The buzz is high for France this year, as they actually have a song that a) their own people like and b) might end up on the left side of the score board. How very unusual of them!
The fact that “J’ai cherché” is climbing the odds, is perhaps also due to a certain someone. Who is this Amir Haddad and is he anywhere near as nice as he seems in his self edited videos? We called him up to find out.
– You came third in The Voice France in 2014. How has your career been after that?
– I didn’t prepare for a musical career. I just wanted to have some fun before opening up a dental practice. Then the feedback from my participation in The Voice was so strong. Every stage and every level of that ride made me more confident that this is what I truly wanted to do. Back then I didn’t even have a deal with a record company. I just started to write songs and collaborate with people I knew. We prepared an album for two years before presenting it for several record labels. Everybody liked it, so we chose Warner. It’s being released this spring.
– Can’t wait for that. A lot of this year’s entrants are recycled from various talent shows. Do you think that is an advantage?
– Well, you do get the experience of being on a TV show, which is good. Other than that, Eurovision is very different and much larger, at an international level. In The Voice you are only liable to yourself, while in Eurovision you represent your whole country. It is a great responsibility.
– You’re pretty international yourself, growing up in both Israel and France with Moroccan-Spanish and Tunisian parents. Do you feel more French or Israeli?
– Well, that’s a bit like asking a child if it prefers its mother or father. I am fifty per cent of each and both cultures are equally important to me.
– Then why did you choose to represent France?
– It wasn’t a choice, really. I had a musical career in France and wasn’t known in Israel, so no one would have asked me to participate there. However, the Israelis are really interested in my participation now. And when I go onstage in Stockholm, I am a hundred per cent French, of course.
– Mais, bien sûr! You cowrote your song. What is it about?
– It is about fulfilment. When you find something in your life that wakes you up with a smile. It could be hobbies, art, love, everyone see it in a different manner.
– And what wakes you up with a smile?
– Music. Definitely. It is so self-fulfilling for me.
– Yeah, there goes your interesting love story. You said somewhere that you feel more related to the female audience. How about the gay audience, do you think you’ll connect with them?
– I said that because about 90 per cent of my audience is usually women (no sh*t, Sherlock, editor’s comment). But yes, I discovered that the gay audience is very strong in Eurovision. I will be happy to connect with a broader audience. Although it is hard to generalize, the gay audience tend to be very enthusiastic and sincere. That is great.
– We see that you learned to sing in synagogues. How is your religion related to your music?
– Well, I am a traditionalist. I believe God is taking care of us and I often thank Him for the good things that have happened to me. Life gave me a big gift in music and I am grateful.
– Yes, we also thank God for that, mind you. Are you really as nice as you seem in your Snapchat videos, by the way, or are you just good at pretending?
– In fact I am the devil. But I do think that smiling brings happiness and I try to give that to people.
– Well, you use social media wisely to connect with your fans (not to mention all the stalkish messages we sent you or anything). Is that important to you or just something your PR manager made you do?
– I am a real social media geek. I spend a lot of time on my phone, taking care of the relationship with my fans. How else can I keep in touch with people from around the world? I have a lot of ideas myself, like the live videos I’m doing on Facebook now, but I also get great help from a woman named Alissonne. Together we manage my social network like proud parents.
– That is one lucky mum. You seem to be performing a lot around France these days. Is your song well received?
– Yes, I am a stage artist and I like to see people’s reactions to my upcoming album. “J’ai cherché” was actually my first single and it was out and popular before it was chosen as France’s Eurovision entry. Then people were happy that the choice was a song they liked and now the enthusiasm around Eurovision is higher than usual in France, because people feel like we have a good hand this year. It brings me a lot of positive energy.
– How fab! We see that you are a great Eurovision fan, which tells us you take this contest seriously. Why do you love Eurovision?
– I really like the idea of a European contest and I love the possibility of discovering artists from different countries. Not everyone in my family agree on which songs they like every year, but we always watch the show together. It is like the football world cup for my family.
– How we want to join your family right now! What is your favourite Eurovision entries ever?
– Well, this contest is so rich in great artists it is hard to choose. But maybe Sertab Erener’s “Every way that I Can” (Turkey 2003) or Helena Paparizou’s “My Number One” (Greece 2005)? And Dana International, of course. That was a great moment. I tend to like the songs that win.
– Oh yeah? And which do you like this year?
– Yes, I realize they are all women. But you know, they are also great.
– So are you, if we may say so. Will you ever become a dentist?
– I hope not. Because that means I haven’t succeeded as much in music as I want to.
O, Amir. Wherefore art thou our Romeo? We can think of a dozen reasons, not even a little influenced by the fact he finished our interview calling us adorable. After all, two grumpy, middle aged ladies from the bitter North like ourselves are not easily charmed, but it is hard not to be by this one. Devil or not, we have been stalking Amir in social media for quite some time now, and we have to say he’s close to perfection with his charming smile, sincere attitude and twinkly eyes.
That religion thing is normally not doing it for us, but come to think of it, Eurovision is our religion and Amir seems to believe in that well enough. We can only love someone so passionate about Eurovision, of course. As we just learned from Bernie Sanders, all religion is about doing unto others as you would have them do unto you and we can’t wait to meet Amir and find out what that implies for him and his 90 per cent female audience.
We also like that Amir’s sense of parenting is related to social media. This would be a good time to mention our serious background as social media managers. Just call us anytime, honey. We’re sure we’ll make great little babies togheter.
Watch Amir’s entry below