Eliot Vassillimet will represent Belgium at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv with his song “Wake Up”. It’s a dark and broody pop number, in keeping with many of the country’s recent entries.
Belgium has two participating broadcasters — RTBF and VRT — who take it in turns to organise the nation’s Eurovision entry. This year is an odd year, meaning Wallonian network RTBF is in charge. As in previous years, the TV station looked to The Voice Belgique and internally selected Eliot. It’s a formula that has worked well for them, with Roberto Bellarosa, Loic Nottet and Blanche all reaching the left side of the scoreboard.
As Eurovision 2019 grows ever nearer, we’ve decided to compile 10 facts about Eliot. Let’s do this!
1. He is from the city of Mons
Eliot was born and raised in the city of Mons. The 18-year-old still goes to school there, attending the city’s Collège Saint-Stanislas (Saint Stanislav College). Mons has about 100,000 inhabitants and is part of the French-speaking Wallonia region. It’s located near the French border and is best known for its classical architecture. It is also home to NATO’s headquarters.
2. He competed on The Voice Belgique
Eliot’s first brush with fame came when he took part in season seven of The Voice Belgique. For his blind audition, he sang Kodaline’s “High Hopes”. Two panellists turned, Slimane and Vitaa. Both have Eurovision connections, Vitaa was a judge in the 2019 French selection while Slimane dueted with Emmy Liyana in last year’s Destination Eurovision final. Eliot opted for Slimane. Before his elimination in episode 11 of the 16 show series, Eliot also performed “Mad World” by Tears For Fears and “Alter Ego” by Jean-Louis Aubert.
3. He never watched Eurovision before
Eliot is at the very start of what is hopefully a long career. But he’s not just new to the music business. Eliot is also a newbie when it comes to Eurovision. Speaking with our William and Deban in London, he admits that he didn’t know much about the contest before agreeing to participate. His parents simply never tuned in. That’s not to say the guy doesn’t enjoy a bit of television from time to time. His favourite shows are Netlix’s Umbrella Academy and the British sci-fi comedy drama Misfits.
4. He’s working with the man who composed Blanche’s “City Lights”
In 2017, Blanche brought Belgium its second fourth place finish in three years with “City Lights”. The song was composed by Belgian singer-songwriter Pierre Dumoulin. And he’s back for 2019. After seeing Eliot on The Voice, Pierre got in touch and they were soon working on “Wake Up”. He will also travel to Tel Aviv as part of the Belgian delegation.
5. He’s bringing a serious message to Eurovision
In our interview with Eliot last month, he told us that “Wake Up” has a serious message. Fans and press presumed that the track was about climate change — it’s a hot topic in Belgium recently, with thousands protesting in Brussels. However, Eliot explains that the song is not about global warming alone, but world problems in general. His aim is to wake up the younger generation, in particular.
6. He needs all his days-off school for Eurovision
Spare a thought for poor Eliot as the concept of free time has almost become a thing of the past… at least until Eurovision ends in May. So while he would have liked to join the climate marches in Brussels, he couldn’t. His school only allows for a limited number of days off, and Eliot needs to save them all for his trip to Tel Aviv.
7. He has a girlfriend
He may be young, but Eliot is not free and single. And while he’s preparing to perform for 100s of millions, his girlfriend prefers to stay out of the spotlight. Unfortunately, she won’t be able to join him in Israel due to school. However, Eliot will be well supported. His parents will travel with him, as will teams from RTBF and Sony Music Belgium and, of course, Domoulin.
8. He plans to release music
Apart from some covers on The Voice, Eliot hadn’t released any music prior to “Wake Up”. He’s in full on Eurovision mode at the moment, but once he’s back in Belgium his focus will switch to new music. He is currently contracted to Sony Music Belgium, the label that’s also home to Loïc Nottet and Blanche. He still has time to develop as an artist, but this Beyoncé cover suited him very well.
9. He can play multiple instruments
Eliot’s gift for music doesn’t end with singing. He’s also able to play multiple instruments. He demonstrated his piano skills during an Instagram live session with Spain’s Miki (skip to 15:13 in the clip below). He learned how to play by watching YouTube tutorials. He also strums the guitar, and began taking lessons aged seven. There won’t be any onstage instruments in Tel Aviv though.
10. He’s on the fast track
Before “Wake Up”, Eliot had very little experience of performing in venues, singing outside of a studio, giving interviews or interacting with large crowds. RTBF and Sony Music Belgium realised this and popped Eliot straight on to the fast track. In recent weeks, he has performed on PureFM, Radio MNM and in Namur trainstation. They also signed him up for Amsterdam’s Eurovision in Concert, the London Eurovision Party and Madrid’s Eurovision Spain Pre-Party.
Will Eliot bring Belgium back to the final? Are you waking up to “Wake Up”? Let us know in the comments.