Now that the Dutch media storm has finally settled, Mia and Dion, the Dutch representatives for this year’s Eurovision, sat down with Sophie Hilbrand and Duncan Laurence in the Dutch talkshow Khalid en Sophie to discuss their journey so far and the road ahead. After two less than perfect performances at the Madrid and Amsterdam preparties, the Dutch media seemingly lost all faith in their representative and this caused a major upheaval both offline and online for the duo.
Last week, head of AVROTROS Eric van Stade, confirmed that the criticism was valid. However, not much was heard from the duo themselves nor their coach Duncan Laurance. Today they trumped all expectations with their first live performance on Dutch television where they now sang the song with live instrumentation and backing vocals. The song now also seems to be one and a half key higher than the original studio version.
Mia Nicolai en Dion Cooper zongen zojuist voor het eerst live op tv hun Songfestival-nummer ‘Burning Daylight’. Het hele optreden is na de uitzending te zien op onze website, ons YouTube-kanaal, Instagram en Facebook. #KhalidenSophie #Eurovision2023 pic.twitter.com/u02dAUig4F
— Khalid & Sophie (@khalidensophie) April 28, 2023
After their live performance, Mia and Dion, together with their coach Duncan Laurence, sat down for an interview with Sophie Hilbrand where she asked critical questions about the process so far.
In this interview, Dion and Mia admit that they have been struggling with the song for months already due to the fact that it doesn’t fit either of their voices. In addition, a myriad of problems were discussed such as Madrid being the first time the couple actually sang the song live together.
When Sophie Hilbrand asked Duncan Laurence why he would allow that, he said “You can’t go into a project like this with caution, because then you shouldn’t be doing it. And I’m gonna say it, these are festivals organized by fans. So when you assume there’s good sound, but there isn’t, you kind of let them go and wish them luck, but there’s nothing you can do.”
Sophie then asked why he wasn’t there in Madrid or Amsterdam. “One bad performance is not a red flag for me, you just decide to move forward. But when it goes wrong again, that’s when alarms start ringing.”
Duncan then admits that he hadn’t heard them sing this song live before. He had heard both of them sing many times before, but only after their performance they realized that the song didn’t fit their voices so well, despite both of them being fantastic singers. “I then remembered seeing songs sometimes having a different pitch at Eurovision. It wasn’t our first choice, but we decided to change the pitch afterwards. We worked together with a producer and finally adapted the song to their voices,” said Duncan.
Dion admits that they were “struggling with the song for months, but its such a big opportunity, so you look to yourself and decide to work on it for months. But now we actually sat down with a producer on his guitar without anyone else in the room and we ended up one and a half key higher, which allows us to do much more with the song.
Mia adds that “every voice has its personal range where it can move freely and ours is just higher than we had anticipated. I’m used to working in a studio and you can get away with it there, but doing it live with all the stress and pressure, it’s a recipe for disaster. I didn’t enjoy singing the song anymore because it was too challenging, I didn’t feel free.”
As Sophie Hilbrand then acknowledges, many Dutch musicians have come out in recent weeks saying that this song is incredibly hard to sing and many have criticized it for being written for Duncan’s voice. Duncan claps back however stating that “we wrote the song together. And I wasn’t their coach, I was just the creative director. I only recently realized I could help them out with my coaching too. It’s not an easy song for me to sing either, but when you go to Eurovision, you automatically raise the bar for yourselves.”
Later on Sophie Hilbrand jokes about how the theme of the song is fitting for their journey to Eurovision so far and Dion jokingly goes into it. “We could’ve just told the story, but what about we just show them by actually failing horribly twice. I can joke about it, but I’ve lived through the song word by word now. I lost myself to the song and I felt like everyone hated me.”
Mia then adds that the experience was immensely triggering for her, since she wrote the song from the perspective of her history of getting bullied. “There’s feedback and then there’s feedback. Of course you get constructive criticism from your team and people who want you to do the best you can, but for others it turns into this black-and-white statement of oh well they can’t actually sing. And I felt a disconnect with myself because for a moment I started to believe what they were saying about me.”
Duncan ends the interview by saying, “Eurovision comes around every year and every year we go through this same process. Eurovision is such an amazing and beautiful chance for these young artist, why must we bite this proverbial sour bullet every single year,” hereby referencing the seemingly annual criticism from the Dutch press on the Dutch representative.
Now the question remains whether we’ll actually get to see this version of the song at Eurovision. Dion and Mia have confirmed that the backing singers will be joining them in Liverpool, but have not opened up about anything else concerning their final act.
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