FM Meets: KEiiNO

Norway’s powerhouse pop band KEiiNO have released their debut album OKTA, including the brand new mood-boosting lead single Bed With The Wolf. Since their mix of dance-pop, Nordic Folk and Sámi Joik enchanted a global audience at Eurovision 2019 with their enduring hit Spirit In The Sky , KEiiNO have released 7 singles, and toured extensively across Europe and Australia, including sold out shows in London, Melbourne and Sydney and playing the Madrid, Cologne and Stockholm Pride Festivals. 

Alexandra, Fred and Tom Hugo come from different parts of Norway and have very different backgrounds. But they share a value motto: ‘unity in diversity’, and the message is deeply rooted in the lyrics penned together with Tom Hugo’s husband Alexander Olsson. OKTA is diverse in many ways, and talent from 15 nations contribute to the album which was recorded from way up north in Alta, down to Adelaide in Australia. We chat to Tom Hugo about the album and what it means to them…

Hey KEiiNO, how does it feel to finally have your debut album out?

It’s amazing to finally be able to show our baby to the world. The reception so far has also been great, so we’re doing a little spin!

You famously won the public vote in last year’s Eurovision Song Contest, what has your journey been like since then?

It’s been a very busy year, but we’ve loved every second of it. Touring Europe and Australia, as well as recording with some great indigenous artists are absolute highlights.

How long have you been working on the album?

We started working on it in the spring of 2019, and have been recording while touring extensively. So OKTA is really a citizen of the world, recorded on 3 continents with the help of people from 16 nations. 

Do you each have a favourite track on the album? Or which track are you most proud of on the record?

We’re proud of every song, and I guess our favourites change with the mood or time of day. Right now, Alexandras favourite is Bed With The Wolf. Fred has Take me Home, where he shows off his rapping-skills. Tom is longing for the day Berlin clubs will re-open, so he’s all Black Leather. 

Where did the idea to incorporate indigenous styles of singing into your music come from?

There are some great Sami artists that have incorporated joik in jazz and pop before, but I guess not too much in “chorus-based” pop aimed for a streaming audience. But it worked well with Spirit in the Sky, and when we were appointed ambassadors of UN’s year of Indigenous Languages, we got inspired to see if it was possible to do the same with other indigenous singing-styles. Indigenous cultures and languages are under pressure, and we hope our songs be a positive contribution to their preservation.

What have you guys been up to whilst the whole world’s been in lockdown?

It took a while to get over the shock and changed prospects for the future, as not being able to tour with a debut-album is quite a drawback. But then after a few weeks trying to eat and drink away negative thoughts, we started laying plans for the future and making new music.

It’s difficult to think past the current moment with everything going on, but what are your hopes for the rest of the year?

We’re planning some cool online-shows and various local events. Though as touring or mass gatherings probably won’t be allowed this year, I guess we’ll have to focus on writing and recording new songs. Then we’ll have even more to show when we finally can go on tour and meet our fans.

By FM