Escbubble was lucky enough to have an exclusive and nice chat with Barbara, one of the 12 finalists of the French national final this year. The 27-year old artist is a lyricist, composer and singer who has worked with many big names in France, such as Chimène Badi (finalist of Destination Eurovision 2019) as well as the girls from Junior Eurovision, Angelina, Carla and Valentina. She has already released two Eps and is now working on her first album, due next summer. She is also a true feminist who has been particularly involved on the gender equality issue. For this year’s French selection show, she is bidding with her self-penned song “Voilà” (here is).
Bonjour Barbara and thank you so much for answering my questions. First, how are you feeling now that you are officially part of the line-up for “Eurovision France: C’est vous qui décidez!”?
Salut Olivier! Well, I am feeling rather good actually. I am extremely happy and thrilled. However, I must say that I am a little scared as well because proposing my song to such a huge event is a big step for me. It is so rare to get the opportunity to sing an unreleased song live during a prime time TV show on a national channel. So yes, I have quite mixed feelings!
You’ve already been part of the team behind “Bim Bam Toi”, the French entry for Junior Eurovision 2019, as well as “J’imagine” who brought the trophy to Valentina and to France this year. Is this the reason why you started to take an interest in the contest?
As far as “Bim Bam” is concerned, this was a call for tenders by the national broadcaster. We were among the numerous authors and composers who knew France Télévisions was looking for a song. Eventually, Igit and I, we have won this tender. But it’s been a while since I started following Eurovision from a distance. I have met Madame Monsieur two years before their participation, so I could witness their rise. I would say I started following the event when Amir took part back in 2016.
Now your bidding as a singer. What made you take the plunge?
To be honest, I have no idea why I took it. One day Igit told me “Babiche (yes, that’s the not so sexy nickname he gave me) do you know how crazy it would be if you were bidding?” and at first I refused just because I was afraid of being under the spotlight and how this could change everything for me at once. I was also scared by the emotional violence it could mean. Then, I thought about it and I told myself: “OK. I’ve been doing that job for 5 years now. I have my feet on the ground, I’m dedicated to my project, I know where I’m heading to, what I want and who I am. So, why not? I could try to represent this country I love so much, which is a part of me, as well as this tradition of French “chanson” which is running through my veins. That would be a crazy opportunity indeed!!!” And that was it. After that we started the writing process. However, I would never have entered the competition if it was not with THE right song. The song I would be proud of, for its meaning, its authenticity and the vibe I feel when performing it. Having created “Voilà” is just a miracle. You cannot imagine the amount of energy it took me and how difficult the writing was…!!!
When did you decide “Voilà” should be enrolled in the competition, and how were you selected?
This summer I heard France 2 was planning a national selection. As you mentioned earlier, I have been involved in Eurovision for quite some time now, with Carla and Valentina’s entries.
Igit (finalist of “Destination Eurovision 2018“) took part in the creation of “Voilà”. How would you describe your cooperation with him, and why haven’t you decided to take part to the national final as a duet?
Igit and I we collaborate a lot. He is a friend, as well as a tremendous author composer and singer. I do admire him. However, each one of us has its own universe. We really are not a duet and actually, we have never wished to become one. Each one of use brings what he has to offer and we help each other in revealing our true selves. It is already a great thing to achieve!
According to the social media, many people see you as an early favourite for the competition. Is it some kind of pressure for you?
I try not to pay much attention to these polls even though I can feel flattered, and I get messages from all over the world indeed, that is pure madness! But in my opinion there are 12 fantastic artists in the run and it’s just IMPOSSIBLE to predict what is going to happen on the big night. Unexpected twists have already occurred in this kind of contest more than once. Moreover, if the 12 have been selected, it means we all stand a chance and we all deserve to win. So I do not feel any kind of pressure because I am thrilled I can sing “Voilà” live on national television. If this had to be the first and last time I perform the song, it would already be an incredible step forward in my life and my career. For now, the only pressure I put on my shoulders is to give the best on that day (and everyday actually). I do not have a strong competition spirit and I know I will be happy whatever the outcome. I take it one step at a time!
“Voilà” is an absolute French clear-cut “chanson”. Was it specifically written for the national selection? And what is its message?
More or less. Last summer, when I was proposed to take part to “Eurovision France: c’est vous qui décidez!” I immediately stated that that I would do ONLY if I had the right song to do so. As far as I’m concerned the right song is the one I would never regret having performed. A song without any kind of concession, that I could totally embody. To make it short, THE song I would wish to fight for, no matter what, even if it is out of the frame. So, I worked for weeks, I doubted a lot, almost gave up and then, here it was… I believe struggle often leads to giving the best from yourself. The message is quite simple and crystal clear: here is who I am. Here are my hands, my voice, my black eyes, here is my body exposed to you, and that is all I have since that is what I am, and I am laying myself bare in front of you. I do think the song is the result of a long process on self-esteem. On March 8th, I dealt a lot on this issue when I covered songs for International Women’s Day. The song “Voilà” represents the end of a journey and the beginning of something new. It is the recognition of our flaws, our bravery and our strength. Voilà! (that’s it).
With its very classical style your song can be rather divisive for Eurovision fans: some will love it while others won’t buy it. In your opinion, is this an advantage or a barrier on your way to victory?
If I am being honest here, that is not my way of thinking. It is just like when some people say: “a song has to be radio friendly”. I disagree. I write songs because that is all I have in my guts, in my entire body, because this is my life. Of course, I would love this song to live beyond the contest, but I also believe in genuinity, humility and accuracy. I think I have put the most genuine part of me in those lyrics and I do hope my words will reach the audience. And even if only a few dozens of people get the message next February, I will feel victorious. Sincerity cannot be seen as an obstacle.
The national selection will take place in a few weeks’ time (we still do not know the exact date). What are your plans until D-Day? Can we expect a revamp of your song? Have you been thinking of the staging?
First, I’m sorry but I don’t know what a revamp is… I guess I am a bit old-fashioned (lol). As far as the staging is concerned, I want something extremely simple. This song just needs to be listened to and experienced, so no gimmick needed, nothing that could distract from the lyrics and the melody!
To conclude, can you tell us what Eurovision means to you? Are you a true fan? Do you have a favourite entry, a role model?
I must confess that it is hard for me to imagine myself there. Eurovision is so huge. It is actually bigger than anything else. So what does that mean to me… well it means that if I go to Rotterdam, I am going to look so tiny on the big stage, I’m only 1.59 m tall!!! I don’t really have a role model even though there are artists I admire, but in everyday like I am more attached to human personalities. My role models are everyday people: my mum, my sister, my father, my best friend… But of course I have a bunch of favourite entries! And I love so many Eurovision artists. For example, I am crazy about ABBA, but Salvador Sobral as well, what an angel he is… Well, if I start listing them all, we are stuck and won’t see the end of it anytime soon!!
The last word shall be yours Barbara. Do you have a message for our readers?
Thank you! Thanks to all those who are sending me messages, thanks for sharing and listening. I am getting emotional every time I read your words, and I cross my fingers so that we can share this sweet adventure together, full of sincerity, sharing and love. Thanks to those that I don’t know yet and I will meet anytime soon, through this interview for example. It may sound like wedding vows but that is what being an artist and having an audience truly means. There is almost something holy there. To make it short “merci, merci, merci” for your welcome. I hope “Voilà” will stand in your hearts for a long time.
While waiting for the final of “Eurovision France: C’est vous qui décidez!“, let’s discover Barbara’s entry “Voilà“:
If Barbara Pravi is your choice for France, you can support her in our poll here:
And in addition, if you want to improve your French, listen to Barbara’s interview 😉