JOWST hits Eurovision in Kiev

JOWSTOslo. JOWST. The Norwegian Eurovision Song Contest 2017. Photo: Fredrik Varfjell / NTB scanpix

JOWST will be on stage in Kiev, defending Norway’s honour

In a few days, JOWST will be on stage in Kiev, defending Norway’s honour. From the very first note, Norway’s Eurovision contribution, ‘Grab The Moment’, happened by chance.


In this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, on Thursday, Norway is taking part in the second round of the semi-finals. That same evening, Russia had also planned to have been on stage, represented by performer, Julija Samojlova.

But the troubled relationship between Russia and the organiser, Ukraine, had made Russia unable to participate this year, because the Russian Broadcaster, Channel One, would not televise the show.

Now an agreement has been reached between Channel One, and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). According to Russian sources, Samojlova may automatically become the Russian finalist in 2018.

Norway’s entry, ‘Grab The Moment”, has a melody created by Joakim With Steen, known as the artist JOWST. The lyrics were written by Jonas McDonnell, and sung by Aleksander Walmann.

JOWST’s Eurovision story started one day at the end of May last year, quite randomly, in the audio studio where Joakim With Steen worked daily.

‘One day there was a guy who did not show up. So then I would experiment on a synthesizer, which I had never tried before.

There were some strange settings on it, so when I pressed one key, it made two notes’, explained the songwriter and producer to NTB news agency.

‘Then I thought I’d make something out of it, something that really didn’t work out very cool,’ he continued.

Using help from the input he received from a closed Facebook group, the result was an instrumental song that ended up being the middle part of the finished song.

‘I claimed I was going to make a hit,’ said Steen, laughing modestly.

‘Not just to motivate myself, but to promise something that I had to stick to. Then I couldn’t go over to make any alternative stuff, because then it wouldn’t be a hit,’ he said.

Four to five months later, the song was played to various record companies, and JOWST got a nod from Three 15 Records. A few days later, NRK news called and wanted the song to take part as an entry in the Norwegian Melodi Grand Prix (Eurovision Song Contest).

‘At that point, I actually said no, and that I had signed a contract to publish the song on another date,’ said Norway’s Eurovision songwriter.

In addition, the lyricist, and then vocalist MacDonald, didn’t want to participate in Eurovision. JOWST got help from NRK and the record company to find a new vocalist.

Aleksander Walmann wasn’t among those asked, but he got the song via a mate who thought he would suit singing it.

‘So it’s quite accidental that he ended there,’ said Joakim With Steen.

The fact that Joakim With Steen himself would be on stage during the performance was also not a given circumstance at the time.

The image he has become famous for could have been useful, because he became a father around the time when it was put to the test in the first rounds.

‘Then I thought that I didn’t want to stand on the stage of Oslo Spektrum, and I said to myself to get someone else to be the face for the song,’ said Steen.

‘And then I started my fight, because I wanted to have him on stage. And imagine that your daughter is going to think it’s totally radical that her father was in Spektrum’, vocalist Wallmann shoots in quickly.

Steen needed one night to think about it, but finally said yes. And his daughter was born well in advance of the Norwegian finals.

The first semifinal of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest will be held on Tuesday. Sweden is the big favourite, and Iceland and Finland are also in the running.

In Norway’s semi-final two days later, we’ll encounter competition from Denmark. If Norway continues through to the final, it is scheduled for Saturday, May the 13th.

Last year’s winner, and organiser of this year’s competition, Ukraine, qualifies automatically for the final, together with the ‘five majors’ in the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany and France. Italy is the front-runner favourite, followed by Bulgaria, Portugal and Sweden.


© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today