At Junior Eurovision’s Opening Ceremony on Monday afternoon, 20 artists from 19 countries waltzed down the red carpet and smiled to the camera and journalists.
One of them caught my eye. Sporting naturally wild frizzy hair, a brace on her right knee, a leather jacket around her tartan patterned dress and Doc Martins on her feet, Mila stood out from the crowd by being herself, natural and proud.
Mila Moskov with host Mateusz Szymkowiak at the Opening Ceremony (Photo: Thomas Hanses, EBU)
Music Is My Passion It’s My Life
Of course, we start with music. The chorus of Mila’s Junior Eurovision entry ‘Fire’ has the line “Music is my passion it’s my life”, one of the lines Mila wrote herself in the composition. So how does music influences Mila’s life?
“I have grown up with music. My dad plays the piano and I grew up listening to blues, jazz, pop, RnB, hip hop – every genre you can imagine.
“When I wake up, before I do anything else, I put on my music, put on my headphones. Whether I’m in the bathroom, in bed, or on the way to school.”
If Mila was allowed she’d love to have headphones on even inside the school building. Like many teenagers, music helps her to zone out from the world around her, to create her own little bubble. Her current tastes include jazz but plenty of hip hop and rap, listing The Weeknd, Drake and JayZ are those currently on her playlist.
‘Fire’ itself is a particularly bombastic song for Junior Eurovision. Yes, it is a pop song, but the production gives it much more of a powerful edge than that would suggest. That should be of little surprise when you note the music was made by Lazar Cvetkoski. He was one of the names behind North Macedonia’s record result in Eurovision history with Tamara Todevska’s ‘Proud’.
The “I’m like a fire” hook of the chorus is something where Mila took the song to the next level however. Note on the second repetition of that line in each chorus, where a glimmer of a rock star-esque voice pours out on the inflection. That’s Mila’s own interpretation and the unleashing of her soul and passion in one note. It’s a reminder that our young performers are not puppets-on-strings when it comes to their performances, but really capable of making mature musical decisions.
In fact on the day of our interview Mila had spent tons of time discussing plans for the future with her producer, and they have plans to keep working together in the future. It was an ‘inspirational’ day, and Mila feels that, for what reason he is ‘motivated’ by her, she ‘impacted’ him and ‘made him feel something.’
Mila Moskov in her music video for ‘Fire‘
Talking Fashion, Style and Image
Her style of outfit throughout her Eurovision experience has always shown somebody very mature. And very individual. The music video has her in a checked shirt over a t-shirt with the words ‘Make It Happen’. It was in particular the I-don’t-care about her Opening Ceremony outfit that made her stand out, especially with the leg brace on full show.
How would Mila describe her own image?
“I want to have an edge. I don’t really know where it comes from, but I’ve always had it. People notice that. I edge them out, I intimidate people.
“One of my very close friends, we met in the 6th grade. At first, she was almost scared of me, didn’t want to take to me. We had to sit together in class because we sat alphabetically ordered by seats and then we started talking.
“After a week she said to me, I thought you were a mean girl. She was surprised that I was nice to her and friendly.”
It’s a perplexing interview experience to have a sweet and chill 14-year-old tell you that they intimidate people while sipping on raspberry milkshake in a comfy hotel. Mila just seems so far from intimidating to me. This is not the game plan for what she wants the audience to feel come Sunday afternoon.
That said, Mila’s not holding back on Sunday’s show and is making a bold statement. There’s no surprise it is styled for maximum impact. It’s a two-piece design with the tight black underbody she’s sewn into covered by a dramatic orange sweeping asymmetrical coat. The single fingerless leather glove adds that necessary bit of Mila attitude.
Rising like a phoenix (Photo: Thomas Hanses, EBU)
What does Mila want the audience to feel when she walks out on the stage?
“Confident, confidence, fire. I want people to feel that in the room. When I come on stage, and I sing the first line, I want people to feel my confidence – feel that I can do anything.
“I’m trying to tell them I’m happy about what I’m doing. I’m genuinely happy about doing the thing that I’ve wanted to do since I was 9. I’m trying to tell you that anything is possible and you can do it. I come from such a small place in such a small town in such a small country.”
Sadly, we’re not going to be getting the most full-on Mila on stage that Junior Eurovision deserves. While rehearsing before arriving in Poland, Mila’s knee popped out, popped back in, and resulted in a torn ligament. Mila tells me the plan was to have jumping, sliding, gliding and plenty of stage strutting. Instead Mila’s going to be static on the stage, and should be resting the knee as much as possible. For better or worse, Mila’s still been caught dancing around with the other contestants, clearly having the time of her life.
Small Town Girl In A Big Arcade
Growing up in a small town doesn’t leave people as isolated from the outside world as they once were, thanks mainly to social media.
For Mila and for many of the acts this year, Instagram is king. Unlike some of the other acts in the competition, Mila’s Instagram is 100 percent her own, with nobody else managing her account.
That’s not to say adults haven’t been influencing her in recent weeks, and she has had plenty of advice.
“First of all, be careful. Nowadays everybody sees it and everybody takes it from a different perspective. For example I might post a joke and somebody might take it as disrespect for something they care about. I don’t post anything that I want to. I have a platform now. Big enough to impact on somebody.
“There’s always going to be pressure on you being in that spotlight.”
It was about a month ago when Mila went, in social media terms, from zero to hero. The profile that Junior Eurovision offers has catapulted her followers numbers upwards, and gathered her fans from across the continent overnight.
“The numbers went up and it was shock, kinda. But I try not to focus on that. I try and use this platform to share a light. Share positivity. To be happy, positive. I want you to be happy! That’s the main thing.“
I would worry that this would change Mila, and put too much pressure on young shoulders. I’m reassured when a voice behind my shoulder reassures me that nothing has changed. It transpires that the person behind us watching our interview take place has been Mila’s very own mother. Describing her only child as ‘smart and wise’, Mila’s mother is ‘supportive’ to everything Mila wants to do.
One of the quirks about this social media age is that all the artists in the competition make contact with each other as soon as they are announced. Following them are little pockets of Junior Eurovision fans who love nothing more than seeing them become the best of friends.
Mila describes herself as having a ‘very different personality from anybody else here’, yet that hasn’t stopped her from finding a kindred spirit. Her name is Eliana Gomez Blanco, the representative this year from Malta.
“We connected immediately. We clicked. We are best friends right now. We depend on each other, look out for each other.”
Malta’s entry is one of many songs in this year’s competition that has a strong lyric about the power of young people. Mila highlights both the Maltese song and Serbia’s ‘Podigni Glas (Raise Your Voice)’ in this regard, loving the empowering messages and hoping they get noticed. Social activism is a big deal to Mila, in her press biography she expresses a wish that everybody is able to find opportunity to share the joy “no matter where you live or where you’re from or what colour your skin is.”
Mila also thinks it is great for so many young people who have striked across the globe to recognise our climate emergency. While Mila’s not been an active school striker, social media campaigns have kept her well aware of its movement and it has inspired her to take more care of trash, recycling, and consuming less.
The personality might be very different, but Mila’s got clear desire to be part of one world and to the right thing to make it a better place to live.
Going From Junior to Senior
Being 14 is no easy age. The pressure and expectations on you rise, physically, mentally and academically. I want to end our interview by know more about where Mila thinks her journey will end, and what kind of adult she will be become.
“I want to have class, discipline. In five years’ time I will be 19 to 20. By then I want to be someone who knows what to do in certain situations and knows how to handle stuff. Being part of a grown up, an adult. Being impactful, being positive.
“I might be too young to talk about this – but I want to become this classy, confident woman.”
As I bring my interview to a close, I could only think the opposite. Mila’s far from too young to talk about these things. If anything, she possesses a maturity beyond many adults I’ve had the pleasure to speak to. When I spotted Mila on the red carpet I knew there was a story worth telling, and I wasn’t wrong. There’s an attitude, an edge, a fire…but there’s also a heart in the right place.