'If it all comes together, we will do well'
WEXFORD songwriter Greg French is on a Eurovision rollercoaster in Vienna, as he prepares to present the song he co-wrote before an audience of tens of millions.
Greg wrote 'Playing with Numbers' with precocious 17-year-old starlet Molly Sterling, from Nenagh, Co Tipperary, and the duo won Eurosong on The Late Late Show in February. They are representing Ireland at the 60th Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna this week, something Greg is immensely proud of.
Read more here: Ireland at the Eurovision
The son of Mairéad and the late Lorcan French, Greg hails from Carrig-on-Bannow. He says his mother is his number one fan.
Speaking from Vienna on Monday, Greg said he arrived in the Austrian city last week.
'I arrived here on Tuesday and so far it's been going great. It's going really well and we had our second dress rehearsal the other day and it went fantastic. We made some little tweaks such as camera changes and it looked really well.
'It's all in the little details now and we are happy with the staging. It's a pleasure to be here and working with everyone.
Read more here: Biggest hurdle could be making it out of the semis
'On Monday we hosted an Irish party. All the countries are hosting parties welcoming people. We performed a bit of a gig at that too.
'There's really quite a lot of preparation and checking for one gig but it will all be worth it. A lot of work goes into the production of the show but it's warranted. I'm really enjoying it here.
'We also visited the Irish ambassador the other night and as luck would have it there was a piano there so we had a bit of a gig there too. Everything seems to turn into a bit of a gig really!'
Greg said that it's all systems go now for Ireland's semi-final appearance on Thursday night.
Read more here: Eurovision fever grips Wexford
'It will be a very early start on both Wednesday and Thursday. We'll have a full dress rehearsal, hair and make-up and things like that. On Wednesday the show will be recorded and this is the one the jury will see and then on Thursday it's the same set up again.'
Greg said Thursday night's semi final performances look very strong. 'There are some very strong contenders in it. They are a very varied bunch not just in terms of songs but also visually. It will make for a very good show and an interesting competition.
'I don't really know who our biggest competition is. We are just looking at doing our very best on the night and if it all comes together I think we will do well.'
Greg was previously a runner-up in Ireland's Eurovision qualifier with Andrew Mann for their song, 'Here I Am' which was pipped at the post by the blonde eraser-headed twin duo, Jedward in 2012.
4th Year student Molly and songwriter Greg co-wrote 'Playing with Numbers' as part of her upcoming album.
She says the song is about the risks people take every day in love and in life, and the experiences of taking the road less travelled.
Greg, 32, said the song is not your typical bombastic Eurovision number.
Read more here: Eurovision memories from the boys of Wexford
'We have released it worldwide and we're promoting it but because of Molly's age we aren't promoting it at venues around Europe. It's more of a social media and press campaign. Her age adds to the mystery.'
Greg said he was worried about how Molly would handle the pressure and competitive nature of the competition, but he has been surprised by her.
'She is getting a great reception everywhere. I was very worried at the start. I was concerned she would be ridiculed; she takes a lot of things to heart.'
Greg worked with Molly in 2014 to develop her music with a view to releasing an album.
'She wanted to be a singer songwriter and performer from a young age and she wants to do this for the rest of her life. It's her therapy and singing is a release for her. We had a two- to four-year plan for her. We decided why not enter one of the songs in Eurosong as these competitions are the only way a musician can represent their country.'
He said the song's pared down style accentuates Molly's talent.
'We're not here to win; we're here to represent our country in a respectful manner. Music isn't competitive; we're here to enjoy ourselves. Coming second to Jedward in 2012 was a result in itself.'
'Playing With Numbers' is one of 17 songs in Thursday's second semi-final - the first semi broadcasts tonight (Tuesday). Ten songs from each semi-final will qualify for Saturday's Eurovision final, joining the seven nations who so not have to qualify: the 'Big Five' (the UK, Italy, France, Germany, Spain), hosts Austria, and Australia, who take part as a once-off marking the 60th anniversary of the contest.