Estonia 2024: 5miinust & Puuluup
Photo: Liina Notta

5miinust & Puuluup from Estonia: "Doing Eurovision is also a business decision"

INTERVIEW Their different musical genres and backgrounds turn their collaboration into a "shocking" yet needed partnership. Their Eurovision song shows how bands 5miinust and Puuluup can meet halfway

At first, it may seem like the two bands 5miinust and Puuluup share little to nothing in common, but once you get to know each of the bands you understand that individually they're great, together they're even better.

Both sides complement each other, and we were lucky to have all six members with us for an interview.

5miinust is an Estonian hip-hop group with four members, whereas Puuluup is an Estonian nu-folk duo. They won the Estonian selection for Eurovision, Eesti Laul 2024, with the song "(nendest) narkootikumidest ei tea me (küll) midagi" – yes, that's actually their song title for Eurovision. It's translated to "We (really) don't know anything about (these) drugs."

How and why did the two bands decide to join forces?

– Every year they hold the Estonian Music Awards and we were nominated, 5miinust says.

– This was back in 2019, and on that night Puuluup performed. After the show, we (5miinust) discussed that it would be nice to do something with them and we hit them up.

5miinust & Puuluup perform in London

Puuluup adds:

– We just didn't plan it'd be such a deep collaboration. We had a couple of concerts together and, you know, those joint concerts are generally divided in half where a band plays part one and another band plays part two.

– Eventually, we started looking for ways of playing into each other's songs and create like a mash-up of our music. It worked so well and we enjoyed the energy and vibe so much that when it looked like it was over, we didn't want it to end, they say.

– In fact, the reason we went to a band camp to come up with this song was precisely because we wanted to hang out more. We really developed a good friendship. We have the same humor, same made sense, 5miinust adds.

(nendest) narkootikumidest ei tea me (küll) midagi

As one of the members of 5miinust mentioned, their Eurovision song – "(nendest) narkootikumidest ei tea me (küll) midagi" – was born in a band camp they organized in order to come up with new music, which led to the idea of competing in Eesti Laul 2024.

It's safe to say that so much great music came out of there that a joint album has just been released, and another song was thought of for Eesti Laul:

– There was another one that kind of floated around because it had a chorus with no words, but a sort of humming. That would've been nice for everyone to sing along no matter their language, but we stayed true to our original idea.

Estonia 2024: 5miinust & Puuluup – "(nendest) narkootikumidest ei tea me (küll) midagi"

This brings us to how the Eurovision song with the longest title ever came to life:

– We were driving to the band camp discussing different cultures and we complained to the boys that we knew nothing about drugs even though we work in the music business, Puuluup says.

– I don't know why but we had this idea that it would be expected of us to know about it because there are so many people within the industry who do it. People assume such just because we're musicians.

From there, the idea of writing a song about it came to life: We don't know anything about drugs. Its original title contains two extra words in brackets – we (really) don't know anything about (these) drugs:

– There are double brackets in the song's title that alludes to our band. If you take the brackets out, then it's only about Puuluup as they don't really know, they laugh.

– We (5miinust) have fed this notorious image of ourselves as being crazy guys, so we had to find a middle term between both experiences and create a controversial song.

I am certain you're not trying to promote the use of drugs with your song.

– No, there are multiple layers within our song, Puulup says.

– The first one is to have fun, above all as that's the most important thing and why we did this song in the first place. Another layer is not to judge a book by its cover and remain true to who you are, 5miinust adds.

– There's also references to social and political issues, drug abuse, and even a reference to an old Italian song from Sanremo. As we're working with rap guys, they usually have important lyrics to share, Puuluup says.

There are double brackets in the song's title that alludes to our band. If you take the brackets out, then it's only about Puuluup.5miinust

– That's the nicest you've called us...rap guys, 5miinust replies.

They all laugh, and Puuluup concludes:

– They have a tradition of taking lyrics seriously so there is great content.

From their side, Puuluup, deliver their unique sound with the addition of the talharpa, which is why their Eurovision entry represents the unpredictable duo so well:

– The song is highly influenced by the talharpa melody so it does represent us, Puuluup. But at the same time it still is very different from what we would do, thanks to 5miinust's input.

– On our side, we have the energy, the kick, the bass pump, and the big choruses, which would be something you'd hear in our songs. It just fits perfectly. As of now, I cannot see a better feature than this, they conclude.

Eesti Laul and Eurovision

Why take part in Eesti Laul, and now Eurovision?

– We decided that during the band camp we did. We felt like there were folk vibes, the Estonian language, and a catchy song that could do well in Europe. We all agreed on competing the next day, 5miinust explains.

– Taking part in it is also a business decision first and foremost. It validates us in the Estonian hall of fame and culture. We're now a household name, they continue.

Puuluup sees it with different eyes:

– It's not just business. It takes a lot of time to prepare and we are very focused in this Eurovision thing. It's a different experience, an interesting one, and something we wouldn't normally do.

Other members of 5miinust also end up agreeing:

– It's a logical step for an artist because if you keep on growing, you'll play in bigger stages and gigs. You also don't know what sort of opportunities you'll get from this.

It's not just business. It takes a lot of time to prepare and we are very focused on this Eurovision thing.Puuluup

Both sides do agree that they most likely won't do it again.

Once the songs for this year's Eesti Laul were released by ERR, 5miinust & Puuluup quickly became the favorites to win according to the bookmakers. They expected to win as well:

– We had one problem which was the jury, Puuluup says.

5miinust agree and takes us back to that day:

– We had two options: placing number four or number one. We knew that we would win the public vote, but the jury would be tricky.

Estonia 2024: 5miinust & Puuluup – "(nendest) narkootikumidest ei tea me (küll) midagi"

– When the first jury votes came in, we had our math ready. They gave us high scores and we knew, by then, that we had already won. Denmark and Sweden gave us one point though. How dare they?

As for the staging, there will be changes for Malmö even if the band was only specific on a few things: The main dance move is the same as well as the core, but the "watchful eye" that you could see in the Eesti Laul performance is out.

You're free to go, it seems.

– Yes, there's nobody watching over us anymore. There will be some tweaks done to the original staging and some pretty good improvements.

The bands go on to speak about their involvement in the performance creation:

– We are very hands-on. Sometimes it might seem, from an outside perspective, that we are very chaotic and random, but it's a pretty organized chaos. We love to have our tiny beers and all that, but we know when work needs to be done and we always deliver.

Expectations, football, and Eurovision fans

We talk about expectations, and both 5miinust and Puuluup agree that there are two different types: the ones held by the Estonian audience and the expectations they hold onto themselves.

– I don't think the Estonian public has a lot of expectations for us to win, 5miinust says.

– In the country everybody knows us, but here they don't. They don't know the background of our bands and they don't understand that it's surprising that we are doing this collaboration. This brings us no pressure. We do put expectations on ourselves, they continue.

Eurovision is for them what football is to us. I mean, we also fly around Europe to see football live. They do the same.5miinust

– We're aiming for, at least, the eight place. Everything above it would be amazing, and we're going to do everything we can to achieve that.

Is that your goal with participating in Eurovision?

– Yes, eight place.

They laugh and continue:

– We also want to sell our upcoming album (that is now out) and introduce the tradition of playing talharpa that was almost dead. Having our song in a FIFA video game would also be nice, 5miinust say.

We can now conclude that their act is not only fun but addresses important social and political matters. But sonically, it's indeed a fun song and that's what they want people to take away from their performance.

As we conclude our chat, we speak about the Eurovision community:

– We weren't aware of this fan community. It really is a massive fan culture and they're really passionate, Puuluup says.

– There's a few that even travel to watch Eesti Laul live, 5miinust adds.

– I remember I was walking around the studio during a break and there was this guy from another country who was there just for the show.

Fortunately for the band, there've only been a few negative comments compared to the massive support they've been getting from both local and international fans. They're appreciative of constructive criticism and admit they could care less about the hateful comments, but again reinforce the dedication of the fans:

– They know everything about every act. We came across a few reactions and some were so interesting. I remember this one named "Overthinking it" where the guy really went deep into searching about both our bands' and based himself on reliable information, it was impressive.

In the end, they eventually compare the love the Eurovision community has for the contest with their love for football:

– Eurovision is for them what football is to us. I mean, we also fly around Europe to see football live. They do the same, 5miinust says.

Eurovision is our sport.

– That's a great analogy, they agree.

Speaking of which, watching the Football European Cup (to be held in Germany according to the band) as well as performing in order to promote their just released album are some of 5miinust & Puuluup's plans for after Eurovision.

5miinust & Puuluup will compete in the second Semi-final of Eurovision 2024. They will represent Estonia with their song "(nendest) narkootikumidest ei tea me (küll) midagi."

About the author: Pedro Santos (Portugal)

authorPedro comes from Lisbon, Portugal. He's 30 years old and graduated in journalism. He has attended Eurovision Song Contest three times live - 2018, 2019 and 2022 - and covered the show twice more (2021, 2023) but his first Eurovision memory takes him back to 2007 when Sarbel delivered his catchy "Yassou Maria" performance. Pedro's favorite Eurovision song is Albania's 2015 "I'm Alive" by Elhaida Dani which is also his favorite Eurovision edition.

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