Interview: mema. (“Festival da Canção 2021”)

She’s one of the most interesting artists in Portugal nowadays. This year, she decided to take part in the national selection for Eurovision 2021.
We are taling about mema. (The stage name of Sofia Marques). She participtes in “Festival da Canção 2021“, performing “Claro Como Água” which was written by her and produced in collaboration with Stereossauro.

Get To Know mema.


Sofia Marques was born in Aveiro, Portugal, in 1991 and there she found music and made it part of
herself. In 2006 she started studying Classical Guitar and Vocal Technique at the Music
Conservatory Calouste Gulbenkian, in the same city. Around that time, she started writing songs
and composing, and from there recording and performing them. In 2013, she moved to Lisbon to
further pursue her music career, having lived there for 2 years before deciding to go to Berlin.

In Berlin, she was part of a collective of electronic producers called “Strength in Numbers” (2016).
Their weekly beat mixes and annual event “SIN Fest” have been proudly supported by Ableton.
That’s when mema. has truly begun. After that, she spent 3 years in Dublin, having collaborated with
different local acts, like The Sowing Season, and with Hungarian singer/songwriter Fänø.

Finally, in 2018, she started exploring Portuguese traditional sounds, resulting in an electronic pop
with salt flavoured shades of folk. mema. has 3 singles out – “O Devedor”, “Outro Lado” and “Perdi
o Norte
” – the latter having been featured and praised earned national radio airplay on Vodafone FM, Radar FM, and others. Her debut EP “Cidade de Sal” (city of salt) was released on October 9th 2020 and presented live at Fnac Chiado, Lisbon.

Lately, the singer has released 2 original songs

O Devedor” was her first single, released in 2019 as a teaser for the EP that was coming up in 2020. The song talks about how everything is cyclical and how you don’t owe anyone anything except yourself. It was one of the first songs written as mema., and so it made sense to make it the first one coming into the world too.

Sal” is a song speaking of this concept of “Cidade de Salt” (city of salt). It’s an ode to her roots, to where she was born, and it describes exactly that. It has very lively imagery of her hometown, and it depicts the emotional connection it has with mema. and her will to find myself again. 

Hello mema., welcome to ESCBEAT, we are happy to have you here with us

Hi Doron, thanks for the invitation. I’m glad to be here!”

1. Tell us about the moment when you were picked as a composer for “Festival da Canção“.



It was an incredible feeling to know I’d be part of such a great event. Stereossauro and I were already working together on a song for his album when the applications for “Festival da Canção” opened. I was about to apply on my own but then it made sense to challenge him to do it as a team. Little did I know that he had already received RTP‘s invite to be an author on the show. Everything played in our favour, so I’m very happy that we took a chance on it and did it together. 


2. Why have you decided on your stage name “mema.”

mema. represents an affirmation of my identity, which is what the project is all about. My music is meant to be a reflection of who I am, as well as the world around me from a very particular point of view. So, it made sense to put together part of my surnames into one word and with a full stop. The full stop is that affirmation. 


3. Can you describe the process in which “Claro Como Água” was created. Have the lyrics or the melody come first?

The melodies came first. In fact, the full instrumental came first. Stereossauro immediately started sending me some music drafts, some ideas, when we set in stone we were going to participate in the show. We worked on those together, and after we had those layers nearly ready, vocal lines started popping up in my head. We worked on them for a while until we were 100% happy with it. The lyrics came last, and I must confess I had a hard time writing them. I wanted the song to be uplifting, which is in a way opposite to what I usually do in my solo music, it’s usually more melancholic. However, with the year we had (2020), I felt like I needed something positive, and that’s what I also wanted to share with people, that despite challenging times, there’s always something to hold on to and look ahead to.  


4.  What’s the meaning of your song’s lyrics? What’s the message?

It’s mostly about understanding your purpose, your passion, and having that clarity. That’s what keeps you going, what keeps you fighting. Even if you hit rock bottom, there’s something lifting you up. And part of it is learning to accept yourself as you are, with all your flaws and inconsistencies, because we are not linear beings, we transform. I know it sounds a bit cliché, but that’s what was in my heart at the time, and still is, and I believe it’s part of the learnings I took from 2020.  


5. How will you estimate your chances of winning this year?

I literally have no idea about it. There are a lot of great songs this year, and amazing artists in the race. I think we have a good chance of making it to the finals, but you never know. I’m just hoping to give the best performance I can, and that people connect with it and the song. 


6. What do you think about the songs at the festival this year? Can you mention any songs that stand out in your opinion?

Overall, I think we have really strong songs this year. I love the fact that so many genres are represented. It’s important to have that representation. My personal favourites are “Volte-Face” by Eu.clides, “Saudade” by Romeu Barios & Karetus, and “Dancing in the Stars” by Neev. 


7. Do you watch Eurovision?

Yes! I haven’t watched every edition, but it’s something I usually do with my mom. We love watching and commenting on the songs! haha 


8. What’s your favorite Eurovision song from Portugal?

תוצאת תמונה עבור Conan Osíris

I have a thing for Conan Osíris, so I’ll have to say “Telemóveis”. 


9. What’s your favorite Eurovision song from “Festival Da Canção”?

I stand by my previous answer. Although I really liked Elisa‘s song last year too. 


10. What’s your favorite Eurovision song ever (not from Portugal)?

Fuego” by Eleni Foureira. It’s just a really fun and sexy song! 


11. What are your staging plans for the performance at the festival?

We’re keeping it a secret until Saturday (20th February). But I’m very excited about it, I’ll have two other amazing artists, who I love, with me on stage, our wardrobe is incredible and designed by the great Alexandra Moura, so it has everything to be a beautiful performance. I really hope people enjoy it. 


12. Who are the artists that you feel inspired by?

This changes a lot for me from time to time, but these are just some of them from the top of my head: Björk, Lykke Li, Madredeus, Baiuca, Azam Ali, Arca, FKA Twigs

תוצאת תמונה עבור Björk


13. How would you define your music style in one sentence?

It’s a fusion of electronic pop with salt flavoured Portuguese traditional sounds. 


14. Supposing you will win “Festival Da Canção”, Will you change something in the song?

We haven’t really thought about it, but I don’t think so. This will be something to consider afterwards. 


15. As a Portuguese, do you think (in general) that Portugal should send a song in the Portuguese language or in English?

I’m a big fan of our language, I think Portuguese gives you a multitude of options to express yourself in a beautiful, musical way. I believe part of the Eurovision spirit is this cultural diversity, and I have a thing for songs sung in their native tongues. If a Portuguese artist feels like they can better express themselves in English, for example, I think it’s valid. However, from my personal perspective, I really think it would be beautiful to send a song in Portuguese. If something Eurovision has shown us year after year is that music has no language, it’s a language of its own.  


16. Will you release any new song/ new album in the near future?

Yes! I’m planning to. There’s still that song I was working on with Stereossauro before Festival da Canção, which should be released this year. I’m also planning to release my debut album in 2022, and so a single can be expected in October / November. Let’s see if we can pull it all off! 


17. What’s your message to your fans and ESCBEAT readers?

I just wanna tell you all that it’s been amazing the amount of love you’ve been showing me and “Claro Como Água“. Your support means a lot. Knowing that someone is listening and feeling what you share, it’s one of the best feelings in the world. I’m very excited about the performance on the 20th February, song number 3! I really hope that you connect with it and enjoy it as much as I do. Thank you for listening and supporting, have fun, and stay safe! 

We already can’t wait to watch her live performance of “Claro Como Água“! Good luck mema.!

Festival da Canção 2021″ semi-final 1 will be held on Saturday the 20th of February 2021.
10 artists will compete in the first semi-final for 5 spots in the final.

Our full review of the songs can be reached by clicking on the image


Full playlists are available on the different digiatal platforms

Image result for spotify apple music youtube

Spotify

Apple Music


YouTube

You can find all the relevant information on our Eurovision 2021 homepage:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Eurovision-2021-Homepage.jpg

I live in Israel and watch Eurovision since the early 2000s. I work as a mathematician but have a big interest in singing, music, and writing

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