#interview – Sheppard (Eurovision – Australia Decides 2019): “Staging is JUST as important as the song and the voice” [ENG]

Sheppard is an Australian indie pop band formed in 2009 as a duo: George and Amy Sheppard. The group soon grew to a gang of six also included Emma Sheppard: the trio of siblings was joined by Jason Bovino, guitarist Michael Butler and drummer Dean Gordon (who replaced Jared Tredly). In 2014, Sheppard released their debut album, “Bombs Away”, which included the song “Geronimo”, which brought international popularity to the band. Now they take part in the Eurovision – Australia Decides 2019 (first ever national final) with a song “On My Way”.

Polscy Fani Eurowizji: How long have you been interested in the Eurovision Song Contest? Are you new fans or have you been following it for years? 

Sheppard: We actually grew up in Papua New Guinea so we didn’t know much about Eurovision until we moved to Australia in our teens, but once we realised what it was we became pretty fascinated by it. Then once Australia became a part of the competition, it was hard not to get excited by the prospect of one day being one of the representatives.

PFE: For now, Dami Im is the one who achieved the highest Eurovision score for Australia with her song „Sound Of Silence”. What do You think about her Eurovision performance? Do you find there any inspiration for Yourself? 

Sheppard: It’s hard not to watch that performance and get inspired. Dami is an incredible vocalist, and a lovely person too. She really made Australia proud that year!

PFE: Why did you decide to take part in the Eurovision – Australia Decides? 

Sheppard: This is a great question. We decided to take part in Australia Decides because we feel it is just as important as Eurovision itself. This is because it helps to break down the internal music borders within our own country and gives up-and-coming pop music writers and performers a new avenue to showcase their music in a country that still has a long way to go when it comes to appreciating pop music.

PFE: Do You think that the Eurovision – Australia Decides is a better format for Australia than an internal selection? Would you like this selection format to be retained in the next years? 

Sheppard: Absolutely! Give the power to the people and they will be more invested in the competition and act that they send. It’s a great step in the right direction. I only wish they had implemented it sooner.

PFE: How would You define the Eurovision? What is it for You personally? 

Sheppard: To us, Eurovision is more than just a singing competition. It transcends borders and politics and brings together countries from all over the world in a joyous celebration of love, equality and acceptance using the oldest, most powerful method of universal communication – music!

PFE: What’s Your favourite Eurovision song and why? 

Sheppard: For me personally, it was “Heroes” by Sweden’s winning entry in 2015. It was a great song, but the way they used technology to tell a story was really interesting!

PFE: Do You watch The Junior Eurovision Song Contest? What do You think about Roksana Roxie Węgiel and her winning song of last year – „Anyone I Want To Be”? 

Sheppard: Yes! We thought Roksana sang beautifully, and her staging was really good. This is something we’ve learned about Eurovision over the years. Staging is JUST as important as the song and the voice and Roksana had it all. You guys should be very proud!

PFE: What’s the story behind „On My Way”? 

Sheppard: The story of On My Way is quite simple, it’s essentially a song about a guy who wants to get back to his lover so that he can feel the fire of their love once again. It has plenty of poetic lyrical metaphors of fire and heat representing their love. The song was written in one day, and that was a good sign for us. The best songs are usually the easiest to write. Then we had a whole lot of fun recording it. We wanted to make it atmospheric and epic, something that could be played in the stadium.

PFE: Till now only the lyrics video of „On My Way” is available, do You plan to make also the official music video? 

Sheppard: We are planning to release an official video, we’re currently looking for the right director and idea – so stay tuned!

PFE: Could You tell us any details about Your (future) Eurovision performance in the Eurovision – Australia Decides? What can we expect on the stage? Would You like to keep the same staging if you will represet Australia in the ESC or you plan to make some changes? 

Sheppard: Well we definitely took a little bit of inspiration from Sweden’s winning performance in 2015, we’ve also got some really cool animations to interact with – but there’s also a lot of fire themes in the song so we’re going to play with that imagery a lot. If we go on to represent Australia in Tel Aviv we’ll definitely look at amping up and expenading the performance that we already have.

PFE: In the announcement video of the Eurovision – Australia Decides George sad that: „You’re built for Eurovision in a weird way”. Could You expand this thought? 

Sheppard: Well, Sheppard is all about celebrating acceptance, love and equality – same as Eurovision. We’re only here on this planet for a short time, so we’re of the opinion everyone is welcome when it comes to enjoying yourself and having a good time and loving your fellow humans. Plus, every time we get up on stage we try and explode with colour, energy and euphoria and we just feel like we’d be a great fit!

PFE: What are Your next musical plans for near future (except the ESC)? 

Sheppard: Well a lot of our plans hinge on what happens with Australia Decides, but we’ve got another great single ready to go as a follow up to “On My Way” which we can’t wait for people to hear. We’ve also got a lot of writing and recording to do for album 3, which will be taking up a lot of our year as well.

PFE: Do You plan any concerts in Poland in near or far future?

Sheppard: Absolutely! No plans as of yet, but if we end up being the ones to represent Australia at the ESC, then you can expect that we’ll be doing a lot of touring around Europe! We absolutely loved Poland when we visited in 2015 and we can’t wait to come back.

(The interview questions answered by George Sheppard)

Sheppard will compete in the Eurovision – Australia Decides tomorrow (February 9) with the song “On My Way” as the 7th performing act!

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