Maria Sur: “Sarah Dawn Finer helped me to break into the Swedish music industry and then Warner signed me!” | Exclusive interview!

The 18-year-old Ukrainian artist Maria Sur is making her Melodifestivalen 2023 debut this year and was the winner of the second heat and a big favorite to win the whole thing in the final on March 11!

Eurovisionfun is in Stockholm and Maria Sur welcomed us at the headquarters of Warner Music Sweden and spoke exclusively to Andreas Papagiannakis, a few days before the grand final! Among other things, she commented on her appearance this year, her breakthough in “Hela Sverige Skramlar“, how challenging her song “Never Give Up” was for her, about the composers of her participation this year and more.

Maria became widely known to the Swedish public through the charity gala “Hela Sverige Skramlar” and comments:

We managed to raise about 8 million euros in aid for Ukraine, a huge amount. I will never forget that night!

Her way into the Swedish music industry was not that easy as she tried to get in touch with many big artists to discuss “Hela Sverige Skramlar” which she wanted to be a part of:

Only Sarah Dawn Finer responded. She helped me contact the organizers, I managed to take part in it and then Warner approached me! We had a very long meeting and discussed everything and then after a while they got me signed!

She came to Sweden with her mother about a year ago after the war break-out in Ukraine with Russia, as her aunt has been living there for about eleven years. Her father has been forced to stay back in Ukraine:

We contact him every day, as much as possible. It is very difficult at this time due to electricity cut-offs and the phone lines are not so good.

She studies at a music school in Sweden and also does distance learning music classes at a Ukrainian university:

It is difficult to combine my studies at the same time as trying to establish a career in Sweden, but so far it is going well.

She is delighted to have the opportunity to work with Laurell Barker and Anderz Wrethov and explains how the song was written:

Anderz initially sent me the song which had always been called “Never Give Up” but there were no lyrics yet. Then I talked with Laurell, she listened to my story, wrote the lyrics and then this song came out. The song is autobiographical and basically describes my story. It’s definitely not a song I would normally sing, I usually sing more uptempo songs. It’s a challenging song for me, very difficult vocally. I have to convince the audience and present my story at the same time!

She explains to us that we will not see significant changes in her stage presence. Maybe the clothes or the hair, but nothing drastic to the whole performance. She still hasn’t realized what has happened since her appearance at Melodifestivalen and says:

I am very slow to process things. I started to understand what was going on after my appearance in Linköping. I think it will take me another week. I definitely feel that Melodifestivalen is a good opportunity for me to present myself to the people in Sweden but also outside of Sweden and to become known as an artist! My song has a very strong message to “never give up”! In less than a year of being here I have never given up and so many good things have happened in my life already!

Before Friday of the second heat week she was, as she mentions, very stressed and the adrenaline was so much because she had very high expectations, but after Saturday she started to enjoy it.

Everyone was telling me to chill and enjoy it and the next conversation was “are you going to win”? The interaction with the crowd was very beautiful, I felt such a blessing and the people made me feel very calm.

Out of this year’s Melodifestivalen songs, she likes Marcus & Martinus‘s “Air” and of course Loreen‘s “Tattoo“, Smash Into Pieces‘ “Six Feet Under” and Ida-Lova‘s “Låt hela stan se på“.

Watch the full interview with Maria Sur below:

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