Ukraine: Interview with Zlata Ognevich

One of the finalists in the Ukrainian selection for Eurovision 2011 is Zlata Ognevich, who will participate with the song “The Kukushka”, which translates as “The Cuckoo” in English. We were able to interview Zlata about her musical talents and career so far within Ukraine.

ED: Hello Zlata! Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hello, dear readers! My name is Zlata, which is translated from ancient Greek as “golden.” One of my cherished dream, to play the role of Esmeralda in the musical “Notre Dame de Paris”

ED: When did you discover your talent for singing? Have you always had an interest in music?
I’ve loved music since my childhood, and perhaps the music was in me before I was born! So now I remember, always something to hum, repeat melody that I heard, imitating different sounds. Because of this, I was called the “little monkey”. I loved to imitate the voices of nature and singing high in the mountains – there was always echoes! I grew up in the Crimea, so I was very close to nature, its unique beauty and harmony.

ED: Tell us about your music career. When did you first start performing as a professional singer?
I graduated from the Music Institute. Glier at the Department of pop vocal, then there study jazz singing, sang in a latin band. I am very grateful to the wonderful teacher Russova Tatiana Nikolaevna, she taught me to find myself in music, and always said that you have to be a versatile singer, able to work in various styles. You know, just like in acting – to change the roles. I love to reincarnate! I have good experience of stage work from the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. We toured the whole of Ukraine, had to even sleep in the bus. I remember one concert; we were performing under the open sky, and suddenly rain start. I wasn’t sure if I should sing to the end though, and it was scary – because of chances of getting an electrical shock. Afterwards I thanked the audience – it was amazing!

ED: What do you think has been your biggest musical achievement so far?
I think it’s too early to say what my biggest achievement is. I’m not a composer. But, I have some very interesting creative plans which I hope that they all come true. Recently I, with Asan Belyalov won the famous Ukrainian show “Narodna zirka 3” (The People’s Star 3). Two months of live broadcasts, live sound, hot fight, diverse songs, the images – I’m so glad I got into a wonderful project! I want to see a lot of shows like this in my country!

ED: In March 2010, you participated in the Ukrainian national selection for Eurovision 2010 with your song “Ostrov Lybuvi” in its English version, “Tiny Island”. Why did you decide to enter the competition?
My team and I heard about the competition and instantly decided to participate in it. Especially, at the time it was just beginning, I had just released the video for my song “Ostrov Lybuvi” (Tiny Island). Everything for the selection was prepared in a very short time, I almost no sleep. And then I realized it does not matter where the limit is, but if you are ready to go to the end. I am ready, I have a great team of professionals, and family that always support me.

ED: Do you think that your participation in the Ukrainian selection has helped with your popularity in Ukraine?
Yes, I believe that it was an important period for me. With the support of people who watch the show, I found myself among the five finalists. Many people saw me there – with that, appear new fans. Again, for me it was a wonderful experience working in extreme conditions, because the preparation for the performance was only slightly more than a day.

ED: You have also released the songs “Kiss”, “Angeli” and “Prystras’t”. Please tell us more about them, and which is your favourite?
Oh, these songs are so different and I love them all! In each of them there’s a piece of my soul and energy. Each of them gives me different emotions. I like to be different, would never have been able to work only in one style of music. Music – is indivisible. It just is and it should feel.

ED: You will participate in the Ukrainian selection for Eurovision 2011, and have already qualified to the final of the selection. Why did you decide to enter the selection for the second time?
This year is different. We spent a long time preparing – creating songs, costumes and staging. It’s great that at least this time we have more than 2 days to prepare. And now I feel that I can represent Ukraine at Eurovision 2011. I think that the song «the Kukushka» is in the right format for such a serious contest. And I am ready to give all energy to win, and there – as God wills.

ED: You will participate with the song “the Kukushka”. What is it about, who has written the song and does it have a special meaning for you?
The song “The Kukushka” is written by a talented composer Mikhail Nekrasov, with lyrics by Eugenia Matyushenko. You know, this is a great fortune to work with these real musicians! Meaning of the song lies in the fact that there is a cuckoo, which is always on time tells you when we love, or leave, to live without looking back. It’s about the inner spiritual struggle inherent in every person.

ED: You have also filmed a music video for “The Kukushka”. What is the storyline of the video, and how was the experience of making it?
That was an unforgettable shooting with a team of big professionals! The director was well-known Russian director Oleg Stepchenko (soon will be published in international distribution his film “Viy”). It was very pleasant to work with him. With him, I learned lots of new things- it was like a two-day master class. For the shootings I invited my partner from on the project “Narodna zirka 3” (The People’s Star 3) Asan Bilyalov. He takes the role of hunter girls’ souls. I look forward to the video, it is so unusual and fabulous! The idea of the clip is the fight between the spiritual world and the material. And I want good wins in our lives. So, hopefully you will see “The kukushka” on music channels soon!

ED: Your song in the Ukrainian selection has already qualified to the finals of the competition. How do you feel about this? Do you plan to make any changes to your song, choreography or costumes before the final show in 2011?
We call our team song very softly «cuckooshechka». With this song, I got to the finals, all my team is already walking and friendly “cuckoo”. In general we had fun! ))) I will tell you a little secret – there will be some changes to made – and you’ll see them already in my next performances.

ED: Do you have a message for fans of your music, and readers?
Give warmth to each other and be happy!

ED: Thank you for the interview and good luck in the Ukrainian selection!

You can listen to the studio version of “The Kukushka” below, followed by the Ukrainian version of the song, which was performed this evening on “Shuster Live” on Channel “Ukrayina”.