M els: “Stig is the one who “discovered” me”

The final of Estonian selection for Eurovision 2023, Eesti laul will take place this Saturday. Twelve acts are competing for a chance to win and represent the Baltic country at the stage in Liverpool. We had a chance to talk with Merili Käsper who competes at the show as m els with her entry “So Good (At What You Do)”.

Hello m els, can you tell us more about yourself and your musical beginnings?
I started singing when I was 3,5 years old. I even remember the moment I said “Wow, I wanna do this too!” when mom was taking my sister Mariki to choir practice and I saw what was happening there. I started taking lessons for the recorder shortly after and followed up with learning to play the guitar.

I liked singing so much that when I was about eight years old, I skipped solfeggio lessons and went to choir practice instead. Quite the rebel-nerd hehe. I couldn’t go to the same choir practice after switching schools but continued to practice on my own with an occasional school-choir lesson, followed by performing in a lot of the schools’ musical shows. But, like many teenagers, fear got the best of me at an early age and I was terrified of someone hearing me sing by the time I was 14. So I just continued to enjoy doing what I love only when I was completely alone.

When I saw an ad for vocal technique lessons in vocal school, I finally thought that “hey it doesn’t matter if You’re good enough if You just love it, then just do it”. By that time I was 26, I joined the lessons, my confidence and skills grew and that’s when we did a cover with a well-known Estonian influence and music producer Andrei Zevakin and things started rolling slowly from there.

Two years ago, you took part in the show “Eesti otsib superstaari”, Estonian version of Idol. How was that experience for you?
It was many things. Emotions varied from exhilarated to petrified and back again. So grateful to those days and all the people involved. I couldn’t imagine a better stage-experience for someone who’s last 10 year performing history was mostly to her bedroom wall. Certainly an upgrade in the volume of audience.

What inspired you to take part at Eesti Laul?
Every year, Eesti Laul brings new artists to the Estonian music scene and like most people, I’m always happy to find fresh tunes. I had sent some tracks a couple years back which didn’t pass the qualifications. After Eesti Otsib Superstaari, I had gathered more courage and knew I would apply for the 2023 Eesti Laul. And so when the time got closer, Estonian producer Gevin Niglas was the one to suggest “So Good (At What You Do)”. I was immediately in because I got hooked on the track already two years ago when he asked me to record a demo of it.

How did “So Good (At What You Do)” came to life and can you tell us more about it?
The song was written by the five authors in a songwriting camp approximately two years ago. I hadn’t met any of the writers at the time. I can tell as much as they’ve told me that it meant different things to them. For some it had to do with family and others a romantic relationship. To me it’s also rather a feeling of empowerment looking back at the hurtful past and it becoming just another story.

Is there a person to which the song is dedicated or someone you think about while performing it
There is someone I think about, but it varies in parts. Like many, I’ve had my fair share of broken relationships in the past, but I’m happy with what I’ve learnt and where I’ve ended up today. It’s more about the liberating feeling for me when I’m performing it and watching it from a distance as the memory it is. To go from being utterly hurt to that feeling was a long journey though, took a lot of effort.

Among others the song was created by two Eesti Laul winners, Stefan and Stig. How was it to work with them and have they given you any advice which could help you win the national selection?
Stig and Stefan are both busy family men and we don’t really hang out that much haha. But in the past, Stig is the one who “discovered” me and his advice has given me more than he probably knows. He guided me through the vocal recording process of So Good (At What You Do) in the studio with producer Gevin Niglas. We were recording the first demo for the song and he encouraged me to give more energy and not lose the endings of the phrases for example. He taught me songwriting in his course and I think there I got the best advice, because I finally got my songwriting to a level I was ok with to share with others. I am so grateful he gave me a chance to join Faar Music publishing. Wouldn’t have ended up working with a bunch of talented songwriters and if it wasn’t for him. I mean, I came out of nowhere, no experience, was working 9-5 (still am) in an office, didn’t play music live anywhere and they just believed in me in Faar, how cool is that. Stefan I have only briefly met a couple times. But his performances and the bright energy he brings have been inspiring as well. I wish him and his missus the best of luck with his new family member 🙂

Do you watch Eurovision regularly? Which song is your favourite?
Yes, I think I skipped a few years, backpacking in Australia though. It’s hard to pick, but maybe from the winning songs the most memorable has been Loreen’s Euphoria and of course when Estonia won all those years ago with Tanel Padar and Dave Benton’s Everybody.

Which artist competing at this year’s Eesti Laul do you see as your biggest competitor? And whose performance are you most excited for?
There are so many brilliant artists that I get to perform with and be a part of this cool event. I just can’t say, could be anyone, really. I am excited though, to see what Bedwetters comes up with on stage. Their video was really fun to watch and they always bring mad energy to the stage.

At your YouTube channel we can listen to the cover of Tina’s “Simply the best” and together with Andrei Zevakin you also covered Now or Never and Needed Me by Halsey & Rihanna. Can we expect more of the covers in the future or you plan to focus on your music?
I’ve been wanting to records some cover ideas, but haven’t gotten to it yet. There will be both I think- I will focus on music and if inspiration hits towards a cover, it will happen.

What do you do when you are not singing? Any hobbies?
I love dancing. I am not good at it, but love it. I’ve been trying out different styles like Dancehall, Hip-Hop and Heels and I’m awkward in all of them, but will keep at it for sure. Other times I just hang out with my friends or chill with my pet bunny Frank Sin Reglas and watch Netflix or smth.

What are your plans after Eesti Laul?
After Eesti Laul I will keep working on music- writing for m els and other artists and  performing. Hopefully I can take part in more songwriting camps and who knows- maybe a new artist will sing something I wrote in a camp next Eesti Laul. I will also find a way to take some time out to just do nothing for a change and get some rest. Maybe a weekend trip somewhere, maybe go to a rave or maybe just sit in my slippers and robe and watch TV with my rabbit Frank.

Thank you so much for your time M els. We wish you the best of luck at Eesti Laul. Do you want to share something else or you maybe have a message for followers of escbubble?
Thanks for all Your support and keep on keeping on. You got this.


Let us know who are YOUR favorites in the final of Eesti Laul 2023 by voting in our poll below.

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