Eurovision Fan of the Week - Yerdana from Kazakhstan
Now that we are well into the new Eurovision 2021 season our weekly Eurovision fan profiles are back!
First up we have Yerdana from Kazakhstan, we chat to him about how he got into the Contest and his thoughts on having Kazakhstan compete at the Eurovision Song Contest.
And if there's a comment in italics, it's from us.
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Yerdana and I am from Talgar, a small but historic Silk Road city near the southern capital of Kazakhstan, Almaty. That place is very close to hometown of Karakat Bashanova, the representative of Kazakhstan at JESC 2020.
What do you do or tell us something interesting about you?
I’ve just finished my masters in International Journalism so now I’m looking for a job. But it’s a bit difficult here during the pandemic.
You could never believe me but I’ve changed my profession to fulfil my Eurovision dream. I love Eurovision and I still adore how Måns and Petra hosted ESC 2016. So I want to be a host of that Eurovision which (I hope) will be held in Kazakhstan one day. Before my masters I’ve completed a degree in another field and I thought only by completing a media-related degree I can have an access to the media industry of Kazakhstan. So I got a scholarship and went to Cardiff (UK). After coming back to Kazakhstan I couldn’t get that access but I never give up my dream. I am still trying. Even being a part of organising Eurovision related event would make me more than happy because it’s one of few things in my life that makes me really happy.
Wow we believe you! That’s an amazing Eurovision dream, I'm jealous! I totally agree about Måns and Petra they were epic hosts. ~ Kyriakos
When did you first get into Eurovision?
It was 2014. I was 16 and my friend (who was really surprised/shocked) showed me Conchita Wurst winning the competition. We watched the video from the Grand Final and remained speechless for a while. It was something I never expected seeing on TV but Conchita’s courage got my respect. Then I watched the full show which was so epic. I learnt so many new words in English to understand the lyrics (at that time my English was just at elementary level). And I can surely say that Eurovision encouraged me to learn foreign languages more than my senior school textbooks.
Which is your favourite Eurovision year and why?
My favourite is 2016. As I said before, Mans and Petra influenced me a lot. I loved their jokes, their way of hosting Eurovision, how Swedish broadcaster and EBU perfectly held the contest. Everything was so good. This is my first time I watched Eurovision on YouTube (directly in English, without subtitles or commentators) because I did not like when commentators “disturb” you from engaging in the show. And I understood many things there which made me glad that my efforts of learning English weren’t just efforts.
Kazakhstan have shown the world that they are serious contenders at Junior Eurovision, finishing in runner up place for two years in a row now, after only three appearances. As momentum builds, it is only a matter of time until Kazakhstan are invited to the adult Eurovision Song Contest.
Thank you so much! I hope so, too.
What would it mean to you to have Kazakhstan compete at the Eurovision Song Contest?
First of all, Kazakhstan would have a better or clearer worldwide representation. As far as you know, the western media represents us as one of the oil exporting countries with an authoritarian regime. I would not say that Kazakhstan has the same democracy as in some European countries but we are slowly trying to change those old political mechanisms. It is only a matter of time and I am sure that more inclusion into democratic societies could have more positive effects on our political situation.
And another misrepresentation of Kazakhstan is a popular “Borat” movie by Sacha Baron Cohen which recently had its sequel. The movie itself is full of racism, sexism, xenophobia and cultural appropriation which depict Kazakhs as anti-Semitic racists who “keep their daughters in cages and celebrate the Holocaust” (citing Edward Lucas’s essay, The Times, October 26, 2020). Mr. Cohen says it is just a comedy but he gives racists a bunch of comfortable instruments to bully Kazakhs and encourages racism towards my country.
As a Kazakh student who was abroad, I could not always ignore the acts of racism, not only towards Kazakhs but to all marginalised groups. I can’t imagine how little Kazakh children born or living abroad cope with it. So I hope the inclusion of Kazakhstan into Eurovision would acknowledge people what does real Kazakhstan look like.
Secondly, it would have a great impulse to raise the Kazakh music and entertainment industries to another level. I am sure we have a lot to learn from participating countries in Eurovision and also a lot to show because Eurovision is a massive platform of cooperation.
Thirdly, I could be a candidate to host Eurovision in Kazakhstan and fulfil my dream ☺.
Which Kazakhstani artist/s would you love to see on the Eurovision stage? Which song best showcases that artist?
If you ask this question anyone from Kazakhstan, they would definitely answer Dimash Kudaibergen. He is so talented, multi-instrumental, 6-octave vocalist which would shock the Eurovision audience with an appropriate song. His songs like 'Screaming', 'Olimpico', 'Samaltau' would have been in Eurovision.
Zhanar Dugalova, the Turkvision-2014 winner, would sing 'Aita bersin'.
Q-Pop Boyband called 91, (Ninety One), would sing 'Ah! Yah! Mah!', 'Kaitadan' or 'Kalai Karaisyn'.
In short, I would say there are lots of artists ready to shine at Eurovision.
WOW!! They are all amazing acts, I will admit Dimash Kudaibergen screams jury winner straight away, he has such impressive vocals!! Thank you for sharing these acts with us Yerdana ~ Kyriakos
How do you think Eurovision is perceived in Kazakhstan?
Before Junior Eurovision 2018, it was like the Oscars event. It was only watched by Kazakh Eurofans, who stayed up all night. But after 2018, the Kazakh audience grew rapidly. And I guess there is an unwritten rule for singers in Kazakhstan. The audience somehow doesn’t admit the singer as “a famous one” until that singer “conquers” the world or at least a foreign country. So here is the secret recipe for Kazakh singers. I am sure they will do their best at Eurovision, first, to give a good performance to the whole Eurofans and, second, to get recognized by their compatriots. It might sound as a matter of pride and dignity but, of course, it’s not a mandatory thing.
If you could change one thing about Eurovision what would it be?
I would change the voting system of Junior Eurovision. It’s not the best option for small countries like Wales or Malta and ending up with a very low amount of votes is not the best thing to experience for young singers. Concerning the adult’s one then it is totally ok for me. I just don’t like seeing toxic fans but it is impossible to get rid of them. Toxic people are everywhere, so we should kindly coexist with them and influence them positively.
Well said, I couldn’t have said it better myself ~ Kyriakos
Which artist would you like to see return to the Contest?
Mahmood from Italy (2019).
Yes, I would be up for that too ~ Kyriakos
If you could pick only three Eurovision songs to listen to for the rest of time, what would they be?
‘Move’ by The Mamas (Sweden 2020), ‘Blackbird’ by Norma John (Finland 2017), ‘Only Teardrops’ by Emmelie De Forest (Denmark 2013)
Which Eurovision song:
Is the best winner?
‘Amar Pelos Dois’ by Salvador Sobral (Portugal 2017)
Has the best live vocal?
‘Nije Ljubav Stva’ by Željko Joksimović (Serbia 2012)
‘Warrior’ by Amber (Malta 2015).
Is the best from the last 10 years?
‘Fai Rumore’ by Diodato (Italy 2020)
Yes! There are many fans of ‘Fai Rumore’ in the Aussievision team ~ Kyriakos
Is your guilty pleasure?
‘Hero’ by Charlotte Perrelli (Sweden 2008)
Is your favourite National Final song (that didn't make it to Eurovision)?
Electric Fields - '2000 And Whatever' (Australia 2019)
Great choice! ~ Kyriakos
Any other interesting honourable mentions?
‘Waterloo’, ‘Love Shine a Light’, ‘Too Late for Love’, ‘Undo’, ‘Adio’.
And finally which Australian entry is your favourite ...
‘We Got Love’
Thank you so much for joining us Yerdana, it was a privilege to get a Kazakh Eurofans’ perspective on the Contest. We hope very soon Kazakhstan is the newest edition to the Contest and all the best of luck with your Eurovision ambition. Don’t forget about us when you reach the Eurovision stage!