Norway 2021: TIX
Photo: Christoffer Buringrud Helvik

TIX from Norway: "I try to explain emotions that can be hard to explain"

INTERVIEW TIX held off intense competition in the Norwegian Melodi Grand Prix 2021 and is now preparing for Eurovision 2021. Norway's representative shares his story and journey which led him to a Eurovision path

Norway was set to be represented by Ulrikke with "Attention" in 2020 but after Eurovision 2020 was cancelled, NRK, the Norwegian broadcaster, announced that a new representative would be chosen for Eurovision 2021.

Melodi Grand Prix 2021 had 5 heats, 1 wildcard round and a final. TIX was one of the pre-qualified finalists. Although the group KEiiNO (Norway 2019) was the strong favourite to win MGP 2021, TIX held off the competition and is now preparing for his performance in Rotterdam.

It has been a whirlwind journey for TIX in this competition but how is he feeling especially now that we are a few weeks away from the Eurovision Song Contest?

– It is quite a fairytale and something I never thought I would have the honour of being part of. I look forward to meeting all the artists and people involved from countries all over Europe and the world. I am thankful that so many people give time and space to me and my story.

Sunglasses and fake fur

Followers of Eurovision know TIX through the national final journey but who is TIX?

– My story of TIX begins with the young Andreas Haukeland, which is my real name, the boy behind the sunglasses and fake fur who was an outsider.

Music became my escape from lonelinessTIX

– The Tourette's Syndrome with uncontrollable tics gave me the nickname 'TIX' in middle school. Music became my escape from loneliness and a way to feel included as a young man. TIX became my alternative personality dressed in fur, headbands and sunglasses as a shield against the outside world. You could call it an armour hiding the tics and protecting me. My alter-ego was a fearless superhero standing up for those in need, and mental health and inclusion is heavily in focus.

Whilst talking about his story, one would note that the name Andreas Haukeland was behind Ava Max’s mega hit "Sweet But Psycho". He describes this moment as one achievement from many.

– I do have a few music achievements under my belt but I think I will have to answer being part of writing Ava Max’s mega hit 'Sweet But Psycho' is the highlight. More recently I feel very honoured winning the Norwegian Grammy, 'Artist of the year'. I was also nominated for two songs in the category 'Song of the year 2020' and I believe only Kygo and Allan Walker have achieved that earlier. Lastly, winning MGP, the Norwegian selection for Eurovision, was something I will always remember, obviously! I am so grateful for how my entry was received by the public, and how it seemed to really touch people.

TIX is quite a household name in his native country, Norway, but since for the past year the world was under a pandemic crises and hit the music industry quite hard, how has this affecting him and his music career?

– Under normal circumstances I play concerts every weekend, so I am looking very much forward to meet people again in venues and other places. I was planning to travel to the US last year to write songs, but instead I’ve had to work more on my own. That’s luckily something I’m used to. But you know… When life gives you lemons… At least you got some free lemons!

A fallen angel

Followers of Eurovision's national selections watched TIX compete for the first time in the competition. His debut in MGP was as a direct finalist but was this always his intention?

– I have been talking with the MGP team about competing for a few years now, but it hasn’t been the right time in my music career and I haven’t had the time until now. This year I finally felt ready. Eurovision has been important to me as an aspiring artist. I actually submitted a song on my own 10 years ago, but I was not selected back then.

After years contemplating to participate for Eurovision, what made TIX accept the invitation from NRK for MGP 2021?

– I believe MGP this year was the only venue and occasion this song could get the life and attention I wanted it to have. I also think many successful artists with big current careers are afraid of competing in MGP and Eurovision because they don’t want to fail, and many people advised me against participating. However, I decided to compete anyway, because I think Eurovision deserves even more credibility and recognition in the Norwegian music industry. And also I felt that even if I didn’t win, I would still get a beautiful message out there!

During the artist announcement, the song by TIX was in Norwegian and showcased his song during the first heat but later decided to translate the song to English for the final.

– The Norwegian version of the song, “Ut av Mørket” which translates “Out of the Darkness”, is a story about hope and lost love. I imagined people wouldn’t totally get the meaning behind the song without the staging and the show that comes with MGP. I felt that the Norwegian version had already played its role after the first heat, getting the message out to the Norwegian audiences. In order to make the story and meaning more available to non-Norwegian speakers I decided to write an English version. I actually made some changes in the translation as well, because I felt the need to elaborate on some feelings I didn’t address in the Norwegian version.

Norway 2021: TIX – "Fallen Angel"

One could interpret Fallen Angel with various meanings when reading the lyrics however what does this song mean to TIX?

– Fallen Angel is about feeling inadequate and maybe about feeling like an outsider. It’s about me and my experiences in life. I wanted to remind people that everything does get better and to add some light in people’s lives right now. I’m trying to recreate a universal feeling. We humans have a set of the same basic feelings and even though our experiences are different the feelings about the events and challenges in life can be the same. With Fallen Angel I try to explain emotions that can be hard to explain, and I hope people will understand that they are not alone.

I spent a year figuring out the Norwegian lyricsTIX

TIX continues to tell us that "Fallen Angel" has a strong interpretation from himself and explains how the process was to compose such a meaningful song.

– The song came together one night I was in the studio by myself. I’m pretty much used to doing the whole process behind a song on my own, even recording my own vocals. I sat by the piano and tried to create a melody describing a feeling I’ve had but struggled to put words to. I produced a demo of the track and lined up my microphone. I recorded basically the whole vocal melody in the very first take I did but after that I spent a year figuring out the Norwegian lyrics.

– The first version was in Norwegian and it was later I realized that the Norwegian lyrics wasn’t exactly the story I wanted to tell. So I translated it to English with some help from my brother and an amazing Norwegian songwriter, Emelie Hollow.

A dice symbol 🎲

Eagle eyed observers noticed a significant change in the performance that TIX gave in the final. We are not talking about the language change. During his final performance we watched the singer hold a dice with the number one, something which was not done during the first heat showcase. TIX opens up about the meaning of this action.

– In Norway, journalists are reviewing performances in all creative genres by using the dice symbol. Sadly I have often been met with a 1 on the dice by certain critics, which is obviously the least flattering review you can get. I must admit that it gives me pleasure that quite a lot of these songs have gone from a 1 on the dice to a number 1 on the hit lists!

– As some may have noticed I didn’t wear the dice when I showcased my song during the first heat, but after seeing that the more old school critics kept giving me the 1 on the dice even though people liked the song, I decided to make a little statement during the National Final. They can say what they want about the song, but I am still here to get my message out there.

Before divulging into Eurovision itself, TIX shares his MGP 2021 experience by first telling us how he felt the competition against KEiiNO, whom won the Norwegian contest just a few years ago.

– I absolutely saw KEiiNO as strong competitor, among many others. They are ESC-pros! With that being said, the most important part of MGP for me this year was not the competition in itself. It was rather about being part of something big, contributing with my music in the largest celebration of music in Norway, in what has been a difficult year for so many people.

Did you expect to win MGP 2021?

– I honestly did not expect anything, but when the results started coming in, I began to believe it could happen! I realized that the song had made its way into people’s hearts and that they were moved by it in different ways. I was both surprised but of course also very honoured when I won.

– I was looking forward to support whoever won MGP. It obviously means a lot to me, and I will do my very best to make my country proud!

Eurovision 2021 is having its fair share of drama and TIX winning over KEiiNO was no walk in the park as Eurovision followers over the world didn't accept this win with a strong backlash against "Fallen Angel".

– It seemed like the Norwegian public in general stood united behind the message I wanted to convey. It has been nice to see people unite behind this in a time when people are more driven apart than ever before. I am well aware that KEiiNO and other artists at MGP had many fans, but I am moved by the fact that many now support me since I am representing Norway at Eurovision.

– I both feel and hope we are one team and I want to make people proud. I have also seen over the last couple of weeks that people have had time to listen to the song and spent time getting to know my story, and that is also something I see in the feedback I get and in comments on social media.

The road to Rotterdam

As TIX continues to share his enthusiasm towards Eurovision, he reveals that he is quite a Eurovision follower.

– I am absolutely a Eurovision Fan!

– Like many Norwegians I grew up watching MGP and Eurovision Song Contest on TV with my family. Eurovision has such a long history and strong traditions. It is a party where everyone is welcome and you can be yourself, even if you don’t even know who you really are. And as I mentioned, I did try to be selected for MGP 10 years ago, so this is something that has been on my mind for a while.

– My all time Eurovision song and Norwegian entry has to be "Spirit in the Sky" by KEiiNO.

During the national performance, viewers saw more than six people on stage, which is against Eurovision rules for the May performance. Besides TIX, he had six dancers with him and this needed to change for both the live on tape performance and for the performance in Rotterdam. TIX won't let the cat out of the bag in terms of what we will watch in the next couple of weeks.

– We are going to make some noticeable changes for the performance, absolutely. I can promise you that these are changes made for the large stage, but you will have to wait until my first rehearsal on 9 May in Rotterdam.

As preparations intensify over the last few weeks of this Eurovision journey, how is TIX preparing for his final showcase?

– I’m spending a lot of time getting an overview of who’s representing all the different nations and listening to their songs. I’m just really looking forward to meeting everyone and getting to know them. I feel like we’re going on a school trip! Oh yeah, and also I’m obviously working on my own show.

As we end our interview with the Norwegian 2021 representative, he has one last message to share with us:

– I want to thank everyone for the support and feedback! It is moving to see that so many people listen to my song, read the lyrics and show an interest in me and my story.

TIX will sing "Fallen Angel" at Semi-final 1 on 18 May 2021.

About the author: Steven Spiteri (Malta)

authorSteven has been a huge Eurovision fan since 1995. He comes from a small town called Birkirkara located in Malta and graduated in Business & Administration. Steven follows all the national finals and Eurovision Song Contests every year especially Melodifestivalen and Eesti Laul. He has an endless list of favorites but the all time favorite entry would be Italy's 2016 entry "Nessun grado di separazione" by Francesca Michielin whilst Lisbon 2018 is his favorite Eurovision edition.

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