This week 'Eurovision - Australia Decides' star Alfie Arcuri will compete for Australia at the New Wave music contest in Sochi, Russia.
New Wave in an international music competition of artists from around the world giving up-and-coming performers a platform for global recognition and has been running since 2002.
Former winners have included Ukraine's Eurovision 2016 champion Jamala and DoReDos who finished Top 10 at Eurovision for Moldova in 2018.
Ahead of his first competition night this weekend, we chatted to Alfie about this opportunity:
Firstly congratulations on being selected to perform at New Wave, how does it feel to represent Australia at such an important competition?
Thank you, it feels surreal to be out of Australia! I haven't traveled internationally for almost 2 years. So I feel like I'm doing something illegal haha. To represent Australia is also a surreal and humbling experience. I feel so grateful, proud, excited, but also a lot of pressure to deliver.
We understand you're the first Australian to compete, what was the process of you being chosen to take part?
Just before Covid hit, I signed onto European management and they suggested applying to participate in this incredible festival. I sent several performance videos overseas for consideration and couldn't believe it when I was selected out of the 11 coveted spots! Such an honour to be able to perform alongside such incredible international talent! Like the Golden Stag festival, this was another European opportunity I always dreamt of - not even Covid could stop me!
You competed for Australia before at the Golden Stag contest where you won an award for performing a song in Romanian, do you feel that experience is going to help you take on this challenge?
Yes, I think every experience helps in a way in making you stronger as an artist and performer. In Romania, I had to learn a Romanian song, which was super challenging for me. The New Wave stage is a much larger scale, and from what I hear hundreds of millions of people watch the broadcast, so there is a ton of pressure (mainly from myself) to deliver a performance to make people proud back home.
We're guessing you haven't had to learn something in a different language this time, but which songs will you be performing at New Wave?
Thankfully all of my songs are in English for New Wave! Learning a Russian song would have been a challenge that's for sure...The song selection process was lengthy and a bit complex - as guidelines stipulated you had to select one original song, one global hit and one hit from your home country. After working closely with the musical director, I learnt that a lot of famous Western artists aren't as famous and well-known in Russia, so it was an interesting task selecting songs that were familiar for the audience and ones that I connect with as an artist. In the end, I think we landed on a great and diverse selection. For my Australian Hit, I will be performing my own arrangement of Kylie Minogue's 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' which I'm super excited about. For my Original song, I will be performing my song 'If They Only Knew' and for the Global hit, I selected Coldplay's 'Sky Full of Stars'.
You were in lockdown in Sydney for quite a while, firstly how did you cope and secondly, did that cause any issues for your preparation?
Lockdown has been difficult for everyone. Being a singer is difficult in many ways already because it affects our livelihood and ability to work. Thankfully, I had completed my backing tracks for the festival before we went into lockdown, so in a way it was good because it gave me lots of time to rehearse and get creative.
Leaving the country is a little tricky at the moment, did you have any issues organising travel overseas?
The most difficult part was obtaining a travel exemption. That took a couple of months. However, in saying that I think re-entering the country will be my biggest challenge.
Many New Wave participants have gone on to compete at Eurovision - is that still a dream for you?
Yes, doing things like 'New Wave' makes me even more hungry for Eurovision.
This your first trip to Russia. What are you looking forward to the most? i.e cuisine/dish, architecture/buildings
When I started answering these questions I was actually on the plane, now I'm in Russia! So I can say that I was very excited to try the food as I love trying new cuisines and the Russian dishes have been wonderful so far. Of course, being an architect myself, I've always dreamt of seeing the incredible historical buildings in Moscow and St. Petersburg but I'm not sure if I will be able to make it to those cities this time around!
You will be competing with a wide range of acts from Europe and Asia. Is there an act you are looking forward to meeting or even perform with?
Jorge from Spain, and now that I have seen him perform I am even more impressed! We haven't performed together but have done an impromptu 'despacito' duet haha!
Many Eurovision stars are set to make guest appearances and even perform with Natalia Gordienko, Philipp Kirkorov, Sergey Lazarev, Polina Gagarina, LOBODA, Ani Lorak, Dima Bilan and Alexey Vorobyov to feature during different evenings. Which guest artists you are excited about meeting?
I have learnt so much about Russian music and these amazing talents since arriving. I would have to say I'm excited to meet Sergey and Philipp! Sergey seems to be very popular and he is also very handsome haha! and Philipp is a Russian legend.
It's been a tough time for artists in Australia during the pandemic with cancelled gigs, what is the best for people to support you and other artists?
I think the best thing people can do is to continue to support their favourite artists and connect with them and make them feel special. Stream their music, follow socials. It's a really tough time for everyone at the moment but also a time to come together and be there for each other in a collective creative connectedness and consciousness.
Thank you for your time Alfie, all of us at Aussievision are behind you!
Alfie will first compete on Saturday 21 August. You can follow his journey via his Instagram account: where he is sharing stories of his experience in Sochi: https://www.instagram.com/alfiearcuri
You can find out more about New Wave in our article here
You can visit the official site here: https://newwavestars.eu/sochi/
And follow our social channels for times of the event and how to watch: https://linktr.ee/aussievisionnet