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"Preselection process should be transparent!"

Interview with Andrei Kosinski about Eurovision song constest, specially for website

Andrei Kosinsky and Evgenii NikitenkoInformation:
A.Kosinsky - Russian representative at ESC 1996, performer of song " eto R", leader of "Kosinsky" band, issued two solo albums in style "europop",
Sound-producer, composer, arranger and stage-manager of live concerts. Worked with V. Leontiev, A'Studio, A.Apina, Zhasmin, "Nepara" duet, Elio.

- Andrey, what is your opinion about Eurovision song contest as a whole, as world musical festival?
- I myself enjoy a lot this contest, this forum. It is awaited every year by regular viewer and by devoted fans as well. And I know there are a lot of specially interested fans in Europe. If everything is done honestly and in right direction - this is great.
But first of all - this is contest of musicians, this is contest of the songs, of composers There should be creative base, musicians should bring their own original culture, and imitation of something, to make a la British, this is not good. We should promote our Russian music. 
- Do you follow this contest every year?
- Surely, I always follow it and support Russian representatives.
Pity, nowadays Russian representatives doesn't come through all preselection procedure as me and Youdiph. This will do no harm, if contenders will be seen by whole country and viewers will select those who will get Eurovision ticket. And now everything is decided internally between producers of ORT. My opinion - this is not right.
- Does Eurovision material have value for you as song author?
- I like a lot there. Most of the songs are really appropriate, though it is very difficult to fit good form to three minutes. And form is the main part of the song? This is like a style of the dress, you understand?
I remember all songs that represented Russia. First one was Youdiph with "Wanderer". Next one was "Volcano" by Philip Kirkorov. I was recording backing vocals for studio version of this track in studio in Tver with "Vocal Band" as Alla Pugacheva asked me to help.
Everything was done with note "Urgent". Big hurry, almost tomorrow is the contest. That year it was ORT task to selection of the artist and they selected our "star" Kirkorov without any preselection. Anyway they should have selected someone.
Alla and Philip even suggested me to make orchestral arrangement of "Volcano" and to go tot the contest as conductor. But I refused. May be I just showed lack of spirit or was afraid. Now I think that that time I should have agreed and went to ESC as conductor of real orchestra. I even called them to agree later but heard only "ehhh. We already agreed with M. Finberg".
The next year came time of Andrei Kosinkiy, ie me. This time again RTR ran open preselection. This win brought me 3 broadcasts of " eto R" for one contest evening - the big success (laughing).
Then Russia was represented by Prima donna herself (liked it a lot). Next ones were "Troll", "Prime-Minister".
Surely I wished bigger success for Alsou. Pity that she didn't took first place, she was so close to the winning. This is bright song which really deserved to be Eurovision participant. This is type of the song suitable for contests.
But that year Denmark won. Everything was very simple: chamber base, some ethnic motives, vocal and guitar. Isn't it emotional? That's why they got first place.
- And if to judge songs in recent years?
- I haven't watched performance of "Mumiy Troll". I was supporting "Northern Girl" as I like a lot which is done by Kim Breitburg and "Prime-Minister".
"Tatu" is more social event than musical. But they shouldn't have send girls to this contest. They were already popular in the world. May be really problem was in nervousness and bad sound? This is ridiculous. You should have confidence, psychological balance in yourself, even when you have tears in your eyes. This is called professionalism. But hm, I myself had such a problem too.
"Tatu" had real chance, especially as this time almost all countries were having televoting. I was that evening at Paul McCartney concert at Red Square, though I was invited to the studio for talk show during the contest. So I got to Ostankino when girls already have performed. So I haven't seen it live, but I watched recorded broadcast later. I also was following preparation for the contest, all information connected, and was worrying a lot during voting procedure.
But anyway song should be send to the contest. Song, not "star singer". There should be original idea, which will touch people.
This is big success that it was allowed to perform in English. It is comfortable to sing in English and everyone understands you in Europe. The words and phrases are short and compact. "I love you" - this is very short, and in "Ya tebya lyublyu" there are a lot of letters. Though this is much warmer in Russian!...
- And what is the story with your winning and not qualifying into the final?
- Problem is that I still can not formulate the reason of my not qualification. The official reason is that the number of countries should have been reduced by seven. But in "Arguments and Facts" there was different information that Russia was disqualified for some disciplinary actions, as during Kirkorov's performance there was breach of contest rules, something like change of the dress of the costume from rehearsals till the final or something like that. A lot of was said about it
Really, I think I was not good enough myself. I have results of voting, here for example is sheet of UK, it was not voting against Russia, it was voting against other countries. There can be different explanations. But I myself explain this like - no luck, this is a pity.
I know that if I were qualified to the contest I would have performed very successfully there. I take my performances very accurate. I would have been performing with a low squad of musicians. Myself sitting with the favorite "Wurlitzer Piano" with string quartet and vocal band. This will kill everyone on the spot.
Before Russian preselection I had not time for preparation, that's no time to get confidence. I was so trembling that I can not even took the notes. I was even asked to find other suitable singer for my song. But I told that I will cope with everything and will perform myself! And I did it.
- Have you reached something on this wave?
- Nothing, except shaking hands. Well, I saw myself on TV and gave interview in "A" program, then a lot of congratulations. Pleasant. Telephone was not stopping ringing. Came home after interview - 25 messages. But then I should select something, move further.
- Tell us more about song and selection process?
- I was preparing disc with working title "Me it is Me". The song did not exist at that time. So I'm working and I heard on TV advertisement of the contest. And I am very lucky at contests, I always win something there. I have a lot of prizes from jury and viewers. All TV sets that are in my home, for sure. Even motorbike was standing in the room as prize for "Schlager 93".
At first I was not going to participate, but then I took a risk. Submission deadline was 4-5 days away. I called Tver, where I was recording that time and asked to help. We should have prepare song very quickly. And on the last date I brough demo tape of the song to RTR. And when I was called and informed that I entered 14 best, I even had tears of happiness, I was not expecting it. And no one of my relatives and friends did.
Contest-preselection was really honest. I discovered this at the drawing event when I met other contestants. We were not aware before it who other contenders are. And I met a lot of my friends and colleagues there: Andrei Misin, Igor Kornelyuk, Volodya Trushin, Sergey Rogozhin and other performers from St. Petersburg. We met, clasped each other and were supporting each other. I'm from Leningrad too. The most interesting that jury was not in the hall. They were in other building, may be even in other region of Moscow. And we were not aware who was in the jury. Later we found out that there were 16 persons - 8 professionals (Rybnikov, Pugacheva, Otieva, Ovsyannikov, TV editors, music professors) and 8 people "from the crowd" (engineers, soldiers, workers etc). Everything in the way RTR conducted preselection was great and very professional. And this is the way preselection should be run in every civilized country.
- And there were no open preselections after it. Do you thing open preselection method should be returned?
- For Sure! I think this should be as law. We should be proud by singers we're sending to represent our country. Speaking about finances, this action can be more profitable than for example "Golden Gramophone" awards or "Silver Disc".
Contest can be run in 2 stages. What TV is looking for? More viewers, higher ratings. This will be very successful program, thus will be awaited, as everyone was awaiting San Remo broadcast in early times. Preselection should be done before eyes of viewers, during live broadcast. For example there surely were people who wouldn't like to vote for "Mumiy Troll". Here you are, you can choose other contestant to vote for.
May be some stars are thinking that it is not their level, it's beneath their dignity to participate in any preselections? This is their problem. We also want some honoured person to represent Russia, but who? Not sure whether this should be Honoured Artist of Russia. And not every "star" is eager to give ESC ticket to other singer, which is really worthy. But what? This should be required.
And we need to remember once again that this is contest of Her Majesty Song.

And I want also to wish success to the Russian representative this year.
- Thanks for the interview and we wish you success in future work!
- Thanks to you also, that you still remember me and managed to find.