Seven years ago, a young, 17 year old Martina Šraj won the seventh place on EMA 2010. Now, she’s back under a new name and with a different musical expression. Today, with this interview we present you Ina Shai.
What were your reasons for applying for EMA 2017?
I believe you always have to follow your inner voice. And that’s what I did… The first time I performed on EMA was in 2010 when I was only 17 years old. That was my first TV performance ever and I have some great memories of it. People got to know me as Martina Šraj and now I will perform under an artist name Ina Shai – maturer – exactly 7 years later – in the year 2017. Fairytale number 7 is popping up all the time so maybe it really was meant to be.
You currently live in London. How much did your musical expression change?
I’ve been living in London for the past 2 years. I moved there because I wanted to study music and although the decision to move was really hard at first I am really happy I did it. London is a place to be if you want to grow musically and develop as an artist. There are so many talented musicians all around and you are exposed to different genres of music all the time which feeds your creative mind and helps you develop faster.
I also have a band here and am working with a great producer Hans Kristjan Aljas and a guitarist, co-writer Vincenzo Capodivento. We met at the university where I study and we just released my 4-track debut EP album Overload. I am really proud of what we created. The journey of making this album was really special and I’ve learned a lot. It’s also nice to see positive reactions from people especially as we did it on almost zero budget. We’re just a bunch of kids who love to make quality and authentic music and I hope people can feel that in our songs.
Recently, your song Fading Away got played on BBC Radio Introducing 2016. How does it feel to get recognition from such a big radio?
Oh yes, I was ecstatic and so happy that the BBC team liked our song and chose to play it! Growing up in a small country like Slovenia you sometimes wonder if the music you make will be good enough for the UK audience, especially since the competition is so big. But it looks like they do like it and that really gives you a nice confidence boost and makes you want to work even harder.
You’re one of the rare people on Slovenian music scene who sings in English language. Is it hard to succeed on domestic market if you don’t sing in your native language?
Yes, I guess it can be a challenge. I started singing and performing in Slovenia at an early age and back then I was always singing in Slovenian language. It wasn’t since recently when I released my EP in October 2016 with songs in English language only. Nevertheless, Slovenian people accepted the songs nicely, and they do get regular radio play. But to be honest I don’t really know many successful artists in Slovenia that would sing in English. Except for Magnifico who is combining Slovenian and English language and Laibach but they also succeeded internationally. Who knows, things might change. People in Slovenia understand and speak English very well so I think it’s less of a barrier now than it was 10-20 years ago.
Can you tell us what musical genre your song belongs to, what is it about and who wrote it?
I’m not really allowed to reveal too much about the song until the performance in February (sorry, the rules, hehe) but I can tell you that it’s a powerful song – a mixture of pop and soul. I wrote it myself and it was produced and arranged by Hans Kristjan Aljas. I really can’t wait to perform it!
And to conclude this short interview, do you have a message for our readers?
Be happy and believe in yourself. If you have goals and dreams – just go for it! There is nothing you can’t achieve if you set your mind to it. Besides, life would be so dull without the excitement that comes with it.