Princ: “I think that the greatest thing about doing art is freedom”

It’s the week of “Pesma za Evroviziju 23”. The semi-finals of the show are scheduled for Wednesday 1st and Thursday 2nd of March while the final is set to take place this Saturday, 4th of March. Eight acts will advance from each semi-final and ahead of those we had a chance to talk with Princ who will be competing as 5th act of the first semi-final. Stefan Zdravković who goes by the name Princ is a Norwegian language professor who was always passionate for music. He performed in several bands: Enormna Blajsna, Glas Ne Žice and SiZiP. He is still part of SiZiP but because of the fact that he put focus on solo career performances will need to wait a bit. He rose to fame after being a semi-finalst of The Voice Bulgaria. You can find out what Princ told us about the inspiration behind the song “Cvet sa Istoka” as well as his music experience below

Hello Princ, first of all I would like to congratulate you for being selected for Pesma za Evroviziju ’23. How does that feel and what made you decide to take part at the show?
Hello and thank you for inviting me. It feels great and its an honour to share my thoughts with you about this national selection for Eurovision in Serbia. So, it feels great to be part of the show, I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a while now and right now I’m really excited as a kid. It took me a while to came up with a song that I think can represent every part of me that I would like to show to my country and I think that right now it’s the best timing to present myself both through my vocal abilities, my visual identity and through the song itself.

You were selected to take part at PzE ’22 but you had to withdrew from the show, what has changed in the last year?
Last year I withdrew from the show because at that point I was finishing with The Voice in Bulgaria and in the same time I was picked as one of the candidates I received a couple of different project offers so I was invited by the biggest label in Bulgaria, Virginia Records to sign deal with them and be part of the world scene, collaborating with producers from South Korea, Sweden and so on and in parallel to that I was about to maybe take part at IDJ Show, in Beogradsko Proleće (festival in Belgrade, Serbia) and in the same time with Pesma za Evroviziju so I didn’t think I can catch up with everything and I just decided not to mess up my first biggest show up to Serbian public.

By education you are a professor of Norwegian language, you were karate vice champion of the Balkan and next to that there was love to music for which we could say took the no1 spot. Can you tell us about your musical beginnings?
Yes, I teach Norwegian language, I was champion of Serbia and vice champion of Balkan in karate, but first of all I love music, I was into music since I was 15. I was part of lots of different bands where I played drums, guitar and sang. I’m still in one band I just don’t have time to make music and to perform with them since I am trying to focus on solo career now. But yeah I got involved with music in my high school. First performance I ever had was on the stage in my high school in Belgrade, we were singing some Balkan rock pop songs. Afterwards I made a bend with those friends and we were playing 5 or 6 years after that, then I had another bend, which used to perform only the songs which were composed by the bend itself, it was called Enormna Blajsna. We performed in a show “Veče sa Ivanom Ivanovićem”, Pink Music, MTV Adria. We actually did good things but then some band members moved out of Serbia and then we had to move on.

Then I made it to the band called Glas Ne Žice (transl. Voice Not Strings but written as Glasne žice it means vocal chords) which was the first and maybe still the only a cappella band in this area. That was the moment I learned some new vocal skills since I was never part of any musical school or whatsoever, I learned everything by ear. 

After the previously mentioned experiences in 2016 with a group of friends you formed a band called SiZiP where you were singing and creating music in a completely different genre from the one you perform at PzE. Do you plan to record more songs from a similar genre as a soloist?
With SiZiP we used to record and perform our own music. The thing with me and my own musical taste is that it’s a lot of genres, really variety of them and with SiZiP I never thought about the genre itself, we just went to the studio we had an idea, we start jamming to it and whatever came up we just record it and right now we have four songs recorded in studio but we never had time to publish them. It’s a small EP with four songs and that’s actually really good music based on true stories and I’m looking forward to share it. About such genre in my solo career – why not I’m not obligated to any specific genre I just like the emotion I like the energy I call genre as a skin – like when you play game and then you have different skins it’s the same character which just changed the skin I think that the greatest thing about doing art is the freedom that you have. Freedom of your mind to come up with different things and something that’s authentic.

You rose to fame after you took part in Bulgarian edition of music show “The Voice” in 2021 where you were eliminated in the semi-final. How was that experience and in which way has it influenced your music career?
My experience from “The Voice” was probably the biggest one I had so far. It took six months of recording it and rehearsing and going back and forth from Belgrade to Sofia. I was alone there, I didn’t have friends, I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t even know the coaches before I went there. It was really difficult challenge for me but I just tried to focus on the music and on the performance itself and I just tried to have fun. I ended up among the top 12 from more than the 4000 people who applied to take part at the show. One of the best things I got from “The Voice” at this point of view is that it gave me the exact experience I need for Eurovision because it’s TV format and the stage is similar the only difference is that there is no band only instrumental and right now I have choreography and performance itself is slightly different but the point is still there. So it gave me all the necessary tools that I am using right now preparing for the show which is going to happen on the 1st of March. I will perform in the first semi-final as fifth act of the night.

So far you had a chance to perform at many festivals and you won several awards. Which of those performances was most memorable for you or is there any anecdote which you’d like to share with us?
So since the Corona pandemic started I took part in different online festivals starting with one in Lithuania then Italy, Spain, Malta, Bulgaria and even Kazakhstan. I actually went to Kazakhstan last year after Covid restrictions were removed. I had to learn a song in Kazakh language it was a festival of Kazakh music, it gathers people from all over the world mostly from the East who are singing songs in Kazakh language. For some of them it was easier because they speak a Turkic language. But there were also people from Poland as well as some Western Europe countries and for us it was really difficult but I still know the lyrics because I had to listen to every second of it and try to transcribe it in order to get it by the ear. So now if someone woke me up at 3 am I am still able to sing the song.

Can you tell us the story behind your entry “Cvet sa Istoka” and what does it mean for you?
The story behind my song Cvet sa Istoka starts from my hometown in South Serbia, Vranje at the time of Ottoman empire rule. It is connected to Beli Most (White bridge) and the tragic love story of a Serb Stojan and Turkish woman called Aisha, whose love was forbidden. Later on the white bridge was built in their honour. That’s actually one of the great stories from Vranje. It is special to me because I used to listen this when I was a kid and for me this is the Romeo and Juliet story from my hometown Vranje and it is a really great story that I think people should hear about. It reminds me on my childhood and I would like people to know my hometown a little better I think there is a lot of culture and stuff that’s lets say hidden because people didn’t have a chance to hear or discover by themselves. I also think that it’s probably one of the richest towns in terms of culture and music history.

For the preparation of your performance you cooperate with the choreographer Alen Sesartić who has cooperated with many Balkan and international stars out of which some even took part at Eurovision (Severine, Jelene Rozge, Nine Badrić, Doris Dragović, Colonia, Neda Ukraden, Alexandre Burke, Lady Gage, Whitney Houston). How did the cooperation between the two of you start?
In order to prepare my performance at Serbian national selection I’m cooperating with Alen Sesartić who as you mentioned collaborated with lots of different regional and world stars. He is a friend with the composer Dušan Bačić for a long time so they collaborated for more than 10 years and it was just a natural move. We had already collaborated at my previous song project called “Samo mi je lepo” and it was just natural for us just to swim over to “Cvet sa Istoka”. It feels great because I used to dance from time to time, I even went to some salsa classes and I used to do karate so I’ve got some moves and idea what should happen but I never did scene moves so he helped me a lot with that.


What can we expect from your performance? Can you give us a hint?
You can expect something different. We tried to combine a lot of traditional and modern elements both in terms of choreography and on the screen behind us. Our costumes are inspired by traditional folklore clothes from Vranje and it’s modernised and placed into the Eurovision context so it’s gonna be really cool one and I am really looking forward to it. I can’t reveal any details about choreography itself but I can say that I’ll be accompanied by four girls: Sara Klepac, Lana Čleković, Lana Antunović and Petra Hajduk. Petra is a girl who lives in London and she records a movie with Ariana Grande right now they are working on the movie called Wicked. She used to dance with Robbie Williams and a lot of different stars from all over the world and we have a great back up in case I fall. 

Do you watch Eurovision regularly, if so would you like to share a memory which you have of it or a favourite song from the contest?
I can not say that I watch Eurovision regularly. There have been a few years I missed but I have watched 80% of it so the performance which made me think of performing at the Eurovision stage myself is by Alexander Rybak – Fairytale. Everything about the performance and the song made me full of adrenaline I liked the staging, lights, energy and the song itself. There are a lot of songs I like from Eurovision not only the winning ones but Alexander Rybak made me think of myself as future Serbian representative at the contest.

If you had a chance to make a duet with any Pesma za Evroviziju /Eurovision participant, who would you choose?
From Serbia I really like the music that Dzipsii makes but there are a lot of different performers which Serbian public didn’t have a chance to listen to and I think that they are all talented and could make a new scene here. I could make a duet with anyone. I mentioned Dzipsii because I really like his song and I even did a cover of one of his previous songs on my Instagram before we even applied to the Serbian national selection for Eurovision.

Recently you released your first single. What are your plans after Pesma za Evroviziju ’23?
My plans after Pesma za Evroviziju ’23 will depend on what’s going to happen there. The sky is the limit. I have just started my career I have a great team, we have all the conditions we need in order to make new music and to present it to people. First of all I want to get deeply connected with Serbian audience and in some near future I think that it would be great to try maybe something abroad but you never know. I’d like to focus on this one because it’s the biggest project I have been working on and it’s the biggest responsibilities and it’s one of my biggest and wildest dreams. So I’m just focused on it right now.

Thank you so much for your time Princ. We wish you the best of luck at the Pesma za Evroviziju. Do you want to share something else or you maybe have a message for readers of escbubble?
Thank you so much escbubble thank you for reading and your interest. I’d just like to share the thing that I like saying to people when they get stuck. Just be brave enough to admit to yourself what is that one thing that you love doing, be brave enough to start doing it after you get aware of what is that be persistent about it, trust in yourself and it’s just a matter of time when it is going to happen but it’s going to happen. Trust in energy and visualizaton. All the best. 

You can listen to “Cvet sa Istoka”  by Princ below:

If Princ is one of your favorites at Pesma za Evroviziju 23, make sure to vote for him and your other favorites in our poll right here:

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