Interview: Eriona Rushiti (composer of ‘Ktheju Tokës’ – 2019 Albania Eurovision song)

Eriona Rushiti {copyright:}

Eriona Rushiti {copyright:}

Eriona Rushiti composed Ktheju Tokës, which is the song that Jonida Maliqi will sing for Albania at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, Israel in May.

Eriona took time out to speak to ESC Covers –

 1. Congratulations on your composition, “Ktheju tokës”, being chosen to represent Albania at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. How did you feel when Jonida won Festivali i Këngës #57?
Of course full of joy. Thank you Ian for the interview. But immediately I felt a great responsibility at that moment. It was not simply the victory of a prize, but it was the feeling that “Ktheju tokes” (Return to the land) was not just a song created by myself, but a song of all Albanians representing a small and dignified country in a grand contest.
2. Have you ever worked with Jonida Maliqi before, and how is she feeling that she will be on the Eurovision stage in Tel Aviv?
No, I’ve never collaborated with Jonida. For me it’s the first time I write a song for Jonida’s vocals. Despite having known her for years as a singer, Jonida was also my student at the time when I just started my first teaching at the University of Arts. This song sounded perfect for Jonida. So, as soon as she heard the song, she fell in love with it.  And so it continues today. Jonida tells me that in the Tel Aviv scene she  will sing with the same passion that she gave to the song from the first moment. When she sings the song she feels it, and feels it with every bit of her soul. She said it fills her full of emotions, something that she has not felt with songs before.
3. Can you tell us something about “Ktheju tokës” and what it is about?
“Ktheju tokes” -music and lyrics are written by me, arrangement and music production by Enis Mullaj. It is a song-message for anyone who has to return to their identity, to their originality, to their land, to search deep in their roots for the best and to return to the human feelings, where life gets a meaning. Many Albanians from more than 25 years left Albania massively for a better life. Despite this message being current to Albanians, the world has recognised it as a phenomenon since the history of humanity. “Ktheju tokes” is a genre of mixed styles: ethnic, folkloric, r’n’b, symphonic and details of trap music. The melodic line is a combination of eolian modes and minor harmonic modes. The rhythmic section is a combination of ethnic rhythms from the south and the north of Albania. From the dark atmosphere in the intro of the song later goes to be a big , glorious and a big sensation. All the song transmits emotionally the energy of the “land”.
4. Do you plan any changes to “Ktheju tokës” for Eurovision?
The song will not change. In addition to the duration of the song, from 3:13 sec will be in 3: 00min. In the revamp, more ethnic elements will be evaded and will be strengthened more in the refrain, through orchestration. Just a few days ago I got back from Sweden where the song was given a final mix at the prestigious Svenska Grammofonstudion. Jonida will sing in Albanian, will sing it in the language with which the song was created and believe that it is best to convey the message this way. Also, in my personal opinion, I would like each country to be represented with it’s language and culture in the Eurosong, because only in this way can it be created more cultural diversity, in a European competition.
5. Will Jonida record any other language versions of “Ktheju tokës”?
No, just in Albanian language.
6. What are you most looking forward to when you visit Israel?
I do not think I will have enough time to visit different places, as the working time in Tel Aviv will be compressed, but my desire is to see the Red Sea and to get time to know a little bit more about traditional Israeli music.
7. Please tell us about some of the songs you have composed for other artists and any festivals you have competed with your compositions.
Yes. I have some preferred songs of mine, as “Atje lart” -Festina Mejzini (Festivali i 55 i Kenges), “Vec lotet” – Semi Jaupaj ( Best Tendence Award in Kenga Magjike 2015”).
8. You had a beautiful song in the Albanian Junior Fest called “Prindër ju lutem” in 2018 for Ana Kodra. Could you tell us about this song, and what it was like to work with Ana?
Ah, I was so happy to work with Ana Kodra. She is such a talented little girl that sings with the power of a womans voice. This song has another message. It is a ballad about a families with divorce problems. It is a nowadays a message for everyone who thinks that family must be created to build on and on, day by day, and to not destroy it for some egoist feelings. Ana was the best choice for me, because she is the best choice for every composer who wants to fulfil the questions of music creativity.
9. Are you working on any other music projects at this time?
Yes, I do have some. But the recent one was a song “Vendi im” (music and lyrics by me,and Enis Mullaj- music production) that I wrote  for a big and well known  Festival “Vina del Mar” in Chile. This song will be performed by Mirud, a very good Albanian singer, full of ambitions for being a new name in the American playlists music of our days. It’s again an ethnic powerful song.
10.  Do you have a favourite Eurovision song from the past?
I have two songs that I still listen to them and get emotions. The are Jamala “1944”  and Salvador Sobral (“Amar Pelos”). As you see I am focused on the special songs, not the ordinary ones. Because I think that every song must leave a big impression and emotion.
11. What is your favourite Albanian Eurovision song since the first participation in 2004?
Rona Nishliu with “Suus “and Eugent Bushpepa with  “Mall”, last year. They are also the best vocals that represented Albania.
Thank you, Eriona. ESC Covers wishes you lots of good luck.
Thank you very much.
You can see Jonida Maliqi perform Ktheju Tokës below.
Source: ESC Covers


  1. very nice interview

  2. Roy van der Merwe says:

    love it

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