Meet Eesti Laul 2016 participant Grete Paia
The 2016 edition of Eesti Laul continues this Saturday with the second semi-final. The sixth act to perform will be pop singer Grete Paia.
Grete Paia released her first single at the age of thirteen, on the most universal of experiences - teenage heartbreak.
"It was the first time I had a crush on a guy, and I had only seen him once!" she said.
"We later ended up desk mates at university and actually became really good friends."
Paia then started writing more songs but it wasn't until her grandmother insisted that she send the songs to songwriter and producer Sven Lõhmus for feedback that things really started to take off for Paia.
"Initially I was thinking 'I'm like 13, why would I do that?' but then I wrote to Sven and he asked me to come to the studio," recalled Paia.
"I'm very happy I did and I can do these musical things with Sven."
This is not the first time that Paia has competed in Eesti Laul, after she finished runner up in the 2013 competition. She was beaten by former Estonian Idol winner Birgit Õigemeel by just 2 percent of the final voting, the narrowest margin in Eesti Laul history.
"I remember when I found out I was one of the superfinalists that I was going to throw up and I just kept thinking 'I don't wanna go to Eurovision!" she said.
"I was so nervous, it just seemed too much. I could have gone there to perform, but I didn't feel like I could take the responsibility of representing the whole country of Estonia."
After spending a semester studying abroad in the Italian city of Milan, Paia has returned to Estonia with a newfound confidence and sense of being. It is this experience that led to Paia feeling a strong connection to the lyrics of her Eesti Laul entry 'Stories Untold'.
"I feel Stories Untold inside of me, that if I'm talking to someone, I don't actually know the story that lies inside of them and what they have lived through," she said.
In addition to the main theme of the lyrics, Paia also feels that her song contains a strong message of empowerment.
"It's also about how when life basically kicks your ass, the most important part is to get back up again," she said.
Paia is unwilling to commit to performing a single genre of music at this point in her career, expressing a desire to perform a wide variety of styles in the future.
"I feel right now that power ballads are my cup of tea, but I also want to perform some strong rock and 'hands up in the air' style club music. I would also like to perform some RnB music, you know kind of sexy music!" she laughed.
Paia has high praise for many of her fellow Eesti Laul participants.
"I really like Jüri Pootsman's 'Play' and Laura's 'Supersonic'. They're absolutely perfect for Eurovision and as pop songs in general. They're definitely my biggest competition," she said before adding, "I also love I Wear* Experiment, Mick Pedaja and Púr Múdd."
"Every song this year has its own special something, even Meisterjaan's song is so fun and crazy!"
This time around Paia is finding participation a lot less stressful than in 2013.
"This time I know people and it's all just friends coming together, so I'm just here to have fun and go with the flow," she said.
"Eesti Laul is the best way to get your music out there. For me the most important thing is that the people at home will feel the emotion and the meaning of the song, but of course I hope I will make it to the final too."
While Estonia is still in the grips of yet another icy winter, Paia is already looking forward to the summer months ahead.
"I hope to get my band back together and that I get some gigs out of Eesti Laul at some of the big summer concerts, and also to get my driver's licence!" she said.
"My Italian exchange was great, but it taught me that I love Estonia so much!"
Grete Paia performs in the second semi-final on Saturday 20 February.