Eurovision Ireland met with Irish Song writer Michael James Down – who had 13 songs in 5 Eurovision National Selections across Europe this year. We wanted to see how this young man became interested in Music, Composing and Eurovision and to give us an insight into what the Eurovision experience is like from the point of view of a song writer. Our man Stephen Hardiman met with Michael. As you will read below, Michael was in MANY Eurovision National Selections this year and we will share them with you along the way
1. Song writing – how did that all come about & when did you first discover you had a “nack” for it?
I have always been musical. I have been playing instruments and singing since I was a child and I have always loved commercial music. After school I studied music (majoring in vocal performance!) at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and ‘fell’ into songwriting after meeting one of my co-writers, Primoz Poglajen, in 2011. It’s always fun when the people you work with are also your closest friends.
2. Do you focus your writing on the lyrics or music or both?
We all do everything – music, lyrics, production… even A&R! Everyone has their strengths in different areas and that’s the great thing about teamwork – we can all bring different talents and ideas to the table. Every song I have ever written has been a co-write with other writers and I think that’s the best way to get the most out of yourself and the song.
(YouTube Video Courtesy of Bogdan Honciuc)
3. When did you first discover the Eurovision Song Contest?
I have vague memories of watching the contest in 1997 and then again in 1999 when I was 11 years old (I ate far too much chocolate that night and remember throwing up during Charlotte Perrelli’s reprise…). However, 2002 was the big year! I remember reading some promo for the contest in a TV magazine a few days before the big Saturday night (obviously at this point not being an all year-round fan) so I decided to download a few of the songs (who remembers using WinMX?!).
Well, I thought to myself, ‘I can’t go wrong with Israel’ (Dana International having won a few years prior and always being a well known Eurovision song to me) – how wrong was I?! Sarit Hadad – Light a candle, argh! Anyways, I watched the show on the Saturday night and that was it. I was hooked. Since then I have been a true Eurovision fan and it just so happens that it’s a great opportunity for me to showcase my music.
4. What’s the goal from song writing & is writing a Eurovision winner at the top of that list?
My main goal from songwriting is to create music which I like and that I’m proud of. I’m a full time writer and my secondary goal, of course, is to be able to live off music. Being such a fan of Eurovision I would love to have a song in the contest one day. Whether that’s next year or in 20 years, who knows, but… Eurovision is a once a year event and right now I’m focusing on a lot of other projects. It’s funny – Eurovision 2013 almost feels like it has already happened for me having been a part of the national final season in such a fortunate way.
(YouTube Video Courtesy of LatvijasKlubs)
5. You achieved great success this year having thirteen songs reach five national selections throughout Europe – did you enjoy and embrace the experience this year.
This year has been fantastic. Being involved with 13 songs in 5 different countries was demanding, but also so much fun! I learnt so much from each and every experience. I also got to spend 10 days in Iceland which has been on my bucket-list for ages! I also can’t complain with two 2nd places and a 3rd place overall!
6. You’ve collaborated with other song writers from different country’s on a lot of your songs – how does that collaboration all come about ?
Everybody I work with are people I’ve met along the way in my journey as a songwriter. I am constantly meeting new people every month, every week, every day. The internet also helps – having the internet makes sharing ideas and working on a song together so much easier. We can be anywhere in the world and still work as easily as if we were in the studio together.
(YouTube Video Courtesy of Maqqaq)
7. What is your interpretation of a good Eurovision song ?
For me a good Eurovision song is something which grabs the listener on first listen. You’ve only got 3 minutes!!
8. What is your favourite song of all time & your favourite Eurovision song of all time ?
Can I use the same song for both questions?!
My favourite Eurovision song ever is Estonia 2002 – Sahlene, Runaway. I think this is also my favourite song of all time in general! I love that radio-friendly guitar-pop sound it has, with a few synthy effects threw in for good measure!
(YouTube Video Courtesy of EuroBoy 1994)
9. Would you like to write a song for the Irish National Final next year ?
Of course, that would be an honour, but who knows what tricks RTE have got up their sleeves for next year!
10. Have you had a chance to listen to the songs that have made it to Malmo this year & how would you rate the competition this year ?
Yes, I have listened to all the songs and if I’m totally honest I don’t think this year will stand out as being a ‘golden’ contest in years to come.. However, it’s definitely not a bad year and there are some awesome songs in the final shake-up. My number 1 this year is Germany. I absolutely love “Glorious” by Cascada. I also love the UK’s entry, Georgia, Estonia and San Marino to name a few.
11. If you weren’t song writing what else would you like to be doing ?
I don’t have anything else I’d ‘like’ to be doing but before leaving my day job nearly a year ago I was working as an English teacher in Madrid. It was hard trying to juggle a day job with songwriting. I’m a dreamer, and I think everyone should follow their dreams… 🙂
(YouTube Video Courtesy of poglej)
Thanks to Michael for taking the time to meet with us here at Eurovision Ireland. I am sure that next year we will be seeing and hearing a lot more of Michael throughout Europe at Eurovision and hopefully at the Grand Final of 2014.
Author – Guest Writer Stephen Hardiman
Source – Eurovision Ireland