Interview: Eric Saade On Melodifestivalen Entry ‘Every Minute’, New Music, and Being ‘More Happy Than Ever’

We had the pleasure of being part of an interview session with Swedish pop talent Eric Saade. Eric chatted about his 2021 Melodifestivalen entry Every Minute, returning to English language music, his upcoming single Day & Night and the advice he would give his younger self.

Thanks to Eric and Warner Music for organising the interview session. You can keep in touch with Eric on his Instagram. He will be performing in the Melodifestivalen final on March 13th, which can be watched on SVT at 20.00 CET. International viewers can tune in on SVT Play.

Lead photo: Janne Danielsson / SVT

Stina Stjernkvist, SVT

On competing in Melodifestivalen with Every Minute:

It seems like you had a rough year, are you ok now?

I’m happy – more happy than ever. You can hear that in Every Minute. It’s a song about a state of euphoria actually. I’m having a good time. I’m happy.

What prompted you to return to English language recording?

I had been longing to release music in English for a while. When I wrote in Swedish, I really loved it and I’m going to continue doing that – but English is really my first language when it comes to lyrics. It’s actually easier for me to extract feelings in English. Swedish is more detailed, English is more overall – I don’t know how to explain it in words. I love writing in English. It’s going to be fun to be back on the international stage. Pople have been longing to hear that since Wide Awake.

How does it feel performing Every Minute in the empty arena?

It’s almost like we are getting used to it now. It’s been like that for one year. It’s of course boring. I love the audience. As an artist I love live performances so the audience is really important for me. I just try and focus on the performance, the song, the expression. I try to forget there is no audience.

Is Every Minute inspired by someone?

Not someone, Every Minute is a song about a feeling. I’m describing a feeling. That feeling came from 2020 where I had my worst year ever, but at the end of the year I had my best year ever. It came up at the end of summer 2020. I was supposed to release the song last November as my first single but then I decided to premiere it in Melodifestivalen instead.

Did you expect the success of Every Minute?

I mean it’s always fun that people listen to your song and watch the performance on YouTube. I wasn’t really sure this time it’s all me. I brought myself to the stage with a song that I really loved that sounds like me in 2021. I didn’t adapt it or anything – that’s why it doesn’t really look like Melodifestivalen. The song isn’t really a typical Melodifestivalen song either. That said, it’s even more fun that people watch the song and performance. It makes me really proud.’

Some have compared the sound of Every Minute to your last English language release Wide Awake. Was that intentional?

That wasn’t an accident. That’s my sound. Back in 2016 when I released my last EP in English, I really found something that I love. A kind of darkness but very much pop still. I love that feeling. When I’m writing songs I almost always end up writing songs like that. The plan was to continue five years later with a follow-up to that EP. It’s a plan but also just natural that it sounds like that.

How does it feel going into the Melodifestivalen final for the fourth time?

It’s much more naked – the performance, the song. The minimalistic touch to it where I can be myself. I’m not stepping into a role; I’m just being myself all the way. That makes me more proud of it. When I went to the final I was really happy in a way that I hadn’t been before. Colleagues from the music business reached out to me and told me how good the song and the performance were. That made me really proud. I don’t think I’ve had this much love before in my career ever.

Has Eurovision been your main objective since deciding to compete in Melodifestivalen this year?

I would love to go to Eurovision of course. I would love Every Minute to be played all over Europe even if I don’t go to Eurovision. I hope that will happen anyway. I love to perform so Eurovision would be lots of fun and a good way for everyone to hear Every Minute and my new music.

What inspired the staging and routine for Every Minute?

The song itself. I wanted to express the song – that was my first thought. I didn’t want to dance or show off – I just wanted to express the song. I needed something minimalistic. I didn’t want anything to disturb the lyrics or me. That’s why everything is black and white. The song is all about me and leaving your dark self behind, which we try and explain with the dancer in the end who comes in and does the same dance as me, but a lot harder. It’s very much a story instead of a regular performance. It’s really a work of art as everything is so manual as there are lots of one shots with the camera. It’s difficult to do it as there are not a lot of lights or clips, everything is so clear. If I make a bad performance, everyone will see it. It’s difficult but also very nice when you succeed doing it and find the right expression.

Have you found the choreography challenging?

I don’t think it’s that complicated. I don’t think it’s really dancing. It’s more of an expression. The hard part is to sing in between because it’s so explosive. In other TV shows you can mask it, that’s how the whole world of music works. In Melodifestivalen there are rules which say you need to sing your lead all the time – that’s how it is. It’s not like you are standing still singing a song, that would be so easy. I love the expression, the realness of being able to do everything. I want people to see that I’m tired, that I’m breathing hard – that’s the realness of it. I don’t have a problem with that.

Stina Stjernkvist, SVT

You’ve previously worked on your Melodifestivalen entries with Fredrik Kempe, why did you change things up this year?

This time I wanted to write the song myself. I started having a session with Joy, Linnea and Jimmy. We didn’t write the song with Melodifestivalen in mind – it was my first English single in five years, my follow-up to Wide Awake. Then Christer Björkman and Melodifestivalen approached me and really wanted me to join, so I thought that’s the song I want to do it with.

In the semi-final show, you fell back and were laughing. What happened there?

That’s a funny story. My choreographer pranked me but which is sick considering there are three million viewers. He has no limits. He took the rope which was pulling me and he just held it and pulled me off the stage. When I heard him laugh, I started to laugh. We just had fun as we were already through. He is a crazy dude.

According to the bookmakers you are one of the favourites to win. Does that add pressure?

I’m doing such a unique thing, I guess. The song is really different to everything else in Melo and probably to everything in Eurovision. I’m really proud of that. There’s no other song that sounds similar to Every Minute. It’s not about competing anymore, it’s just about choosing. People just need to choose what they send. There’s nothing like it. With that said there is no pressure, I just want to do my thing in the final and whatever happens happens.

Danny Saucedo has a heart with your name in the performance. How will you feel about sharing the stage with him?

It’s fun that he is back. It’s fun that there are so many good singers this year in Melodifestivalen. I’m just happy that there are other great artists coming back this year.

Would there be any changes to your performance if it made it to Eurovision?

I would probably change a little bit. I love being spontaneous on the stage. My performance is very minimalistic which means I can do whatever I want on my white floor. You’re going to see that on Saturday – I’m not going to do the same thing as last time. I would probably change stuff for Eurovision, just for fun.

On new music releases…

Are there any artists that you would like to duet with from the Melodifestivalen world?

Lena Philipsson – I love her. I have since I was a kid, watching her at thirteen years old like “Wow!”

Day & Night

What made you release your new single Day & Night the day before the Melodifestivalen final?

I’ve got lots of new music that I want to release and I don’t want to get stuck in a tempo where we wait for one song to disappear before you release another song. That’s not modern. I just want to release songs.

Day & Night is a very important song for me. The lyrics are straight from the heart. It’s a bit different but still in the same feeling from my usual sound. People have been telling me for months that I need to release more music so I just thought here we go. After that there will be a new single, very soon.

Can you explain a little about the meaning behind Day & Night?

The song is about me looking back at myself and things that I’m not that proud of. When you grow up too fast you can look back at stuff and not be that proud of it, then you meet that person that changes you and makes you a better person. I wrote this song one and a half months ago so it’s pretty new. I just felt it when I wrote it and thought I want to release this now. There is lot of realness in the song.

Your name appears in Arabic on the single cover of Day & Night. Should we expect any Arabic lyrics from you in the future?

I’m too bad at Arabic. I understand a little bit. My father is Arabic and I grew up speaking it as a kid, but then I just forgot. I lived with my Mum who is Swedish. I’m too bad at that, I won’t have any lyrics in Arabic. The reason for me bringing it into my covers is because when I write songs these days I find myself using Arabic melodies – it’s in my blood. I grew up with a father who listened to Arabic music all day. That’s why I put it into the covers, to help people get to know me better.

On previous Eurovision and Melodifestivalen experiences…

Was it harder to work in your former band What’s Up or as a solo artist?

It’s probably more difficult in a band as you can’t do whatever you like. You need to adapt to other people. That’s why I decided really young to go solo because I had other ambitions.

What are your thoughts on your last time at Eurovision with Popular?

I was young and Popular is a good pop song. Not really that unique though, but it’s a good pop song. I could have won – that would have been fun but I’m pretty glad I didn’t. I’m so glad how everything turned out anyway. If I win this time in Melodifestivalen, then I would really love to win Eurovision as this song is more honest.

What would you tell your twenty year old self after winning Melfest?

I would tell myself to hold up for a minute and not stress. I’d say don’t release too much music in a short period because once you are twenty year old and have that kind of success, it’s very easy to become blind and release music all the time. It’s very hard to develop new skills and become a better songwriter when you are not taking a break. So I would take a break. I wish I did that sooner than I did – just to find myself and something that is more me, and unique. That’s what I did in 2015 after Sting. I had an album that I didn’t release because of that. That’s how the sound for the 2016 EP came up, because I took that break.

Melfest has trended around Europe. Why do you think Melodifestivalen has a growing international appeal?

I don’t know but it’s fun to see how Swedish Melodifestivalen is getting bigger internationally. SVT are really making a great TV show out of it. It’s fun to see some songs go international out of it. Even if I don’t make Eurovision, I really hope that Every Minute will go international.

This is the last year for Christer Björkman as a boss. What do you think is important that he leaves as his legacy?

Wow! In my opinion, he is the most important ever in Melodifestivalen. He created this monster. It’s a monster in Sweden – it’s immortal. I hope that his team knows what they are doing when he leaves – otherwise it will be really sad. He is just the one when it comes to this. I love that he gave me my chance when I was a teenager to slide in and do my thing.

Good luck on Saturday Eric!