INTERVIEW: Uzari&Maimuna - "This is our first time together but maybe not our last"

Uzari and Maimuna is a duo that in a few days will perform in Vienna during the 60th Eurovision Song Contest. They will represent Belarus with the song "Time". We were able to talk with Uzari and Maimuna just before their departure to the Austrian capital.

Let’s start from the beginning. When did your cooperation start? Did you know each other before the idea to take part in the Belarusian preselection for Eurovision?
Uzari:  In Belarus, most musicians know each other (it’s a small world after all) and Maimuna was just as big a fan of Eurovision as I am.  Last year I co-wrote the Junior Eurovision song ‘Sokol’ sung by Nadezdha Misyakova whilst also busy finalising ‘Time’ with Maimuna, whose violin solos gave me goosebumps – it was like she was ‘singing’ back to me! 
Maimuna: I’ve known Uzari for years too and we had often discussed working together. When he composed ‘Time’ we both knew that it was our song and our time to try it out for Eurovision. Somehow our pop and classical music crossover worked and it was great fun putting the song together.

How are you working together? The age difference between you is almost 10 years! Is it a problem for you?
Uzari: (laughing) I sometimes have to remind her what day it is and carry her walking stick... Eleven years is nothing – she has as much energy and drive as I do!
Maimuna: I have a five year old and an eighteen month old at home, so I keep fit and young by playing with them.

Do you have any specific expectations for Eurovision?
Uzari: To do my best, to meet all of the other contestants, see a bit of Vienna and to have fun. This will be an unforgettable experience.
Maimuna: To have fun with Uzari and soak up every single moment – it will be my first in the ‘eurovision’ world, so my eyes will be very wide and my smile even wider.

Did you watch Eurovision Song Contest in the previous years? Do you have some favorite participants from Belarus?
Uzari: Yes, I’ve watched Eurovision for years, I love it. As for my favourite Belarusian song, well, it would be wrong of me not to say Anastasia Vinnikova, wouldn’t it? :)
Maimuna: I have a soft spot for Teo and his song, ‘Cheesecake.’ It was quirky and funny and he’s been really generous with his advice for us. Plus, we’re using three of his backing singers – Denis, Yura and Artemis!

What will your performance be like in Vienna? Can you tell us some details about it?
Uzari: You’ll have to wait and see!
Maimuna: We’ve been working with respected film director Nina Draco, vocal coach Alex Panayi and doing lots of rehearsals with a different focus on ‘time’ compared to our video. That’s all we can tell you for now :)

Are you planning to continue working together after Eurovision? Or would you rather focus on your own solo music projects?
Uzari: This is our first time together but maybe not our last :)
Maimuna: I’m really happy that ‘Time’ was chosen to represent Belarus at the Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna and that I’m able to be part of it with a trusted friend.  We’ll see how Eurovision goes, but hopefully it will be the start of more songs and performances together in the future.

Uzari, how will you spend your birthday? Are you planning a crazy party or maybe rather something quiet? Don’t forget that your first rehearsal will take place in the next day.
Uzari: That’s a very good question. We’ve been so busy with rehearsals and live performances and interviews and preparations that it almost slipped my mind. I hope to share a big chocolate cake with the team in Vienna and make some calls to my family in Belarus.

Have any of you ever been in Poland? If yes, what places did you visit? Or maybe you’re planning to visit it in the near future?
Uzari: I have, as my grandfather is from there – we visited a lot when I was a child.

Another question to Uzari. Your name is Наўроцкі. Do you know that"Nawrocki" is the name appearing also in Poland and is quite popular here? Have you got Polish descent?
Uzari: Yes I have – and my family is very proud of it!

Once again, let’s come back to the music. What kind of music do you listen to in your free time? What artists from Belarus, Russia or Ukraine do you like the most?
Uzari: I listen to a huge variety of music – from classical music, to jazz, pop, funk and rock….. I’ll list Teo from Belarus, as well as the music produced by our very talented backing singers Denis, Yuri and Artemis.
Maimuna: Classical music is what I was raised on and took up most of my time (I played first violin in Belarus’ national orchestra for five years), but I then became interested in crossing over to pop music.  Singers like Alyona Lanskaya, Teo and Uzari are big influences on me.

What would you like to tell to RU Muzzik’s readers and your Eurovision fans?
Uzari: Thanks for the interview – we hope to see you in Vienna!
Maimuna: We are very much looking forward to meeting Monika Kuszyńskaand hope that you all enjoy our performance of ‘Time’!

And finally: what can we wish for you? Apart from victory in Eurovision, of course.
Uzari: Health and happiness for my family and friends.
Maimuna: That our experience in Vienna will be one that we will both treasure forever. And to try some Sacher Torte while I’m there!