German Eurovision candidate Roman Lob is enjoying Baku before the big show. He spoke to DW about impressions of Azerbaijan, who he thinks will win, and what he misses from home.
A 22-year-old industrial mechanic is set to represent Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest. Four months ago, Roman Lob was just singing in a band in his free time. Now he's got an album behind him and is ready to take the stage in front of a TV audience of around 100 million. At a reception hosted by the German Embassy, Roman Lob sang an unplugged version of his song "Standing Still" - with a German diplomat on piano, by the way - and took questions from journalists.
DW: So how do you feel two days before the finale?
Roman Lob: I feel great here. The people give you a very warm welcome. I also liked seeing that the German Embassy invited the delegation and is even making music with us here.
You've been here nearly a week with a very full schedule. What has impressed you the most?
Well, it was all cool. I liked the sight-seeing tour on the second day and just getting here was really great, too - the way the Azerbaijani people received us. I'd definitely do it all again.
A few days ago, I was wanting some hot dogs and potato salad, and today I finally had some. So I've been missing the food at home. The food here isn't bad - the kebabs and the Oriental food - but I've got a real hankering for sauerkraut, I've got to tell you.
How do you feel about your reception from the people here? Are the people into the contest, or is it more of a state duty?
From what I've seen, it's crazy how excited people are about it. They're all wearing ESC shirts, running around with flags from every possible country. I think they're really happy that it's taking place here.
Soon you'll be taking the stage with your song. Were you always in favour of doing "Standing Still," or did you have some other thoughts along the way?
I was always for doing "Standing Still." I heard the song and thought after the first second: Okay, yeah, if it's going to happen, then it'll be with "Standing Still." The other two songs are also good, and I like them a lot, but this one is my favorite.
Ahead of this year's ESC, the the host country has been in the spotlight for its human rights issues. How much of that have you heard about, and what's your stance?
We're here as musicians of course - I as well as the other delegations. But with maybe 120 million people watching, Azerbaijan is getting a lot of attention at the moment. I think that's a major opportunity for things to change - that people responsible for rights issues in every country can say, hey, we're hearing that human rights are not respected here, so something has to be done. And Azerbaijan is getting that kind of attention simply because of the ESC.
What was your impression of the first preliminary round of the finals?
It was really impressive to sit in that auditorium and not be on stage but watch it as the audience does. It really makes you a bit afraid.
With some, I thought, okay, it's really too bad that you made the next round and other, better people didn't. I really liked some of the people who fell through the cracks. The Austrians for instance - I liked their songs, I like the boys. Switzerland was also really good, but oh well, that's how it is.
Are you nervous about any particular competitor?
My three favorites are Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Those are the top three. They're really very good, and I'm a bit afraid of them. Also the older ladies here, they're really having fun, and I think they could go all the way.
You've got a lot to do everyday. Is it too much stress, or can you also enjoy it?
I'm enjoying every second of it because you've got to keep in mind that it could be the last time you experience something on this scale.
Would you have ever thought that something like this would happen to you - all this hullaballoo?
Well, I was told that it would be a lot and that it may also get to be stressful. I thought it would really be huge, but it turned out to be even bigger than I imagined.
Interview: Matthias Klaus, Suzanne Cords / gsw
Editor: Rick Fulker