1) X: You’re a very recognisable name in the Eurovision world, having written 8 Eurovision songs representing five different countries, but not much is known about you in general, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your career so far?
I was born in Moscow 52 years ago. I am a professional lyricist. I can't do anything else. And that means I have no other business than writing song lyrics. I wrote my first hit in 1987. Within the period of 25 years after that I wrote over 800 songs in all possible styles – from heavy metal to acid-jazz. But all these songs were written for Russian singers and groups. Their names are not known in Europe, except for probably “Gorky Park”. They had their CD (“Bang!”) released in the USA on Polygram Records in 1989 and were relatively popular in Europe (in Denmark their record became Golden).
In 2002 I first took part in the Eurovision with the song “Northern Girl” performed by a boy band Premier Minister. We were number 10. In 2006 I took a better chance with “Never Let You Go” performed by Dima Bilan. During 2007-2013 I wrote 6 songs for Belarus, Georgia and twice for Armenia and Ukraine
2) X: As previously mentioned, this is your 8th song to enter Eurovision. How did you come to work with Mikhail Nekrasov and Zlata Ognevich on this song ‘Gravity’?
Michael’s wife Victoria called me few months ago. She said that they want me to do it. She didn’t say why they have selected me and I didn’t ask. Maybe the reason is just that I am one of the few lyricists in the ex-Soviet states who write in English. Next day I found some of their songs… What can I say about Zlata? She’s brilliant.
3) X: What is the creative process like when you create a song? Do you write the words before the music comes, or do you write the words after you have been presented with the music?
I’m not a poet. I’m just a songwriter. That’s why at first I need a melody and then I try to create lyrics.
4)X: And where do you usually draw your inspiration for your lyrics from?
I like loneliness. I just take a walk in the forest or lay down on the floor and then I start to write. It happens of its own accord.
5)X: You’ve written the lyrics to some of the most iconic Eurovision songs, such as Dima Bilan’s ‘Never Let You Go’, Ani Lorak’s ‘Shady Lady’ and Dmitry Koldun’s ‘Work Your Magic’. How do you feel knowing you’ve written such big hits?
I’m happy if somebody calls them iconic. Thanks that you remember them up to now. It means I’ve made something unforgettable. If you ask me I like “Never let you go” but not both other songs. A lot of my hits in Russia were much better and successful.
6)X: Do you have a favourite of all the songs you’ve written?
I like ‘’Peace will come’’ because it was written from the bottom of my soul. When I was writing that song I thought about the fragile peace between Georgia and South Ossetia. My wife was born in Tbilisi. She said: “You did a good deed…’’ Three months later the war has begun. It seemed like somebody has fired point-blank at me. And I know his name.
7) X: Given that you’ve only had one song outside the top 10 (Diana Gurtskaya’s ‘Peace Will Come’, 11th in 2008) do you feel that puts pressure on you to continue writing successful songs?
I was never really thrilled with either this or any other contest and I never care about points or places. I'm not a sportsman.
8) X: Would you consider yourself a Eurovision fan, and do you have any favourite songs in the contest in general?
I am basically indifferent towards the Eurovision style of music. I'm really sorry… but ESC is out of my view. I don't remember. Maybe it’s ''Volare''. It sounds like real music.
9) X: Given that you’ve written songs for five different nations now, would you ever consider writing songs for singers from other countries too?
I think it’s unnecessary. There are a lot of talents on the Earth.
10) X: Do you have any plans in motion for Eurovision 2014?
There are no plans. I’ll be at home. What’s the point of going there? Singers will rehearse; producers will strive but what about authors? They will drink, sleep and spin around the city. But it’s going to be too cold for walking in Malmo. I’ve been in Tallinn and Oslo. I think it’s enough. For another thing I’m not a big fan of ESC and I don't want to go through the “ground-hog day'' one more time.
11) X: What are some of your career highlights as a lyricist?
It’s a very long list. But I’ll never forget the Christmas evening in 2005 when I got five certificates of the Russian TV music contest “Song of the year”. I couldn’t believe that I got five songs in top-20, as The Beatles. It was funny.
12) X: Finally, do you have a message for the readers of escXtra.com?
I wish you all will have pleasure watching the ESC-2013.