Interview: TEO (Belarus 2014) speaks to ESC+Plus!

Hello TEO! First of all thank you so much for giving us this interview as Belarusian representative for Eurovision 2014 and congratulations on winning the national final!

ESC+Plus: What were your first feelings when you were named winner of Belarusian selection getting the right to represent your country in Denmark?  Did you expect it? What does this mean for you?

TEO: I don’t know if you can ever ‘expect’ such a thing as it would be too much to hope for, but it took a little while to sink in.  As you might know it was a three-way tie that had to be decided again.  Luckily I don’t bite my fingernails because it was nerve-wracking!  Now though, I’m starting to feel excited about it and plans are underway for the performance in the semi finals in Copenhagen.

E+: Have you met any previous Belarusian representative, maybe Alyona? What do you think about her song Solayoh? Has she given you any advice?

TEO: I love Alyona; she is a close friend of mine and it was wonderful to have her at my Cheesecake party at the Victoria Casino on Friday night (28th February).  I’ve written two songs for her so far: ‘All my love’ in 2012 and ‘The Rhythm of Love,’ last year. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue work together.

Teo and Alyona Lanskaya

E+: How did you decide entering the Belarusian competition? What impelled you to take part?

TEO: It really was a very last minute thing.  After finishing the songs for two other terrific singers – Natalie Tamelo and Tasha Odi – I thought it would be fun to try again too.

E+: Belarus used to change the song once selected but how did you decide to keep  “Cheesecake” for Eurovision?

TEO: Ha ha, I don’t know – the song ‘catches’ people somehow, so it has stuck and stayed. Luckily for me!

E+: Can you tell us what your song is about? What is the story behind the lyrics? Your ex-girlfriend called you Cheesecake and you hated it…What sort of name would you accept instead Cheesecake?

TEO: The meaning behind ‘Cheesecake’ is simple but a good one.  It’s a positive song because even though I’ve broken up with a girl because I’m tired of her calling me her ‘sweet cheesecake,’ the message is that we all want to be treated with respect.   As for any other ‘sweet’ names, if I was utterly in love with her, she could probably call me anything she wants! 

E+: Are you going to revamp the song for Eurovision? If yes, what kind of arrangements would you like to listen in the final version?

TEO: Yes, there’s some revamping going on right now, not just with the backing but also to add some dance moves with the help of Swedish goddess Tine Matulessy who we’ve known for a while. I’ll be good and do everything she says!  I also met Julia Volkova (ex-Tatu, and third place getter in Eurovision 2003 for Russia) who gave me a few tips

E+: What are your plans to prepare your Eurovision performance? What kind of staging would you like show in Copenhagen?

TEO: It’s secret at the moment, and we’re still in the process of working it out.

E+: You already shooted a “Cheesecake” official video before the national final so, how was the experience? Any funny anecdote?

TEO: It was done in a bit of a rush as I was shocked that the song was selected for the final.  We kept the background simple and hoped that people would see the fun that Aya-Sofiya and I had filming it!  She was really nice to work with and therefore it was hard to pretend that I was annoyed at ‘her’ calling me ‘Cheesecake.’

E+: Have you watched Eurovision before? What are your favorite songs in the competition’s history?

TEO: It’s impossible to pick a favourite winning song as each one has that special ‘something’ that makes it great. I’ve been a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest my whole life and following through from the national finals, to the semi-finals and all the way through to the winning song is all part of the journey and the appeal.

E+: Tell us what can your music provide to the Eurovision competition? What are your expectations in Denmark?

TEO: A tough question…. I think that it’s a fun song and one that a lot of people could probably relate to; that need to be taken seriously and listened to. As for Denmark itself, I have no doubt that their Eurovision hosting will involve friendship and a celebration of talent.  It’s also a chance for performers and countries to show their creative sides and offer the world some alternatives to the songs that dominate the charts and the airwaves.

E+: Do you have any plans to travel abroad and promote your song in other participating countries as the Amsterdam’s Eurovision in Concert?

TEO: I’ve just confirmed that I’ll be at the Eurovision in Concert event in Amsterdam in April and after Copenhagen, who knows?  afterwards?  I’d love to have a quick break before resuming the planning for more episodes of co-hosting the TV program ‘Наперад у мiнулае’ (Forward to the Past) shown on the Belarus 1 channel.  Oksana Vecher rediscovers the authentic music culture that still remains in Belarus.  We find singers of the traditional and ancient songs, usually the village grandmothers and grandfathers from small villages and select one of their songs.  I am then given the challenge of rearranging this song before it is recorded and sung with a much more modern sound by a well-known artist. You can see the episodes of the program here.

And let’s not forget song writing and performing.  I have many more ideas swirling about in my head!


E+: What is the origin of your nickname TEO?

TEO: ‘Cheesecake’ is a pop song and a pop performance, so I wanted to differentiate this part of myself from ‘Yuriy,’ who is already known in Belarus for a TV show and other song writing work.  It was easy to pick my name actually as it was done with a Google search.  I clicked ‘T’ and saw ‘Teo’ immediately. I liked it instantly and that was it.  Simple, but good: like me!

E+: Can you tell us about your musical career? What are the most important achievements you have reached until the date?

TEO: I’ve loved music my entire life and even won an accordion contest when I was younger!  Winning the National Music Prize of Belarus was such an honour and being able to modernise some of the beautiful old traditional songs (on the TV show – ‘Наперад у мiнулае’ (Forward to the Past) is a very enjoyable challenge.  However, representing Belarus at the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen is the ultimate.

E+: What do you do in your free time? Do you practice any sport?

TEO: At the moment I don’t have a lot of free time, but that’s a good thing as there’s so much to prepare for and look forward to.  I do like to keep fit, but haven’t been working out as regularly as I’d like to. Unless dancing and singing counts as exercise?

E+: Can you send a message for our readers and fans of Eurovision?

TEO: I want to say a big ‘Hello’ to all esc + plus readers and hope that you’ll watch the semi finals and final of Eurovision and enjoy it as much as I’m planning to!

E+: Thank you very much, good luck and see you in Copenhagen!

Thank you, Belen! Keep up your terrific work and we’ll meet up in May!

TEO will perform the song “Cheesecake” representing Belarus at the Second Semi-Final on May 8:


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