Slovenia 2024: Raiven
Photo: Tjaša Barbo

Raiven from Slovenia: "I want to keep the raw nakedness for the Eurovision stage"

INTERVIEW After four attempts, Raiven will represent Slovenia at Eurovision 2024. Besides her journey to Eurovision, the singer also spoke about "Veronika," what to expect for Malmö, and showed her psychoanalytical self

Representing Slovenia at Eurovision has always been a dream and an ambition for Raiven, who was internally selected by broadcaster RTVSLO to sing at the Eurovision Song Contest 2024. She had already attempted Eurovision three times, by competing in Slovenia's national selection competitions, and was always very close to winning.

It all led to this very moment and to "Veronika," the entry she'll be taking to Eurovision 2024. Curiously enough, the Slovenian singer sat down for an interview with Eurovisionworld on the International Women's Day. It couldn't have been a better date since her song also celebrates women:

– My transition from a girl into a woman happened throughout my career, so this song is a celebration of my journey as well as Veronika's journey and, actually, of everyone who just like her have been judged just because they were different and weren't afraid of being themselves, she explains.

Raiven's Eurovision song "Veronika" was inspired by Veronika Deseniška, a mysterious figure in Slovenian history who was accused of witchcraft and eventually murdered at her father-in-law's request, given his opposition to the matrimony between her and his son.

Slovenia 2024: Raiven – "Veronika" (Music video)

She's one of the many women Raiven pays tribute on her EP "Sirene, Pt.1" which also gets inspiration from other women who have remained relevant for their actions or behavior.

Raiven clarifies:

– I wouldn't say that all of them were role models. In fact, many are considered villains but their stories were tragic, poetic, dark and really served as an inspiration to my music.

Why share their stories, and Veronika's, now?

– I don't think that was entirely my decision. It was like a web of different things happening: the right time, the right song, the right message... Nothing was planned.

Not even Eurovision. Raiven goes on to share that "Veronika" wasn't written with Eurovision in mind. In fact, "Ofelija," another song featured on her EP, was the initial choice:

– I don't think I've told this to many people but I thought "Ofelija" was going to be the one. It turned out that "Veronika" had the drama I really wanted to go with.

Raiven – "Ofelija"

Joker Out

Bojan Cvjetićanin from Joker Out (Slovenia 2023) may have helped:

– He came into the picture near the end, when the song was nearly finished. He's a very good friend of mine and we had already spoken about collaborating so this turned into the perfect opportunity, Raiven recalls.

– He was the one who came up with the "jaz sem, ti si Veronika (I am, you are Veronika)” that is basically the main thing of the song.

Speaking of which, and since Bojan had a major input in her song, I tell Raiven that during Joker Out's interview with Eurovisionworld last year, they stated that they were on a mission to get Slovenia's interest in Eurovision back.

Were they successful?

– Absolutely. They did an amazing job and they are the most successful Slovenian artists that took the most out of Eurovision. They're an inspiration to me as well when it comes to that, Raiven says.

Their Eurovision faith seems similar. Just like it happened with Joker Out for Eurovision 2023, RTVSLO's plans of hosting a national selection competition to select this year's representative were also canceled once the broadcaster heard "Veronika." But unlike Joker Out, it wasn't Raiven's first attempt. It took her four to get here:

– That's just life and I think it's a perfect analogy of how it works. Sometimes you get what you want and sometimes you don't and maybe this is my way of thinking but I always felt that whatever was meant for me would come to me. Now thinking back on those previous attempts, I am sure it happened for a reason because I have not felt as connected as I am to "Veronika" so I'm, in a way, grateful that I did not go to Eurovision before.

We joke about a statement she made in her EP documentary:

I am so glad I am not sick of "Veronika"Raiven

– Oh yes, I do get sick of my songs, she laughs.

– But not with "Veronika," I am really in love with it.

It seems she isn't the only one. Not only are the main hardcore Eurovision fans who already knew Raiven from her previous attempts and were over the moon with the news of her doing the show, but so many others as its music video was fast to hit the 1 million mark on YouTube:

– It feels so surreal. There are so many emotions that I get to feel at once. It's a massive responsibility to myself, to my music, to my team and to the people who are around me but I am also extremely excited and inspired. It truly is one of the best periods of my life, Raiven says.

– And you know, I was thinking about this the other day and it's weird because, in some ways, nothing has really changed. But then in others it has drastically, but I am grateful and this is one of the best things someone can feel.

The aesthetics for "Veronika" seem very specific. In its music video, there is nudity, fish bones, water, smoke and other elements that were also onstage when Raiven performed as an interval act in Croatia's national selection show, Dora 2024. Those should be kept for Malmö:

– The same choreographer who did the music video will choreograph the performance so I will have the same dancers. I definitely want to portray the same vibe, the same feeling of these ethereal, creepy creatures, she unveils.

Slovenia 2024: Raiven – "Veronika" (Dora 2024 performance)

She's interrupted by her cat who quickly comes into the camera to say hi:

– There she goes... I also want to keep the kind of raw nakedness and this kind of silver sheen that is throughout my visuals for the song.

How involved are you in the creation of your own performance?

– Very much involved. I am a control freak and I am very lucky that I have an amazing group of people I can trust because, at some point, I had to learn to let it go and understand I couldn't control it all. I can make final decisions but for huge projects like Eurovision, you really need to trust other people as well.

Greedy for knowledge

Raiven, with the real name Sara Briški Cirman, began her musical journey at the age of four when she enrolled in a music school. She's currently 27 and continues to invest in her musical education. In the meantime, she's mastered how to sing multiple genres such as pop, opera and jazz, and she plays the harp:

– I am kind of a big fan of studying and learning. I love to learn new things and I love to get feedback from people, it's part of who am I, Raiven explains.

– I always wanted to grow and have constantly been afraid of not evolving, that's one of my biggest fears. I don't like to be stagnant.

Raiven goes on to share she also studies psychoanalysis and she reveals her willingness to learn how to play the guitar:

– I know how to play the harp and the piano but I don't know how to play a guitar. It's bizarre, as a pop artist I need to learn that, too.

2024 marks the 10th anniversary of her career. We discuss the things she learned along the way:

– If there's one thing I learned is that you should not rush anything. Things will come to you whenever they're meant to. I have also learned that I should trust my instincts. Trusting your intuitition is key. It's not easy but it's really important.

Just a few days before flying to Sweden, Raiven will have her own concert, the Siren Symphony at Cankar Hall in Ljubljana, in order to celebrate her career's milestone. It's another thing that will keep her busy throughout the following months, and maybe her mind away from the nerves of competing in a Semi-final:

– I would be lying if I said: "I am not nervous about the results," because it's always nice to have that confirmation from people but I also am aware that my music is not exactly radio-friendly. I understand that I have maybe a bit of a narrower pool of my own audience. But I also feel like I really trust myself and therefore results shouldn't be much of a big deal, Raiven admits.

– I just really want to represent my music, not only this song, but others. That's why I made this EP and released it during this period, I want to make my music known for a larger audience and I think that's my most realistic goal.

I go back to her EP's documentary for a final quote:

We see in others what we repress in ourselves.Raiven

– My music or image have never exactly been "the girl's next door" and it has always been quite polarizing. I have always seen the negative comments as a reflection of the people who are making those, not necessarily as a reflection of me as an artist. I think that's my goal with my music: to leave the door open to all different interpretations so that everyone can see something else and not necessarily what I wanted them to see.

She jokes:

– And there you go, that's my psychoanalytical part coming out.

– But for real, the message of the song is "I am, you are Veronika" and I would be the happiest and most fulfilled artist if people would find a parallel from their lives to the life of Veronika and her story.

Raiven will compete in the first Semi-final of Eurovision 2024 with "Veronika" on 7 May.

About the author: Pedro Santos (Portugal)

authorPedro comes from Lisbon, Portugal. He's 30 years old and graduated in journalism. He has attended Eurovision Song Contest three times live - 2018, 2019 and 2022 - and covered the show twice more (2021, 2023) but his first Eurovision memory takes him back to 2007 when Sarbel delivered his catchy "Yassou Maria" performance. Pedro's favorite Eurovision song is Albania's 2015 "I'm Alive" by Elhaida Dani which is also his favorite Eurovision edition.

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