Dino Jelusić - "Music should be about joy" News

    We met Dino, the winner of the very first Junior Eurovision Song Contest, this summer when he entered "Slavianski Bazaar-2014" festival as an adult contestant, and his brother - as a child contestant. (Almost) full unedited video of our talk is available below.
    
    - From the perspective of a 22-year-old artist, how do you consider your experience as a child performer? Was it a positive or a negative thing?
    
    - It was definitely a positive thing! It was the beginning of everything, and I don’t think I would be so experienced if I didn’t have that childhood career. Now as a grown-up guy I do different stuff, but I think the victory in Junior Eurovision was an awesome beginning for me.
    
    - Some people would say that a child artist never has a childhood…
    
    - (With a weird face) Yes, it’s true! (laughing). I was travelling a lot, I learned English very quickly, I met a lot of different cultures and different people. I would have never traded that for a daily park trip, even though I had my fun as a kid as well.
    
    - So, if a child of your own would decide to become a performer, would you support that?
    
    - Of course! I would be proud to do it.
    
    - Your second album (and the first one as a grown-up) was called “Living my own life”. Does it hint in any way to that you were not living your own life before that?
    
    - No, it’s a message I was trying to spread, about being yourself and not thinking about the money that much. Of course, money is important, but when you’re doing music, I think you should do it because of the emotions. The next English album I’ll be doing in terms of lyrics will also be about living your life your own way and not being a part of some machine which just wants to turn you into a money-making robot.
    
    - Getting back to your victory at the very first Junior Eurovision Song Contest – what exactly did you win? I mean, not in terms of the popularity gain, but from the purely pragmatic point of view.  Did you get a record label contract, for instance?
    
    - Yeah, I got the record label contract, I got a lot of gigs. It was sort of breaking the ice, it opened many doors for me. Now I’m doing sort of rock/metal music, which is not popular at all in Croatia. You can only get really small gigs, and people mostly don’t know I’m playing that kind of music, because the medias don't give space to that kind of artists: they only have pop and folk music on. Sometimes I get gigs because people know me as Dino-the-winner-of-Junior-Eurovision, and then I would present myself in new way, which they probably wouldn’t like, because “rock music is Satan” and all that.
    
    - So, what you are saying is JESC victory still opens the doors for you?
    
    - Yeah, definitely.
    
    - Did you get recognized on the streets, asked for autographs?
    
    - Croatia is not that kind of country where people would approach you for an autograph. But yeah, people did recognize me on the streets.
    
    - So, it wasn’t a burden to you in any way, was it?
    
    - In the beginning, the telephone was ringing so much I could not sleep! Now it’s different. When you’re in pop business, you get all these “fans” – just kids who want to touch you because you’re on TV. In my opinion, this is not the true audience, no offence to anybody. If you reach people with your music and they come to you because of that – not because they want to make out with you after the show – that’s something that counts. We all die sometime, but our music stays for centuries. I don’t want my career reduced to those three years between 11 and 14.
    
    - Have you been following Junior Eurovision contest after your victory? Do you know who’s performing, what are the songs, etc.?
    
    - To be honest with you, no (laughing). The last winners I remember were the “bzbzbz” guys (Bzikebi from Georgia, winners of JESC in 2008). Besides that, not really. Croatia is not competing since 2007, and TV doesn’t even show what’s going on, so you have to be a fan to get through YouTube, Wikipedia etc. to find the information.
    
    - If you’d be in charge, what would you change about the contest in any way?
    
    - In any way… I would definitely change the attitude of vocal coaches and parents towards the kids. Some of the parents demonstrated radical behavior when I entered the contest, literally like “I’m gonna kick your butt if you don’t win”. The music should be about joy, and you should perform because you love it, even though everybody wants to win, obviously. I have to be honest with you – when I came to Copenhagen I didn’t think I would win at all. I though “oh my god, this guy’s going to win, that guy’s going to win, oh my god, I’m going to be fourth or fifth”. I was really shocked when I won, but my parents didn’t put any pressure on me – they just told me to do my best and be satisfied. That’s exactly what I did, and the victory was a consequence to my really honest performance.
    
    - You’re being quite controversial regarding pop culture. Why did you enter Slavianski Bazaar this year then?
    
    - (With a funny voice) I cannot tell you. No, the singers in the contest are great, take this guy from Mexico singing opera for instance, he’s amazing. Here you get all of that pop singers that really sound great! I’m not a pop singer myself, but I wanted to bring something new to this festival. I sing three different types of songs. First day in semi-finals, I was singing a folk song, today I’m being myself and singing a hard rock song, and tomorrow I’ll be singing classics from Queen “The show must go on”. I think this is great experience, I really enjoyed these five days in Belarus. It’s great to travel outside your country to see how it works here.
    
    - Your brother entered the junior contest in Vitebsk this year as well. I want to emphasize that he really resembles you in your childhood. His vocal manner is yours; his stage appearance is yours... Have you been coaching his personally, have you given him any advice?
    
    - I didn’t work with him at all to be honest with you. My sister worked with him (Lorena Jelusić represented Croatia at JESC in 2005), she’s a great singer, she’s studying singing opera and choir. This is my brother’s second stage appearance he had in his life, so I’m really proud. Before I went to Junior Eurovision, I was practically a built-up child singer, because I went to ten festivals by then, I had a vocal coach. But my brother, he just listened to me, to the music I listen to, and he just started singing by himself. So, what he did is all his, with a little bit of help from my sister and my parents. I was involved in making his backing tracks, and he’s influenced by my music and by the music I listen to – he’s listening to rock and hard rock, which is at his age is really cool. He’s real, he’s optimistic and he’s really spontaneous. We always laugh watching him performing – he’s so funny, so spontaneous and confused in a good way; and then his singing comes into picture as well. I’m really proud of what he has done in this festival.
    
     - You study at Zagreb Music Academy; what exactly do you study?
    
    - I’m studying music theory. 
    
    - Whom do you want to become? Do you have a backup plan in case your musical career wouldn’t go that well?
    
    - After the studies I’ll become a teacher. I could teach kids a lot of things related to music, like solphegio, harmony, and also singing. But my dream is to become a hard-rock star. That’s what I want to be, that where I see myself the most.
    
    - Can you tell us about your nearest musical plans?
    
    - Two years ago in 2012, I went to South Africa to work on a project album with a lot of different artists, which are popular in that region: with Mandoza the rap artist, Dilana [Smith] the rock artist, one alternative metal band, and one country duo. I wrote four songs for that album, which should come out soon. One of the songs will be released as a single; the video is in montage already, it will probably come out in a few month. I would really like to do a new English album, but currently I’m finishing my Croatian album, ‘cause I haven’t released a Croatian album in 10 years. I’m also making music for drama for one of the theatres in Croatia, and that may be the job I would like to do – I’d like to write music for movies and dramas, it is a good way to expose your character through such music. 
    
    - This year, sisters Tolmachevy who won Junior Eurovision in 2006, entered the adult contest. What do you think of them if you happened to see them?
    
     - I saw them – they’re so beautiful! I couldn’t believe my eyes. It’s like I was watching the show, and these two look so familiar to me... I met them like four years ago, I was 18 then, and now I’m 22. How old are they now?
    
    - About 17 I guess.
    
    - 17?? They’re so beautiful! No, really, they’re so… wow… hot!
    
    - Have you considered trying yourself at the adult contest as well?
    
    - Eurovision? No, no. You and your music is now the least important thing at Eurovision. You have to… I don’t know, put on a fake beard to win the Eurovision nowadays. It’s too much for me. 
    
    - It’s just about being a freak, isn’t it?
    
    - I would be embarrassed to go in front of an audience like that, so that people would later recognize me on the street. I would like to do my music and be myself as much as I can, so people appreciate real me. Because if they love you for the music you don’t like, then they actually don’t like you.