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Eleven years ago, Loreen stormed the Eurovision stage with her lauded sing-along smasher and gay favourite Euphoria. Widely regarded as one of the most iconic performances in the contest’s history, the Swedish songstress memorably received the second-highest number of points ever (at the time) and topped the charts in [insert ridiculous number here] countries around Europe.

This year, Loreen is launching her comeback at the annual extravaganza with the equally hypnotic and cinematic Tattoo. If she wins, she’ll be inducted into the Eurovision Hall of Fame as the second person – after Johnny Logan (who won for Ireland in both 1980 and 1987) – and first-ever female artist to win twice. While Loreen doesn’t necessarily believe in “winning”, she tells GAY TIMES that if Tattoo reigns supreme, it would “mean that [the world is] heading in the right direction” as a result of its universal themes of ‘strength and love’.

“I’m a representative of certain values and this effortless and positive energy,” says Loreen. “So for me, if I were to “win” – there’s no such thing – it would say a lot about that. Whatever exists in me, whatever I represent or present, if it resonates with you or other people then it’s because it exists within them. Period.”

Ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest – which airs its final on 13 May – we caught up with Loreen to discuss the track (the favourite to win this year, just FYI), how the LGBTQ+ community “accepted” her after she came out as bisexual and her pick for Eurovision’s gayest ever song.

Loreen, you’ve done the Eurovision process twice now. What does the run-up to the ceremony usually look like for you?

It’s very square. There’s a lot of exercising. My days are very disciplined. There’s certain things I need to do to prepare for the performance, physically. There’s certain foods I eat to build strength. Then, there’s the promo, so it’s very scheduled. There’s not that much wiggle room! There’s no space for, ‘You know what? I’m gonna have a glass of wine and enjoy this day.’ It’s not like that! Now it’s, ‘I’m going to sleep because I need my eight hours.’

You can have as much wine as you want after the performance, right?

They better have bottles prepared for me. I won’t need that much though because I haven’t had a sip in many months!

How does the second time representing your country compare to the first?

The time before, it was a little bit more focused. Now, there’s a lot more promo and meetings and conversations like this, which I love, so it’s even more intense now. It’s important to be mentally and physically and spiritually prepared for the performance, because it’s not just standing there, you need to have a focus. If you don’t have the energy, the audience won’t feel it, so there’s a lot of things happening apart from what you see and hear. I’m very protective of building up that energy, ‘Why am I doing this? What is my vision? What energy do I want people to feel?’ It’s so important to have that mindset and goal and never lose it.

You’re known for your intense style of performance, so what can you tease from your forthcoming performance of Tattoo?

You’re not gonna get it! I’m kidding. It has to be like that. That’s the purpose of the performance. My whole vision and motive has been that I want to create this hopeful, effortless light and energy that makes people feel at ease. There’s a certain pace you have to have when you create that energy otherwise it won’t resonate and you won’t feel it.

Can you talk to me about the story behind Tattoo?

This is the same team that I wrote Euphoria with, can you imagine? So, we know each other’s languages. They wrote the song with me in the back of their head, knowing what vibe and melodies and space I like to hang in. Every now and then they send me a song. With my glass of wine I’m like, ‘What is this?’ It was instant. It scared the shit out of me because I could feel that there’s something with this song… I instantly connected with it. They know my process. When I go into the studio, they know me. I don’t have a plan, you don’t need that because you’re just channelling. So, I went into the studio and things started to happen. The song started to mould itself with me. It was a very spiritual process.

Was Tattoo written for Eurovision or did it become that later?

It was a normal song because they hadn’t popped the question yet. Although I sensed that I was going to do something with this song. Not only me, but all of us in a way, but I didn’t know how. Then, [Eurovision producers] said, ‘Would you be interested to be in the competition?’ I’m like, ‘No! No, no, no.’ That was what happened, that was the instant reaction. You think you know what your path is going to be, but you don’t. You ask yourself, ‘Universe, what is going on? There is this match. Am I supposed to present it here?’ There’s a lot of questions going on. But, my navigation was that, whenever I said ‘No, we should do something else with this song’, the energy went low around me. Even in me. Whenever I said ‘maybe there’s a chance’ you could feel this high energy within and outside of yourself. That’s how I navigate it, ‘Maybe this is my path. Could it be that I’m going to do this again? Is it possible?’ Now look, I’m sitting here with you.

I have to touch upon Euphoria because, like many other queer people, it is one of my favourite Eurovision entries ever. Why do you think LGBTQ+ people connect to it so much?

Wow. That is a good question. I think it’s because, like myself, we’re not afraid to feel because it’s a very cinematic, dramatic song. It does the work. It’s about existing. When you sing out loud like that, it’s like standing on top of a mountain. It’s also a feeling of freedom. It has a purpose. It does things to people, whether you will admit it or not. But in this community, we know this and we want this. We want to feel and we know it has a healing process because we let go of things. Sometimes, we limit ourselves. We do that and we don’t want that. We want the full spectrum. That is maybe one of the reasons why because it represents something within ourselves. I think all of us have it, but in this community we’re not afraid to feel it. This is my community. It is not a community. This is my space. This was the community that accepted me for who I am. I have been a seeker trying to find my home. ‘Where is my space?’ I came into this community and they were like, ‘Do you know what? We’re digging you. We like you just the way you are. We appreciate you. We know what you’re going through.’ Can you imagine? This is my home. It is ours.

Eurovision is also our home because it’s such a gay, camp event. As a singer and bisexual woman, what is your favourite aspect of the entire Eurovision experience?

It includes everybody. First of all, there’s a creative freedom where you can create anything without judgement. I mean, in the competition you judge like, ‘I don’t like the performance’ but that is just a play. But, if you look at the core, there is no judgement. As long as it’s authentic and it includes everybody… Regardless of where you’re from, what you are, religious background, sexual preference, colour, you’re welcome.

Loreen, tell me this: what do you think is the gayest song in Eurovision history?

The gayest song? I mean, maybe Euphoria? Maybe I’m not supposed to say my own song! I really do think Euphoria because it represents everything; male, female, everything, up, down, ding ding!

I know winning isn’t everything, but what would it mean to you to conquer Eurovision for a second time, becoming the first woman to do so in the process?

I’m very spiritual. What will it say and what will it mean? I have certain beliefs. I believe that the majority of people are wonderful. I sometimes believe that the world is such a fucked up place, but really, we’re going in the right direction in many, many ways. It’s all about perception. I’m a representative of certain values and this effortless and positive energy. So for me, if I were to “win” – there’s no such thing – it would say a lot about that. Whatever exists in me, whatever I represent or present, if it resonates with you or other people then it’s because it exists within them. Period. It has nothing to do with just me. It’s a connection, ‘She’s saying something that I have and that’s why I like what I see.’ If I were to win, that would basically mean that we’re heading in the right direction and things are going well and that the majority of us are really good.

Loreen, I’m so conflicted because I’m Team UK, but this song…

What do you do? What do you do darling? You take them both, honey! You enjoy them both.

Basically, I’m Team Woman. Is Tattoo going to be included on your long-awaited third album? What can you tell me?

Yes, there will be a follow up. There will be a lot more music than there’s been in a while for me. Maybe an album release next spring! You wanna give each and every song a phase. Sometimes when you create an album, it makes me sad because I love the concept, but there are songs that don’t get as much attention. I have all these ideas!

Loreen, let’s definitely chat again when the album’s here?

I would love that. You have a nice vibe, Sam.

And your vibe is gorgeous. Maybe we should just do this monthly instead?

Let’s just sit and meditate.

Visit here for everything you need to know about the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest. 

This interview features in the May 2023 edition of GAY TIMES Magazine. To read the full issue, click here