In case you didn't know, Queen Loreen will be returning to Eurovision this year after more than TEN years since her first appearance in the contest.
So, to celebrate one of the best Eurovision talents there's ever been, and to find out more about everyone's favourite song contest, we sat down with Loreen to chat about everything from her love of the UK, to her new song "Tattoo".
Hi Loreen! So you first competed in and won Eurovision back in 2012 representing Sweden – how does competing this year compare to your first time?
Loreen: It does feel more effortless in a way, like it’s more open somehow. I feel more motherly... is that good for me to say? I’m not that old, darling!
Absolutely not! Tell us about your new song for this year, "Tattoo".
Loreen: If you look at “Euphoria” compared to “Tattoo”, “Euphoria” has this mysterious vibe to it, like moonlight. Whereas “Tattoo” is more like sunlight – it’s open and out there! So yeah, the songs are completely different.
Do you feel like you have a leg-up on the competition since you've done this before?
Loreen: I mean, I guess you could say I know how the competition works and how the stage is set, but at the end of the day, I think this contest is all about connecting with the audience. I don’t necessarily think I have an advantage because it mostly comes down to the performance and what you deliver on the night!
What are your thoughts on Eurovision being held in the UK this year?
Loreen: I mean, it's exciting for this country, no? Everyone here is very excited that they get to host, I can tell! I love the UK – I think it's like a hub of creative people and diversity. Whenever I'm here, it’s lit, it's on fire!
Have you been to Liverpool before?
Loreen: I've never been to Liverpool, but I’m planning to go out into the countryside and meditate! People have been asking what I’m gonna do when I get there... I know it’s boring, but I just want to sit in a Liverpool field and meditate.
So how exactly did you become involved in Eurovision again?
Loreen: I was sent a demo of a song by Thomas G:son and his team – Thomas co-wrote “Euphoria” – and I sat in my living room with a glass of wine and listened to it. I remember thinking it was really interesting, but at that point, there was no talk of Eurovision or the Melody Festival, as it’s called in Sweden.
I called up Thomas and said, ‘did you guys write this song with me in mind?’ They were like, ‘yeah’. So then a couple of days later I went into the studio to record the song myself. As soon as I did, things started to shift – we changed some of the words and the storyboard changed a bit too. After we were done about an hour later, they popped the question. I was like, ‘hell no! I’ve already done that, what would be the point of doing it again? What else can I give?’
Weeks went by and there was a lot of back and forth; I kept saying no, but I started to feel this dense energy in me. People around me who I trust and love were saying, ‘okay, we get you don’t want to do it again’, but whenever I would suggest doing it, they would light up with excitement. In the end, I felt compelled to say yes by some force. It felt like the universe was telling me to do it again.
Sorry, can we go back to you recording the song in an hour!
Loreen: Oh yes, after 60 minutes we’d reworked the song and cut a new version. Some people just complicate things! They think you need to struggle to create, but when it's flowing, it's easy. Once that was done, I went to my record label and told them I wanted to do Eurovision again. I told them it would take a lot of focus and energy, and I remember gathering everybody and sharing with them pictures and things to show them what I wanted to accomplish. They were so confused, but they know how I work!
So were you then automatically Sweden's entry?
Loreen: No, I had to compete for it, which is a good thing. The Melody Festival is important because it includes other people! But yes, you have to compete several times. I always appreciate the opportunity to be creative and to connect with people though, that’s my job after all!
That's really interesting! So what do you think makes a good Eurovision song?
Loreen: I don’t know, man, there isn’t a perfect recipe. I like songs that are cinematic and dramatic – I want to really feel something in the three minutes that we’re all given. Personally, I’m a big fan of the kind of “gay pop bangers”, but then sometimes you get one guy who stands in the middle of the stage playing an instrument and he moves you to tears! That can be dramatic too. I think what all the best songs have in common is they come from a very real place. It's not just a bunch of layers, it's actually an artist living and breathing the song. You can feel it, it’s real.
Have you listened to any of the other entries for this year?
Loreen: I've listened to all of them and I do have some favourites. I love, I love, I love Finland’s! That guy is a vibe; he makes me so hype. I also love Blanca Paloma, Spain’s entry – she’s using her heritage in such an amazing way, y’know, the flamenco thing? It feels so spiritual and healing to me. I love the Norwegian entry too – it’s very powerful. She reminds me of myself when I did “Euphoria”, to be honest. She has this warrior vibe to her, like this full-on ancient female vibe. I love it!
So do you feel like those three are your biggest competitors, or are they just songs that you personally love?
Loreen: I mean, it’s all very subjective, right? I think those are my personal faves, I’m not thinking about the competition too much in that sense. If I do, it would kill my power to be authentic, I think. I’m all about focus and discipline, and I feel like the moment your ego comes into it, it really does kill your performance.
“Euphoria” ended up becoming a massive hit after Eurovision – how did that feel?
Loreen: Going into Eurovision, you might not know if your song is gonna last. I went in with no expectations, and not in my wildest dreams did I think the song was gonna be a huge hit! It's so beautiful and I'm so thankful. It's still so surreal just hearing people sing the song, you know?
Actually, on that, where is the oddest or most interesting place you've ever heard your song?
Loreen: I often hear “Euphoria” in the bathroom. I don't know how I feel about that! Like, could you please not sing my song while you’re doing your thing in the bathroom?
That is fair! Okay, can you tell us something you could never get away with as a contestant in Eurovision? Like, what’s a big no-no on stage?
Loreen: I mean, I say there's nothing I cannot do! Rules are made to be broken – look at me, here I am back again!
That's true! And is it really a curse to go second in the line up? Apparently that’s a thing.
Loreen: Really? I’ve never heard of this! It’s like a Eurovision joke? I don’t believe in that! I just believe that if you create something authentic, it will resonate and it will happen regardless of whether you're 10th or 35th!
Are acts encouraged to sing in English? How does that feel?
Loreen: I don’t really know about that, but my take is that the language is secondary, and a good song is a good song. It's all about energy, and even if you can’t understand a singer, you can still tell what they’re trying to send out there on stage or in a video. I don’t speak French or Korean, but I still enjoy music from those countries. We shouldn't be divided because of language, I think we should be united!
How political is Eurovision from a contestant’s point of view?
Loreen: I’m not really interested in any of that. I believe that if an artist is good and authentic, people will feel it and they will vote for them.
How does it feel to have such a large LGBTQ+ fanbase?
Loreen: Well, that community is like a home; that was where it all started! Without that community, I wouldn't be sitting here. I was a struggling artist trying to find my place, and so I knocked on the LGBTQ community’s door and I was like, ‘hi guys, can I just be me in here?’ And they were like, ‘yeah, you can’.
You made a cameo in Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – what are your thoughts on the movie and how did that come about?
Loreen: Well, I received a letter from Will Ferrell. I’m actually not fond of musicals, but I’m a huge fan of Will, so I thought it was worth the compromise! I was like, ‘okay, I'll do whatever you want. I just want to be in a movie with you.’
When I got to set, he said he wanted me to sing and walk down the stairs and look fab. I remember I was barefoot, and I thought at the time, ‘Jesus Christ, I'm never gonna get paid like this so let’s go!’ I was also so embarrassed at times because it’s really hard to tell whether Will is making a joke or not. At one point, I was laughing so much I had to excuse myself and go off set!
Amazing! And have you ever participated in a real “song-along” like in the film?
Loreen: I must admit, I haven’t. For me, music is such a spiritual thing. I’m not really the sing-along type, but if I was to do that, it would have to be with people who have a similar energy to me so I can vibe with them. So, no, I haven’t – but others might have!
How did your life change after your Eurovision?
Loreen: It changed in so many ways. I think competing in 2012, that was the first time I’d truly decided to trust my gut and my intuition, and I was shit-scared. There were so many forces around me wanting me to compromise, it was wild. But I told myself, there’s only one way to do this and it’s your way – if you fail, you fail. But I didn’t!
There was this moment when I was standing on stage in the finals in Stockholm; I was looking out into the crowd and there was this voice inside me saying, ‘so this is what happens when you follow your intuition’. It's so easy, and yet we sometimes let other forces take control. So it changed me deeply because I decided at that moment to never, ever compromise on anything. If I feel it, I will follow it, whether it makes sense or not.
I was also living like a nomad in a bloody airport all the time, but it was fun meeting people from all over. Plus, I was making music full-time! Can you imagine? It was beautiful. It is beautiful!
Where's the wildest place you've ever performed?
Loreen: Definitely in Berlin at this New Year's Party. There was around 1.5 million people there, and there were speakers every 200 metres or so. I remember I was about to sing “Euphoria”, and before the song started, the crowd was singing it acapella. Can you imagine the collective energy there? It was mind-blowing because we were so connected.
What can we expect from your performance this year?
Loreen: Well, you can expect more of what you've seen so far, but maybe even more drama, even more nature, even more us!