Totova: “No one can ever extinguish the fire that lives inside us”

Totova (Gabi Tóth) is back in A Dal, after taking part in the very first edition of this contest. Her entry in 2012 “Nem kell végszó” is still a radio hit in Hungary, and she is now back with the song “Hosszú idők” (Eng. Long Times).

Ahead of the third heat of A Dal, we spoke to Totova, and asked her about her experience in A Dal 2012, her new entry, stage plans, as well as her personal favorites in Eurovision. Check out all that she told us right here:

Hello Gabi! First of all, thank you for taking your time to speaking to us. Can you tell us a little bit about your starts in music for the beginning?

Well, when I was 12 years old, I joined a band, and together we played folk-rock music. A few years later I entered a talent show in 2004, I had to try myself out in different genres, even though folk music was something that always felt closest to me. Throughout the years, I was changing the styles of my music, as I wanted to try myself out in every music genre, but now after so many years, I’m back to my own music roots, to my beginnings, to these folk motives, as this is what I always liked doing the most, and what I want to do the most.

How did you decide to enter A Dal once again?

This was the idea of Begi Lotfi, who did the arrangements for “Hosszú idők”. Me and my boyfriend, Freddie Shuman, wrote this song together, while Begi did a radio remix of the song, and he told us to enter it to A Dal. He already represented Hungary in Eurovision as a member of Compact Disco, and he told us that he feels this song would stand a chance internationally, because it has every element to win. I wasn’t thinking of entering this song to A Dal at first, as we were only preparing this song as part of our new project.

Can you tell me more about this new project, how did you decide to really go for it?

I was leaning towards something like this already two years ago, and in this time I was creating songs with these folk elements. Later I was going to the studio together with my boyfriend, and one evening we wrote this song. With this project, I would like to combine and carry forward the traditions of all authentic world music and cultures. I feel like this is a mission of mine, as lately everyone wants to be more Western, American, very trendy, but we keep forgetting the things that live inside us. I want to prove that no one can ever extinguish the fire that lives inside us, and that is our traditions and cultural values.

I would like to go back to A Dal 2012, where you took part with “Nem kell végszó”. How was your whole experience, and what did you learn in this show?

I think I was more disappointed than I should have been back then. I was also a lot younger, I was only 21, but looking back at it, I can’t complain cos I made it all the way to the Finals. I am much calmer now, and I learnt that I shouldn’t stress out and overthink what the outcome of the competition is going to be. Nowadays I only focus on my own capabilities and on what I do best, singing, and I want to transmit the message that I want to share with this song to the people. This is what I learnt in A Dal five years ago.

Can you tell me more about your song “Hosszú idők”, and also how are you planning to stage it? Will anyone apart from Freddie and Begi join you on stage, and how is the whole thing going to look like?

The two of them won’t be on stage with me, but they will be supporting me from backstage. I will be joined by three dancers on stage, and they will represent the crows. In the song itself I am the oriole, and the dancers will be my nasty crows who don’t let me achieve my goal, which is to reach that particular, most beautiful tree. This is what we want to show with the choreography as well, which was put together by the fantastic choreographer Ákos Tihanyi. I will have two backing vocalists on stage as well. I tried to completely subordinate myself to the song, and not to do any unnecessary moves or gesticulation that would take the attention off of the song’s message, as the protagonist here is the song, not me.

TotovaWhy should you be the one to win A Dal this year, and represent Hungary in Kiev?

Because I would be very proud to represent Hungary with these folk motifs, Hungarian folk culture and with these beautiful fairytale-like lyrics, and I feel that I would offer something that would surely achieve a good placing. I’m very confident of that.

If you make it to Kiev, would you sing your song in Hungarian, or will your song perhaps be fully, or partly in English as well?

If I win, I would like to sing this song fully in Hungarian in Eurovision as well. I think what’s wonderful in melodies, the sound, and people’s souls, is that you don’t always need words to pass on the message. I think that a person’s soul can tell you everything, and this is what we need to see and hear by. I believe that all those who don’t understand the Hungarian language they will still understand the message I want to transmit with this song. Obviously, the stage performance and the whole choreography will help out with this, and yes, I would absolutely like to sing this song in Hungarian in Kiev as well.

Do you usually watch Eurovision, and were there any songs in the past that you particularly liked?

Yes, I always watch it. In between others I really loved Conchita’s “Rise Like A Phoenix”, as well as Jamala’s “1944”. Jamala’s song was very close to my heart, as I loved the power she brought, and the way she told her story with her song.

We are currently running a poll on ESCBubble where our readers can vote for their favorite song in this week’s show, and your song is the most voted one. Do you have anything you would like to say to all the fans out there who support and love your song?

Oh wow, I didn’t even know this, and this makes me very happy! Thank you all so much! I don’t want to let anyone down, and I want to sing this song with the same empathy and love as they heard it and voted for it. Thank you all so much, because this is a really big and positive feedback for me.

Thank you very much for your time Gabi, and we wish you the best of luck in A Dal!

Thank you so much!

If Totova is one of your personal favorites in this week’s heat of A Dal, make sure you cast your vote for her, and for five other acts, in our poll right here:

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Give a listen to “Hosszú idők” right here:

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