ESC star Malik Harris on father Ricky Harris’ celebrity status: I’ve overtaken him in the meantime

“Our twelve points go to Germany” – Germany has not heard this sentence at the Eurovision Song Contest since Lena Meyer-Landrut won in 2010. With Malik Harris, there could be another chance for the ESC trophy on May 14, 2022 in Turin.

The 24-year-old, who was born in Landshut am Lech, competes with his song “Rockstars”. He spoke to the AZ in advance about his expectations, musical role models and his prominent father Ricky Harris.

AZ: Congratulations on winning the preliminary decision! More than 100 million people will watch you at your ESC performance in Turin. Does that make you nervous?
MALIK HARRIS: I even heard it’s 200 million. A ridiculous number (laughs). It doesn’t really make me nervous. That only happens to me shortly before the performance, until then I’m super relaxed. When they say stage time is in ten seconds, it really hits the pit of my stomach. But I don’t really notice the people watching in front of the television. I’m just excited by the few thousand people I’m actually seeing.

Malik Harris: Used to big audiences due to appearances as opener by James Blunt

You’ve played as an opener for James Blunt and Alex Clare. Did that prepare you well for the ESC?
That prepared me very well. I’ve played in front of really big crowds and I just love it. The good thing is that because I’ve already done it, I’ve realized how much I love it. This usually predominates in the seconds before the performance, when you are very excited.

By taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest you will receive a lot of attention. Have you been recognized on the street more often since then?
Yes, yes. But I haven’t been on the road that much yet because there are so many online appointments and interviews. In my home town of Landsberg, I was often recognized even before that. But it has definitely improved a lot. What I notice is above all that I manage my social media presence myself. It is always said that I reply to all messages and comments. But it’s getting harder and harder, now I’m on the verge of giving up. When I reply to one message, I have four new ones.

ESC candidate Malik Harris on his private life: “There is nothing I would not share”

Her private life is also becoming more of a focus. How do you deal with that? Do you tend to be open or do private matters remain private?
It’s a mix. As for me, there really isn’t anything I wouldn’t share. But as far as the people around me are concerned, I don’t want to have any control over what is shared or not. As a first step, I try not to reveal so much and let them decide for themselves what they want to share or not. As for me, I’m super open about it.

Malik Harris is at the show "Germany 12 points - the German ESC preliminary decision" on stage showing his guitar on which "I stand with Ukraine" stands.

ESC candidate Malik Harris: What about his private life and the celebrity father…


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Can you understand the interest in your private person?
Yes. I personally don’t know that about myself. I’m already a fan of bands and artists, but I don’t really care about their private lives. But I can understand that if fans want to get to know all sides of the artist. That’s okay, I just don’t feel like my private life is particularly exciting. But if that interests people, it doesn’t bother me.

Which artists are you the “little fan” of if you met them?
Unfortunately you can’t get to know them anymore, but in any case it would have been Michael Jackson, Prince and Freddie Mercury. Of those who are still with us I would say: Twenty One Pilots, Tyler Joseph, Eminem and Josh Dun. I think that would give me shaky knees.

“I don’t see the competitive character behind the Eurovision Song Contest”

You’re often compared to Ed Sheeran, who also performs with his loop station and does a lot himself. Does that bother you or is that a compliment?
That’s definitely a compliment. There are worse comparisons. But at some point I want to get to the point where you are no longer compared to others, but that I have established my own brand. Actually, I got the Loop Station game more from Jack Garratt than from Ed Sheeran.

The ESC is a competition. How important is the will to win compared to a sporting competition?
In music, it’s always very difficult to set up a competition. It’s not like in sport, where better performance counts. Everyone listens to the music they like and everyone has their own taste. Accordingly, it is difficult to judge what is better or worse. I don’t see the competitive character behind it either. For me, the ESC is a nice event with positive and harmonious vibes. That’s the main thing for me. Still, I want to get to the top (laughs).

ESC quotas for Germany do not matter to Malik Harris

Germany has a very ambivalent relationship with its ESC candidates. They are celebrated if they do well, and ridiculed if they do poorly. How much pressure does something like that build up in you?
I don’t have that much pressure. On the one hand, I am too convinced of my music and the song. On the other hand, I’ve been in the business for a long time and taking part in the ESC was never a big deal for me. I wanted to bring some fresh air into it with my new song “Rockstars”, it wasn’t a career decision. After the ESC I will continue to make my music. My tour starts one day after the finale and many festival appearances are already planned.

Do you actually inquire in advance what the odds are in the betting shops for your appearance?
No not at all. I don’t look at it. I only want to make a judgment when something is over and not at the beginning. That’s why I don’t really care.

ESC despite war in Ukraine: “I’ve never experienced such a unit”

The ESC 2022 is also becoming a political issue due to the current situation. Russia was excluded, the Ukrainian entry is considered a favourite. You yourself used your appearance at the preliminary round to send a message to the people of Ukraine. How important is it that statements are made at the ESC?
In my opinion, this is extremely important, not only at the ESC, but in music in general. In my opinion, a platform should be used to draw attention to topics and show where you stand. That’s why I see the ESC as responsible. But as far as I know the event, the organizers know that too. I was also asked whether the ESC should take place at all due to the current situation. I definitely think so. What gives hope in this shitty situation is knowing that the whole free and democratic world is united and stands with Ukraine. I have never experienced such a unit. That gives me hope.

You’re a musical autodidact, you taught yourself to play the guitar. How much talent and how much discipline is behind it?
I would say 70 percent discipline and 30 percent talent. I’m lucky enough to have been born with some talent, but that alone isn’t enough. Discipline is very important there. I slept in the studio for a long time. As soon as I woke up in the morning, the music started until late at night.

Your song “When We Arrived” is about a girl you fell in love with. Does she actually know that the song is about her and did she get in touch with you after her breakthrough?
(laughs) I don’t know if she knows. Many people have told me that she knows. But I never told her myself. The song is also about the fact that she’s not good for me and that I’m fighting with myself. So I never felt like I should tell her because I didn’t want anything to come of it. I don’t think she responded, but I don’t really care. I now have a girlfriend who I am very happy with.

Malik Harris on Father Ricky’s Celebrity Status: ‘I’ve Overtaken Him’

Your father Ricky Harris is a famous TV personality in Germany. How did that affect you in your childhood?
Relatively few. My dad had a talk show in the 90’s and I was born in 1997 so I didn’t really get it. The most noticeable thing for me were situations when there were two of us and people asked him for an autograph. Even as a child, I noticed that people knew my father. But I have to say that I’ve overtaken him in the meantime. Now when we’re on the road together, people come to me more often (laughs).

You were born and grew up in Landsberg am Lech. How close do you feel to your Bavarian homeland?
Landsberg is definitely home for me. Not just because of the people, I also like the vibes here. The residents have such a relaxed manner. I do dream of having a home anywhere in the world, but Landsberg is and will always be my home.

Do you also have a connection to your American roots?
In any case. Most of my American family lives near Boston. I try to visit them regularly, but that was difficult during the Corona period. They are also super proud of my ESC participation. My relatives also watched the preliminary round from the USA and sent me a video of them totally celebrating the performance.

You sing and rap your songs in English. Will you also come up with a German-language song?
No, actually not. I used to try to write in German, but it backfired. I have a lot of respect for songwriters who write lyrics in German. The problem for me was that the lyrics sounded totally cheesy and ridiculous.

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