The 2016 edition of Eesti Laul kicked off last Saturday with the first semi-final. The final act to perform was electronic dance artist Windy Beach.
It took Tuuli Rand a long time to accept Windy Beach as the stage name of her solo project but now she couldn't be happier with it.
"It's actually my name! 'Tuuli' means 'windy' and 'Rand' means 'beach'," she explained.
After facing many years of being teased in school for her name, Rand was less than fond of the moniker but when she entered music school and a classmate started calling her "Windy Beach" in English she grew to like it.
However it wasn't until friend and fellow singer Teele Viira threatened to steal the name herself that Rand realised what she had been sitting on.
"Teele told me that if I'm not going to take it as my stage name, then she would because it was so cool," she said.
"And then I realised that it was pretty cool, so okay!"
The daughter of a music teacher, Rand has been singing and performing in choirs her whole life but she considers this is a very important part of being Estonian.
"It's our tradition, and we need to keep our traditions alive," she said.
The biggest representation of these traditions is the Laulupidu which takes place every five years. The 2014 Laulupidu saw over 33,000 singers performing to around 80,000 people.
"It was the biggest moment of all," Rand reminisces of her time performing in the festival.
"You're just crying and singing in the middle of it all, it's pretty amazing."
This is Rand's fourth appearance in Eesti Laul but her first as a soloist.
After a big breakup two years ago inspired an impromptu trip to San Francisco, Rand found herself at the music festival Coachella.
"It was amazing and life-changing," she said.
"I saw Disclosure and Janelle Monáe and live and they were so cool. It made me think 'I want to do that and I want to be that' and that was the first thought that I am going to start a solo career with Windy Beach."
It took a number of months for Rand to decide the direction and style for Windy Beach before finally gaining enough courage to send her early demos to producer and friend Priit Uustulnd.
Rand recalls the anxiety she felt after sending the demos to Uustulnd, who she had previously worked with. Eventually Uustulnd called and declared that her work was "pretty cool" before agreeing to work with her again.
Rand is adamant that her Eesti Laul entry 'Salty Wounds' should be free to be interpreted by the listener rather than imparting a particular meaning on her listeners.
"Everyone should make their own story behind the lyrics. Mari Tamm who wrote the lyrics to this song was in such a different place to where I was when I read them," she said.
However she did explain what the lyrics mean to her.
"Salty Wounds to me is about people with bad energy trying to pull you back when you're happy, to stop you from being happy," she explained.
The song was originally intended only for her album, but her instincts insisted that she send the song to Eesti Laul.
"I haven?t done Windy Beach for very long, but now I'm here so that's a pretty big deal for me. I had a lot of ideas for Eesti Laul and there's nobody to tell me I can't do it, because it's just me!" she said.
Rand is a long-time friend of Kristel Aaslaid and as such had high praise for her Eesti Laul collaboration with Cartoon, stating that she's "pretty sure they're going to Eurovision," but from the other competitors she declared inspiration from an unlikely source.
"Meisterjaan - I love that he's being himself and that is inspiring to me," she said.
Rand unfortunately did not qualify to the final during the first semi-final on Saturday after finishing on the bottom half of the scoreboard but didn't let that concern her.
"I just wanted to have fun and work with my friends. For it to be as awesome as I envisioned and to be myself," she said.
The next big stage in Rand's career as Windy Beach is the launch of her debut album on February 25 which she expressed great joy having completed.
"I think I'm going to cry because I'm so happy," she said.
"I think records aren't so popular anymore, but to feel for once in my life that I'm holding my own album in my hands? I need that feeling, so I had to do it."
Editor: Editor: Dario Cavegn