“The Beatles are like second to God” - Victor Vernicos on Eurovision, Liverpool and being Greece’s youngest ever entry

The 16-year-old has arrived in Liverpool for the first time.

Victor Vernicos is the Greece’s youngest ever Eurovision participant, set to represent the nation at just 16-years-old. The impressive musician wrote his Eurovision song, ‘What They Say’ at the age of 14, and hopes that the emotional ballad will resonate with the millions of viewers set to watch the song contest.

Victor arrived in Liverpool on Sunday (April 30) and we chatted with him about his first time visiting the city, his favourite Eurovision act and how it feels to be representing Greece at such a huge event.

Despite being only 16-years-old, Victor has being showing off his musical talents for over ten years, starting to learn the piano at the age of four. He told LiverpoolWorld: “We always had a piano in the house and my mum saw that I was just banging on the keys and trying to play so she was like ‘hey, let’s get him into some lessons’. My whole family is quite musical in general.”

Victor’s mother is Greek and his father is Danish but, his family have always lived in Greece. His Danish grandfather was in a jazz band, his father played the trumpet and his mother was in the choir, so he has been surrounded by musical talent.

After practicing the piano for several years, Victor began vocal lessons at the age of eight. He said: “I then started guitar at the age of ten and at around 11 or 12 I started writing my own songs and producing my own songs too.”

Victor’s Eurovision song

After writing and producing ‘What They Say’ at the age of 14, Victor submitted it as his Eurovision entry at just 15-years-old, in October last year. The Greek broadcaster Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) internally selected him to represent the nation and unveiled the news on January 30.

Victor is representing Greece for Eurovision 2023.Victor is representing Greece for Eurovision 2023.
Victor is representing Greece for Eurovision 2023.

When asked if he always knew ‘What They Say’ would be his Eurovision song, he said, “since I wrote it, I knew it was the song I knew that needed to go somewhere.”

“It was my favourite song in acoustic form and for six or seven months I couldn’t figure out the production of it because I was like, ‘nothing is doing this justice’.” Victor described that the song was, “uplifting, had energy and emotion” and “rawly expressed” something he had gone through.

Writing ‘What They Say’ after the first time he felt strong anxiety, Victor said, “After I made Eurovision a goal, it was the first song that came up but it was actually too long.”

Originally 4 minutes and 14 seconds long, the track was over the 3 minutes of allotted time given to a Eurovision entry, so Victor had to find a way to cut it down. He said that in the end it was, “better than the original.”

Musical influences

Despite being Danish and Greek, Victor has always gone to international schools and been influenced by British and American artists. He described liking hip hop music and idolising Ed Sheeran - the only artist he’s seen live in concert. However, Victor said he doesn’t try to replicate anyone else’s music.

He explained: “I like replicating the way they produce the music. I like the way Ed Sheeran the way he writes his songs. He writes them honestly and says the more you do the better you get. I like his way of training himself to song write, and loads of other artists do the same.

“My process is getting myself encapsulated by the emotion I’m trying to express, and writing about that emotion as honestly as possible.”

Arriving in Liverpool and plans for his visit

The 16-year-old spent his first morning exploring the city, visiting the M&S Bank Arena and of course, making the most of his hotel’s buffet. He said: “Me and my father woke up at around 6:30/7 and went to St George’s Hall and went over to the arena too, from the outside, and checked it out. Getting that positive manifestation in and trying to feel everything. It’s a truly beautiful city.”

Victor hopes to visit the Cavern Club. Image: Nikos ZikosVictor hopes to visit the Cavern Club. Image: Nikos Zikos
Victor hopes to visit the Cavern Club. Image: Nikos Zikos

Having never been to England before, Victor said he’s going to scope out the local Greek restaurants and see if they food is any good, and of course, visit the Cavern Club. He said: “I think every musician that visits here wants to go there. The Beatles are like second to God in this city and in general as musicians.”

Rehearsals for Eurovision begin on May 2, and Victor described his excitement about getting started. He said:”I want to get into the M&S Bank Arena and start getting on stage. I want to see the audience and I want to start hugging everyone and playing the song.”

He added that he ‘will probably’ be at some of the EuroFestival events around Liverpool too but can’t reveal which ones just yet.

Managing education and Eurovision

Currently studying music technology, Victor has his GCSE exams just days after the Eurovision final. Studying remotely at a school based in London, he said he won’t be focusing on his exams whilst in Liverpool but, all of his lessons are recorded and uploaded online.

GCSE exams are stressful enough for anyone, without representing your country in a huge contest, so hat’s off to you, Victor.

Eurovision performance

We asked Victor about his big performance at the semi final on May 11, but he didn’t give too much away. Grinning, he said, “I like surprises so I might keep it a secret. But, what I can say is that just as I took the emotion I felt and I expressed it into the song, we’re going to try to take that from the song and put it on stage.

Victor is Greece’s youngest ever entry. Image: Nikos ZikosVictor is Greece’s youngest ever entry. Image: Nikos Zikos
Victor is Greece’s youngest ever entry. Image: Nikos Zikos

“I hope that everybody feels it and gets captured in the atmosphere of the song and it catches everybody off guard.”

Victor’s favourite Eurovision act

Victor was lucky enough to meet his favourite entry, Duncan Laurence, on his journey to Liverpool. Laurence won the Eurovision Song Contest for the Netherlands in 2019, and has come to Liverpool with this year’s entry, Mia Nicolai and Dion Cooper.

Explaining why he’s a fan of Laurence, Victor said: “He sat behind a piano and it came off purely and the emotion was carried into the crowd and he won the contest. He’s truly amazing and I loved the song (Arcade) and the performance.”

Victor will perform at the second semi final. Image: Nikos ZikosVictor will perform at the second semi final. Image: Nikos Zikos
Victor will perform at the second semi final. Image: Nikos Zikos