30 September 2022

Eurovision superstar Netta on life after heartbreak: “I was the unibrow kid with the accent”

Rising to cult-status superstardom following her attention-grabbing 2018 Eurovision win, Israeli performer Netta is the unapologetic and unashamedly energetic pop star championing self-care, self-love and all-singing, all-dancing enjoyment of life. Off the back of the release of her new single, ‘Playground Politica’, Netta joins HUNGER to chat about life in the limelight and how becoming an icon changed everything.

Having first burst onto our screens in 2018, via the magic of Eurovision, Netta certainly knows how to make an impression. Performed in part English, part Hebrew, her winning single ‘Toy’ tackled themes of female empowerment and social justice set to a backdrop of vocal loops and rainbow-coloured costumes. In true Eurovision style, her performance was divisive, with the surreal and sometimes indecipherable three minutes leaving no room for indifference.

Studio Grotesque

Netta has only continued to cause a reaction — with her music having gained her legions of devoted fans across the world. Striking a particular chord with the LGBTQIA community, the pop sensation has been a regular fixture at Pride events this summer and even graced the hallowed halls of London’s very own Heaven. “I always say I’m a very straight girl with a very gay story,” she laughs. “I was the unibrow kid with the accent, who was very sensitive. I was told I was unworthy of being loved, of having a boyfriend, and all of that. It took me a lot of time to shake off – bullying damages you, you either get out stronger or you stay oppressed and unhappy and keep spreading bad energy around the world.” 

The antithesis of bad energy, it’s safe to say Netta’s colourful demeanour and self-assuredness have tapped into something we can all relate to. Driven by emotion and integrity, she explains, “I never meant to be a spokesperson, I just love other people so much and I want them to be strong, that’s it… Whenever I hear about humanity going backwards, it pains me in my bones, and I will never stop supporting.”

Yullka Studio

Yullka Studio

With 1.24 million YouTube subscribers and almost half a million on Instagram, it’s safe to say the support is mutual. Garnering a warm response online, Netta’s latest single, ‘Playground Politica’, doesn’t disappoint. Recorded in collaboration with Afrobeats star, Mr Eazi, the track explores her colourful childhood in Nigeria – “a place where everyone was different, so no one was.” Undeniably catchy and fun, the single is a homage to the joy of her uncomplicated adolescent years before a traumatic relocation to Israel. “The song is a happy tribute to a happy place, I grew up on values of true diversity and true freedom of thought,” she explains. “I was always encouraged to be my own creative self, I owe a lot of who I am to my school in Nigeria – the place, the sounds to the music.” 

Watching the music video for ‘Playground Politica’ it’s impossible not to have a smile on your face. Accompanying an upbeat melody and lively lyrics, home movies from Netta’s childhood are spliced with montages of the present-day star singing and dancing back at her primary school, and playing on the same swings she grew up on. Reflecting on the filming experience, her love for Nigeria is obvious: “I grew up where fairies grow, where good things happen – it was a true haven.” Discussing the collaboration with Mr Eazi, she is equally as enthusiastic. “I’m pop rocks and I needed milk! I needed someone addictive and delicious. I wanted somebody to really fit me and we both agreed indifference is death.” 

Studio Grotesque

Alonlivne

Echoing empowering mantras with unexpected vocals, it’s impossible to listen to Netta’s music without a reaction. Talking about the hyper-colourful, fun-filled breakup anthem ‘I Love My Nails’, she says: “when I wrote it, I felt invincible. My self-esteem was very high, then I fell in love with some douche bag and suddenly boom, you let your guard down and it’s a mess. It’s finding the balance; my wants and fantasies can hurt me, and we always have to keep rebuilding, to aspire to be better, to stop and smell the roses, to see if they smell good or if there’s a bag of shit underneath.” But despite the glitter and the noise, at their core, Netta’s lyrics dwell on universal experiences. “Everybody thinks that they are a special snowflake, it’s the same with me. It used to be a defence mechanism, I wanted to be special to excluded,” she continues. “I thought if I found my niche, I wouldn’t be compared to others, but I suffer from heartbreak and self-esteem issues, I’m the same as everyone else. I give it away in a special way and trust that someone can relate.”

On the question of what’s next, she adds with a smirk, “Whenever I promise something in an interview, I end up lying. I don’t even know what I’m going to eat tomorrow, it’s still a mystery.” Whether this is honesty or an attempt to throw me off the scent, I can’t imagine Netta settling down quietly. Still chatting as our call get’s prematurely cut off, it’s safe to say the singer-songwriter has a lot left to say. 

  • Writer Olivia Allen
  • Photographer Jordan Rossi
  • Makeup Marco Antonio
  • Hair Ross Kwan
  • Stylist Itay Bezaleli
  • Nails Libby Podolich
  • Digital Editor Nessa Humayun
  • Photo Team Sam Lort / Jed Barnes / Rami Hassen

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