Interview: Eurovision.tv meets Dima Bilan

Interview: Eurovision.tv meets Dima Bilan
Dima Bilan
For the second time in three years, Dima Bilan is representing Russia in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Believe. Eurovision.tv's Glen Webb gained exclusive access to talk with Dima and his colleagues on stage, world renowned violinist Edvin Marton and World and Olympic Figure Skating Champion Evgeni Plushenko.

Hi guys, can we begin with finding out a little bit more of a background from you, and indeed how you came to work together on the Believe project?

Dima: "I recorded my first album in 2002, in the Russian language. It got very good press. I then released a second and third album. I have received over the last years many awards, including for three years in a row the Best Artist category for MTV Russia, and in 2006 Best Selling Russian Artist in the World Music Awards. That was based upon sales of legal copies only. Of course also in 2006, I did the Eurovision Song Contest and finished in second place. Last year, Edvin and Evgeni invited me to perform in their show. We were very happy with the collaboration, a new way of delivering music and combining it with sport. We became very good friends after this. One year later, I decided to enter the national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest again, there were many opinions in Russia as to whether I shoul, or should not do it again, but Dima is unstoppable! I had this great idea to invite Evgeni and Edvin to perform with me, with the violin and ice on stage. I have also been working lately on a new English speaking album with Timbaland, I think it has very good chances to be a success. We also made a Spanish version and I perform a duet with Nelly Furtado."

Edvin: "I started performing when I was in kindergarten. It was very difficult back then. We didn't have anything as a family, we were from a very small village in Hungary. Indeed we all share the same story with growing up, Dima came to Moscow from a very small village, Evgeni the same. We all have the same background and I think that's why we became huge friends. We invited Dima last year to join us, he has a great aura, voice and emotion, and he is a really nice guy!"

Evegni: "I have been performing since I was three or four years old. Again, I came from a poor background. I didn't even have a shirt on my back when I gave my first figure skating performance as a child, I had to borrow one. I started working with Edvin around seven years ago, and since then I won over 30 Gold medals, and the Olympic Gold medal. I consider Edvin to own half of each medal as it was when we started to work together that all of the successes came."

During the performance in the Russian national selection, it was just yourself on stage alone Dima. At what stage did you decide to include Edvin and Evgeni in the performance? Was this after the victory?

Dima: "We knew before the national selection that this is what we had in mind. We didn't want to show all of the tricks at once though. We decided to leave the surprise to the last minute. We actually have a few different perfomances for the staging of the song. It will be the first time in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest that ice has been used on stage, we have the Stradivarius violin, it's a unique original idea."

Speaking of the staging, during your first rehearsal you had a ladder on the stage with you, but the second rehearsal was completely different from a choreography point of view. Have you decided which one ultimately you will use?

Dima: "During the first rehearsal we were recording a video for Believe. After that we put the video on line, and had very positive press comments with over 300000 people watching in the first few days, which reinforced to us the message we were going in the right direction. We still have a third and fourth idea for the stage, and maybe we will have two ladders!"

Edvin: "The performance is strong, unique, and individual. The violin i'm using is from 1697, it's a Stradivarius and was actually played by Paganini over 300 years ago. I won the chance to play it when I won a competition in Montreal in 1996, and now it's in Belgrade with us. Our song is not a song like Chiki Chiki or Shady Lady which is for this two weeks alone. I think that in 20 years time our song Believe will still be remembered. We think that here we are making history together here."

Is the Eurovision Song Contest project a one off for the three of you working together? Or do you have plans to continue working together going forward?

Edvin: "The video clip is about a kid struggling with a disease, he can't walk. We are doing a benefit show for him, for which all of the proceeds will go to him for an operation to help him walk again. It's about friends working together to help a kid. Believe is about believeing in yourself, achieving your dreams, and that everyone can achieve their dreams."

Dima: "For sure we will be working together, we have become very good friends. This idea about combining the sport with music in a classical and artistic way is unique and we believe that people will be interested very much in seeing more work together"

Evgeni: "First of all I have to say, winning here is very important to me, indeed to all of us. We all have our own individual successful careers, and now we come together with this special blend, we are three friends, the three musketeers! We have a song with a true meaning and sense, that people should believe in themselves.And as Edvin mentioned we will have the benefit concert and probably more projects later".

Dima, how did you manage to make contact with Timbaland and his production team, and what have your experiences of working with such a great producer been like?

Dima: "My press officer Sasha was press manager of the group tATu, and had some good contacts. We were thinking of what to do next to further my career. We decided to contact Timbaland, we got confirmation that Timbaland was interested in doing something. I went to Los Angeles, this was a great experience. If you are a musician in Russia who is well known, it is difficult to dedicate yourself to so many things within the production. When I was in Los Angeles, It was a pleasure, I had a wonderful time creating, writing, producing songs. In one day we wrote a son, the lyrics, the music and produced it all.We wrote the song Believe with Jim Beanz and Ryan Tedder. I really enjoyed working with Timbaland and his team. It was his first ever Russian collaboration."

Which markets exactly are you trying to break in to with the release of the English and Spanish language albums?

Dima: "Well, it will be worldwide. It will be released in different regions at different times. Firstly the United States, the Spanish version for Spanish speaking countries. We'll think about more worldwide and maybe Europe too later."

You are the bookmakers favourites to win the Eurovision Song Contest, and with having already achieved a second place finish at the Eurovision Song Contest, do you feel pressure of the expectation around your song?

Dima: "It is most important that we are here to win. But everybody comes here to win, nobody came to lose. Thats what makes this contest special. We feel that we have created something very original, hope that people will appreciate that and vote for the originality."

Eurovision.tv would like to thank Dima Bilan, Edvin Marton and Evgeni Plushenko for taking time out of their hectic schedule and talking to us. Check out the YouTube video link below for a personal message from Dima Bilan.


... but there is more!