With Eurovision 2022 fast approaching, there’s a lot to be excited about. After winning the Dora song contest with her new single “Guilty Pleasure”, singer/songwriter Mia Dimšić is gathering attention from fans across Croatia, Europe, and beyond.
The Osijek-born songstress was first discovered in 2014 when tamburitza band Džentlmeni invited her to join them on a tour through Canada and the U.S., singing for the Croatian diaspora across North America. Dimšić subsequently released her first single “Budi mi blizu” in 2015. Since, she has released three Croatian language albums.
When did you begin singing and why did you choose to pursue a career in music?
The beginning of my professional career happened quite by accident. Me touring, meeting my manager. Nearing the end of my college I just knew I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life because I was into music. So, I would say the beginning of my professional career was in 2015 when I released my first single. But also, of course, my whole life revolved around singing and music. I don’t really think music is limited to professional musicians. There are a lot of people who just live music 24/7 but they don’t earn their income from it.
Do you come from an artistic family?
Well, my dad also studied guitar in musical school. So, he has a basic musical education, I would say. He also had a band before I was born but he never played professionally. It was more like just a side job along with his day job. I was actually the first in my big circle of family and friends to really decide to be a professional singer/songwriter. So, I never had people around me who were songwriters. I met my manager who also writes songs in 2014; someone just next to me who I can really ask what makes a good song. When I write something down I ask is it good or not? How can I tell if it’s good or not? I didn’t grow up around it, but I maybe prefer it that way because I developed my own theories about it and the principles and then I kind of got into that world later.
What kind of singer would you classify yourself as?
I think I’m a singer-songwriter first and foremost because I’m pretty sure I would never have been a success if I didn’t write my own songs. Because I think, for me the most important moment was this storyteller moment. I am a huge fan of Taylor Swift and the way she just tells stories through lyrics is something that never fails to amaze me. So, whether it be the happy romance story or just some sentence I heard along the way or something my friends told me about when I feel strongly about something the most therapeutic way to deal with it is just to sit down and write a song. That’s what I want to do. I want to tell stories through music.
Your song “Guilty Pleasure” won the Dora singing competition, congratulations! What skills did you learn from the competition that you think will help you during Eurovision as well as in your future career?
Well, there were so many interesting lessons. First of all, just standing on a stage like that is not an everyday opportunity in such a small market as the Croatian market. So, for all of us young singers there, it was such a fantastic experience in terms of audio production, visual production and just getting used to the big stage. I think that that will be very useful in touring. Also, I bonded with a lot of new people. That was the most amazing part, and I can’t wait to do the same when touring and meeting some international stars I’ve been watching throughout the years.
Also, one of the big life lessons Dora brought was just to enjoy the moment. Because all of us contestants just wanted to win. It can get pretty competitive, and it can get pretty stressful you’re under a lot of media attention. So, I said to myself, just being there among the 14 contestants is already me winning, just winning life because I’m learning something new. I’m gaining some new experiences. And if I manage to get that mindset in Turin, I know that everything is going to be fine because I think problems arise when people are very stiff and are obsessing about something. Music really should be about living in the present moment. So, I think if I come there and manage to just enjoy every day, every rehearsal, every encounter, then the results are going to be good as well.
What was your inspiration behind “Guilty Pleasure”? Do you have a personal story underlying the lyrics?
Yes, absolutely. It is just the most fun and the best experience ever when you write something specific about your experience and then it goes out into the world and people somehow connect to it. In this case, I had a dream five nights in a row, as the first lines say. It was very literal. I dreamt about someone I felt I wasn’t supposed to be dreaming about. And since I was a teenager since I started falling in love and stuff like that, I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of ‘how do you really decide on just one person?’ You know you get married to that person and that’s it. How do you know if they are right for you? How did women know in the 19th century? When practically their whole life depended on them marrying the right person or it could be a disaster if they married the wrong person?
I am just so fascinated by that question. Is monogamy really the path humanity should be choosing or are we just raised that way? We’re not looking for any other way. ‘Guilty Pleasure’ was actually a song about that. The ending of the song and also the visual choreography that we put with a song where I have a male dancer who represents that fantasy of mine. I want to run away with him, but also I’m not sure because I have a safe harbor. I have someone else in my life. What if it’s just an illusion? What if I am romanticizing it? And then in the end there’s an instance where we almost kiss, but the viewer is not sure if we do, or we don’t. So, actually, I’m not sure either. The ending of the song is my question. Should I run away with you, or should I just let it be? It’s a very light catchy pop song. But what inspired me to write it are very tricky questions that are really messy.
Describe your creative process. Where does your inspiration come from when you write your songs?
For me, it always goes music first and then lyrics. I am very obsessed with lyrics having to rhyme and every verse has to be symmetrical. I am very much a lover of symmetrical lines, and I am trying to use pretty words that sound nice when you sing them. I am careful and pay a lot of attention to that.
What musicians do you admire most and why?
I discovered Taylor Swift when I was 16 years old. Back then she just released her first international album “Fearless”. And I heard Love Story and I was in the exact same situation. I wanted to meet with a boy and my parents wouldn’t let me. He lived on the other side of Croatia. So, for me just listening to that song felt like OMG Taylor Swift read through my diary. That’s the only possible explanation for her incredible insight into our souls, in our lives. Throughout the years whenever I had a certain situation, I just connected to her songs. Literally today, I’m 29 years old and if you tell me any of her songs from any of her albums, I will tell you what was happening to me when I first heard it. I guess it’s like what you said, we humans only exist to share the same kind of emotions through different stories with each other. And I think the most amazing part of her as a songwriter is that she can take something very complex into two lines of a song. And you’ll just hear it and maybe it’s something completely different from what you’ve ever experienced but you will feel like you’ve been there. That for me is art. Putting something we all know so well but don’t how to verbalize, for me, that’s a true artist.
Throughout Eurovision history, singers choose the language of a song for different reasons. Most of your music up to this point has been in Croatian. Why did you choose to write an English song this time?
That’s a really good question. I actually spent the entirety of 2021 writing songs in English only because I entered a phase of wanting to start the English chapter of my journey. I’ve always wanted that since my first Croatian song. I thought, ok maybe I should first work in the domestic field and with time and with the experience I can start writing songs in English too. Actually, my first motive for Dora, in the first place if I applied because I wanted to, if I hypothetically got the chance to go to Eurovision, I want to present my music to as many non-Croatian speaking people as I can. I think Eurovision is a great opportunity for that. It’s definitely an incredible festival. But, for me, it should not just be the end. It should be the first stage where I get such an incredible experience and audience. But I want to keep on releasing English music and going in that direction.
How does it feel to be representing Croatia on such an international stage?
It’s incredible. I am very proud of my team. We’ve worked so hard for this. I am very excited. I can’t wait to go to Turin. Of course, there is always some kind of pressure because everyone feels very intensely about Eurovision and everyone has their own opinion. Whoever wins in Croatia will always face a lot of backlashes as well. Almost every year there are stories about who won. But I think this part as well will also make me a stronger person and stronger artist. I just think it is a huge honor and a huge privilege.
What are your aspirations going into the European Song Contest? Obviously, not all countries have submitted their entries, but do you see any clear front runners who will make for a tough competition?
I think Italy will do really well this year. Everyone is loving the song and I love the song as well. I think Eurovision trends change so rapidly every year that it’s so hard to say what will catch peoples’ attention this year. I think it is going to be a wonderful Eurovision this year. There are so many interesting songs and there is a huge variety of different genres of music.
Going forward, what are your plans beyond Eurovision? What are your goals for your career?
My goals for my career are currently just doing everything I can to present ‘Guilty Pleasure’ to as many people not just around Europe but around the world. Next week, I am also finally filming a music video which will be filmed in the region where I am from. So, it’ll showcase all its beauty. I am hoping to also have a couple of other English songs ready the moment I reach Turin. I can just find people who like it and connect with the producers. I think networking is the most valuable thing we can get from Eurovision. After Eurovision, I don’t want to just come home and forget it happened and continue releasing the normal songs that I’ve got planned out. I also want it to be a starting point for new collaborations. I hope this plan will work. I really really want it to work. I’ll do my best. I just hope when people remember me, they’re going to remember the song or they are going to remember that I was there that year. That’s all I’m hoping for right now.
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