Cdn songwriter celebrates Eurovision success

Toronto rapper-songwriter Evren Ozdemir says he feels like he’s just won a silver medal at the Olympics of the music world. The Turkish-born, Toronto-raised musician penned the lyrics to “We Could Be The Same” for Istanbul rap-rock band maNga, which came in second at the splashy Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo, Norway on Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dakota Kavanagh

TORONTO - Toronto rapper-songwriter Evren Ozdemir says he feels like he's just won a silver medal at the Olympics of the music world.

The Turkish-born, Toronto-raised musician penned the lyrics to "We Could Be The Same" for Istanbul rap-rock band maNga, which came in second at the splashy Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo, Norway on Saturday.

"It was one of the wildest things you could ever see," Ozdemir, 32, said Monday in a phone interview, describing a room full of as many as 25,000 people waving flags and dancing.

"It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Being a really proud Canadian it was cool to just kind of come out to see people from so many different cultures. It's something that we can see a little bit here: being in Toronto lends way to that kind of multicultural, multi-international experience, and that was probably one of the biggest."

Ozdemir, who has written tracks for several TV series and fronts a hip hop/pop band called Evren, was childhood friends with the frontman of maNga and did a guest verse on the group's debut album.

Last February, the group invited him to Istanbul to pen their first-ever English-language song for Eurovision, which attracts tens of millions of TV viewers and is into its 55th year. The competition featured acts from 39 countries.

He says the song's message is about nations finding common ground despite their socio-political differences.

"We thought: 'We're going to Eurovision, we're going to this competition that always has a tendency of being very nationalistic in regards to people really supporting their countries,'" said Ozdemir, who has written songs for "Degrassi: The Next Generation" and "Instant Star," and for national TV campaigns.

"And we kind of wanted to break those barriers and just say, 'Hey, it doesn't have to be that way ... just for this one night let's not worry about that and let's work on being the same.'"

German teen pop singer Lena Meyer-Landrut won this year's Eurovision contest, which was voted on by a panel of judges and fans via telephone.

ABBA won the contest for Sweden in 1974 for their song "Waterloo" and Canadian Celine Dion was the victor for Switzerland in 1988 with "Ne partez pas sans moi" by Swiss-Turkish composer Atilla Sereftug.

The Turkish Radio and Television Corporation picked maNga to represent Turkey at this year's Eurovision after the band won Best European Act award at last year's MTV Europe Music Awards.

Ozdemir said he plans to continue writing English-language tunes for the group while preparing for the release of his band's debut album in the next few months.

"I think this is kind of like the beginning of our musical endeavours together," he said.