Albania: Interview with Mirud talking about FiK 60, Eurovision and the American Song Contest
Today we speak to a Balkan pop icon. He is an artist who loves to blend modern pop with traditional folk music, earlier this year he released his debut Albanian language album 'Tradhti'. He has competed in 'Festivali i Këngës' in 2018, 2020 and is preparing to compete again this year with ‘Për Dreq’, its Mirud!
Thank you so much for joining us.
Wow, what an introduction. Thank you so much for all that. I'm really happy to be here with you guys.
First on 'Festivali i Këngës 60', congratulations on being selected. What was your reaction when you found out you had been chosen?
To be honest with you, I didn't really have doubts that I will be. I wasn't really concerned at all about that. I was expecting to see what the reaction would be for the song. I wasn't really worried whether I'll make it to the competition or not. So it would be surprising if I don't make it in. But yeah, the only thing that I was constantly thinking about is "Oh, my God, when is that [the song] gonna to come out?".
Your song this year ‘Për Dreq’, which you have mentioned on twitter means “Ive gone to hell” now in the song you have so much emotion in your vocals, you can hear that those lyrics come from deep within your soul. What’s the meaning behind the song?
So this song was actually written immediately after FiK last year when I did that, ‘Nëse Vdes’. I was really devastated by how everything went down. I wasn't really happy with the performance at all. I felt bullied by every kind of directions. Like when the show was over. I was everywhere. People were calling me a woman, people were doing interviews on TV talking about me, even though I wasn't there. So it was just like a lot of pressure. And I was really depressed for that entire time. So as soon as FiK was over, I went into the studio, and I tried to use that sort of emotional state that I was in to create new music. And I wrote this song. It was sort of a dedication to everybody in the past that I had a relationship with and who had an impact in my life. And it's mostly me just saying, sorry for the times that I fucked up. And the times that I messed up, and I was basically a mess. And no matter what happens, no matter what happened between our relationship, I will forever love you and I will forever have love for you. So it's mostly like a dedication to those types of important relationships that I have had in my past. And it wasn't just the time that took to reflect on the past. And I really got inspired to write that.
Last year your performance of ‘Nëse Vdes’ in FiK 59 got a lot of attention online, in Albania and from people around the world. You got a lot of love, but on your socials you mentioned you also got a lot of homophobic comments and even death threats, but in fact for a country like Albania you’re a trailblazer you broke down these barriers in society and made the LGBT community proud! How has the experience impacted you as an artist?
Definitely made me grow as a person. And as an artist in many different levels. Like even last year, when FiK was happening, I literally was stuck in everything in every comment that was written about me, I was reading it, I was internalising it, I was going crazy. After every single comment, the most simple thing, like everything just had an effect on me. And I had a lot of tension and I had a lot of pressure and all that pressure that I had. And that tension came out in the stage when I performed last year. And this year, I just feel more relaxed, I'm able to enjoy it more. And I'm also learning and realising that whatever people write about me, it's not really about me, and it doesn't really have to do anything with me and I'm very confident with who I am this year. I'm very confident with myself with what I'm bringing and I truly don't really care what people like I don't I know I'm not for everybody, and I'm really okay with that. Like I'm not trying to be for everybody because I just cannot be perfect.
For ‘Për Dreq’ you wrote the lyrics yourself but interestingly the music is by last years FiK winning composer Kledi Bahiti who wrote ‘Karma’, what was it like working with him?
I have been waiting to work with him for the last four years actually. I have been messaging him emailing him basically every single month to be like we need to work together we need to work together ever since I was on FiK with ‘Nënë’. And ever since I was with FiK I was just like trying to work with him. I was trying to contact him but he was so busy that I just could not wait to work with him. I finally worked with him and it was just incredible experiences. So talented, he really just brought out all that beauty and might evolve out of be and like when we were in the studio writing together, it was just an incredible experience because I never thought that I'll be able to sing a song the way that I sang ‘Për Dreq’. And I'm just really excited to even sing it on stage because I truly feel very confident.
You are now very busy preparing for FIK and you recently confirmed that you are working with creative director Nick Marianos, who danced in Sakis Rouvas’s Eurovision entry for Greece in 2009 and did the staging for Serhat in 2019 at Eurovision. What is it like working with Nick so far?
Oh, it's been an amazing journey with Nick. I actually met Nick Marianos, last year he was in FiK working within Inis Neziri. I got to see work from close. And he's an incredible person. And incredible artist, very creative, and we have had honestly, obviously, had a lot of meetings and a lot of ideas. And I just cannot wait for everybody to just see that. I just want to say that it's going to be a lot of good surprises. It's going to be something more “Eurovisionary” even more like Eurovision style, and it's going to be more major, it's not going to be something very typical and simple. We're really putting a lot of effort into staging and vocal performance this year. So we're gonna make sure that all that is good.
[Since the interview it has been revealed that due to production issues Nick can no longer collaborate with Mirud for his performance. You can read more about it on Mirud's post here]
Now Mirud you are very close with your fans, you are very active on twitter and Instagram, you regularly ask for the fandoms input and thoughts on things. Do you take into consideration what the fans say and do you enjoy the connection you have with us online?
I absolutely do. Especially when it comes to what type of music people expect of me. I really tried to, to really take that in and try to incorporate that into my music and try to do better every single year. And I truly feel like I have done better every single year. Like when I look back at 2017. When I competed with ‘Nënë’, I just I'm like oh my God, I feel like a different person. Or like when I think about last year, even last year, I feel like a different person. So I feel like every single year I've come back with something better and stronger. But that's mostly because I have listened to what people want from me and what people want to hear. And I do obviously take all those comments and consideration, but I'm talking about constructive criticism.
You love Eurovision, you’ve mentioned many times it's a dream of yours to be there. What does the Eurovision Song Contest mean to you?
To be honest with you, I've been watching Eurovision for a very, very long time, and a lot of my favourite artists came from there or performed there. So to perform in Eurovision, it would just truly be a huge honour. And especially because I would present a huge community in Albania that's never been presented before, which is the LGBT community. So I feel like it would be an amazing opportunity and a big step for the community to do something great in Albania and get some recognition. And I will be the first openly gay performer to ever do it if I want to.
And for those that don't know, you're also American. You live in New York, and the American song contest is happening very soon. How excited are you to have a Eurovision inspired contest right at your doorstep?
I’m actually really excited. I actually applied for that last year. I sent a song and I got a callback for representing New York. So I have finished all the auditions and everything I needed to do for the American Song Contest. They absolutely love the song and I couldn't believe it. I was on a flight to Miami and I got a call from them and they were like “We love you, everything just sounds so good. You're so creative, and we'd love to have you” so I can't wait for that. Honestly.
I'm saying one way or another I'm making it happen. So whether it's the Eurovision Song Contest or the American Song Contest, I will be there.
You have fans here in Australia who show you lots of love and support. We would love to know. Have you been to Australia before?
I have not I would love to come there and do a show and I would love to come and meet everybody and I am close to the Eurovision community throughout the year I stay close to Eurovision fans on Twitter as well and I'm a Eurovision addict myself. So I would love to like do a whole show like Eurovision based show in Australia and come celebrate with you all so hopefully after I win this season.
We would absolutely love to have you here. That would be amazing. We cannot wait to see what you have planned for the FiK this year Mirud. All the best of luck! We hope to also see you at Eurovision. Thank you very much for speaking to us at Aussievision today!
Thank you so much for inviting me to this interview. I really had an amazing time with you guys and thank you for supporting me throughout the year because obviously I've seen you guys pay attention to what I say. So thank you for paying attention to what I say I truly appreciate all that.
‘Për Dreq’ is available now on iTunes and streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.
Mirud will be competing at 'Festivali i Këngës 60' from December 27-29. You can find all the latest on the Albanian national final by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Find us @aussievisionnet.