Eurovision has been a phenomenon for decades now, but over the last few years since Australia’s inclusion in the contest the population has explored here. This weekend Australia will decide on our next representative & to help us make this decision are Norwegian superstar pop group KEiiNO, who themselves placed sixth at Eurovision 2019.
In an interview with City Hub before their return to Australia KEiiNO spoke about how they came together to compete at Eurovision & why the competition is still so significant for artists. We also chatted about their excitement levels ahead of Eurovision: Australia Decides & their subsequent tour of Australia.
From the very moment the KEiiNO was conceived Eurovision was their goal, even before they were officially a group explained Tom Hugo Hermansen.
“I had an idea for a song together with my husband that I thought could be a cool song for Eurovision because the melodies were very Nordic, but I felt it needed something else from Norway. A big part of Norwegian history is the Sami population, which are the indigenous people of the north, so I started calling around to find out if there were any cool Sami artists that rap or joik and I got turned in the direction of Fred. I remember I sent Fred a message which asked him if he ‘would you like to win Eurovision with a pop song that has a joik element?'”
Despite an initial miscommunication after Fred mistakenly replied with an “angry face” emoji Fred Buljo & Tom would join forces alongside Alexandra Rotan to create KEiiNO. As Fred explained Alexandra was a natural choice as the third member because he already knew that “she was an amazing singer”, and “luckily she also liked the idea of forming a band together.”
For Fred the idea of joining the band & showcasing his “mother tongue”, the Sami language, was an exciting prospect & something he felt privileged to be able to do.
“I feel very privileged to show the Sami culture, joik & the Sami language to the rest of the world,” said Fred. “Performing in Eurovision in 2019 proved that you can make Sami music that also reaches out to the world.”
As for Alexandra seeing how significant Eurovision was to its fans & the European music community really tipped her over the edge to join KEiiNO. “To see how big of a community Eurovision has & how people were smiling, dancing & gathering over a love of music was amazing…. I remember when we travelled Europe directly after the completion & seeing how many people already knew our song & were singing along was an amazing experience.”
Whilst speaking with KEiiNO we asked why they felt Eurovision has maintained its relevance over the years, to which Tom answered by saying, “Eurovision is the longest running tv show with music as the core. This is especially important in Scandinavia these days there’s not that many tv shows that will actually present new music. Most of the shows now are artists doing cover songs or it’s celebrities singing or performing.”
When Australia was invited to be an official competitor in Eurovision many were sceptical but for Tom it was a no brainer. “I think culturally Europe & Australia are very closely tied so it was a very natural way of opening up Eurovision to other countries… Most importantly though Australia has always sent great artists with songs that show you’re really putting in a lot of effort to bring your best.”
For this reason KEiiNO are incredibly excited to be returning to Australia to participate in Eurovision: Australia Decides & then begin their own tour along the East Coast. In fact Alexandra was so excited she told us she had already “started packing two weeks” before departing Norway.
“We were in Australia in 2019 & that was an amazing experience, but it was too short,” Alexandra said excitedly. “We didn’t get to experience as much as we wanted to, so this time around we’re performing at Eurovision: Australia Decides, we’re touring the country & we’re also taking some time to be a part of the community there.”
Fred was then quick to add that fans are in for a real treat at the upcoming KEiiNO live shows.
“Last time we toured it was just the three of us as a trio but now we have the full live show. KEiiNO music will make you smile, hopefully it will make you want to move a bit & we also have a few of our favourite songs that we KEiiNo-fy.”
In closing Tom had one final request, “Our Instagram account was hacked in October & stolen, so we lost 50,000 followers. We’re now starting from scratch again, so if everyone could please follow our new account @keiinoband.”
Mar 3. The Great Club, 160-164 Livingstone Rd, Marrickville.
Mar 4. The Bridge Hotel, 119 Victoria Rd, Rozelle.