Photo: William Green

Interview: Denmark’s SABA On Preparing for Eurovision, Bringing Diversity to the Contest & Control

The wonderful SABA stormed to victory in Denmark’s Dansk Melodi Grand Prix with her powerful entry Sand. The singer-songwriter was kind enough to take part in an interview with Culture Fix where SABA discussed bringing diversity into the contest – Saba is the first brown, queer female to take the stage in the contest’s history – and the Sand’s discussion of losing control.

SABA has maintained a diverse career working in business, modelling, photography and the creative arts. In 2023 she starred in musical Hair before entering her nation’s musical contest.

You can read the interview with SABA below. Connect with her here.

Hi SABA. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat to us at Culture Fix. Can you tell us about your decision to submit Sand to the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix?

For me, the starting point was that I wanted to represent Denmark as the first brown, queer female singer at Eurovision. I saw it as an opportunity to change a statistic and bring further diversity into the music festival. Additionally, I am driven by challenging myself creatively, and after my debut as a singer in the musical “Hair,” I wanted to take music to a greater extent. 

I contacted Anders Hansen, who also worked with Emilie de Forrest in 2013. He could see the potential and I was asked to try to put my vocal on ‘Sand‘. And luckily the songwriters could see a match.

Has Eurovision always been a goal for you? What connects with you about the contest?

I’ve always watched Eurovision and thought it would be fun to be part of it. It’s not that I dreamed of participating, but I’ve always had a dream of standing on a big stage and singing. And I love the universe that Eurovision is. 

When I decided a year ago to compete in the Danish Melodi Grand Prix, it was with the primary purpose of changing a bleak statistic that clearly shows that brown people are not well enough represented in a music festival like this.  And now I am the first brown female solo artist to win a Danish Melodi Grand Prix, and it will forever be a historic victory that I am proud of, and that I can feel many others also feel represented in. 

The fantastic Melanie Wehbe is one of the co-writers on the track. How was it working with her?

I actually did not know her before our collaboration on ‘Sand‘ this year. But I have felt enormously privileged because she knows the world inside out. So, it has been a great help for me both on stage and in the studio. 

What do you hope the audience feel during your performance of Sand?

I hope people will relate to the song and also will like the the expression that the song and our performance convey. – Big, simple, powerful and only me on stage.

Can you share a little about the message and themes of the song?

For me the song is about the feeling of losing control over life. About a relationship falling apart – or another important aspect of life suddenly disappearing without any control.  I believe many can relate to the feeling of losing control – that sometimes things happen around you without any influence. I hope that people will connect in their own way.

We know you can’t say too much about the staging, but could you give us three words to sum up the vibe?

Much of what we did in Denmark, which we think worked really well. But we will of course optimize in various areas, using the opportunities that the big stage brings. Again – it will be both big, simple, powerful and only me on stage. 

How are you preparing for the contest?

Winning the Danish Melodi Grand Prix is a huge victory, not only for me personally but also for the people who feel mirrored in me and share my story. For the next couple of weeks I will attend a lot of Pre-Parties in Europe where I will meet a lot of the other participants. And of course we are practicing and preparing the act.  

Can you tell us about how your journey into the world of music started?

Professionally in 2023 with the musical ‘Hair‘. But I have been singing my whole life. I think I’m good at tapping into what I do. I’m adaptable and used to tackling challenges because it drives me. And I enjoy telling stories, which I do in different ways, as a photographer, model, or now as a singer. 

Who are your main musical influences?

I’m inspired by many – I listen to many genres. So no, there isn’t one specifically. I think Beyoncé is a fantastic performer, and I’m currently listening a lot to Labrinth. Actually, I listen a lot to many brown artists who bring culture into their music. But overall, I have a very broad taste in music with pop, R’n’B, and rock. 

What are your earliest or favourite memories of Eurovision?

Eurovision has been a part of my childhood. I don’t specifically remember the first memory, but I remember that in my family, we always gathered and made a big deal out of it. I remember falling asleep during the voting. Eurovision has always been a big part of my life.

Have you been listening to your fellow 2024 entries? Do you have any standouts?

I think there are many good contributions. Especially France, Italy, Greece and Belgium. But if I must choose one, I think Before the Party Is Over by Mustii is a favourite.

You have the honour of representing the beautiful nation of Denmark. For any readers looking to hit up Denmark, where are some of your must see places?

If you travel to Denmark, you must not miss the North Sea at the Danish West Coast. I grew up by the North Sea, and it’s something quite special. And for those visiting Malmö for Eurovision in May, I would recommend they take a trip to Copenhagen and visit Nørrebro. I’m particularly fond of the café Friheden (in English: Freedom) near the Nørrebro park.

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