KEiiNO will represent Norway at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv with their song “Spirit in the Sky”. It’s a powerful EDM track mixed with traditional Sami music.
Norwegian broadcaster NRK chose KEiiNO through its annual Melodi Grand Prix. From a field of ten, which included the likes of Mørland and Chris Medina, KEiiNO secured the right to represent Norway in Tel Aviv. They comfortably won the televoting in both the second-round and superfinal.
KEiiNO consists of the singers Alexandra Rotan and Tom Hugo, plus joiker Fred-René Buljo. All three are successful solo artists, who gathered together for the newly created project.
As the contest draws near, we’ve compiled 10 facts you need to know about KEiiNO. Let’s do this!
1. They are named after a city
KEiiNO isn’t just a fancy name. There’s a meaning behind it which fits the song. It comes from Kautokeino, the largest of Norway’s 422 municipalities and is located right at the Finnish border. Fred-René Buljo was born there. Kautokeino is the Finnish name, the Sami name is Guovdageaidnu. Gouvda means “middle” and “geaidnu” means road. Knowing that the song tackles the issue of people fighting for the right to be respected and loved for the person they are, the name may refer to the fact that we still haven’t reached our destination.
2. They have Melodi Grand Prix experience
Both Tom and Alexandra are no strangers to Melodi Grand Prix. Alexandra teamed up with Eurovision 2011 alum Stella Mwangi to perform “You Got Me” in 2018 and finished third. She also advanced to the final of the junior edition in 2010. Tom Hugo first appeared at the contest in 2013 with “Det er du”. In 2018, he came back with “I Like I Like I Like”. He wrote both songs himself. He might not have won in 2018, but he still performed the track in Lisbon — at the Wiwi Jam.
3. They have parliamentary links
KEiiNO’s fight for equal rights doesn’t begin and end on stage. Fred-René Buljo has a longtime involvement with Sami rights. He was formerly a member of the Sami Parliament, first as a deputy from 2013 to 2016 and then as an MP from 2016 to 2017.
4. They have a German connection
Tom Hugo moved to Germany over ten years ago and currently lives in Berlin. During this time, he has worked with the UK vocal group The Overtones. He also released several singles which charted in both Norway and Germany. His debut album Sundry Tales peaked at #23 in Norway and his 2017 single “Better Than Me” reached #12 on the Norwegian radio charts. The single “Open Up Your Eyes” charted in Germany and gave him the opportunity to perform on the country’s most-watched morning programme.
5. They’ve collaborated with global stars
Alan Walker is one of the world’s most successful producers and DJs, winning prizes all over the world. However, he needs strong vocalists for his songs. And that’s exactly what he found in Alexandra. They’ve performed together all over the world, including at the Indonesian Television Awards in 2016.
6. Their joiking is no joke
At the press conference for the Riga Eurovision 2019 PreParty, Fred-René revealed that he had never actually joiked in front of an audience until the night of MGP. Joiking is something very personal for him and he was really nervous before he took to the stage. Joiking allows him to show his true soul and it can’t be compared to singing.
7. They’re prolific songwriters
KEiiNO wrote their entry together with Alexander Olsson, Henrik Tala and Rüdiger Schramm. The members are very active as writers for other singers. Tom and Alexandra met for the first time while writing a song for a Japanese artist. Tom wrote songs for German-Ghanaian singer Y’Akoto, South Korean pop group TVXQ and Meg Pfeiffer, who was one of the shortlisted acts for Germany’s 2017 selection.
8. They have a Sami-rap superstar
Fred-René first established himself as part of the rap group Duolva Duottar in 2007. They won the MufiStar competition and reached the final of the first series of Norske Talenter in 2008. They received a lot of media attention when one of the judges refused to let them advance because he couldn’t understand their Sami lyrics. The group went on to give concerts all over the Nordics and released two albums.
9. They did an icy cover of “Only Teardrops”
During the Riga PreParty KEiiNO talked about their all-time Eurovision favourites, citing Alexander Ryback, Bobbysocks and, in particular, Margaret Berger. Despite that they decided to cover a different Eurovision Song from 2013. Earlier this year, they performed “Only Teardrops” in the northernmost ice hotel in the world. The joiking combined with their icy surroundings gave the song a totally new atmosphere.
10. They will continue after Eurovision
Also in Riga, KEiiNO revealed that they are working on a concert album and that they have more singles in the pipeline. We can also expect another cover from the three-piece.
What do you think of Norway’s Eurovision 2019 chances? Are you expecting big things of KEiiNO? Let us know in the comments below.