József Oláh (Parno Graszt): “The power of our song is its simplicity and authenticity” (Hungarian candidates – Exclusive Interview)

ESC+Plus has talked to József Oláh, leader of Parno Graszt, participants of this year’s Hungarian national selection for Eurovision, “A Dal 2016”. He has composed the song “Már nem szédülök” (I don’t feel dizzy any more) which the group will perform at today’s heat:

ESC+Plus: Hello! First of all, thank you so much for your time and congratulations on having been selected to take part in the Hungarian national selection for Eurovision 2016!

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

Parno Graszt (meaning White Horse in Romani language as symbols of purity and freedom) is not just another Gypsy band from Eastern Europe playing traditional Gypsy music… PARNO GRASZT IS A MASSIVE BLAST OF ENERGY which totally shook the world when their 1st record Hit The Piano got in the TOP10 of World Music Charts Europe in 2002. Songlines starred them as ’The Source of Gypsy music’ while BBC made an up-close documentary about their simple rural life back in their village.

After 3 studio records and tours in Europe, India and the USA, Parno Graszt was selected to showcase at WOMEX 2009, the #1 international summit of world music. As RealWorld Records appraised, ‘we loved as they kept on singing out in the crowd after they finished their set and the stage was being cleared – a great moment of spontaneity

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

Our little song was meant to be an exciting experiment: we were wondering how a song based on authentic Gipsy roots would work at such a big competition like Eurovision. As usual we did not want to meet any trends, we just wanted to have fun and sing from our hearts.

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

As soon as we got to know that our song is in the best 30 we were so shocked that our system was frozen off and we had to reboot ourselves.

E+: What it would mean for you to represent Hungary? 

To tell you the truth I think we do not live times nowadays when our country can be represented by an authentic Gipsy music band at a European song contest, but if it happens we will do it on a worthy manner with patriotism & love in our hearts.

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

This song talks about us and about our families, it tells the story how we managed to perform on big stages in big cities coming from a tiny little East-Hungarian village. It is also a message to the next generation, to our kids and to my little daughter to have big dreams and to fight for it with faith and endurance. Our tale is a real story and we wanted people who never had to wear “holed shoes” to know and to understand the meaning.

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 don’t think our song has to be selected to the finals but I don’t think it does not have to be selected. If we would represent our country, I am sure that through our song the audience would be able to feel and breathe the pure earthy air of our little village called Paszab.

The power of the song is its simplicity and authenticity a bit blown by the ”trendy”wind of the XXI century. It is severe and we wrote it without having the pressure to make it “Eurovision compatible”.

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

Yes we have already started rehearsing. The choreography and the stage presence is being prepared with the help of Gyögy Demarcsek and Zsuzsa Demarcsek, the artistic leaders of the Nyírség Dance Ensemble

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

We always try to keep one eye on the Eurovision contest, because sometimes you can meet very interesting singers. My favourite one from the Hungarian competitors was Magdi Rúzsa with the Unsubstantial Blues.

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

We would be happy to play with anyone, because meeting with different music styles is always funny & exciting.

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

We are seriously planning a special tour in the schools of Hungary and Transylvania presenting the traditions and cultural heritage of the Hungarian gypsies to the kids through our songs & dances. AND ESPECIALLY: WE WOULD BE REALLY HAPPY TO PLAY CONCERTS IN SPAIN

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

Let me send you a quote from the song: Be grateful for what you have and don’t complain about the things you don’t have! Be lucky for 100 years, Shavalé!

E+: Thanks for your time and good luck!

About Tony Rojas (Spain)

Spanish journalist. I love good music and I like Eurovision. I’m bringing you different interviews with the candidates of the European contests for Eurovision. Follow me on @tonyrojas and @tonyrojasofficial (Twitter and Instagram).

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