Janek – ‘Often we give up on people or things we love too easily’

The grand final of Eesti Laul takes place on Saturday evening and we are now down to the final 12 artists hoping to represent Estonia at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool.

One of those artists is 28yo Janek who rose to stardom in Estonia during his time on the 2012 season of ‘Eesti Otsib Superstaari’.  His song ‘House Of Glass‘ is his first entry into Eesti Laul, and he was kind enough to offer up a slot in his busy schedule to talk to us about the song; his love of Eurovision; and the reactions to his participation from people in Estonia, and his adopted home of the United Kingdom.

Here is what he said!

Hi Janek!, Firstly congratulations on making the shortlist for Eesti Laul.  How did your submission come about, is it something you’ve always hoped to do, or was the decision made specifically because of the song?

“I hoped to take part in Eesti Laul for a while. It was also about getting the right song as I wouldn’t want to perform with just any song. I wanted to represent myself and be honest about what I sing. In autumn 2022 I had a melody stuck in my head and contacted Mørland who helped me to develop that idea further.”

Actually, Kjetil Mørland is a very familiar name for Eurovision fans having represented Norway and authored so many fantastic songs in Eurovision national finals.  How did that collaboration come about, when did you first meet and how did that go?

“I remember him from Eurovision 2015, but I didn’t know he also produced and wrote songs until I discovered Ulrikke’s ‘Attention’. That’s when I considered to collaborate with him because some songs he wrote really inspired me. Back in the autumn I decided to get in touch with him and we agreed to meet in a week’s time, and that’s how our song was born. It was a great pleasure working with him. He truly believed in me and said I had a chance, and it was true!”

We know that you have lived in the UK for a number of years now, what first brought you to the UK and why did you choose the UK as a home?

“That’s true. I moved to the UK in 2014 where I studied Bachelors in Music Performance at BIMM and London College of Music (UWL). After my graduation I went to travel the world and lived in Melbourne, Australia for a bit but decided to return and settle in London thanks to good job opportunities and I just loved the UK in general. As of 2021 I’m also a UK citizen in addition to my Estonian citizenship.”

The vibe in the UK is very positive after a good result and of course now hosting the contest in Liverpool, how has the reaction been from people around you when you have told them you are entering?

“I haven’t told anybody but 1 person that I sent my song to Eesti Laul, but when I was selected I told my manager and they organised me a send-off party. They also gave me a few gifts, like Buck’s Fizz, ‘Best of Eurovision’ album and a book with fun facts about Eurovision. In the past I was a bit ashamed to talk about Eurovision because, people in the UK didn’t really care about it until Sam Ryder, indeed, achieved an absolutely fantastic result for the country.”

Where were you when you got the call/email to tell you that you were in the shortlist with a place in that semi-final, and what was your first reaction?

“I was watching it on TV and had low hopes for getting through but when I saw my photo on the screen, I cried.”

Can you tell us a little about the song itself, it’s meaning and message?

“‘House of Glass’ is about a breaking point in a relationship. House is a symbol of the relationship and glass – its fragility. Love and relationships are not easy, they require a lot of work and patience. Often, we give up on people or things we love too easily, but I believe that there is a way to make amends when love is still there. I also associate this song with my music career that has been a love and hate relationship because of how difficult the music industry is, but now, this has become a really special song for me and I hope that I will not have to feel like living in a house of glass anymore💙.”

Have you been pleased with the initial reaction to the song?, I have noticed it has performed very well in the radio charts and MuusikaPlaneet (always my go to place for discovering new music and new Estonian talent!)

“I didn’t know what to expect but I am very glad that both, Estonians and people around the world love my song.”

They certainly do, as you won the televote only section of the semi-final to make it into the grand final!

Yes!, I am extremely grateful for getting through to the final. There have been some technical difficulties during the performance and many things that weren’t down to me – it’s always difficult to perform first, however, this will be the best ever Eesti Laul. New venues, amazing lighting and the production team. There will definitely be a few changes in the final 🙂

With this being your first time in Eesti Laul, are you doing lots of homework watching back previous editions, or have you always followed the show closely?.  Do you have any favourite songs/performances from Eesti Laul and/or from Eurovision itself?

“I once was a backing vocalist for Grete Paia in 2013 with ‘Päästke noored hinged’ when we came 2nd but it is my first time as a solo artist, it feels amazing! If I’m honest, I’m more inspired by Melodifestivalen, MGP and Eurovision, but I love ‘Rändajad’, ‘Goodbye to yesterday’ and ‘Mina jään’ from Eesti Laul. From Eurovision I love ‘Euphoria’, ‘Rise like a phoenix’, and most recently ‘Attention’, ‘Je me casse’, ‘Hold me closer’, and many more…”

Who would you describe as being your biggest influence in music?, and what was the last concert you went to?

My biggest influences: Sia, Jessie J. Last concert I went to was Bon Iver’s in London. Taylor Swift appeared there too.”

And finally, what is next for you, are there other projects in the pipeline, an ep?/album/tour?, can we expect any more songs with Kjetil?

“I hope we can have more songs with Kjetil. Perhaps even in Estonian. I would like to start a solo career for sure.”

Janek, thank you so much for talking to us, we wish you the very best in the final on Saturday! – Good luck

You can watch back the semi-final performance of ‘House Of Glass’ right here:

And don’t forget to vote in our poll for Eesti Laul!
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