Ahead of this years Eurovision Song Contest, the BBC have caught up with the United Kingdom’s representative, James Newman.
How does it feel being able to go ahead with a live contest for Eurovision 2021?
“I am absolutely buzzing, it has been two years in the making, I’ve been building up to this huge stage performance and I can’t wait to perform in front of millions of people across the world.”
After a year of virtual gigs, are you excited to be able to perform in front of a live audience in Rotterdam?
“It has been a year of performing in my kitchen! The whole reason I got into music from such a young age was because I love performing in front of people, so I am so excited to go and do that on such a massive stage.”
Eurovision feels like the perfect tonic after the year we have had, why do you think that is?
“We’ve had such a rubbish time, I think Eurovision is such a celebration of music, which is just what we need. I have recently been watching past finals, and everyone is just having the best time, it’s just the kind of escapism people need right now.”
Tell us about your song ‘Embers’ and what it means to you?
“We wrote Embers in North London last year, I really wanted an upbeat song, as I felt like that was what I needed to do for this year. One of the sessions was with Conor Blake, Danny Shah, Tom Hollings and Samuel Brennan, who are all doing amazing things in the industry right now. Conor showed me this concept, and it essentially is about the spark being reignited, that glow in the fire that hasn’t gone out yet. It represents coming back together after the year we have had and people being reunited with loved ones, and just having fun. It felt so right to me, and I loved the big brass drop!”
It’s quite different to your entry for last year’s Eurovision, why did you decide to go in a different direction for this year’s contest?
“When I wrote ‘My Last Breath’ it was before COVID-19, and I wanted to do a ballad for the competition, it just felt right to me. But after the pandemic hit, I really wanted to do a dance song that we could have fun with.”
How does it feel to be representing the UK?
“It’s absolutely mad to be honest. The response has been amazing, I think the momentum has just built since last year, and everyone has been so positive which is amazing.”
Have you spoken to any previous UK entrants? Did they give you any advice?
“I spoke to Cheryl Baker from Bucks Fizz last year, which was awesome, she is obviously a Eurovision legend. She wished me luck which was lovely. I have also spoken to Duncan Laurence who is the current reigning champion, and he said to me, make sure what you are doing feels like you, and you’ll make Europe fall in love with you.”
Which past Eurovision artist would you most like to duet with and what is your favourite Eurovision song of all time?
Celine Dion! That would be incredible, and Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw, to me it feels very modern Eurovision.
Have you had a listen to the competition?
“There is so many amazing songs this year, I really like the Swedish entry, ‘Voices’ and I love Victoria from Bulgaria and her song ‘Growing up is Getting Old’. I think Malta’s entry is super fun and I really like Gjon’s Tears song ‘Tout l’Univers’ too! There is so many different influences of music, it is brilliant. I also wrote a song with Chelcee Grimes for Romania’s entrant this year, Roxen, and Eurovision winner Alexander Rybak from 2009 featured on the song with her – so I am excited to see what she brings this year!”
James Newman will be performing Embers in the first half of the Eurovision 2021 grand final on Saturday May 22nd, starting at 20:00 GMT.