On Wednesday evening, the 20 semi-finalists who will compete in 2023's Eesti Laul, the annual song contest to determine Estonia's Eurovision entry, were announced. Three of this year's semi-finalists; Inger, Robin Juhkental and the duo of Anett Kulbin and Frederik Küüts (Anett x Fredi), spoke about their songs and hopes for Eesti Laul 2023 at a press conference on Thursday.
Inger, who has taken part in the competition twice before, said that fans can expect something different this time around. "I feel that this is the right year to come to Eesti Laul," Inger said, adding that her song "Awaiting You" is faster than her previous competition entries and that this time around, she will also appear on stage without the accompaniment of any musicians.
"There's a big difference compared to my entries in previous years," explained Inger, who also said that she is still in the process of finalizing some aspects of her stage set up for the show.
"Maybe there will be some more things on stage, but maybe not. There is still a lot to think about and discuss," she explained.
According to Inger, the title of her song, "Awaiting You," can be interpreted in different ways by different people, but still has a universal meaning. "Every person can relate to this song differently because we are all waiting for different things in our lives," she said.
Also returning to Eesti Laul this year is Robin Juhkental, who, alongside Malcolm Lincoln, won the competition in 2010 with the song "Siren." While admitting that he had been slightly surprised to find out that he had made it through to the semi-finals, Juhkental also believes his entry for Eesti Laul 2023, "Kurbuse matused" (Funeral of Sorrow), is among the best works of his career.
"It is up there with the best of the best," said Juhkental said, who, like Inger, was unable to give away too many details about how things might look when he takes to the stage for the semi-finals.
I've got some ideas, we'll have to see how it looks," he said. "I certainly won't be alone. You can't rely just on your own charisma. Maybe somebody else can," he laughed.
Discussing the song's lyrics, Juhkental said that, although the title might sound a bit pompous, it certainly does not contain any clichés. "I think It was a case of naivety there," he added, saying that the song was extremely heartfelt and had been a long time in the making.
Juhkental does believe, that winning Eesti Laul before, could give him an edge over performers who are just starting out, pointing out that he is a much more mature performer now than twelve years ago.
However, Juhkental also admitted that, whatever happens in he competition, he feels very relaxed about the outcome.
"I think mature artists have an advantage," he said. "Some can be mature at 21, but I wasn't. I'm in a better position now than I was then. It remains to be seen whether things will work out for me to achieve a high position here, but maybe that doesn't matter. I'm certainly more prepared than when I was 21."
Also speaking at the press conference, were the duo of Anett Kulbin and Frederik Küüts, who had such a great time at last year's Eesti Laul, that they just had to come back.
According to Kulbin, the lyrics of this year's song "You Need to Move On" continues exploring similar themes to their previous entry "Write About Me." "It's still about people's close relationships and how sometimes things work and other times they don't," she said.
"In the context of Eesti Laul, this felt like a really fitting continuation of our first song. When we saw that the deadline (for entries – ed.) was coming up again, it seemed like a nice idea. The first time was really great and it's nice to work together," said Kulbin.
Kulbin also said, that she while the duo would by doing their utmost to win Eesti Laul, it was more important to make the most of the experience. "What's more important is that we ourselves enjoy it and give it our best shot," she said.
"As people, we are also more focused on the process than the result. I'm a big believer that if you're as sincere and honest as possible about the process, good things will happen. We just trust in the process," Küüts said.
All 20 songs selected for the semi-finals of Eesti Laul will be heard for the first time on December 2 in a special show on ETV.
The semi-finals themselves are set to take place on January 12 and 14. Both semi-finals have two rounds, with the winner of the first round decided by the jury along with votes from TV viewers. The winner of the second round is decided by the viewers alone.
The final of Eesti Laul 2023 is scheduled for February 11, with the winner earning a chance to compete at next year's Eurovision final, which will be held in Liverpool, UK in September.
Editor: Michael Cole