Interview: Melodi Grand Prix 2021’s Raylee on ‘Hero’, Returning to the Contest, and Eurovision Favourites

We had the pleasure of chatting to NRK Melodi Grand Prix star Raylee who sailed through her first semi-final with eighties inspired anthem Hero. Raylee will be competing in the final of NRKs MGP on Saturday 20th of February. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook. Good luck Raylee!

See below for a transcript of the chat.

Culture Fix: Firstly, how are you? Are you keeping well?

I’m doing great, I’m fine. Right now I’m at the training centre but it’s completely locked down here.So I’m all alone in the reception!

Culture Fix: You’re back at Melodi Grand Prix for the third time! That’s so exciting. What is it about MGP that appeals to you as an artist?

MGP is such a great platform to show who you are as an artist to everyone. There are a lot of people in the audience from all over Scandinavia. You have the staging, you can choose how you want the show to be and show yourself fully as an artist.

Culture Fix: You’ve been performing from such a young age! Have you found as your career has progressed nerves about performing have lessened or will that always be part of the job?

I always get a bit nervous before a performance. Every time I have a concert or a stage performance, if it is a small thing or a big thing. I think it’s because it means so much to me. I want to show people how good I am and I really work hard for it.

Culture Fix: How does it feel coming back to MGP again for the third time? Do you feel like you know fully what to expect or does each year feel different?

It’s like you never know what to expect. You don’t know if the people are going to like you this year. I know how the system works now and I know with myself what I want and what I want to tell the people in my message, choreography and staging, everything, I know now how I can do that myself.

Culture Fix: You had a really productive 2020 with Wild and your single Unspoken. Did the lack of live performances throughout the year have a negative effect on your creativity?

Of course, it’s a weird year we have had. It was different to release music without having any concerts. When I released Unspoken it’s a sad song about a relationship a long time ago that didn’t work – it was the perfect timing to release a song that people could maybe relate to.

Culture Fix: There is a real eighties pop influence in Hero. What would you say the main message and theme behind the track are?

The message behind Hero is to just stand up for yourself, you can do it yourself. Whether you are a girl or a boy, but of course I’m especially talking to the girls out there that are maybe insecure and feel they need a man to survive. I’m very much inspired by the eighties style now. It’s back on track!

Culture Fix: Am I right in thinking there is some Flashdance inspiration in the water-pull moment?

That’s a funny thing because everyone says it’s so Flashdance inspired and it is when I look back at it. I wasn’t born when Flashdance was released. My biggest inspiration was Beyonce when she was performing at Coachella. She has water on the stage, all over the stage. That’s what I said to the production, I want water all over the stage if I am going to compete again with Hero. They were thinking about this for many weeks, but the stage is like a big computer so it doesn’t work with water on the stage. They had one option and that was water from the roof – outside the stage. So they built a platform so I had to walk through the stage and sit on this chair! That’s how it came about actually.

Culture Fix: Is the water not freezing!?

I can choose if I want cold or hot water. I have something in-between! You need a little touch of the cold water to get the energy going.

Culture Fix: Obviously Eurovision fans and MGP fans will know who you are and be aware of your work. For the audience tuning in for the first time, how would you describe yourself as an artist?

I want to show people that I have confidence and energy and happiness. That’s what I want to give to the people – I want them to feel the same. I know myself when I see a confident woman on the stage, I feel that I can also be that too.That’s me on the stage!

Culture Fix: Do you think World On FireHero will form part of a larger project? An EP or album perhaps?

One day! Maybe next year!

Culture Fix: The staging was really impressive with some very clever visual effects. Did you have much input on this?

We are a big team on this performance. I have the last word in everything as I know how I want it. I have a lot of meetings with the people who are doing the lights, the water, the staging and the choreographer. We are a big, great team. We work well together and understand each other. There are six men working on the water – it’s about timing on everything.

Culture Fix: Is it the same team from last year?

Everyone is the same yeah. We added some more people. We’re one big family here.

Culture Fix: With ten days until the grand finale, how will you be preparing for your performance of Hero?

I am rehearsing a lot – and my vocal as well. There are a lot of things going on. It’s a hard song to sing, it goes very low on the verses and in the chorus there are some really high notes. Then you have the dancing and the water of course so there is a lot going on, so I’m practising everything here.

Culture Fix: How are you feeling? Excited or nervous?

I’m very excited and I’m also working on something else. I can’t tell you specifics but I have one surprise! We’ll see in the final.

Culture Fix: We really hope to see you on the Eurovision stage, but thinking of the contest in recent years and its long history, who are some of your all time favourite Eurovision acts?

Of course I love Alexander Rybak’s Fairytale. That’s one favourite and he’s from Norway so I have to support that. Rise Like a Phoenix – that was just amazing. I’ll never forget!