Yanx: “In those three minutes I want to let people think about being better to themselves, to the others, to the environment and the planet”

Yanx is the artistic name of Saška Janković the Serbian singer who already graced the stage of Eurovision as backing vocalist of the country for their entries in 2010, 2011 and 2015. She also competed at Serbian national selections four times before and in her fifth attempt to win the contest as a soloist she will perform her entry “Kolo” in the second semi-final of Pesma za Evroviziju 2024 which is set to take place on 29th of February as seventh act of the show. Find out more about the song, her Eurovision memories and what was a song she sent for the Montenegrin selection which unfortunately didn’t advance further to represent the country and many other things in our interview below.

Hello Yanx, welcome back to escbubble and congrats for being selected to take part at Pesma za Evroviziju 2024. How does it feel to return at the Serbian selection show what made you decide to take part at it?
Well, hello escbubble, thanks for having me again, it was five years ago for me last time at a national final but it kinda feels like yesterday in a way but also like it was 10 years ago not five. I think that pandemic was the thing that really messed with all our lives and thank God we are here and alive and singing, doing music and performing. I kinda always wanted for PzE to become PzE and not to be Beovizija because I think the festival is very great and I would say bigger in a different way. Beovizija was big but PzE is now technically, really close to Eurovision stage, in production way it has very big opportunity for you to have great performance on the stage. In that matter it feels great, because now finally I can express myself in some other way than singing and being there on stage. I can express myself as a creative director which is something I really love maybe the most, even more than singing I can say. After that composing and producing and then singing so just being honest and what made me decide to take part at it, well great song. It was written like 5 or 6 years ago and when we were listening to the materials for my new album my colleagues told me that they think that this is perfect for PzE and I said ok lets send it if it goes through its meant to be an it went through so probably I guess it was right time and right place back then it was not but I think that I was right for not sending “Kolo” then and for sending “Da li čuješ moj glas” instead.

This will be your 5th time competing for a chance to represent Serbia at Eurovision as a soloist. In which way do you think the previous experiences can help you get some sort of advantage or you think that could be a disadvantage for a performer?
Well this is a great question because in a lot of ways it should really be advantage and it is in terms of experience. But I had a lot of experience, ever since I was a kid I’ve been on stage so this is not new to me not in terms of Beovzija and PzE but in terms of other project I had ever since I was a kid. One would say that it is always an advantage, but sometimes and especially in Serbia, in Balkans, I dunno why, but it kinda actually is a disadvantage, you know being the one who returns to the competition. They somehow have a prejudice that people can not participate for many times and not being boring and not being unnoticed on the other hand we had some people that went two, three years in a row at PzE and people are still expecting them to be there and cheer them up so it is kind of a paradox, but I think we gotta work on that so people can have a different look on those things. As I said in my previous interviews. I was saying a lot about how Sanremo is definitely something different from PzE but really loved festival by the Italians and the world and for them it is something what is celebrated greatly and everybody is participating, even the ones that have won Sanremo, the ones that were at Eurovision, for them as long as there is music and TV show and performance you can go back and do your job and enjoy and send new music for people to enjoy and listen to. So I would like for PzE to grow into that you know, for us to love these two months of PzE this particular week of PzE to celebrate music, pop music and I would really be happy if Serbia through time and growth and education about PzE and Eurovision Song Contest drops all the prejudice and supports the festival as itself with being at Eurovision after that as a winner of the festival somehow goes second and first thing like in Sanremo is being at Sanremo, actually in this case being at PzE. So I really wish for us that kind of excitement about this festival for it to be a Serbian television music brand. It can be disadvantage only in terms of prejudice in no way it can be disadvantage if you’ve already tried and have that kind of experience especially if you were like myself three times at Eurovision and at national finals I came second and third a few times which is actually a great result. Also I am gonna say this is my first PzE so I am gonna say that this is my debut because last time it was Beovizija still, that is crazy but it is a fact.

You already performed at the Eurovision stage as a backing vocalist for Serbian entries in 2010, 2011 and 2015, which experience was the best for you and was there any anecdote which you would like to share with us?
I think that every experience, each year was different but not only because of Eurovision and the team but also because my life experience and the things I went through. If I need to make first, second and third place, first would be 2011 in Germany definitely, second 2015 and then 2010 but as I said every experience was amazing. Even though I put 2010 at third place it was new, fast and a really tough period in terms of my private life that is why it was mixed with enormous happiness and a lot of grief I carried so it is mixed feelings for 2010. Experience and anecdotes for every year there was something good and bad, mostly something good. I would say that in 2011 we went to a Russian Eurovision pre-party which was a big one in a club in Dusseldorf actually had a great time as a crew: Danica Radojičić – Nina, Kristina Kovač, Sanja Bogosavljević and Tijana Bogićević. I remember that we really had great time with group Blue it was stunning to hang out with them and get to know them. They were very famous at that point all across Europe. I remember that at the same party I told Kristina Kovač to hold my drink as I saw a band from New York which was consisted only from African American man who were great drummers and dancers who performed amazingly at that party and I wanted to go and perform on stage with them. I went to the stage and they really welcomed me and at one point I danced with them and then I went to DJ and I asked if he has a song (can’t remember which one) and he had it and then I asked all of the members of the group whether they can follow my lead, they agreed and I started spontaneously dancing following to the rhythm of the music, inventing the choreography on the spot and everybody followed my moves and we made a dance performance right there on the spot. I don’t have a video of it I am sorry but hopefully someone, somewhere has it because there were a lot of people at the party so I hope someday I can get to it but nobody from my crew recorded that. It is something which is such a highlight that every time I think about it I have a great smiles on my face.

You rose to prominence among Serbian audience while competing at a music show Prvi Glas Srbije, 12 years ago, including many of your previous performances you graced many different stages but is there a concert hall/theatre/stadium which is your biggest dream to perform at?
First of all I really love the questions you are asking I know that there are a lot of default questions because some people really want to ask the about song, performance, etc which is fine but I adore these kind of questions and thank you very much for those. There are a lot of places I would love to perform and I have to mention two events where I had opportunity and honour to perform. First one was Vienna festival week opening which was one of the biggest events in Austria which was live on TV for the world. It is held every year in the center of Vienna in front of their big courthouse, for its opening ceremony and the closing one is taking place at Schönbrunn. When it was Eurovision 2015 it was approximately at the same time as the festival so they put it together. When I was at Eurovision at the red carpet I saw Conchita Wurst and Vienna symphonic orchestra and then I said to myself I don’t know how and when but I am gonna perform here and two years later I had a phone call which changed everything so I did perform with amazing Harri Stojka, the famous Austrian guitarist with the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra plus with Conchita Wurst being the host of that event for the year. So everything I imagined at Eurovision I got a chance to fulfill two years later. Second one I gotta mention is also with Harri Stojka, in Vienna konzerthaus which is the place where Sting, Dianna Krall and other great names performed I was a special guest at Harri Stojka’s birthday tour. Few of other our musicians performed there, including Nemanja Radulović and Goran Bregović. I was honoured to perform there I never imagined that I will have the opportunity to do that. Waiting for some stadiums but just to say and to mention Eurovision 2011 was held on a stadium so that is something I can cross of the list.  

How did “Kolo” came to life and what does it mean for you?
Well actually Kolo came to life 5-6 years ago as I said previously but it was a demo and I remember the moment where and how I made it and then I just forgot about it. I wanted to send it to Beovizija then. But then “Da li čuješ moj glas” came and we went with that one. Kolo wasn’t Kolo back then but a song in English and I didn’t think that the audience of Beovizija would not be able to resonate with the song and I won’t be able to deliver the performance of it as I wanted it to be done because it was not available back then, but now is the perfect timing I think and now we have the technological support and production at PzE which makes it very close as I imagined it. And in sound that Relja Jakovljević – Redži did in the arrangement of Kolo which we produced together and it is meant to be. For me it means a victory that I am sending a fast song which is my wish coming true and I am also doing something as a creative director and I am also doing something that people would not expect from me but I wanted to do for years but I did not have the opportunity to do it good and do it at all as I wanted. I am maybe not in a great position to do that kind of performance but I did that on purpose because I wanted to throw myself in a fire and I wanted to win over myself and go five levels up. I gave myself a hard and great task to do and I hope it pays off and that people will love it. It means a lot not only because it is Eurovision but also because I can send a message of this song to the people. It is fast, catchy it is for dancing but it is a critic about society nowadays everywhere. Where the world has gone and that we forgot about love, not the cheesy and commercial one but about the true and pure love which was given to us. We forgot about great values, about humanity and being human which is something. In those three minutes I want to reset peoples minds through this song, let people think about being better to themselves, to the others, to the environment and the planet. If I manage to do so for those three minutes I am really going to be happy. 

As a part of the lyrics to “Kolo” you sing a line from Serbian children song “Kolariću paniću” how did you came to the idea to incorporate it in the song?
I wrote the song with my colleague Mikos Mikeli. But Kolariću paniću was my idea musically and also from producers angle. It is not translated to English literally but there has to be some equivalent of it in English language. It means that everything comes from us the mess that we can make and also the mess that we can repair. It is an old Serbian folk song but it really has wisdom in it and I insisted on keeping it. It is not only catchy but it has depth. In terms what I wanted to say in the song it is a perfect fit with the music itself. People will re-think about themselves and make some inner growth, self-care and self love and self work. That is the idea

What can we expect from your performance? Can you give us a hint?
Well I think that the only hints I can give you are: there will definitely be my colours pink, blue and green for which everyone knows they are Yanx’s colours; as my brand and as a performer and artist. Also I can tell you it is something no one expects and no one sees Kolo in this way as when you say Kolo as Serbian national dance people maybe have different hints. In terms of explaining what is going on in the song it has to be different and I never imagined it differently than this, that is why I am very happy that I have trust from Aleksandar Sofronijević – Sofra, head of my record label A studio tone, he gave me all the freedom for the music track of the song and try to make the best performance as a creative director which is an honour for me, because even doing the same for the previous entries I really gave my all for this one and I am really proud of myself for this one as it was a really hard job to be done and everybody who was involved are professionals in their field who are really doing an amazing job. Hopefully people watching will get the experience and enjoy what is happening in it. 

If you had a chance to make a duet with any Pesma za Evroviziju /Eurovision participant, who would you choose?

I was asked this question before and I can’t choose because there is a lot of people I would like to work with, but when they asked me to choose only one I was like let’s go for Durlanski from this list because he is a rapper and I have soul and r&b music ready for my album which could fit great with a rapper so that is why I chose him and I really love him. I never knew him before and that is the magic of PzE as every year you get familiar with new people and you listen to their music and they can have the opportunity to start their career like back then when I was a kiddo back in 2009, I was only 20 years old and when I found out that I am going to be on that stage of Beovizija in Sava Centar it was enormous happiness. People say that they saw me in Prvi Glas Srbije first but I think that my first bigger audience was from Beovizija 2009 and then after that I had a few singles and MTV Adria and I was preparing album and then I decided going to the show which I don’t like mentioning but it is as it is. That is why I would like for PzE to become even bigger brand and for everyone to just go for it, send songs and participate in it.

Two years ago you took part at a music Festival Beogradsko Proleće with the song “Tirkiz”, how was that experience?
That experience was good, I won’t say great as I am always trying to be honest to myself and to the audience. I think that it was not great in the terms that they have just returned it after a very long pause and they tried to do everything together which was good. I think that I decided to take part because I was nostalgic of that festival and I was honoured to be part of that festival since we remember how great it was and how great legends performed at it back then. Also the first edition of it when it returned was held on my birthday so those circumstances were great and I decided to go for it. Tirkiz is a great song and actually I think I never mentioned what I am going to say now. Tirkiz was made for my album and then we made a different version that went to Beogradsko proleće but it was not meant to go there as it was made first for one great Montenegrin singer Tina Džankić and really I wanted her to go to Eurovision with that song and we sent it and it didn’t go through after we got the message that the song didn’t advance with Tina for Eurovision, they called me for Beogradsko Proleće and we had an album version of the song and now that we had the Eurovision version, which is why people ask me why Tirkiz sounds like it is for Eurovision, and I agree that it would be great for Eurovision, that is only because we made it for the contest, adjusted it to Tina to be at Eurovision and sing that song and I got it for myself again for Beogradsko Proleće but I have to say that I would like for Tina Džankić to go to Eurovision and to have a bigger career because she is an amazing singer and an amazing talent and I really wish for people to listen to her and what she has to offer.

What are your plans after Pesma za Evroviziju 2024?
My plans are to go to Eurovision, and if that somehow just doesn’t go through my first plan is to go and visit my newborn nephew he is three months old his name is Teodor and I am his auntie and he is my first one. I wanted to visit him but I couldn’t find time as the preparations for PzE were enormous. That is the first thing which I will do even if I win, because they live in Vienna they are not in Serbia, so I am going to visit my brother, sister in law and nephew, also to prepare an album which we stopped doing because of PzE preparations. Those are the closest plans.

Thank you so much for your time Yanx. 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?
The only important message is don’t forget that only love is the real revolution, resolution, solution and evolution.

The second semi-final of the show is set to take place on 29th of February with the start at 21.00 CET at RTS. You can listen to “Kolo” by Yanx below:

Let as know how do you rate “Kolo” and leave your impressions about it in the comments and at our social media @escbubble

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