ESC+Plus has talked to Erica Jennings, ex-member of SKAMP (Lithuania 2001) and semifinalist of the Lithuanian national selection for Eurovision 2016, “Eurovizijos”. The singer is competing with the song “Leading Me Home”:
ESC+Plus: Hello! First of all, thank you so much for your time and congratulations on having been selected to take part in the Lithuanian national selection for Eurovision 2016!
Can you tell us about you, your musical career and important achievements?
I was born in Dublin to parents who loved music and poetry. I grew up listening to all different kinds of music, training in modern dance and ballet and taking vocal classes from the age of 7. I knew very early on what I wanted to do. After leaving Ireland aged 12 I lived in Tanzania for 2 years, with my family before moving to Lithuania in my mid-teens.
My musical career began aged 17 when I joined the group SKAMP who went to Eurovision in 2001 with the song “You Got Style”. With SKAMP we won every music award possible in Lithuania, many times over and have played regularly all over Europe and the United States. Our music mixed genres and languages so it really does merge between cultures.
I went on to record solo material for the Buddha Bar compilations “Living Theatre” with songs like “It’s a Lovely Day”. In 2011 I formed a duo with my husband called “The Ball and Chain”. We released one album and had many hits as a duet. My husband is also an artist in his own right formerly of the band Inculto. Both SKAMP and The Ball & Chain are still very popular in Lithuania but I felt it was time to do my own solo album. I have felt very inspired last year and was writing a lot. Also I got a degree in musical theatre which enabled my writing and recording immensely.
I released my first solo song “Old Friends” in May 2015 and it went straight to number one here. I also got to open for Roisin Murphy when she played Vilnius last summer. Since then I have been working on completing my album and of course competing to go to Sweden with “Leading me home”.
E+: What impelled you to take part in “Eurovizijos 2016”?
As soon as I wrote “Leading me home” sitting at my piano in the studio, I knew it would be perfect for Eurovision. I always said, if I had the right song, I would try to go again. It’s that simple:)
E+: How did you feel during your first performance on stage? Did you expect to get the ticket to the semifinal?
Honestly I felt great during the performance, mostly because I really believe in this song. I am rarely fully satisfied with my performances because I believe that things can always be done better and better but I was happy with that one. I am sure the next one will be better and there will be some additions made. Something new:)
E+: What it would mean for you to represent Lithuania for second time?
It would definitely mean a lot to me to represent Lithuania for a second time. I would be proud and honored to do so, especially with a song like “Leading me home”. The song is something I felt compelled to write. It’s as if the words and melody just “tumbled out” of my soul.
E+: Can you tell us about your song? What is the story behind the lyrics?
The song is about the human spirit and all that it can endure. It’s about strength, hope, faith, love, solace, conquering our fears and all the emotions we all face as human beings. These are the feelings that unite us as human beings. Leading me home, is about coming back to our center, to our core.
E+: Why do you think your song has to be selected for Stockholm? What are you strengths to reach the top in the competition?
Well, “Leading me home” stands out, which is already a reason. The Eurovision is a song contest and I believe it is a great song. Also, it is not like last years winning song “Heroes of the night”. When entrants try to copy the last years winner, it never works, although it often happens. The song that always wins is something that stands apart. Besides that I have the stage experience to give a great performance. I only ever sing live and I expect the absolute best from myself every time, no matter where I perform. Having been there before also helps:)
E+: Will you change your stage performance for the next phase of “Eurovizijos 2016”?
Yes. We will be adding elements to the performance every time. Always perfecting and making it the very best it can be.
E+: You represented Lithuania as a member of Skamp in Eurovision 2001. How do you remember it?
Oh we had the best time! It was amazing to be a part of something like Eurovision. And it’s an incredibly valuable experience to see how a live tv event of that size is pulled off. Just going through the rehearsals, the filmings of the rehearsals, the dress rehearsals, the sound checks and seeing how everyone involved was so professional was very inspiring. We got a lot of really good feedback with You Got Style and when I went there to support my husband with Inculto, people still remembered it:)
E+: Do you usually watch Eurovision? What are your favorites songs of the history of the competition?
If I don’t have any concerts on the evening on Eurovision I am usually watching it. Well, “Waterloo” is my all-time favourite. It’s an incredible song. Dana’s “All Kinds of Everything” and of course I’m lucky because Ireland has won it more times than any other country 🙂 Johnny Logans song “What’s another year?” I also really liked “rise like a phoenix”.
E+: If you could choose a Eurovision former participant to sing with, who would it be?
Well Abba aren’t together anymore but I would pick Celine Dion or Conchita Wurst. – Besides Eurovision, what are your plans for this year? This is the year of the monkey, which is my chinese astrology sign so I am sure this year will be fabulous:) I am planning to finish my solo album, launch it and then tour.
E+: Finally, can you send a message for our readers and Eurovision fans?
I wish you all have a wonderful year full of love and light. And I hope to see you all in Sweden;)
E+: Thanks for your time and good luck!