Tonight the Dutchman Wouter Hardy, as composer of the Estonian entry Bridges, will participate for the 3rd time; and for the 3rd time for another country.
Wouter co-wrote “Arcade” for Duncan Laurence. He was also responsible for “Tout l’univers”, the song Gjon’s Tears brought to Switzerland. But what else do we know him from? “I’ve played in bands, I’ve always been a pianist and a keyboardist. I’ve toured all over Europe, I’ve done Glastonbury. I opened for Robbie Williams. All of this was with Kofax, where I was band leader and keyboard player. And I have always played trumpet in orchestras and big bands. That’s where the classical influences come from,” explains Hardy.
Back to the Eurovision Song Contest we come to “Arcade”. The composer says about this: “To win is absurd. Participation was already such that I thought: should we do this with Arcade? It had been there for quite a while. Then we were asked by Ilse Delange and yes, then you’re going to do it anyway. I thought: how can that work with such a song there? My association with the Eurovision Song Contest was circus and lots of dancing and fireworks. I think that’s exactly why it won; because it was so special. And I am very proud of that to this day, that it is something that I fully supported. Then I participated with Switzerland, which I also fully supported, and now again with Estonia. If not, I’m not going to do it.”
We can’t ignore it: on May 5th, an interview appeared in a Dutch newspaper in which Hardy explains how things went behind the scenes with Arcade at the time. Negotiations about rights didn’t go well. Hardy felt intimidated by Ilse Delange. When the votes came in, Hardy was not in the greenroom. “I do hope that it will result in people being more willing to speak out about such things. I hope that helped. I have lost my story and that is a relief.”
And then, two years later, cqme the adventure with Gjon’s Tears in Switzerland. “Gjon was supposed to participate in the Eurovision song contest in 2020. That was canceled, due to COVID19. So he had to have a new song, a new entry. Then he looked at who he could still work with. He was a big fan of “Arcade”, also thought that that was his sound. His references also really appealed to me, who passed them on, like Sam Smith, Hozier, Woodkid. When I read that I thought: okay that could be an interesting one, so I went to Zurich. That’s actually how it went. We subimtted that entry with some other songs and then we won. And in Rotterdam, that was quite special for me. In our own country but with a Swiss flag, that was a bit crazy, but that was cool”.
To the toilet
It was a close call for Gjon’s Tears to win. “I thought: we’re just going to do it again dude. And then Gjon said: I think we will get less points in the televoting. And he was rogjt, but I did think after the jury vote: now we’re just going to do it again. It’s very funny because we were drinking quite a lot in the greenroom, it was super fun. Then we finished at the top of the jury and then I said to Gjon: don’t drink too much because you might have to start singing if you win. Then he started drinking a lot of water. He really needed to go to the toilet, but that was not allowed. And then every time that camera came, then Gjon would sit so wide and when that camera was gone again with his legs squeezed. In the end we finished third and I am very happy with that. We also won the Marcel Besançon Award for best composition that year. Duncan sang “Arcade” and “Stars”, which I also made. That evening three songs and an award, so that’s very nice.”
And then Estonia came along: “It was the same as Gjon. Alika has always wanted to do the Eurovision song contest, that was her dream. Then they put together a Spotify list of songs she likes. It had “Arcade”, and “Tout l’univers”. Then her manager texted me: “we’re going to work with you.” We worked together for two days and the second day was Bridges, there was no doubt about that after that. They didn’t go into the studio with other people after that and then we participated with Eesti Laul, the national final in Estonia.
How is Wouter Hardy doing tonight, is he nervous? “No,” he says firmly. “No. I haven’t listened to any other song either. I just want to be surprised tonight. I’ve only heard Loreen, you can’t miss her. And the Netherlands of course, there is no other way. But no other songs. I’m not really nervous, I don’t have to do anything anymore. That’s great, my work is done. I can just grab a drink and listen.”
Hardy has some nice things to look forward to anyway. A new album is coming under the name HRDY. “That will be an album with instrumental songs but also featuring vocalists. I released some songs from my album. Those are songs with synthesizers, pianos, strings and so now I’m going to make songs with singers for the first time.”