Do you remember your first Eurovision? Of course you do. It was the moment you wondered if every other country did music that way and we were just playing it really, really safe when it came to talent. There’s an excess of glitter, confusion and purposeful shocks… and that’s only after the Scandinavian countries have performed.
“When I was in year eight or nine I think,” this year’s Australian representative Dami Im tells collective Hub. “I went over to my friend’s house and she was watching the show and I remember watching it and went ‘oh wow, that’s really crazy!’ Like, I don’t know… tin men, it just really random stuff and I thought, ‘wow, what is this?’”
It was Eurovision.
“She told me… that it’s meant to be like that and I was really shocked back then. But since then, I’ve really been loving Eurovision and I feel like it’s something where you can just do anything you want and be yourself and nobody really judges you.”
The contest is known for its left of centre performances but also for the talent it’s managed to highlight (ABBA of course springs to mind but did you know that Celine Dion is a past Eurovision performer for Switzerland? As was Enya, representing Ireland, as well as Katrina and the Waves, from Walking on Sunshine fame).
Fans of The X Factor champion, who came to Australian aged 9 in 1998 from South Korea, have made a strong case for her inclusion in the competition since it was announced that Australia was able to enter.
“Literally for two years, they’ve been just everywhere,” Dami laughs. “I think mainly online they’ve been telling everyone, ‘Dami should do it, Dami should do it!’
“They’ve just been so consistent with it and I feel like that’s really made the impact,” she adds. “SBS heard about me and they looked at all my work and they said ‘yeah, let’s have her’. But yeah I owe it to my Dami Army fans for this opportunity.”
There was a quick snag on her journey to Stockholm when her chosen song for the contest, Sound of Silence, written by good friends DNA, cryptically mentioned ‘face time’. Is she singing about the concept or the Apple program, listeners wondered? Considering Eurovision has very strict rules about including brands in their songs, it caused a little bit of controversy.
“I didn’t even think that it would cause any sort of problem or trouble, but yeah, ‘face time’ in the lyrics is not really about promoting a particular app. It’s just a part of the song, talking about… being distant from your partner.”
And while Dami didn’t write the song, she certainly feels connected to it.
“I really feel that when I’m doing all my tours and performances and I’m sitting in a hotel room, I miss my husband, but I can only see him through my phone and talking through some kind of technology and so I could really relate to that. Also the song is about how everybody these days, even though we are so connected because of Facebook and Insta, everybody feels isolated because of that.”
She’ll have her husband and family by her side during her performances but knowing she’s at the mercy of voters around the world still strikes a little fear into Dami.
“When I think about that it’s overwhelming, but I try to keep that aside and think about the excitement and the opportunity that I get, the exposure, the fact that I get to represent my country is very, very exciting,” she says. “The outcome shouldn’t matter and won’t affect how I perform. I just think about how lucky I am to be able to do this.”
Did former Eurovision rep Guy Sebastian have any advice for her?
“He said, ‘it’s The Hunger Games without all the guns,” Dami laughs. “It’s with glitter and all the music and songs.”
“It’s a lot of work but it’s a very interesting kind of process, I’ve never done anything like this before on this scale.”
It’s safe to say that unless they’ve been on the Eurovision stage before, no performer will have done anything on this scale before.
“There’s a guy who performing naked with a wolf, that’s the kind of vibe there,” Dami adds. “I could go in so many directions with it and I could go super crazy but then I also don’t want the performance or the outfit to be overshadowing the song and the meaning I’m trying to get across. The song is really about that longing for intimacy and loneliness, it’s a serious topic so I wanted… to really highlight and emphasise the meaning of the song, and compliment it rather than fighting against what’s going on.”
“I want it to be quite intimate to each person that’s watching, so that’s something I’ve really been thinking about.”
So, no nudity and wolves then?
“No nudity, no, no, no!” Dami laughs. “I mean, that would be intimate in a different type of way.”
The live broadcast of the Eurovision semi-final airs on SBS tomorrow, 5am (AEST) and the grand final on Sunday, 15 May, 5am (AEST). There’s also the more sleep-in friendly times of 7.30pm (AEST) on Friday 13 May, Saturday 14 May and Sunday 15 May for the grand final.