On Saturday she had the honour of closing out Eurovision in Concert in Amsterdam — wowing the home crowd with the emotional depth of “De Diepte”.
And ahead of that S10 – that’s Stien den Hollander — caught up with us at the afternoon press day. Our quick chat on mental health stirred lots of other questions, so we subsequently followed up with a phone call on Wednesday.
Below you can watch our interview in Amsterdam, followed by text highlights of our phone chat (with me in London and S10 in Amsterdam).
S10 Interview at Eurovision in Calling
S10 is the first artist from The Netherlands to sing in Dutch since Sieneke in 2010. We asked her to explain the lyrics for all of us non-Dutch speakers.
“It’s a love song to my own sadness — an ode to my own memories. I just try to explain in the song that we all go through things in life — maybe losing someone, our parents divorce. It’s all pretty anonymous. I don’t know what you’ve been through. You’re probably not going to tell me now. But I do want to say you’re not alone. And maybe I can’t be there for you, but there are people who can be there for you.”
“I try to tell that in a message that it’s fine. You are not alone and all this sadness and all these memories are part of you. If you try to embrace it and make life a party in your own head, things can actually be really nice in life.”
She understands difficulties. S10 has been very open about her struggles with depression and auditory hallucinations — and how she overcame them to reach a happy and stable place mentally.
“The reality of life is pretty harsh. I think that we are not being taught enough as young children that the most important thing in life is that you feel at home in your own body and in your own mind. They don’t teach children to form their own identity. Do you like if people touch you? Do you like putting make up on? What kind of clothes do you like? All those things are not being taught at a very young age. It forms into people who get stuck. They have no idea who they are. They have no idea what they want.
If you are stuck, find things that make you happy in your own head because that’s where the party has to be. Yes, you have to dance with music in your mirror and you have to think about all the things you want to do — swim in the sea and all those things. That’s really important. It’s all in your head. If you are there, in a nice place, go for that.”
We spoke on the phone a few days later to pick up our conversation.
What was it like for her to close Eurovision in Concert last weekend?
“Really cool. It felt really special to be in front of my own country. And that morning I could wake up in my own bed. As an artist it’s really special. Because of Covid there has not been a lot of contact with fans and I had never met Eurovision fans like this before. It was pretty overwhelming to hear everyone go crazy and sing it. That was really nice.”
We previously saw you perform “De Diepte” on Dutch television. It included beautiful lasers and special lights. Will your performance in Turin be similar?
“I can’t really tell you anything about it yet. It’s going to be a surprise there. The show is going to be really personal to me. That’s the only thing I can say. You’re really going to see me in my best form.”
You recently revealed that designers Viktor & Rolf will design your outfit for the stage. How did that come about?
“I chose Viktor and Rolf. They are two Dutch designers, but they are really big worldwide. I think their fashion is more of an art installation than fashion. It’s really haute couture. Like when you do Eurovision and choose what you’re going to wear — it’s such a big decision. I realized we have these amazing designers in the Netherlands. I have loved them for ages. I contacted them and they were so down and we had a cup of tea and I showed them how the show will be. We had amazing fitting sessions. I felt like a bride. I put on a really cool outfit and I knew this fits. It felt like an honour to wear all the beautiful creations. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life!”
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Based on your recent looks, it seems you love wearing black. What’s the S10 look?
“I think I love male fashion. I am really inspired by rappers and rap music. My biggest idol is Swedish rapper Yung Lean and he is my fashion icon. Kanye West is also a big fashion inspiration. My style is grungy…but I also love to do a bit of girl stuff. But I always keep it really comfortable. I want to feel nice and simple, not too crazy because that doesn’t really fit me.”
Let’s talk about songwriting. Your song is beautiful. I don’t speak Dutch but I can feel your heart and soul. Did you debate singing in English or was it always obvious to you that’d you’d sing in Dutch?
“I write my own music. When I was younger, I started with English, but English music really wasn’t for me. It didn’t fit my personality at all — I didn’t feel comfortable. After that I always wrote in Dutch. I can express myself best in Dutch. It was never an option to sing in English. When the opportunity for Eurovision came, I never debated it. I thought this is going to be cool. When they released the news that I am doing Eurovision in Dutch, a lot of people were like, ‘Oh that’s gonna suck — it’s gonna be in Dutch and no one can understand.’ I was like hmm. I think this will be cool.”
What inspired the song? Was it a word or a sound or a feeling?
“I think that right now in my life I am doing really good. When I write I never think about writing a song. I just do it and then there is a song. It’s always really about that moment in my life. When I wrote this it was a realization that I have been through a lot and it’s always with me, but it’s also kind of a party to have with myself. I’m really doing good, but I also can’t erase all the memories and all the things that happened and I have to keep them with me and celebrate them. That’s where I was at that moment and now still am. I’m really comfortable with all the stuff going on in my head.”
“Also…I really don’t like to write love songs. I think it’s all stupid. It’s too cheesy for me. But when I wrote this it’s a love song to myself. You can also interpret it as a love song to someone I lost. It’s a love song and one to all the memories I have been through. A younger version of myself. I am trying to embrace that more in my life.”
Given the emotional weight, was the song difficult to write? How long did it take you?
“It was an hour. We wrote the rough demo and I also had another song in Dutch. I wrote this in the studio a week after I spoke to the Dutch Eurovision people. I was like, ‘Okay, I have a song and I wrote another song.’ It was not that big of a thing in my head, like, ‘Oh, this is going to be the Eurovision.’ I wanted to make another song. The other one was nice, but this was a little darker. I had the demo when I met with the producer and told them what I like. He had these amazing guitars. He said, ‘I’m gonna pick a guitar Stein is gonna love.’ He picked it up. Not everything had worked. I always start with some sounds like oo and ahh. Later, I fill it in with lyrics. When I walked out of the studio I was like, ‘This is the song!’ I sent it to my friends and label and said, ‘Can we also send this song? I think it’s sick.’ They didn’t really understand because it was such a rough demo. But I was really sure about it.”
You’ve been open about how as a teenager you faced many challenges with your mental health, including auditory hallucinations. How did you recover and what good advice did you receive that helped you?
“I think I’ve been okay. I’ve been doing really good for 4 years. Every day is a recovery. You get confronted with hard stuff in life every day. I really chose the adventurous part of life. I was for a lot of years stuck in the city where I was in the situation where I was in. It was unsafe for me.”
“One day — and it’s a long story, but I’ll keep it short — I had to do my exams in school and they told me I wasn’t going to pass. I did the exams, studied so hard, and then I had to wait 11 days till the results came. I found myself going crazy again, but instead of going into sad mode, going into chaos mode..I went to the airport and I booked a hotel in Ibiza for 5 days. I went there and I just wrote down all the stuff I was ashamed of and didn’t like. I started doing stuff that I wasn’t able to do because it was scary for me.”
“For example, I love the sea — it’s my favourite. But I was ashamed to go in the sea with that floaty thing. I bought the ugliest pink most dramatic little floating bed and I went to the sea and I had a really nice time. This was actually really cool. Before this I was scared, but when I did it nothing happened to me. Nothing bad happens to me when I make choices to be happy. That is a big part of my recovery. Rather than going into sad mode or dark places in my head I go to nice places — I try to celebrate life. I try to make life a party after that.”
Is the S10 we feel in the song “De Diepte” the same young woman we see and hear today?
“Yeah, I think so.”
Could we talk about your Stage Name S10. It makes us think of bands like S Club 7 and even Samsung phones. What’s the origin of the stage name?
“My name is Stien and in Dutch it starts with an S. Tien means ten. When I was 16 and became an artist that became my name. That is my artist name. It doesn’t have a bigger meaning.”
What do you want Eurovision viewers to remember when you leave the stage in Turin?
“That I touched them. That I had a really intimate, personal moment with the viewer on the couch. That they felt seen by me. That is my wish.”
Are you loving S10’s calming vibe as much as we are? Do you think she’ll climb the leaderboard in Torino? Let us know in the comments box below.
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I will wear a shirt in orange during the final of ESC—
I feel like S10 could win in May, and I would love that to happen! 😀
Me too !
Me too and she would be a so freakin much better winner than all the other ones that seem to be favourites right now (except Ukraine).
She looks very beautiful in the violet dress,
I wish that my country Germany one day has the same courage to send such an excellent entry in the native language which sounds quite similar just like Dutch.
This song keeps on growing on me with every day that passes. It’s in my second place right now, virtually tied with my first place Sweden. I love both these songs and I would be thrilled with one of them winning (yes I think S10 has the potential to win).
I really love the way S10 talks about her mental issues. Full of love and positivity. What an inspiration for others. 12 points from me, good luck in Turin!!
So much insight, what an inspirational story. My winner this year. So glad I can vote for her in the semi.
I love her, top 3 song for me.
But wiwi please fix the names of the designers she chose. It’s “Viktor and Rolf” not “Viktor and Wolff”. 🙂
Amazing girl, amazing performance, amazing song.. Bet she will do well, possibly coming top 3 in the semi
I hope so but I only can cross my fingers for her.