The Swiss district of Gruyère is famed for its eponymous cheese, a staple of French onion soup, as well as le croque-monsieur. But for international music fans it’s increasingly known for being the home of Switzerland’s Eurovision 2021 singer Gjon’s Tears.

The 22-year-old recently joined me on Zoom to discuss his preparations for Eurovision and his French-language song “Tout l’univers”. He held several writing camps in Zurich, Vienna and beyond to develop songs for an internal selection process. But “Tout l’univers” was written during the very first session of the very first camp.

He says co-writer Nina Sampermans first came up with the idea for an English-language song called “Ground Zero”.

“I like the signification of ground zero — it was the centre of an atomic explosion, but with the 11th of September the meaning became bigger,” Gjon says. “I like the signification of construction and destruction.”

Scroll down for the full video interview

Gjon’s Tears shares “Ground Zero” snippet

In a world exclusive, Gjon played us a minute of the original version of his Eurovision 2021 song.

It includes the lyrics, “wherever I begin, nothing but dust and sins, to rise above and grow, I have to let you go.”

 

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During the songwriting camps there were some songs Gjon wanted to sing in English and songs he wanted to sing in French. The preference varied by the song’s feel and his instincts. Gjon wanted to sing “Ground Zero” in both languages, so he re-worked it into French alongside Xavier Michel, who wrote last year’s entry “Répondez-moi” alongside the singer.

During the song evaluation process the juries preferred “Ground Zero” among all the recordings. “But when I sang it live, they really preferred it in French because the interpretation was different.”

Both version of the song are about “construction and destruction” — and how we all have to push to stay afloat in this cycle of life.

“I really wanted to say the most important person, and the person we have to love most, is ourself,” he says. “We are, for ourselves, the most powerful person that we can have in our life and the only one in whom we can trust. I wanted to dedicate this to ourselves and to the person inside of us.”

“I’m really realising in the hard times that if you don’t respect yourself, if you do bad things, if you don’t move and stay at home, you’re not going for a walk, if you’re not taking care of yourself…you can clearly see how you’re becoming. Also your morale, your tiredness…I don’t want that any more.”

“I wanted to make a song with a lot of hope, even if it doesn’t look like that. In French we say ‘you have to see further’ — it’s an optimistic expression and I like it a lot. I wanted to see further — I wanted to see the whole space, the whole universe.”

“It’s a way to say that even if you think you have lived everything, you haven’t lived everything. The universe is so big and you still have so many opportunities and so many things to live. Your job is not finished here. Even if we are dead, we will not have finished what we have to do here.”.

Interview timestamps

2:33 Discussing the cancellation of Eurovision 2020

8:17 The songwriting process for the song — starting with the English version

11:10 Gjon plays the first version of Ground Zero that they recorded

13:00 Which version did the jury in the Swiss selection prefer?

14:40 What’s the meaning of the song?

18:00 Gjon explains the music video, which represents a cycle — it starts where it ends

22:45 Gjon says he was not satisfied with the live-on-tape performance and hopes to get to perform it live in Rotterdam with full effects and staging.

26:25 What was it like delivering your first live performance on Spanish broadcaster Telecino?

28:10 Gjon does not like to eat the day of a performance

31:56 Gjon sings his favourite Eurovision song — France’s 1969 winner “Un jour, un enfant”

Are you loving Gjon’s inspirational message? Do you eat before your live performances? Let us know in the comments box below.

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Marion
1 month ago

Wow!!!

ESC 21
1 month ago

For me its the same song as ladt year. But its ok

Ivar
Ivar
1 month ago

”Tout l’univers” is my absolute favourite so far. I look forward to seeing the live performance!

rainer1
rainer1
1 month ago

Great interview. The man can not only sing, he also has personality

Richard
Richard
1 month ago

My personal favourite this year, I’ve played the song to death already but there is always something new to hear. This was a great interview, he seems to be really enjoying this whole experience and is clearly very bright and talented.

Mr Vanilla Bean
Mr Vanilla Bean
1 month ago

Yep, it sounds like a songwriting camp song to me and I cannot connect with it at all. It wants to be profound but to me, it’s really not. The car crash video was the only thing that grabbed my attention but the music and the constant falsetto are actually off-putting to me, personally. I’m not hearing what people who helped this soar in the odds are hearing and I don’t want to try a third time. Two is enough. It’s not for me.

Polegend Godgarina
Polegend Godgarina
1 month ago

once again you put my very thoughts into words very well!

Henry
Henry
1 month ago

Totally agree with you, couldn’t say it better.

Ende
Ende
1 month ago

How “Arcade” became “Tout l’univers” would have been a more accurate title.

euroboy
euroboy
1 month ago

You are favoring Destiny and especially Gjon these days. Every other post is about their odds, their guest appearances and interviews. I think that’s not fair against other contestants. And to be honest, it becomes boring. Yesterday eurovision official published a video about filming backup videos, that is more on interesting side. We need more overall eurovision news.

Frisian esc
Frisian esc
1 month ago
Reply to  euroboy

What’s getting boring is reading the same whiny comments about the odds favorites receiving attention every year again.

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  euroboy

New year, same type of complaints. You know there are other ESC fan sites that exist alongside Wiwibloggs, don’t you?

euroboy
euroboy
1 month ago
Reply to  James

I haven’t complained until now. It has become unbearable. It’s really important to have even level field this year cuz the winner could easily be someone else, but the media creates an artificial hype about them two.

Frisian esc
Frisian esc
1 month ago
Reply to  euroboy

There will always be somebody who is ‘the favorite to win’ because the bookies always will have a #1. That doesn’t mean it isn’t an open year though. Everything can change during the rehearsals and we all can feel there isn’t a give away winner like euphoria at the moment.

In 2011 france was the #1 in the odds but they flopped.

International media that can have a real effect on momentum of an artist will only start giving attention to eurovision in the week of the contest itself.

Last edited 1 month ago by Frisian esc
euroboy
euroboy
1 month ago
Reply to  Frisian esc

I know about bookies and I agree with you, but that doesn’t mean the influential media should follow them and keep everyone updated with the latest updates on odds. That’s ruining the contest and the overall quality of the website. We get superficial and cheap articles. Why don’t we get more articles about Eurovision rather than certain artists? Why doesn’t wiwibloggs search up more and maybe make an article how the camera work works, but with the narrative of some famous director and stage designer and some demonstration? Staging is nowadays crucial and lot of people who give it a… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by euroboy
Esc addict
Esc addict
1 month ago
Reply to  Frisian esc

Come on stop using 2011 as an example to illustrate that the bookies can be wrong, it’s irrelevant totally, we all know what happened this year and how the winners won so and how the favourites were robbed…..so 2017 or 2014 for example are more relevant.

Frisian esc
Frisian esc
1 month ago
Reply to  Esc addict

Well it’s not like France came 2nd that year and the bookies were close so the point still stands 🙂
In the week of the contest Austria and portugal were both #1 in the odds eventually so it would have been a bad example.

Last edited 1 month ago by Frisian esc
Frisian esc
Frisian esc
1 month ago
Reply to  euroboy

Btw I looked it up. There have been 6 articles of gjon in total. 1 about the lyrics which every country gets an article about and 2 about the odds.

Last edited 1 month ago by Frisian esc
euroboy
euroboy
1 month ago
Reply to  Frisian esc

In my view 6 articles is too much considering it’s the beginning of April. Nonetheless, it’s not fair that he has more articles than most of the contestants. How many articles was about Georgia for example? I think most people here are hypocrites, when there was a controversy about Cypriot song people commented that they don’t care and that is an artificial hype. But now when we get repeated stories and articles all over again that is not boring. How so? We will be listening to numerous interviews how the song was made, what the inspiration was and about the… Read more »

Frisian esc
Frisian esc
1 month ago
Reply to  euroboy

Whenever news about the contest development gets released it also gets posted here and other eurovison websites. That would be about 1 article in 1/2 weeks time though. Not really enough to run a whole eurovision web blog.

I don’t really see the connection between one person in the wiwibloggs comment section apparently not liking the cypriot entry calling it an ‘artificial hype’, and wiwibloggs writing stories about the favorites to win?

Anyway if you’d like you can always volunteer to become a wiwiblogger and write 6 articles about tornike kipiani 🙂

Last edited 1 month ago by Frisian esc
euroboy
euroboy
1 month ago
Reply to  Frisian esc

The lack of eurovision news shouldn’t be an argument for the low quality of superficial articles and favoring of top bookies entrants even though it occurs every year. Sorry not sorry

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  euroboy

They have scheduled interviews for as many artists as they are able to (usually arranged by the delegations’ respective head of press), likewise for other news sites. The daily digests are actually a good initiative by the Wiwibloggs team to include as many news as they can in a capsulized article, most often sourced from other news sites as well.

Last edited 1 month ago by James
rainer1
rainer1
1 month ago
Reply to  euroboy

Mimimimimimii…..

Nancy G
Nancy G
1 month ago
Reply to  euroboy

Hmmm. I just scrolled through the homepage and 11 different artists have articles focused on them. Also I looked on the Wiwibloggs Instagram and there was an interview that’s been filmed in Tbilisi with Tornike. Is it unfair that Tornike gets an in-person interview whereas Gjon only gets Zoom? Of course not. https://www.instagram.com/p/CNIK3KjMI-9/?igshid=3e2kz8e3ix3m

The truth
The truth
1 month ago
Reply to  euroboy

I do not think they are favouring anybody. If they talk about their odds, it’s because they are at the top of the odds and polls. Wiwibloggs has done interviews with most of the contestants. So where is the bias?

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
1 month ago
Reply to  euroboy

Don’t really know why you’re complaining about Wiwibloggs getting a 30m exclusive interview with one of the favourites to win the competition.

Different artists/broadcasters/delegations have different schedules and availability. For example, it’s usually difficult to get much from the Italian acts at this time of year because they’re fresh off Sanremo responsibilities, normally have an album release that coincides with it etc. San Marino, on the other hand, might just need to take their dogs for a walk and are more than happy to give up their time to talk.

Lucie Zápotocná
Lucie Zápotocná
1 month ago

William thank you so much for this interview…I’ve enjoyed it so much