Marilena is a singer and all-round performer whose career in music took off with the winning of the Malta Junior Eurovision Song Contest back in 2004. The 26-year-old has trained with London-based vocal instructor Joshua Alamu, as well as with Lydia Caruana, one of Malta’s most renowned operatic soprano. Owing to constant education and training, Marilena has seen to a number of victories, including the 2004 Malta Junior Eurovision Song Contest, 2007 Malta Youths Ghanja tal-Poplu, and 2009 Alexandria Music & Song Festival in Egypt.

With her singing talent setting off in earnest at the age of five, Marilena soon became a regular on local children television shows and theatre arts fora. A most exhilarating experience for Marilena is her recent qualification through multiple rounds of nerve-racking auditions of one of Britain’s biggest music shows, the X Factor UK, in May 2016. Another learning experience followed soon after with her being accepted through the first round of The Voice UK, in June 2016. She talks to Eve about her new single and international exposure.

Eve: Your latest new single ‘HIGHER’ was released some few weeks ago. Can you tell us more about this long-awaited new single?

Marilena Gauci: ‘Higher’, launched on International World Voice Day, on Monday 16th April, is very close to my heart, as it talks about the power of self-belief and striving towards one’s utmost potential. I would dare describe it as being a very empowering piece of music in that each and every individual can relate to it in a very unique way and on so many levels due to its strong spiritual element, regardless of whether one is religious or not.

In its very core, ‘Higher’ is all about willing oneself to reach higher and higher in life through strong and positive belief that is to be lived every single day. All of us fellow singers, musicians, artists, everyone really from the youngest to the very oldest, should be encouraged to empower one another through the steps of this journey we call ‘life’. ‘Higher’ is Gospel in style, created, developed and produced in collaboration with the talented team at Wicked & Loud Studio, run by Elton Zarb in collaboration with Matteo Depares and Olwyn Jo Saliba – the brain and hands behind the music video.

Photo credit: Kris Micallef

Eve: Back in 2017, you competed on the X Factor UK – UK’s popular television programme. Let us know more about this experience.

MG: X Factor was a true highlight of a hectic year. It was one of those days we were working on music at the studio that we actually decided to give it a go and apply online. After a few weeks, an audition invite was sent back in reply and, though still at a disbelief, I immediately started working with my vocal coach Norma Camilleri from Vocal Booth.

The auditioning process first stared with approximately 5,000 singers. We landed on Friday evening, and Saturday morning we headed to the 02 Arena at 5:45 am. Some were handpicked by the X Factor production crew for a short interview and to sing the auditioning piece in front of camera. Very luckily, I was one of those.

This resulted in having me fast-tracked closer to the start of the line. At approximately 4 pm I was finally called in for the actual audition and given enough time to sing the entire song. Similar rounds of auditions kept taking place, which meant another evening of making new arrangements for flights for the next day! By Tuesday we had become a few hundreds, all of whom were so incredibly talented and from quite a number of different countries. At the penultimate round, right before the live shows, my experience had to end there, having been told that I had made it no further.

Despite the heavy competitive feeling, I feel it was a very empowering experience with each step. More than having been featured personally on the X Factor, the fact that I carried our country’s name to a show of this kind is quite surreal. Soon after I also found myself auditioning for the Voice UK, during which I passed through the first auditioning round. This experience thought me so much about the international music industry and I definitely will not be ruling out auditioning for another international TV show in the near future.

Eve: If you were to meet a singer of your choice, who would it be and what would you talk about?

MG: It would be Michael Buble and I would discuss how he gets to be so knowledgeable about each and every part played by his orchestra members. I’ve been to one of his concerts at the O2 and it is so intriguing how he literally masters through each note played by each of his musicians. I would also attempt to speak with him about his tough experience of having had to battle through his son’s illness as this could help give me more and more insight about the needs of family members during times as such, especially in my capacity as a Clown Doctor.

Eve: Is fashion an important part of your life?

MG: My go-to fashion is undoubtedly sports/dance wear. I really love working out and make sure to have a good stretch, some yoga or a dance routine incorporated in between my daily activities.  Responsible for my passion towards working out is my personal trainer and mentor Leslie Spiteri from whom I have learned so much!

I am also very grateful to be able to cherish and trust some of my closest friends and such talented individuals, namely Gaetano, Marielle Calleja and Justin Brincat, who take such good care of me when it comes to clothing, hair and make up, all of which I myself am far from being good at!

Eve: Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
MG: Despite taking life day by day, I do keep a journal for my affirmations and goals. Some of these include managing to complete my Masters studies by next year, further developing my music career and collaborating with many artists, carrying out more voluntary work abroad and outside of Europe, and maintaining my work at Dr Klown as a Clown Doctor.