IMRI, 25, is no ordinary university student. Currently in his second year of a Visual Communications degree, he has already performed in dozens of concerts all around the world in Hebrew, English and Spanish. He has also studied acting and played in various Hebrew voice over roles for some animated series, including singing the Hebrew theme song for Trolls.
Today, IMRI qualified in the Eurovision Semi Final 2 for the Grand Final. SBS spoke with IMRI about his performance in Kiev and gets to learn a bit more about him and his journey to the Eurovision song contest.
What’s it like having been to Eurovision twice before and now competing for the title?
I’m as excited as if it was my first time at Eurovision, if not even more. I don’t think it’s something you ever get used to because this event is so huge and important. Now coming as the lead singer is a dream come true.
Why is entering the Eurovision song contest interesting to you as a person? How does it feel to represent Israel and have you always followed Eurovision?
It’s a great honour to perform in the Eurovision because Israel usually send its best singers. Sometimes I even need to remind myself that I’m going to perform and represent Israel. I have followed Eurovision for most of my life, maybe because it was a dream of mine to perform in front of so many people.
“I feel alive”, what does that mean to you? Is it just another dance anthem?
The song talks about my personal journey, rising up to challenges and achieving one’s goals. I’ve been a backing vocalist in the last two years at the Eurovision song contest but never gave up on my dream to represent my country as the lead singer.
What do you think of Australia being in the competition, have you checked out Isaiah Firebrace’s performance? What do you think about the rest of the competition? Any favourites?
It’s wonderful that Australia is in the Eurovision in my opinion. You send really good songs and singers. Isaiah is really good, I watched his performances on The X-Factor. Overall there are great songs and amazing singers. I do have my favourites, which are the Dutch and Spanish entries.
Now a bit more about you! Having Ukrainian heritage, do you find that coming to Ukraine will be an exceptionally interesting experience for you?
I’m sure it will. My family is from Kiev, so it will be interesting to see where my family is from and explore what there is to offer.
What made you want to participate in Hakochav Haba (Rising Star)?
My good friend Hovi Star, who represented Israel last year at the Eurovision and encouraged me to take part. Hovi can be very persuasive!
Have you always been musically inclined? Where did this love of music come from?
I remember myself singing as a kid. My family say that I was singing Freddy Mercury at the age of 2. I’ve been singing in the school band and worked at an event company as a singer. I mostly play the guitar but I can also play the piano.
What hobbies do you have? But most importantly, where do you like to go for a night out for a dance in Tel Aviv?
I do snowboarding and surfing at the beach. Well, believe it or not, I don’t go out that much! I work really hard but I love spending time with my friends and my nephews that I adore.
Any special routines before you go on stage?
Before I go on stage I do some breathing exercises and imagine myself singing and performing on stage. It makes me feel more calm and ready to go out there and give it my best.
Any upcoming projects that we can look forward to and any other comments?
At the moment, I am only focusing on Eurovision, it keeps me busy as you can imagine but I do plan to work on an album in Hebrew and maybe in Spanish too.
Thank you so much for the interview, I look forward to performing this year and hope to see you in Kiev!
* * *
The Eurovision Song Contest will be broadcast over SBS’s Eurovision weekend - Friday 12 May, Saturday 13 May, and Grand Final Sunday 14 May at 7.30pm on SBS with LIVE early morning broadcasts begin Wednesday 10 May at 5am on SBS.