On the Finnish TV series Skye, he portrays a hunky doctor who saves children’s lives inside the trauma department of a busy hospital. And on Saturday evening singer and actor Sebastian Rejman proved that he remains just as cool under pressure in real life, as he performed three songs during Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu 2019 — Finland’s song selection for Eurovision.
The 41-year-old star went back to black, slipping into leather trousers as he combined musical aptitude with telegenic appeal. Singing at Eurovision involves a degree of acting and he nailed it by changing mood and tone between songs. From the free-fall drama of “Release Me” to the festival-feel of “Superman”, Seb proved to be an on-stage chameleon. But it was “Look Away” — a song he co-wrote — that really got heads turning. The song swept the international jury panel, receiving 12 points from every single judge. Sebbylicious, y’all!
Ahead of the show we shimmied over to his dressing room for a quick catchup. And it became pretty clear that “Look Away” was his preferred track. While he wrote the song in Finland, the inspiration had far-flung origins.
“A couple of years back I was in India — in Delhi — during the New Year’s and I got sick with the stomach flu, something I ate,” he says. “I was in the hotel room looking over Delhi and it looked like a sky fight movie after the nuclear war. It was quite a shock to me as a western person to go in Delhi in the city at night when people were sleeping on the streets and living on the streets.”
“It got to me, honestly. It sounds like a cliché but it really did. I came home and I sat on the piano the first time I had a chance. I wrote ‘Look Away’ in like 20 minutes. I just had to get it out.”
And get it out he did. His UMK staging managed to tell the story visually, showcasing a dancer on top of a lit box, which appeared to resemble a melting glacier or avalanche. Dancing on top the dancer at times falls — appearing to slide into the digital chaos behind Sebastian. The song becomes something of a triple threat: Darude production, Sebo’s husky voice, a visual spectacular that elevates it beyond pop music.
So did he feel more invested in this song than the others?
“Of course, it’s my baby from the beginning. But my job is to do my best in all three of them. I can’t just go there and sing like some drunken Finnish karaoke guy.”
The first song he performed on Saturday was “Release Me” — a number many had panned as a rip-off of Agnes’ global hit. No matter. The song, while written by Darude, had personal resonance for Sebastian. He previously parked his band The Giant Leap after a bit of struggle and literally had to be released from a record contract.
“[The band] hung the gloves for a while. We had a record contract with EMI. We wanted to go abroad but the contacts in the Finnish record company weren’t that good. I didn’t want to wait for some people to try to contact some people that’s never going to happen. That’s why I broke off the contract and took a risk and am still on the way.”
During UMK itself, it seemed pretty clear the audience was in love with “Superman” — a feel-good, easy-to-access dance track.
Sebastian had to channel a totally different vibe for that one. “It’s more like the festival setting we did with Darude last summer. It’s more like a party on stage. My attitude is more like a festival — let’s have fun and not be too serious. The song is not serious. That’s what I’m thinking — that we’re somewhere in Stockholm playing for thousands and thousands of people.”
The Helsinki-born gentleman has a lot of other projects on this plate — from becoming the George Clooney of Finland to prepping for Eurovision to recently becoming a father of two children.
All his worlds seemed to collide on the day YLE announced that he and Darude would sing at the contest. He broke his index finger playing hockey, attended the UMK press day, then went to the hospital to deal with his finger….and got a text from his wife saying she was going into labour.
“I drove home with my left hand, took a taxi before 9 o’clock in the evening and we had a baby girl an hour later. I will never forget that 24 hours.”
Is it all a bit much for one man to take? Nah.
“I’m not tired. I’m busy. I’ve been really, really busy. Everything I do I want to do 110%. I love being home right now. I love working on the hospital show. And I love doing this. I just got three places to be at the same time, so that’s a little difficult. I love this time right now in my life. I’m trying to be the 100% of myself and be constantly present at every moment.”
Are you loving Sebastian’s can-do spirit and positive vibe? Did the song grow for you after seeing the staging? Tell us everything down below.