Exclusive; Yohanna talks to escNorge

Wiv; Not all of our readers know all that much about you. Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your musical background and your career so far?

Yohanna; My name is Yohanna (Jóhanna Guðrún Jónsdóttir). I´m a 22 year old Icelandic singer/songwriter/performer. I currently live in Norway.
I have been singing professionally from the age of 8. My first solo album came out when I was 9 years old and became a platinum selling album. Two more albums followed, and they both became gold selling albums. In my teenage years I was performing and traveling a lot to the U.S writing songs and recording, I also did some shows here and there.
In 2009 Óskar Páll Sveinsson contacted me about singing his song «Is It True» in the semi final in Iceland. I loved the song and fortunately we ended up winning the Icelandic final and making our way to the big competition in Moscow.
We landed 2nd place in Eurovision Song Contest, Iceland´s best results since 1999.
Since then a lot of doors have opened for me, I have gotten the chance to perform all over Europe and work with amazing talents. I am able to make a living just from singing. That has always been my goal and my dream!

Wiv, You have participated in Söngvakeppni Sjónvarpsins twice before; can you tell us about that? What experiences and memories do you have from those times, and how did it go?

Yohanna; As I mentioned before I participated in 2009 and won. I also participated in 2011 with a song called «Nótt». We got to the Icelandic final but did not win that time
It´s always a pleasure to participate. You gain so much experience from it. You learn what works and what does not work for you as an artist. It can be very stressful at times, but I like overcoming those barriers, I like the challenge.
The great part about participating in Iceland is also being back stage with all the performers before the shows. In a small country like Iceland, everybody knows everybody ! So we have a lot of fun together.

Wiv; So, if you were to win, this would not be your first time on the Eurovision stage. What is your best memory from last time and what did you learn that can help you now? 

Yohanna; My best memory is standing on the stage in Moscow in the final. It was amazing feeling all the positive feedback from the people in the arena. I felt so welcome !
I think I did a lot of things the «right» way when I prepared myself last time, I worked so hard. So I think I would do the same thing if I were to go again.

Wiv; The entry you’re performing this time, «Þú», is composed and written by your fiancé, David. Is this the first song of his that you have recorded, or have you worked together on other occasions?

Yohanna; We have worked together constantly since we met, both in the studio and on the live stage. There is no one better to have on the stage with me than David. If he´s there I know everything is going to be okay.
We released a christmas song last December called «Coming Home». David wrote the music and I wrote the lyrics. You can get it on itunes for example.
We are writing and recording at home preparing for my next album. He will play a big part on that album as a songwriter, guitarist and producer.

Wiv; How will you describe your entry?

Yohanna; It´s a happy pop song That´s all I´m saying for now!

Wiv; Have you had a chance to listen to the other songs in your semi? If so; What do you think of them and which of them do you consider the biggest challenge to your entry?

Yohanna; RÚV has not put the songs out yet, but I´m guessing that will happen today. So no, I have not gotten the chance. This year is going to be a very, very tough competition. There are so many big names, great singers! I´m sure there will be many songs that will challenge ours.

Wiv; All songs have to be performed in Icelandic in Söngvakeppnin 2013. Is there a chance your song will stay in Icelandic, should you win the ticket for Malmö?

Yohanna; At the end of the day that will be Davids decision to make. But I think it would be best to have it in English so everyone can relate to it.

Wiv; Do you normally prefer singing in Icelandic or in English?

Yohanna; I like both equally. If I´m in Iceland, Icelandic is best. If I´m somewhere else then English.

Wiv; It has been 16 years since Icelandic was last heard on a Eurovision stage. What do you think of the fact that many (most?) countries choose to sing in English instead of in their native language?

Yohanna; I guess it has to do with the votes. If you don´t understand the lyrics, you are less likely to relate to the song and therefore you will probably not vote for it. But I´m sure many people would not agree with me.

Wiv; If you’re not going to be representing Iceland in Malmö, what are your plans for the near future? Will you try your luck in Söngvakeppni Sjónvarpsins again?

Yohanna; My plans are singing. I´m preparing for a new album, and my future looks good. There is no telling if I´ll participate again, you never know.

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Wiv; Your fans have been eagerly awaiting a new album from you, after the release of the beautiful «Butterflies and Elvis» in 2008. Any plans you can share with us?

Yohanna; Yes, a new album will be out this year !

Wiv; Most Icelanders have a rather strong opinion on the Eurovision Song Contest, some positive and others negative. How about you? Are you interested in Eurovision other than as a participant?

Yohanna; I love this competition. It has given me so much. There is always some negativity around it, but I try to close my eyes and ears from it. I always watch it, if that´s what you mean. If you meant participating in other ways than a singer: then yes maybe someday I´ll send in one of my own songs.

Wiv; What is your favorite ESC-entry?

Yohanna; It´s a tough question, but I think I´m going to say «Waterloo» by Abba or «Love Shine a Light» by Katrina and the Waves. 

Wiv; And your favorite Icelandic entry?

Yohanna; «All Out Of Luck» with Selma in 1999 and «Nína» sung by Stebbi and Eyfi in 1991

Wiv; And since we’re a Norwegian site; do you have a favorite Norwegian entry as well?

Yohanna; Yes! Jostein Hasselgård in 2003 with the song «I´m Not Afraid to Move On»

Wiv; What music do you normally listen to? And which artists inspire you?

Yohanna; I listen to all kinds of music. My biggest influences are Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Eva Cassidy, Stevie Nicks, Robert Plant, Don Henley and the list goes on and on !

Wiv; When you’re not singing, what does your life look like?

Yohanna; We have two beautiful dogs, Bjartur and Diva. They are english cocker spaniels. Most of my spare time goes into being with them. Walking them and grooming.
I am a very family oriented person, so I try to spend as much time together with David and my family as I can.

Wiv; Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me! All of us at escNorge wish you the best in your semifinal, and hopefully we’ll see you on stage in Harpa in the final! 

Yohanna; Thank you! 


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