UMK semifinal set on February 20.

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.

Can you tell us about you, your musical career and important achievements?

I have loved music since I was a child. After high school I started to study theatre. After many years of theatre I ended up being a part-time photographer and a full-time hairdresser. But all in all singing has always been the biggest love of my life. In 2012 I participated in UMK the first time, that time with my former band Leola. After that I decided to try my wings as a solo artist, and succeeded to come in third in a TV show The Voice of Finland 2014. Now the desire to sing and make my own music has led me here in UMK 2016!

E+: What impelled you to take part in “UMK 2016”?

The need to make music and to let people hear it took me to UMK. The decision to participate was also made because I felt strongly about this song. I believe that if I feel so strongly about it, it must do the same for others as well. I think that in life you must trust your instincts and see where it takes you. One of my dreams would also be to represent Finland in the Eurovision song contest!

E+: How did you feel when you knew you had qualified for the semi-finals? Did you expect it?

I knew that there will be a lot of songs applying for UMK, but I was hopeful. I felt that this song should be in it! 🙂 When they then called me, I was totally shocked and couldn’t stop screaming and laughing!

E+: Can you tell us about your song? What is the story behind the lyrics?

The song is a different kind of love story. It is a story of forbidden / impossible love that tears you apart. A person with their heart in a thousand pieces prefers to stay, even if for just for a little while, in a dream where they can be with their loved one, rather than accept the cruel real world.

E+: Why do you think your song has to be selected for Stockholm? What are you strengths to reach the top in the competition?

I think this song would be a great choice to be sent to Stockholm. There is always a place for a good and touching ballad! The live show will be very magical and intense. Wait till you see!

E+: Have you started to prepare your stage performance for “UMK 2016”?

I have had meetings with the choreographer, designer and the director. It has been amazing that since the first meeting we all have been on the same page about how everything should be. It is going to be something really great, I can’t wait!

E+: Do you usually watch Eurovision? What are your favorite songs in the history of the competition?

I LOVE Eurovision and I watch the show every time. I enjoy the celebration and the feeling that all borders in Europe suddenly seem to disappear and music is the only language. There has been many good songs during the years, and here are some of my favourites: Marie Myriam: L’oiseau et l’enfant, Dana international: Diva, Linda Martin: Why Me, Secret garden: Nocturne, Marija Serifovic: Molitva, Loreen: Euphoria, Sanna Nielsen: Undo, Conchita Wurst: Rise like a phoenix, Mørland & Debrah Scarlett – A Monster Like Me

E+: If you could choose a Eurovision former participant to sing along with, who would it be?

Conchita Wurst!

E+: Besides Eurovision, what are your plans for this year?

To have fun, to make as many dreams come true as I can, and to work hard for them.

E+: Finally, can you send a message for our readers and Eurovision fans?

Let´s enjoy all the good things in life, and let´s celebrate love and good music again this year!! There can not be too many parties in a year 🙂

E+: Thanks for your time and good luck!

About Tony Rodríguez (Spain)