On Friday, it will be the turn of Belarus to decide who it sends to Rotterdam in May. One of the twelve competing finalists is Darya Hmelnitskaya, who is debuting in the selection for the first time with her high tempo and extremely catchy entry “On Fire”.
We caught up with her just before the final to talk about how she got into music, her thoughts on Eurovision itself and her love of Scotland!
Hello Darya, congratulations on making the final 12 of the Belarus Eurovision selection this year! Can you tell us a little about yourself, and how you became a singer?
Hello! Thanks, a lot. I sang on stage at the age of 4 for the first time, and since then vocals have become the meaning of life for me. I graduated from Belarus State University of Culture and Arts (BSUCA) with B.A. in Variety Art (Singing), master’s degree in Art Criticism, and now I am a PhD student.
During my career, I visited many countries where I participated in music festivals and won various international competitions. I also received the award of the President of the Republic of Belarus to support talented youth three times. I traveled all over my native Belarus with performances and finally decided to try my hand in Eurovision.
What made you decide that this was the year you wanted to the enter Belarus Eurovision selection?
I have been following the Belarus Eurovision selection for a long time. I just didn’t dare to come there before. But this year my new song gave me the confidence to do that. And here I am in the final 12 of the national selection!
Could you tell us more about ‘On Fire’ and how it was composed?
The song was written by singer Lexy Weaver, who has already been in the final of the national Eurovision selection several times. Today Lexy studies in Austria. The arrangement of my song was made by a DJ from St. Petersburg whose name is Semёsha. Generally speaking, this turned out to be a real creative collaboration. The message of my song is compliant with my decision to enter the Eurovision scene. I mean that I am pursuing my dream of an international stage and a multimillion audience burning all my fears.
You went through an audition process along with 48 other acts, how did you react when you realised you had made the final 12?
It was a pleasant surprise for me as this year we had a pretty tough casting. I was even more impressed when I didn’t find some singers I expected to see in the final list. However, I definitely became more confident after the audition!
I noticed last year that you visited us in the UK and you looked like you had an amazing time at Loch Ness in particular! Are you someone who likes to travel? Have you ever been to The Netherlands, as there is now a chance you might be there in May?
Yes, I really love to travel. By the way, I was also lucky to sing in London at the opening of an exhibition of Belarusian artists. But I love nature most of all. That’s why my husband and I always try to rent a car while travelling in order to investigate the remotest parts of a new country. Yet none of the places we have already visited can surpass the Scottish Highland! As to the Netherlands, I have never been there yet, but I would take this chance with great pleasure!
I understand you are also an actress too? What sort of acting work have you done so far and is it something you want to purse further?
Right, I had several roles in Belarusian musicals. This is a completely different experience. I still play a role in the “Dubrovsky” performance based on the Russian classic A.S. Pushkin. And if some new proposals come I will definitely be interested.
You posted a beautiful cover of ‘Hello’ by Adele on your YouTube channel. Who are your current favourite musicians and which ones influenced you to become a singer?
Adele is one of the best artists in the world. But Beyoncé influenced me the most, especially after I attended her concert in Warsaw. I have also been following the vocal skills of Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston and Ella Fitzgerald since childhood.
What would be mean for you to represent Belarus on an international stage at a contest like Eurovision?
It is both an enormous responsibility and a huge honour for me. At the same time, it is my attempt to inspire the whole Europe with my energy. Certainly, I would like to take a hopefully rightful place in the final. Our country hasn’t got in the top-10 for a long time. Why not make it happen this year?
Many thanks for your time Darya and good luck on Friday!
Thank you so much!!! I would like to present to you all the official video for ‘On Fire’ which I have now released.
Is Darya your pick to represent Belarus in May? Let us know by voting in our Belarus poll below: