IRA LOSCO: MALTA'S PRINCESS OF POP
With a sold-out concert to perform in the coming days and a guest appearance on the official Coca Cola World Cup single, Ira Losco still finds some time to chat about selfies, her latest single and music video and why she’s looking forward to the concert on Friday, May 30.
It is highly unlikely that there are any photographers in Malta who haven’t yet taken a picture or six of Ira Losco, not to mention the thousands taken by fans at her concerts and yet, Malta’s pop princess isn’t averse to upping the quota by posting selfies. She laughs when I ask her about it, assuring me it’s no obsession with vanity or anything like that. Actually, as it turns out, it’s really all a bit of fun and self-promotion all rolled into one. “I know some people might think I’m obsessed with image, but I’m really not”, she reaffirms me. “That said, one has to keep in mind that in this business image is important, so if a selfie helps bring people to my fansite, then where’s the harm in that?” she says quite assertively.
No harm at all really, and as she points out, she was more than happy to post her no make-up selfie and support the breast cancer awareness online campaign. “Like many others, I wanted to do my bit, and funnily enough, of all the selfies I’ve posted that was the one that got the most likes…not that I’m counting, of course”, she adds with a cheeky grin. At this stage of her career, I point out she doesn’t really need to rely on Facebook likes to gauge her standing. After all, isn’t selling out the Teatru Rjal in the space of a few days and the overwhelming response to her role as co-presenter at this year’s Eurovision Malta Song Contest a strong enough indication of her popularity?
“I was a bit sceptical about co-presenting the event in the beginning”, she admits, “because whenever I touch the Eurovision sphere I feel a sort of pressure”. She explains that after some thought she decided to go for it, “but I wanted to approach it from a different angle, wearing a creative director’s cap and putting in tons of input”. Having a hands-on role, she felt comfortable that the way it came across to the public truly reflected her personality. “In the end it turned out to be a very enjoyable experience, and I must admit it did feel good when some people posted online, asking if they could vote for me”. This of course wasn’t possible, but she feels it confirms she - and co-host Gianluca Bezzina - did their job well.
Such positive feedback from her fans isn’t exactly new to Ira Losco. She feels lucky that her fans have supported her all these years, even when she threw a curve-ball with the highly eclectic nature of The Fire album. “I’m obviously pleased it was so well-received”, she tells me. “In a way it reminded me of the Accident Prone album, during which I was still finding myself vocally and songwriting-wise”. Though primarily rooted in pop-rock, that album had also fielded a mix of crunchy guitar songs, ballads and some acoustic numbers too, and in similar fashion, the idea for The Fire was to explore a wider spectrum of sounds and styles. “I think most people got that, although I’m sure there were songs that took people by surprise too” she confides. “The thing is, I’m multi-faceted and quite unpredictable as a person, so you could say the album’s eclectic nature is an extension of my personality I suppose”.
This ‘never say never’ philosophy has presented Ira Losco with some great opportunities over the years, the latest of which being an invitation to feature on The World Is Ours alongside ex-X Factor USA finalist David Correy and top Brazilian act Monobloco. “The song is Coca Cola’s theme for the 2014 World Cup, so I’m quite excited at being asked to participate”. The guaranteed exposure and airplay the song will get should surely bring about further opportunities for the Maltese artist, but as always, she won’t be sitting around waiting until that happens. “Believe me there are lots of other plans to take care of”, she assures me, the most imminent of these being of course her live concert on Friday night, which will see her take the stage with her biggest band line-up to date, doing what she does best.
“I believe the live aspect is the most important part of being a musician”, she says by way of reiterating the concert’s significance. “Artists can’t expect people to respect them if they can’t prove themselves when the moment comes”. She insists it’s not enough to just write a song that a lot of people like. “With anything I do, music especially, I tend to get deeply involved, and so is it with this concert; the way I present myself – and I don’t mean the look - is very important to me”. The presentation she’s referring to is the set list that will be performed on Friday. “It will be so much more than the songs you’ve heard me play before”, she continues. “We’ve tweaked the songs, put in some special moments and obviously, the guests will play an important part too”.
Apart from the extended band behind her, Losco will be joined by Winter Moods frontman Ivan Grech, Gianluca Bezzina, internationally-acclaimed beatboxer Dana McKeon, young singer-songwriter Alex Alden and Italian artist Irene Fargo. “Ivan and I go back a long way, and after the chemistry between us during Eurovision, I wanted to work with Gianluca again”, she explains, adding that she feels Dana and Alex are very talented artists with a bright future and that “performing together will definitely produce some interesting moments on the night”. As for Irene Fargo, anyone familiar with the Italian pop scene and San Remo in particular will know she is a top singer who has shared the stage with some of Italy’s best artists.
With the concert just days away, I ask her what’ll be next, certain that her schedule is already fully-booked. “Yes of course”, she laughs. “We’ll be releasing a new single in the coming days, which I can exclusively reveal will be Shouldn’t have to bother”. Markedly different from The Way It’s Meant To Be and Me Luv U Long Time, the new single will be the fifth lifted off The Fire. “I wanted a summer song that people would sing along to. It’s a fun and easy-going song that really turned out the way I imagined it in my head”. There is of course the music video for the single still to do, which she says will be very different to the ones she’s done so far and just in case I had any doubt, she assures me that there are a lot of things on the go but she cannot divulge them just yet. “It’s a lot of hard work”, she admits, adding that it’s also a lot of fun. “I hope you enjoy my music as much as I enjoy making it”.
Ira Losco & Friends will be held on Friday at Teatru Rjal, Valletta. The performance starts at 8.30pm. For more information, look up the Ira Losco in Concert event page on Facebook.
An edited version of this article was published on The Sunday Times of Malta (25 May, 2014)