Iriao: “The mission of creating a song for Eurovision has been really very challenging”

The Georgian jazz and ethno folk group Iriao will represent Georgia in Eurovision Song Contest 2018 which will take place in Lisbon this May. Before their song is revealed for public, we had a very nice chat with one of the vocalists of the group George Abashidze in Tbilisi. The Georgian capital is well known for its hospitality and so was George, full of energy and positive vibes. He has also a very special video message for all ESCBubble readers, you can watch it below.

Dear George, let me congratulate you for being given the honor of representing Georgia in Eurovision Song Contest in the group Iriao. It’s interesting how does it feel to be a part of a band which is going to represent Georgia in Eurovision Song Contest?

This whole process feels like a family atmosphere, all of the members being involved in preparing something very special let’s say a special dish, for instance. That dish must be tasty not only locally, but also for the rest of the world – having this great opportunity to make the rest of the world try it. Thus, we put best of our efforts in it, sometimes quarrel, sometimes embrace, but finally, very carefully try to pick the right ingredients and spices to make others enjoy it and have positive emotions. 

Your music style is truly exceptional, with the fusion of Georgian ethno and jazz. The Georgian polyphony is even recognized as an oral masterpiece of intangible world culture heritage. Do you think that Eurovision viewers will understand your music?

The mission of creating a song for Eurovision has been really very challenging. Once IRIAO was announced as a representative from Georgia, we dived into the Internet, went through all those blogs, articles and comments, watched every single video about IRIAO. Then we gathered, discussed and analyzed both the criticism and praise, and defined the path we would go with.

In general, the music of IRIAO is diverse, I would say. There are compositions in ethno style, some with more jazz elements and others in modern style. There are even songs incorporating both ethno and contemporary style music. Thus, David Malazonia, the band leader and composer, together with us the members, decided to carefully pick elements of all these styles, trying to make Eurovision understand it.

Iriao band has performed in various big concerts and festivals in Europe and over the world. Do you think that your performance in Eurovision will be very different from all the performances you’ve had before?

Definitely, this will be a completely new and different experience and adventure for IRIAO.

Do you feel pressure to be representing your native country in Eurovision and how does it feel to understand that the contest reaches over 180 million viewers all over Europe and beyond?

Of course, this is a huge responsibility and pressure representing Georgia, especially when it’s known for its rich traditional polyphonic music as you also mentioned above, it has been recognized as intangible cultural heritage of all mankind, by UNESCO.

Have you been following the Eurovision Song Contest before?

Yes, we’ve been following it since Georgia was involved in the contest in 2007, and respect all the participants from Georgia, our colleagues, and their amazing performances in different years of Eurovision.

Can you name some songs that are your favorite entry of all times in Eurovision?

We all adore Salvador Sobral and his winning song “Amar Pelos Dois”. We were so much happy when he won the last contest with this song. IRIAO is very much looking forward to meeting him in Lisbon to share our thoughts and respect.

Thank you very much for your time George! We are looking forward to hearing your song, and to see you in Lisbon!

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