“Somebody has to take a step to be a proper ambassador” – an interview with Vasil Garvanliev

A lot happened during Skopje Pride. One of the highlights of the day was performance of Vasil Garvanliev – the Macedonian Eurovision representative. We’ve asked him about the event, queer music scene in country and his ESC experience.

This is a second pride in Skopje. How are you feeling about that?
It’s an emotional day; I just finished my performance in front of all these people who just went through streets in Skopje. To be honest it’s interesting: performances like this are way more emotional and scary than the actual Eurovision. It’s smaller; you connect more with the audience. To compare, Eurovision is a beast, so you just get there and do everything that you are supposed to do. But this performance because of the cause makes it very emotional.

As you said, you just finished your performance. What were you thinking standing there, knowing you’re in Macedonia?
The performance was full of emotions. I felt a lot and I thought that it’s a sign that things are changing so for me everything felt very good that people were so happy when I was performing.

The performance was on special occasion. You’re part of queer music scene in Macedonia. How does it look like for artists?
Honestly, it’s scary. This is a step you have to take while you struggle with views and likes and followers, but I always choose the truth. I sing to inspire people, and I’m doing it to everyone – to every human being. We’re all human being so that connects us. Music is universal and doesn’t choose. So, is it easy? No, it’s not easy, but who wants the easy? I don’t.

You’re one of those people who chose to take that brave step. How did it look like for you?
It wasn’t easy but I was ready. It’s one of those things I said: somebody has to take a step to be a proper ambassador. There’s not a need for drama, there’s no need for tabloid news, etc. I wanted to make a step, even if it’s not safe for me – it’s better for future generation to come. Even my struggles always remind me that I can change the future, and it’s always worthy.

This is second pride in Skopje. Have you attended first parade?
No, back that time I was performing in Toronto and last year we didn’t have it. But I was at pride in Toronto. It looked different from here – more people were walking on the streets just celebrating love. But this, once again, is more powerful because in a way it’s not safe. In that way we all are taking a big step towards the future. In America and Canada they already there where we want to be, they’re way ahead of us. It’s accepted and people are battling different demons.

I’m from Poland so I can already see the difference between my nation and Macedonia. Your country took already a lot of big steps.
We have to remember: it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from. We are all people. Likewise, we need love and energy. Let’s hope for the better future for all the countries.

In some way, music can help to change that. When you write your songs, what’s on your mind?
You know, it just happens. For the song Here I stand it just came out. Considering everything that has been going on in my life: all the struggles. So I said: despite everything here I stand, I’m smiling and maybe everybody can relate to this. No matter where you are and who you are. I know there are a lot of mean people out there; people who try to break you, to bring you down. But we will not let them.

It reminds me of acceptance speech of one of the famous artists, during which she said: If you are met with resistance that probably means that you’re doing something new. So even when you meet negativity, you’re taking step.
So I’m taking a lot of steps. But it’s true; we should always look for our better future, even if it’s hard.

You also did a step being part of Eurovision Song Contest. What surprised you there?
How well everything happened despite the protocol, which was very strict. To be honest I’m very glad I went on 2019 with Tamara, so I experienced full Eurovision. This year was hard because of how it was restricted. I didn’t have chance to meet many people. Of course, there is social media: the opportunity to get to know them but maybe of all the singers I met 6-7 face to face.

Who you were rooting for?
My favorite was the song Voilà by Barbara Pravi who was representing France. Deep down I also liked Ukrainian song: Go_A – SHUM. Despite the results, the most important thing for me was the fact that Eurovision actually happened. The fact that we went: we’re all winners. It’s cliché, but this event was a test to the world to see if we can go back to normal, and we all proved that.

And now we can see what future will bring us. What’s in store for you?
I want to do many things. My Macedonian album is done, I’m working on my English record, and ideally I would love to enter the global market to do tours. Just to make people happy.

I wish that this dream would happen. Thank you for your time!
Thank you!

Anna Marek

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