Olly Alexander: „See you in Malmö!“

The countdown is on: In almost exactly two months, the Swedish city of Malmö will turn into the Mecca of the music world for a week, when we will hear once again: „Europe, start voting now!“ at the 68th Eurovision Song Contest. This year, the United Kingdom will be represented by BRIT Award winner Olly Alexander. With three very successful albums to date, the singer and actor has released two British No. 1 albums and 10 British Top 40 singles. Olly Alexander has also enjoyed great success in Germany with his project Years and Years. In our interview, he tells us what we can expect from his performance at the ESC with his song „Dizzy“, how he himself relates to the world’s biggest music event and what else is on his agenda in 2024, besides the Eurovision Song Contest

I was really excited when I heard, that you are actually going to be in Eurovision this year. So I’m now wondering, how do you feel about all this? How did you feel when you first learned, that you were actually going to do it? And how are you feeling now, after having been in the Eurovision bubble for a few weeks?

Oh, thank you. I mean, I’m just excited. When I first got the call that I was going to be representing the UK, I was just excited. I’ve been wanting to do Eurovision for a few years, but I didn’t have the right song. It just wasn’t the right time. And then last year I’ve been making all this new music for my new album. And I just thought: “God, I’m going to take one of these songs to Eurovision.” And so I threw my hat into the ring and there was a bit of back and forth. But then eventually, they came back and said: “You know, we like ‚Dizzy‘. Let’s do this.” I was just really happy, because it’s such an amazing opportunity for the song. And I love the song so much. And the chance to perform it live in front of that many people is so exciting. It’s such a thrill! I love to perform live and put on a show and, you know, take those three minutes and really make something memorable. So I’ve just been really focused on putting on a good show. And the excitement of Eurovision is just… there’s nothing else like it. You know, it’s such a unique event and it combines so many different performers and different kinds of music, and obviously all these different countries come together for this just wild event. Yeah, like I said, there’s just nothing else like it. So it’s been kind of crazy, even though we’re still like two months away from the contest. It felt like quite a rollercoaster. 

So the song you’re going to bring to Eurovision is ‘Dizzy”. The music video is obviously a full-on visual experience. So I’m of course really curious how you’re going to transfer this to the big Eurovision stage. Do you already have a clear vision of how you’re going to do that? 

Yes, I’m working with a really amazing director called Theo Adams, who directed my last tour. He also directed the performance I did with Elton John at the Brits for “It’s a sin”. And he loves Eurovision. He’s just really fantastic. And I love what we’ve created. I think it’s going to be quite surprising for people. I think you just have to be memorable, because you only get that one chance to stand out amongst all the other contestants in those three minutes. It’s going to be me and four dancers and the goal is to do something kind of unexpected and really leave an impression on people.

That does sound amazing. I’m looking forward to seeing it! Eurovision is like more or less two months away and news is out, that you’re also going to participate in a few of the legendary Eurovision pre-parties. How do you feel about that? And what do you expect from these parties? 

Oh my gosh. I’m so excited. I think it will just be great to perform the song live in front of an audience. You know, I’ve not had that opportunity really yet. And I can’t wait to meet the other contestants and see them perform. And I think Eurovision has such a strong core fanbase of people that really love it. Every year, I really look forward to the event and also the pre-parties. So, yeah, it just feels special to be taking part. And also it’s nice to just have to do like one song. So, yeah, it’s just exciting. 

Yeah, I can imagine that. To me, it feels like this year is quite a strong year in terms of the quality of the songs at Eurovision. I have like more or less 20 songs that I really love. So, I was wondering if you already had a chance to listen to the other songs. And if you did, which ones are your favorites? 

Yes, I agree. I think there are a lot of really strong songs and strong contestants this year.I love the Italian entry, Angelina Mango “La Noia”. That’s really good. The Spanish entry from Nebulossa is really fun. I love Nemo from Switzerland as well and I think Joost from the Netherlands is going to do super well. I also really like Sylvester from Lithuania and the Ukrainian entry, I think, is really good. There’s a lot of really good entries. So, yeah, I’m just so excited to see everyone’s performance. It’s going to be great. 

You are actually a true Eurovision fan, right? You have wanted to do this for such a long time and you are following the contest. So, I am wondering, what would you say is your first Eurovision memory? And also, what is your most precious one?

Oh, well, I think my first memories would be in the 90s, towards the end of the 90s, where Gina G was performing “Ooh Aah… Just A Little Bit”. I love that song and I think that was such a fab moment for the UK. And that’s probably why I like that era of Eurovision: Gina G, Katrina and the Waves, Precious, Imaani. This is my favorite era from the UK, especially because I love all those songs. I was a kid back then and watching it on TV felt so special and so exciting. And in more recent years, I just loved artists that do their thing on stage. Like Mahmood from Italy, I think he is amazing. And of course, I love Loreen, I think she’s fab. I also loved Chanel doing “SloMo”. So, I have a real fondness for the competition. And I get excited every year to see what’s in there and what’s going to happen next. 

Obviously, you’re not only going to Eurovision with “Dizzy”, but it’s also the first song that you’re releasing under your own name, after having released music as and with Years and Years as a band thus far. So, how does that make you feel, to actually start off your career under your own name with that song?

Yeah, it feels good. I feel like now is the time to do it, if I was ever going to do it. And it just feels quite liberating to enter a new chapter in my life and my career. And, you know, I love Years and Years and it’s always going to be a part of me and a part of my life. But I think I needed to put it behind me a little bit and start on a different adventure. 

Obviously now for the next few weeks, it’s all about Eurovision. But apart from that, when you think about this year, do you have any other goals or plans in the works, like a new album or even a tour? Is there anything that you can already tease or talk about?

Yes. Well, I have a lot of new music. So, I’m going to do Eurovision and then I’ll bring out some more music. And then hopefully my album later in the year is the plan. I don’t have any tours or anything booked yet. So, we’ll just see how it goes. 

And would you say that it’s all going into the direction of “Dizzy”?

“Dizzy” is a pretty good example of what a lot of the album sounds like. I made the whole album with the same producer and writer that I made “Dizzy” with. So, there’s a lot of 80s influences and a lot of like big emotions. And it was really fun to make. So, I hope that people will have fun listening to it. 

That sounds great. Well, Olly, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today. Best of luck for your Eurovision adventure. I’m really excited to see you up there on stage. Enjoy the ride and see you in Malmo.

Yes, thank you so much. See you in Malmö!