Interview with Milki member Marina Putnikova
Some know her as the teacher at the Gorki Children’s Vocal Arts School. Some remember her from the project “Singing Cities”. But her biggest claim to fame came from the participation in the group Milki that Alexander Rybak wanted to introduce to Eurovision in 2015. The Gorki News met with the girl to dot all the “i”s with the group Milki and their try-outs in the international song contest and also to find out the talented compatriot’s plans.
Source: gorkiv.by Author: Katya Karpitskaya. Photo: Michael Levtsov. Translated by Marina Rolbin.
-Everyone writes that you made it to Alexander Rybak’s audition by accident. How did it happen?
-Here’s what happened. First the parents of this guy called me and they saw on TV that Rybak was selecting a music group and they told me to go. Then, the director of our school, Oksana Petrovna Zapevalova sent me an email with the same information. But first of all, I was afraid. Second, I didn’t see any reason for doing it. The auditions were held across the entire country with thousands of girls and my chances were very slim. Third, I was just busy at work and forgot about it. After all that, my girlfriend made me go to the audition.
-What did you hope for after the audition?
I practically forget about these things right away, since I am sure that I won’t be selected. Well, some time passed and I started getting messages. First, they asked me to send them my photos. Then, after about a week I almost gave up. Then I got another message. They were asking about my height. I decided to add a few centimeters, worrying that my 161 centimeters would not be enough.
And then, I came home one day and read an online message from a friend that said: “Congratulations!” And there was a video from Alexander Rybak. He named me last. My mom started jumping around right away and hugging me. And I was feeling calm on the outside but on the inside, I was really happy.
-So how did you prepare for the Eurovision selection?
We had about two weeks to rehearse. They did send us the song beforehand. Sasha sang it himself, so we could get used to it a little bit, learn the English. First, we worked on the song with our choreographers and Adrei Guzel, the second producer. We tried to make it as exciting as possible. But then Sasha watched it and told us that we should stay away from unnatural-looking steps and movements that are too strong. It’s better to attract with simplicity and pretty looks.
-Everyone around you was predicting victory. Why, in your opinion, did the jury reject Milki?
-From all the performances, the jury picked the one that was closest to the European standards. This is our typical state of mind, where as we look for a way to win Eurovision, we only have one way: to imitate Europe. So the duet of Uzari and Maimuna had the looks and costumes that fit these parameters. If you turn on the TV and watch them, you would not think that they represent Belarus. It would be nice to see right away if these are Poles or Georgians who are performing. Each country, in my opinion, needs to put its emphasis on national folk elements.
Milki wanted to show just that and because of this, they saw in various comments that they sounded too “small town” and like a “collective farm”.
-Some critics and journalists mentioned that you lost because of your “raw” qualities and inability to gel musically.
-Well, you can’t argue with that. If was difficult in such a short time to make something unrealistic out of five girls who didn’t know each other and not all of them had the experience of performing on stage. We were not as experienced as the other participants. And our vocals were probably not as strong. But we would have certainly gotten noticed with our uniqueness and youth.
-It seemed that Alexander Rybak was so upset that he was through not just with Milki but with any other opportunities to work in Belarus. You just had to watch his video address to the jury. He was almost crying.
-At first, he was completely upset, he took it hard. But now, it seems he’s recovered and told us that he is writing a new song. We are supposed to start rehearsing in the beginning of February. And they’re planning a video clip but I don’t have any additional information.
-How are you planning to combine your teaching with the group?
-I will travel to the rehearsals during my weekends. It will be hard, of course. It’s a double responsibility. With the kids, it will be even bigger. I was fortunate that they let me go during the Eurovision preparation. But it can’t continue like this all the time.
-Are you going to take Eurovision by storm next year?
-We haven’t discussed this yet, but I would really like to. We would not be seen as an inexperienced, “raw” group any more. Although, possibly, Sasha’s resentment won’t let him participate in this any more.