Last weekend we saw the first semi final of Portugal’s national selection show – Festival da Canção – and we now have the first five finalists! This week, the competition continues with some more great songs ready to be performed.
Among those is Joana Alegre who will be performing “Joana do mar“. Ahead of the competition this weekend, we caught up with Joana to chat all things Festival da Canção and her musical journey so far!
Welcome to Festival da Canção! You were invited by RTP to participate in the song festival as a composer – what were your first thoughts after receiving that invitation?
I was of course very honoured, felt that bit of pressure and excitement and realised it was a great privilege to be able to go on doing music in these hard times, also it is a very good opportunity to attract people’s attention to my upcoming album.
You will be performing your song “Joana do Mar”, which translates in English to “Joana from the Sea”, and you talk about your childhood secret of being a mermaid. What is the meaning behind the song?
Ahaha, I don’t say I am a mermaid, rather I say I am like a sea creature, but not literally a mermaid! The meaning of the song is of course symbolic. As most Portuguese people, I grew up by the sea and developed this deep need and passion for it. In time I became a surfer so it is a huge part of who I am, how I feel and interact as a woman and as an artist, that’s why I eventually came up with a song that would cry out who I am and where I want to be: doing music for a living and living by the sea!
More generally, you describe your musical style as a combination of Portuguese roots with Baroque pop, indie rock and neo folk influences. How did you become passionate about music and who are your biggest musical heroes?
My father is a poet and I think the music and rhythm within poetry opened up that channel for me. Also I had an uncle who played really well the Portuguese guitar and I believe this played a huge role inspiring my basic musical senses. My musical heroes are too many to be named, I would say that nowadays I am inspired by bands like London Grammar, Florence and The Machine, Daughter and women artists like Maggie Rogers or Aurora.
You’ve been in music for over a decade now, with some incredible achievements including the Billboard World Songwriting Contest and last year reached the final of The Voice of Portugal. What has been the most exciting adventure that music has taken you on?
I think that The Voice Portugal was by far the big break through I needed. I have always been terrified of huge exposure and being on national TV every Sunday pretty much killed that fear like a shock therapy, ahaha it was such a good experience to grow from!
And you’ve released some amazing music including an album titled “Joan & the White Hearts”. When you write new songs, what are your biggest influences?
I think we all have so many influences…! I went from studying classical guitar to learning jazz through and through, moved on to gospel and soul, pop rock, but I think my own creations have always had this folky voice and guitar with a dreamy atmosphere and poetic universe about it. I would say that I am influenced by my emotions and by what I need to express and cure inside of me. Whenever I compose I feel like I’m purging something.
Going back to the contest, it isn’t long now until you will be performing in the semi final. How are rehearsals going and can you tease us at all about what to expect from your performance?
Well… rehearsals haven’t quite started yet, but I can’t wait to get out and start working! I intend to come up with something simple and classic but aesthetically beautiful and impactful.
And if successful at Festival da Canção you will go on to perform at the Eurovision Song Contest. Do you watch the song contest, and if so do you have any favourite songs from it?
Yes I do! I love it because its a universal celebration of music and that is simply beautiful! I have of course one very special all time favourite song which is “Amar pelos Dois”.
And finally, what else have you got planned for 2021? Is there any more music coming or projects that you are working on?
I just finished recording an album produced by Luísa Sobral, the composer of “Amar pelos Dois”, I am super grateful for it and can’t wait to show it to the world this year, after the Festival.
A huge thank you and good luck to Joana for her time to complete the interview.
Festival da Canção heat 2 kicks off at 21.00 CET on Saturday 27th February. Make sure to tune in to watch Joana perform her entry!
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