Interview: Romanz and Candy Benson…South African acts hoping to represent Switzerland in Baku

Two South African acts have entered the race to represent Switzerland at the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Baku.  The popular boyband, Romanz, have entered For You (I Will Build Rome In One Day) and top girl singer, Candy Benson, will try with Shy Boy.  Romanz and Candy Benson speak to EuroVisionary.

Hi, first of all could you introduce yourselves?

Romanz: Thanks for inviting us.  We are the group Romanz.  We have a mix of two classical voices, Louis Loock and Adam Barnard and two pop vocals, Andre Venter and Burgerd Botha.  The group was created in 2008 and we were selected from hundreds of hopefuls by our label Select Music.  Since then we have released three of our own CDs, a duet album with female singer, Nianell (that includes a cover of La Voix, the Swedish 2009 Eurovision entry, a live CD/DVD and an international album in English/Italian/German which is available as a digital download.

Candy: I am Candy Benson from South Africa. I am singer and also a songwriter and play the guitar and keyboards. I am a recording artist and perform regularly in concerts and tv in my homeland. I even entered American Idol, whilst on holiday, and got so far but had to leave the competition because I was South African. My music video, Stywer Vas, has become a popular hit on You Tube.

How did you get involved with the Eurovision Song Contest this year?

Romanz: We are actually big fans of the contest and have been watching it every year as it is popular in South Africa and we can get some European channels like the BBC here. This year, suddenly, a proposal came from OGAE Rest Of The World, that has started the project of involvement of South African musicians in European pre-selections. We were really honoured with this proposal to enter the Swiss selection and we are very thankful to our project leaders, Andy Mikheev and Roy van der Merwe, who guided us through every step of the way in this selection, and thanks to them we are now taking part in all three regional votings, Italian RSI, French RTS and German SF.

Candy: A songwriter by the name of Vasco Cardoso sent me a message on Facebook asking me if I would be interested in entering the Switzerland selection with a song that he was involved in.  He then emailed me a few raw tunes and I liked the song Shy Boy. He then emailed me the full backing track with the lyrics. I had to fix a lot of the lyrics because the English grammar and some of the lyrics did not rhyme.  I quickly learned the song that day and the next day I recorded it at a local studio and sent Vasco the mp3 that same evening.  This literally all happened in a matter of one week.  I have also submitted two other songs for the Netherlands and Norway selections. So, I am hoping for the best.

Who composed the song?

Romanz: The group of local songwriters, the main one is Sean Butler, from our label Select Music.  Amongst them also is Niel Schoombee and possibly fans can recognise this name as a member of the band Hi-5, who have recorded a number of Eurovision covers and also were invited to attend Eurovision 2005.

Candy: Shy Boy was composed by Artsrun Khangeldyan and the lyrics were written by Vasco Cardoso, Romeo Samuel and little old me!!

Have you watched the Eurovision Song Contest in earlier years? If so do you have any special memories or favourite songs from the competition?

Romanz: As we have mentioned earlier, we’re fans of Eurovision so we’ve been watching recent contests live.  In the last month we have watched some great Eurovision moments from the past, the amount of talent and great performers is wonderful to see.  There are a lot of special moments, and we hope to create one ourselves very soon.  Speaking of our favourite entries –

Louis: As a fan of pop-opera, I can note Amaury Vassily singing for France in 2011, the song was very moving, despite the singer being obviously very nervous on the big night.  Amaury also was in South Africa just prior to Eurovision to sing with Katherine Jenkins, with whom we have also toured.

Andre: I am a big fan of classic old Peter, Sue & Marc, who have represented Switzerland four times, and all songs were in different languages.

Adam: My favourite from the contest are entries of Celine Dion and Umberto Tozzi, but maybe I am biased, because we know these singers in person.

Burgerd: I remember boybands, such as Blue.  I also really like the song from Iceland in 2011.

Candy: I love Eurovision. I like many songs.  But my favourites are probably Lose Control by Waldo’s People for Finland in 2009 and Is It True? by Yohanna for Iceland in 2009.

Have you recorded any Eurovision songs in the Afrikaans language?

Romanz: So far, we have only done La Voix, which was the entry of Malena for Sweden in 2009.  Our version was in Afrikaans and it was called, Jou stem, together with Nianell.  This song is very popular with our fans.

Candy: I have recorded a few Eurovision songs in Afrikaans and also in English, Spanish and German. I recorded Lena’s winning song from 2010 for Germany, Satellite, in German and Afrikaans.  She was presented with a special gift from me with the song at a Press Conference during Eurovision in Germany this year.

What will it mean to you if you are selected to sing for Switzerland?

Romanz: It will be the most amazing moment for us and we will perform with passion, this is really a big dream for us, and we believe that we can do it. Infact, we feel we are representing the whole non-European world now. Unfortunately, Eurovision is limited to only Europe and singers from other countries like South Africa, Australia and USA can only follow it, but we feel we can make a bit of a break through for all of them. We promise to deliver the best of us and you will not be disappointed.

Candy: It will mean everything to me and I promise to make Switzerland proud.  If you like my song listen to it and vote me.

Will you include your song on your next album?

Romanz: Yes, For You (I Will Build Rome In One Day) is a wonderful song written by the most talented songwriters in South Africa.  It may appear also on our international album with best hits that we are planning to release soon.

Candy: My new album will be out in South Africa soon and will include some Eurovision covers and hopefully, Shy Boy, too.

Is there a question I have not asked you, that you would like to ask yourselves, and what would your answer be?

Romanz: Probably "How can I vote for Romanz? Remember that we are in all three votings of Switzerland.  You can vote in Italian language RSIFrench language RTS and German SF voting started on 16 October. 

Candy: Well, the biggest newspaer in Switzerland mentioned my name being involved in the Swiss selection stating "Why can’t Candy Benson from South Africa do it for Switzerland? Celine Dion from Canada did it! LOL!! 

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