Elis Lovrić:”I really believe in being authentic. How else can you stand out?”

Elis Lovrić is a Croatian contemporary folk singer-songwriter and actress. Her first studio album was released in 2017 named “Merika” and she is famous for having the lyrics of her songs written in Labinjonska cakavica which is actually a subdialect of the Chakavian dialect, spoken in eastern Istria around the town of Labin. This will be her third time at Dora as she competed back in 2019 with the song “All I really want” and she placed 7th, with “Jušto” in 2020 she ended the show on 12th place. She also applied for Dora 2021 but her song “Brodolom” was on the reserve list and she didn’t perform at the festival. Elis will be performing her entry “No War” as 11th song at Dora 2022.

Hello Elis, congrats for being selected to take part at Dora 2022! What made you decide to come back to the show?
– Thank you! I was working on my latest album when a friend of mine whose opinion I value dearly commented that my song Škanjet would be an ideal entry for Eurovision. So, this got me thinking, if I applied with that song I would have to postpone the release of my new album. Then I started searching for another song that might be similar in mood and rhythm and overall, but at the same time innovative and out of the box – and the song NO WAR came to mind.

This will be your third appearance at Dora, first one was in 2019 with “All I Really Want” then 2020 with “Jušto” and now “No War” another song in English language, are you again going to present us a completely different version of your work given the fact that first two songs and performances were so different?
– I really believe in being authentic. How else can you stand out? This song is completely different from both All I Really Want and Jušto but it’s also just another side of me and my work. What is different is the values that I express through a more complex musical arrangement, and what is an ongoing theme throughout my career is the strength of the individual to remain authentic even if he/she stands alone. If you stay true to yourself you will make it against all odds.

Can you tell us what was the idea behind “No War” given the fact that you are one of the authors of it and what does the song mean for you?
– The song NO WAR is very special to me. It was an idea presented to me by Anthony Kukuljan from the band The Rozh. He sent me his very rough demo, only voices, and asked me to create my own rendition of it. It was supposed to be a pet project of his where he gathers different versions of the same song by various artists. Finally, my version and arrangement turned out to be something we were both very pleased with and proud of. Something weird enough but at the same time captivating and powerful.

At Dora 2021 your song “Brodolom” was among the 4 back up songs in the end you didn’t get a chance to perform it on the contest but with it you went to a festival “Večeri Dalmatinske šansone” which you eventually won. Do you think “Brodolom” could’ve won Dora 2021? How did the whole situation make you feel?
– Things happen for a reason. I tend not to dwell too much on the past because you can’t change it. You never know whether something is really a blessing in disguise. Winning first prize from the Grand Jury in Šibenik was such a wonderful feeling, more so since it was my third consecutive year performing at the Šibenik Dalmatian Chanson Evenings, and year after year it just got better. Those people, the organisers, the conductor, the orchestra, the sound engineers, they are such professionals that I felt so confident performing on stage. They recognized my music and accepted me the way I am. After such an inspiring experience it seemed clear why I missed out on Dora in 2021. The third time in Šibenik was certainly a charm for me, let’s hope the third time at Dora turns out just as well. 

Last year you released an album “Kanat od Mora” which features songs in your native dialect (labinjonska cakavica). If I am not mistaken your first release before full album was “Sretno Ti Bilo” which you performed at 58th Split Festival back in 2018, then “Od Kad Te Poznon”; “Je Ča Je” and “Kova Je Naša” which was released last July. How was your work on the album?
– You are right. The new album features all the songs you listed and some brand-new ones, as well. The song “Kova je nasa” was actually released in March on streaming platforms, because on 2 March 2021 we commemorated 100 years of the so-called Labin Republic -the uprising of miners, a very important historical event for my hometown and for Croatia. That’s what the song is really about and that’s why it’s called “Kova je nasa” which means “The mine is ours”. The video for that song was released in July and it features children as the souls of the miners who lost their lives defending their autonomy and freedom. I have a dual role in the video representing the conflicts and paradoxes we face both in real life and in our inner life.

– Working on the album was as much stressful as it was pure joy. In addition to songs there are also spoken poems and short anecdotes that immerse the listener into the environment of the places where I was born and raised. The structure of the album is a reflection of my theatrical as well as my musical background. Some of the songs like Kova je nasa, for example, are like short little plays or dramas. Finally, the album is very personal, just like my first album Merika, every song and poem is like a piece of fabric that constitutes the quilt of my life, and music is the thread that holds it all together.

You can check out album “Kanat od Mora” on Spotify or at YouTube playlist below 

The album also includes a song “Fanica” inspired by the role of the same name which you play in “Vježbanje života – drugi put’’ at Croatian National Theatre in Rijeka, how did you decide to include it to your album?
– Fanica is one of the first lead roles I ever played in the theatre. I was still a student at the Academy of Dramatic Art when I was approached by a wonderful director, the late Georgij Paro. He managed to gather a team of outstanding artists and what resulted from that collaboration was the now legendary play called Vježbanje života (Practicing Life) based on the novel by the late Nedjeljko Fabrio. The play is actually a history of the town Rijeka, how it changed hands from one imperial power to another, and how this reflected on the relations between various ethnic groups living there. The story is told over three generations. Fanica is the main character of the first act. She dies at childbirth and then later in the play reappears before her husband as an apparition at this dying hour. The play called Vježbanje života – drugi put (Practicing Life – Second Time) is a modified version of the original play, modernised or updated, so to speak, even documentary in certain segments as there are parts of the play where some of us from the original cast basically play ourselves and talk about our affection for the play and for Rijeka. I was very happy to accept the role even if it was considerably reduced compared to the original, but I got to sing my song dedicated to my dear Fanica on the very same stage. “She was so beautiful and so holy that I wanted to be like her” – to loosely quote my own lyrics to Fanica. So, there was really no question that the song must be included on the album since that role affected my mind and my soul in a very profound way.

In our previous interview you mentioned that you were working on a a labinjon-japanese book “Kanat od mora – 海の歌’which I read that you released together with the album can you tell us more about it?
– The book and the album “Kanat od mora” or “The Song of the Sea” is an ongoing project. The first time I performed the songs from this album was in 2015 at a concert held at a place called Kod Špine in Labin, Istria. In 2019. the Labinian-Chakavian dialect was declared an intangible cultural heritage by the Croatian Ministry of Culture, and I am really pleased that the Mayor of Labin pronounced me the Ambassador of Labinian for my contribution. My plan was, and still is, to translate it into as many languages as possible and promote my heritage all around the world :)).

First I managed to publish the Labinian-Portuguese book. At the time it was a priority as I was about to leave for Brazil. I was invited to perform there by the Croatian Brazilian community in São Paulo. They have really tried to keep their knowledge of the Croatian language alive over the generations, so they expected me to sing in my own language. And of course, I did, but since I adore languages, I also wanted to make the extra effort and address them and sing for them in their own adopted language, and they really appreciated it. 

The Labinian-Japanese book was next because at the time I was arranging a visit to Japan, I was in talks with the Ministry of Culture about my performance there. It was early 2020 and I had almost booked a flight for Japan for the summer. The Olympics were supposed to be held that year, but we all know how that turned out. Then came the lockdown and the travel restrictions. 

The German version was practically translated and ready for print, but all public gatherings and events were cancelled so it made no sense to go through with that investment. 

Then I decided it was finally time for the Croatian standard version. At least I could still perform and travel in my own country. So, I recorded the album and published the accompanying Labinian-Croatian book and they were released on the winter solstice 2021.

I would probably by now be very busy promoting my new album, but it so happened that I qualified for DORA and I guess that must be a priority now :))

 

In case you would need to present yourself to audience in only one of your songs which one would you choose?
– I think it would be a mix of three songs: “Tić“, “Merika“, and “Škanjet” (The BIRD, AMERICA, and the BENCH). The Bird was the first song that I wrote in Labinian, America is about revealing your deepest truth, about the frustration, and my determination to move forward with my own strength and integrity against all odds, and the Bench is about turning your weakness into strength, about turning pain and fear into victory.  Yes, I’d do a mix ‘cuz I’m good at doing that, actually I adore doing mixes :))

 

Has your Dora 2022 entry “No War” got its version in labinjonska cakavica like “All I really want” or not? In case not do you plan to make one?
– The answer is YES and NO because the song in itself is half English, half Labinian. 🙂 So I already met all expectations. It’s a win – win combo 🙂

 

With “Jušto” you delivered an interesting performance, will the one for “No War” be similar to that or something completely different from the things you presented so far?
– “Jušto” has a rich vocal arrangement and I wanted all the back vocals to join me on stage. But NO WAR holds a strong message underlining the strength of the individual acting alone against the forces of collective hysteria. Figuratively, it’s the story of my life, really 🙂 So, the set will be minimal so as not to distract from the main subject.

 

You were born in Pula and grew up in Rabac, can you tell us what is your favourite place in Istria and also which thing should people who visit it be sure not to miss?

– Istria is a very rich region so it is difficult to single out just a few places worth visiting. Rabac would certainly be one of those places if you love crystal clear sea and pebble beaches. But Cape Kamenjak in the south of Istria is a must see. That is where we shot the official video for my song Merika on my first album. It was January and the whole team was freezing. I was wearing only a leotard and when we were about to shoot the final scene with the veil, suddenly there was a cold breeze and the sun appeared. It was magical. I’m so happy with how the video turned out. 

Then there’s the old town of Labin, it’s one of those typically Istrian small fortified towns on a hill, like Motovun and Grožnjan. Very beautiful and picturesque with lots of things to see and excellent gourmet food. They don’t call Istria little Tuscanny for nothing. Pula, the town where I live, has a rich history and many monuments from Roman times, like the Arena which is an ancient amphitheatre just like the Colosseum in Rome. And then there are the Brijuni islands, which used to be the summer residence of Tito, the president of the former Yugoslavia where he would entertain all the leaders and celebrities of the mid 20th century. There’s a museum with personal photographs of him with, for example, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. If that’s not your thing, and if you prefer nature and the outdoors, you can always go hiking on Mount Učka or Mount Ćićarija.

 

What are your plans after Dora 2022?
– After Dora, if the circumstances with the  pandemic allow, I am going on tour in Croatia to promote my new album and book. I’m really looking forward to performing live in front of an audience, and I always enjoy meeting and hanging out with my fans. Who knows, maybe I’ll finally get to go to Japan and Germany, or maybe I’ll end up in Torino 🙂

 

Thank you so much for your time Elis. We wish you the best of luck at Dora 2022. Do you want to share something else or you maybe have a message for readers of escbubble?
– Stay true to yourself, be authentic, and follow your own way. Even if you come across obstacles, and even if you fall, always rise and keep on going. Laugh and love. Be brave enough to forgive yourself and others the mistakes that happen on the way. And in the meantime, relax and enjoy the show that will take place on 19 February in Opatija. And vote for number 11!! :))

You can listen to “No War” below

If Elis Lovrić is your favorite to win Dora 2022 which will take place this Saturday, make sure you cast your vote for her in our poll right here:

Vote for YOUR favorites in Croatia's Dora 2022!
  • Mia Negovetić - Forgive Me (Oprosti) 18%, 447 votes
    447 votes 18%
    447 votes - 18% of all votes
  • Mia Dimšić - Guilty Pleasure 15%, 372 votes
    372 votes 15%
    372 votes - 15% of all votes
  • Marko Bošnjak - Moli za nas 14%, 346 votes
    346 votes 14%
    346 votes - 14% of all votes
  • Tina Vukov - Hideout 10%, 240 votes
    240 votes 10%
    240 votes - 10% of all votes
  • ToMa - In The Darkness 9%, 225 votes
    225 votes 9%
    225 votes - 9% of all votes
  • Elis Lovrić - No War 7%, 161 vote
    161 vote 7%
    161 vote - 7% of all votes
  • Eric Vidović - I Found You 6%, 143 votes
    143 votes 6%
    143 votes - 6% of all votes
  • Tia - Voli me do neba 5%, 129 votes
    129 votes 5%
    129 votes - 5% of all votes
  • Jessa - My Next Mistake 5%, 118 votes
    118 votes 5%
    118 votes - 5% of all votes
  • Bernarda - Here For Love 4%, 99 votes
    99 votes 4%
    99 votes - 4% of all votes
  • Roko Vušković - Malo kasnije 3%, 70 votes
    70 votes 3%
    70 votes - 3% of all votes
  • Ella Orešković - If You Walk Away 2%, 51 vote
    51 vote 2%
    51 vote - 2% of all votes
  • Zdenka Kovačiček - Stay On The Bright Side 1%, 17 votes
    17 votes 1%
    17 votes - 1% of all votes
  • Mila Elegović - Ljubav 0%, 8 votes
    8 votes
    8 votes - 0% of all votes
Total Votes: 2426
Voters: 1265
February 10, 2022 - February 19, 2022
Voting is closed

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