Malta 2023: The Busker

The Busker from Malta: "We’re used to being the underdogs"

INTERVIEW In the midst of all the preparations for the Eurovision Song Contest 2023, we met with the guys from The Busker to talk about the preparations and expectations for Eurovision

The band The Busker will represent Malta at Eurovision 2023 with the song "Dance (Our Own Party)," after winning the Malta Eurovision Song Contest (MESC).

The Busker is an indie pop band, and their Eurovision 2023 song "Dance (Our Own Party)" was written by all band members. Even though the guys are now well-known around Malta and abroad, they still seem very laid-back, comfortable in their sweaters (staying true to their song), and very proud of their achieved success.

The band currently consists of the singer Dav.Jr (David Meilak), the drummer Jean Paul Borg, and the saxophonist Sean Meachen.

Winning MESC 2023

The band won the Malta Eurovision Song Contest 2023 (MESC 2023) with a solid margin: 36 points and an immense support from the audience thanks to their up-tempo song and a remarkable show. However, The Busker was very close to submitting a ballad for MESC 2023 instead, says the band's singer Dav.Jr:

– In the pipeline, we had two songs. "Dance (Our Own Party)" and a ballad that we were going to submit as well. There were only two weeks left, we were late, and we could not focus on both songs. We decided to drop the ballad and focus on "Dance."

– It is better to give ourselves 100% on one song. As long as we're happy with the final product, we should keep pushing it forward, says Dav.Jr.

Participating at MESC had been on the band’s radar for a while. They were actually thinking of participating in 2021.

As Malta is a relatively small country, the band had already taken up most of the possible challenges, only participation at MESC remained. However, a suitable song was needed to participate.

We were very surprised that we did win. We were like: "this is weird, please stop pranking us"The Busker

While the band is proud of their work on their song "Dance (Our Own Party)," they were not so confident about winning MESC 2023 in the first place, says the saxophonist Sean Meachen:

– We always try to do everything with the biggest enthusiasm. The best we can. But we did not expect to win. All the top six songs were amazing in comparison to some of the other years I’ve heard. But the production team made everyone sound and look very nice.

The singer Dav.Jr agrees on the band's ambitions:

– We always roll up our sleeves and are used to work hard. I think we hoped to win, but we didn’t believe we actually might. However, we were very surprised that we did win. We were like, "This is weird, please stop pranking us."

The Busker were already late in the songwriting process to submit the application on time for MESC 2023, so the song had to be written and produced quite quickly.

Dav.Jr usually starts the songwriting process by writing all of the ideas and potential lyrics down in a notebook, focusing on the phonetics of the words. That is also how the process for “Dance (Our Own Party)” started.

– Since COVID-19 and the lockdown, we all agreed that we have become very awkward socially. Going out came naturally to me. I was friends with everyone, but after COVID-19 I now find myself in a corner with my drink and literally checking the time to figure out when I could leave. And that also inspired the song, says Dav.Jr.

Performance at MESC 2023: The Busker – "Dance (Our Own Party)"

Was the change of song ever a possibility?

The winner of last year's MESC was Emma Muscat. Just the day after her victory in the national song contest, the Maltese broadcaster decided to change her MESC song "Out Of Sight" to a completely different song for Eurovision 2022: "I Am What I Am."

That scenario was not an option for The Busker. They were all involved in the writing of the song, so they were very passionate and strict about keeping their work as the final version to represent Malta, explains Sean Meachen:

– The Maltese selection was so strong that it would be a travesty to change the song that the viewers chose.

The Maltese broadcaster quite soon informed the band that they had no intentions of changing the song. And the band was very happy with that decision, says Dav.Jr:

– We wanted to keep something local, something Maltese, something that truly represents Malta. I think that we were very stubborn and put our foot down so that our song would be fully local. We don’t want anyone from other countries to take part, but mostly it’s because we haven’t had a lot of times when Malta is represented all by itself.

– We believe there’s a lot of talent in Malta and not enough opportunities, so we want to give Malta the opportunity like the Maltese gave to us, says Dav.Jr.

Preparations for Liverpool

The Busker has a great team behind them, but the guys are all deeply involved in the whole process and are actively participating in the plans for the staging in Liverpool.

Jean Paul Borg describes how the process has progressed so far:

– The idea of the staging was always about leaving the party to the living room. To be in the safe space. There were a lot of brainstorming sessions, and we drew the stage plan on a whiteboard.

We like to go on stage and improviseThe Busker

The band wants to use some of the same things from the staging at MESC "but with a twist," as Sean Meachen explains it. They also reveal that some additions from the song’s music video will be featured on the stage.

Their upbeat song and performance encourage dancing, but according to Dav.Jr they are not born dancers and actually feel safer when hiding behind their instruments:

– The thing with our performance is that we are not dancers, and we are used to Eurovision being more energetic in the sense that usually the people on the stage know what they are doing. We do not, in fact, know what we’re doing, says Dav.Jr and continues:

– We like to go on stage and improvise. We’re coming from a band point of view, so our advantage is that we are used to planning music videos. We took the stage the same way we would tackle a music video. The only difference is that we have to run around from one thing to another losing our breath and slipping, and risking everything. Acting as it was a music video worked perfectly.

Music video: The Busker – "Dance (Our Own Party)"

The band's preparations and mentoring team also includes some of the previous Maltese representatives at Eurovision, Dav.Jr says:

– So far we have had a lot of guidance from them, since they have the experience that we don’t have. But, to be honest, we are not using that advantage a lot. We are used to be heading in a particular direction. We are self-assured that if something is good, it works and it is representing us.

Expectations for Eurovision

Even though the song won the Maltese selection by a large televote margin, the bookmakers are not that optimistic about a similar result in Liverpool. Currently The Busker’s chances of qualifying for the Eurovision Grand Final are at 30% if you ask the bookmakers.

The guys do not take the bookmakers’ predictions to heart and are keen on doing the best they can and making their country proud:

– Odds are just numbers. The performance is yet to be seen, so you can’t get caught up in the numbers. At the end of the night, we might actually end up as qualifiers in the top 10. There is a possibility of everything, right? We have to just go there, do our best, enjoy it and make our country proud, says Sean Meachen.

The odds are not demotivating the band in any way. It’s not affecting them, says Dav.Jr:

– We started at the bottom and we are already here at Eurovision! So far, around 90% of the feedback has been positive, so even if we don't qualify, the feedback has been rewarding. Of course, there have been some negative comments, but this voice is not strong enough. What happens on the night will attract most viewers who are not following at the moment. So if we manage to translate to the audience on that night, everything is possible.

The Busker will compete in the first Semi-final of Eurovision 2023. A semi-final that has been named "the tough one." The band is taking one step at a time and focus 100% on the semi-final, as Dav.Jr says:

– We definitely have the semi-final to worry about. So, just placing the top 10 in the semi-final is great. Obviously given that Malta doesn’t have a big reputation for winning, we can’t really say we expect to win. Winning is like asking for an advance from the universe. But at the same time, as long as we’re doing our best and we’re focused, we believe that it’s going to give us the hero-welcome when we get back. But placing-wise, top 10 would be great.

When asked about their ESC 2023 favorites, the guys immediately say the competition is fierce and there are many great songs this year.

Sean Meachen:

– I like a couple of songs from the bunch, I can’t really pick one, honestly speaking. One of my top songs is Israel, it has a fantastic tune.

Jean Paul Borg:

– At the moment, the one I’m really connecting with the most is the one of Serbia. I also like the song of Azerbaijan, but again, it comes from my personal taste.


– I haven’t heard the whole Azerbaijani song yet, but I liked the snippet. Then I like the Netherlands, again, looking at my background, that one is really up my alley. But then last week I caught myself humming Croatia’s song, which is just very catchy, it just stays with you. But I also like Serbia’s song. At the moment, I’m constantly hearing the same songs, so obviously I’m going to be singing the same ones at one point of the day.

The Busker

The Busker was founded in 2012. Over the years the band members have changed, and for the last three years it's consisted of Dav.Jr, Jean Paul Borg, and Sean Meachen.

The lead singer Dav.Jr was a solo singer before joining the band. Being part of a band is a new experience for him:

– Being in a band is easier in terms of organization; Jean Paul is very organized with spreadsheets; Sean does so much regarding public relations and works with the business side of the band. Thankfully, being in a band and at certain times being a disorganized person myself lets me focus only on the creative things. Being in a band has definitely helped me grow, as previously I used to stay in my comfort zone a lot, it was mostly me and my guitar, and now we are experimenting with different instruments.

All guys are very talented and play numerous instruments besides the ones featured in “Dance (Our Own Party).” They all play keyboards, Sean Meachen plays the bass, Dav.Jr also plays guitar and drums. However, they agree that in the 21st century creating music does not end with playing instruments.

Jean Paul Borg, the drummer of The Busker, explains:

– In 2023, being a musician is not only about you playing an instrument, it’s about recording, producing, creating a new sound. The three of us share the same passions and we combine the songwriting and production together.

About the author: Marta Metuzāle (Latvia)

authorMarta is based in Riga, Latvia. Besides listening to Eurovision songs, she works as a financial analyst and freelance journalist. Her obsession with Eurovision began in 2011 when Musiqq won the Latvian selection with "Angel in Disguise", whose promotional CD she even bought. However, she remembers watching the contest ever since Latvia took the trophy home in 2002.

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