Zala & Gašper are through to the finals of Eurovision, taking place in Tel Aviv this Saturday. While the focus of this year’s contest is likely to be political, due to the location of the event and Iceland’s entry, viewers in Slovenia will be playing close attention to the duo from Maribor and their song, “Sebi”, which forgoes the usual splashy pop and colourful, frenetic staging for a moody ballad, with the artists likely to perform, as usual, dressed in white, without dancers.
One version of the origin story has it that Zala Kralj and Gašper Šantl, a couple in real life, first began their collaboration in 2017, after Gašper, already a songwriter, found Zala singing covers on Instagram. Another claims that they were introduced by a mutual friend, Žiga Krajnac, who has directed all their videos.
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You can’t always see the stars, just stay true to who you are, stop apologizing to me ... ⭐️ Pesem ostaja v SLOVENŠČINI, to je le kratek odsek za tiste, ki ne razumejo našega jezika. Sporočilo je namreč zelo pomemben del skladbe in si želiva, da bi ga vsi razumeli. ⭐️ The song will stay in SLOVENE, this is just a short part for those who don’t speak our language. The message is a very important part of the song and we wish for everyone to be able to understand it.
The duo performing the song in English
The pair only started formally working together in 2018, and since then have been signed to Universal Music and released four singles, including last year’s winner of Slovenia’s Zlata Piščal (Golden Whistle) award, for the song “Valovi” (“Waves”).
Despite the low-sex, low colour image of the pair, they’re not without obvious humour, as seen in their frequent use of a fox mask, on display in the video shown above.
Instead of building an image around flashy costumes or brazen sexuality, a look at how Zala & Gašper present themselves shows a downtempo, moody aesthetic. It was perhaps this that caused many in Slovenia’s pop establishment to favour Raiven over the duo when it came time to choose the country’s entry for Eurovision. Indeed, Raiven was ahead in the official part of the selection process, and Zala & Gašper are only in Tel Aviv due to the use of a popular vote in the final round, which they won with 72.89%. This upset caused Lea Sirk, last year’s Eurovision entry (“Hvala, Ne”), to swear on live TV (f***, come on, I can’t f***ing believe this).
Lea Sirk explaining in backstage: Zdaj je cela senzacija okrog tega, zakaj sem jaz rekla, ozvočena, faking ne morem verjet. In ja, to sem faking mislila: ne morem verjet, ker sem bila prepričana, da bo zmagala Raiven. Ko jih jebe! (Now there’s a total sensation about why have I said, on a mic, I can’t f***ing believe this. And yes, this is what I f***ing meant: I can’t believe (this) cause I was certain Raiven would have won. F*** them!)
You can watch the finals on Saturday night, and cheer on Zala & Gašper or your own favourite from the usual Eurovision line-up of the strange and unexpected. One thing to note is that Leak Sirk will be relaying Slovenia’’s votes to Tel Aviv on Saturday night, and one wonders who she wants to win.