As the 2020 Junior Eurovision Song Contest draws closer, Eurovoix has had the opportunity to talk with this year’s representative from Ukraine, Oleksandr Balabanov.
How did you feel when you were selected to represent Ukraine at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest?
I have been waiting and preparing for this contest for a long time, this is my third attempt to get to the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. For two years I was in the finals of the national selection and I was very worried that the competition would be cancelled due to the pandemic. Fortunately, the contest will take place and the song “Vidkryvai” (Open Up), which I wrote together with Mykhailo Klymenko (ADAM), will be heard by the world. So when I found out that I won the national selection, I was incredibly happy, screaming and jumping with emotions, I was overwhelmed with feelings!
You are the first boy to represent your country since 2009. What do you bring to the contest that’s different from recent Ukrainian participants?
In fact, it doesn’t matter if you are a boy or a girl. The song “Open Up”, in my opinion, is unique in this selection: made in the style of R&B and funk, it grooves and is easy to remember, it is not typical for Junior Eurovision. I use a vocal point which is very popular in the world, like Michael Jackson. I can confidently say that I am very pleased with the result and grateful to everyone who shares my musical taste and supports me.
What is the message behind your song?
My song is a motivation to open up this world and be open to new possibilities. Do not stop, do not be afraid to do your thing, despite difficulties, and discover yourself!
Have you talked to any of this year’s contestants or heard their songs?
I’ve heard all the songs, and I like all of them! In my Instagram Iive streams I spoke to Arina from Belarus and to Petar from Serbia. They are very cool guys, and I was very happy to meet them. Also I know Susan from Germany, we met some years ago. Her song is very beautiful.
Would you ever consider representing Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest when you’re older?
Even five years ago I couldn’t imagine that I would represent my country at Junior Eurovision. For the last two years it was my dream, to which I was confidently moving.
Who is your idol, and what would you say to them if you had the chance to meet them?
I’m a real fan of Michael Jackson. I know all of Michael’s albums, I’ve watched all the live performances, I can recognise his tracks from the first notes. There are always a couple of Jackson’s songs on my playlist that few have heard. I am sure that Michael’s work has left a huge mark on the global music industry. Michael’s work still inspires world stars. If I were able to meet him, I would tell him, “You are the greatest entertainer ever, I love and appreciate all your works, and your songs will sound great even after 50 years”.
Besides singing, what other hobbies do you enjoy?
Board games are my passion. I have been collecting them for more than five years. I prefer fun but complex games with a high level of interaction between players. I really like when a big group gathers at home, because there is an opportunity to get your boxes out and offer your friends to have a fun and interesting time. I am also interested in cooking and history.
Eurovoix would like to thank Oleksandr for his time, and wish him the best of luck at the contest.
Who is Oleksandr Balabanov?
Oleksandr Balabanov was born in Donetsk, Ukraine, and began singing when he was young. At the age of 4, he joined the children’s folk singing group, before moving to the Ukrainian capital at 8 years old. Since the move, he began taking vocal classes.
Oleksandr is the first male singer to represent Ukraine in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest since 2009 when Andranik Alexanyan represented Ukraine on home soil in Kyiv. He won the Ukrainian selection on the jury vote alone receiving 5 out of 8 jurors votes while finishing 4th with the public vote.
Ukraine debuted in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2006 and has competed in the contest ever since. To date Ukraine has only won the competition once. In 2012 Anastasiya Petryk won in Amsterdam with the song “Nebo”, she scored 138 points including eight sets of 12 points. Ukraine has hosted the contest twice, the first time being in 2009 and the second being in 2013 following their victory in Amsterdam.