My name is Dwayne Wyrwas, and I am 53 years young. I am Canadian living in Toronto, Canada. Toronto is Canada’s largest most diverse city in the heart of the country. I was born and grew up in a small city called Sudbury, 4 hours north of Toronto, which is in Northern Ontario. I work in the healthcare field as a Regional Director with a company that owns and operates Long Term Care Homes for seniors (Nursing Homes). I am married to my husband of 13 years, Luis Malave Loaiza, who is originally from Caracas, Venezuela.
I discovered KEiiNO by chance back in 2019 on Eurovision. Unfortunately, Eurovision is not very popular in Canada currently. But, in early 2019, I read in an article that Eurovision was going to be telecast for the first time on a Canadian TV channel. I had heard of Eurovision but had never watched it before. I will never forget watching and hearing KEiiNO sing Spirit in the Sky. When Fred started his joik, I was in awe and did not know what I was hearing/seeing but I liked it. I was able to watch the 2019 MGP of Spirit in the Sky video and I was blown away. You could literally feel the energy of the crowd through the video. It must have been spectacular for the people lucky enough to be in attendance. The tempo and words to Sprit in the Sky really touch me and pulled me in. I was then able to watch KEiiNO’s Eurovision Heritage Story on U-Tube to learn more about them. It was interesting to learn that Fred was part Inuit which gave a connection to Canada. I researched more on Google and learned more about Tom, Alexandra, and Fred. Three different people who had solo singing careers coming together to form the absolute magic of KEiiNO. Tom being a member of the LGBTQ community and learning of the work that all the work that he does to support and champion the LGBTQ cause. Alexandra being a young, strong, independent women and Queen (soon to become Icon) to the LGBTQ community. Fred, a Sami rapper/kindergarten teacher. He shares his beautiful joik and Sami culture with the world.
After Eurovision ended, I, like many, was surprised and disappointed that KEiiNO did not win, especially with winning the Fan vote. I bought Spirit of the Sky on iTunes (lol I’m old school) and had it on repeat for weeks. Months after, I started to search for more previously released music from each of the members solo careers and came upon KEiiNO’s OKTA album songs. I was hooked after listening to the album a few times. I ordered a copy of the CD was happy that to receive a signed copy. I drive a lot for work visiting all the senior homes under my portfolio, some hours away. I would sign along to all the songs. I thought it was so cool that Black Leather had a Canadian connection with Charlotte Quamaniq adding her Inuit throat singing to the track. I then came across the KEiiNO documentary episodes on U-Tube which were so interesting. One was able to learn about their Eurovision journey and more about each member personalities. You could not help but fall in “Love” with Alexandra, Tom and Fred. They are all very down to earth, funny and very talented.
People often express the opinion that fandoms are for teens and young adults and it’s childish when adults are passionate about an artist, they should have better things to do. How would you explain your passion and fandom around KEiiNO, if you were to explain it to others, why you are this much into one band?
I have never been more touched by a music band like KEiiNO. There is something so special about them as Individuals, and collectively as KEiiNO. The three of them singing touches the soul deep from within. Unfortunately, KEiiNO is not well known in Canada (at this time), my friends get a bit tired of me always mentioning them and playing their music. Some, cannot understand the connection that I have with their music, especially being at my age. But this does not matter. I feel so lucky to have their music in my life. They keep me very young at heart. When you hear their songs and listen closely to the words and meaning of their songs, I am elevated. It brightens my world and puts a big smile on my face.
I read an article about KEiiNO which shocked and upset me. The writer stated that the members of KEiiNO were somewhat outcasts of the music industry. Tom for being older and gay, Alexandra for not “fitting the image of a star”- whatever that means, and Fred for being only a Sami rapper. I think being a gay man myself, growing up in a small northern city, I can personally relate as I too, always felt like an outcast/ outsider, picked on and bullied growing up. I think this may be why I feel a strong connection to KEiiNO.
When I see some of KEiiNO’s live performances on U-Tube, I so see many young children in the audience holding up their KEiiNO, handmade signs. I do feel a bit old when I see this, but I also see how lucky these younger fans are to have a band like KEiiNO to look up to. I wish when I was younger, there was KEiiNO. I love KEiiNO’s highest value motto – Unity is Diversity.
At the end of that day, I proudly am a huge fan of KEiiNO, no matter how old I am. I think I just have good taste in music.
The benefits of knowing other KEiiNO fans
I only discovered the KEiiNO fan group in 2021 after the monument came out. Don’t get me started about KEiiNO not winning MGP 2021. The world was upset with the Norwegians not being able to recognize the exceptional and vote for Monument to represent Norway at Eurovision 2021. When I first heard and watched Monument video, I was in complete awe. The song is so powerful, and the words were so soul touching, especially with the timing of the release and the global pandemic. I think I have watched both the video and the making of the video documentary hundreds of times. Norway was added to our travel visit list because of KEiiNO and the beauty of the Monument video. This video and song are a masterpiece. How can one ever forget Alexandra reaching the top of the mountain and then applying her make up for the video with the most impressive scenery behind her. Alexandra is our Queen! I was so impressed that KEiiNO made their spectacular Monument video without hand production team. That Monument video deserves a cinematography award.
As I previously mentioned, I work in healthcare and the last 2.5 years having been very difficult, emotional, challenging and tiring. Unfortunately, before the vaccines and lesson learned, we had a lot of deaths of vulnerable seniors in our Nursing Homes. I had worked during SARS years ago, but the first wave of Covid was like nothing I ever witnessed before. It was like being in a horror movie that would not come to an end. I found listening to KEiiNO helped immensely. It took me to a better place and allowed some respite from the daily dire reality. I will be forever great full to KEiiNO for this.
When Alexandra participated in Stjernekamp song contest 2021, my Saturday nights were filled with joy and happiness. (Except the finale when again I believe Norway made a mistake not crowning Alexandra the winner). My husband and I were so touched by her dedication, exceptional hard work, humility and performances that we sent her a bouquet of flowers at the studio one Saturday and she actually received them. (It was not easy finding a florist in Norway and we could place an order in English and deliver to the NRK Studios.) She deserved flowers Every night. Even though she did not win, she captured the hearts of people all over the world and became even more of a super star. The release of Venus that night with Tom and Fred on stage with her was so emotional and impactful. The words were so perfect for that occasion. She was our Queen and Warrior.
Over the past months, interacting with the KEiiNO, KEiiNO fans and KEiiNO News Facebook pages, I have been able to learn more and more about KEiiNO, their music, and their fans from all over the world. It’s a place we’re we all share a love for KEiiNO and support one another. It has been so nice to befriend and chat with members about our love of or KEiiNO and our personal lives, getting to know each other more. It is because of KEiiNO and their fan group that we planned a trip to Norway to attend the Kafka concert in Gjovik, Norway on May 27th. I am writing this on our long flight home back to Canada.
After seeing lucky fans getting to attend their previous concerts in Europe and Australia, last November when a fan posted a notice about the Kafka concert, I purchased tickets for my husband and I and we started to plan out trip. Even though at that time, Norway was still closed to tourists outside of the EU. I kept emailing the Norwegian Embassy in Canada asking when they were going to reopen to Canadian tourists. Lucky for us, in January of 2022, Norway was opening back up to tourists from outside the EU. We then booked our flights, hotels and set our itinerary. The excitement and countdown started. We are both still on a “high” from attending the intimate small venue concert and absolute thrill of being able to meet and Thank Fred, Alexandra and Tom in person. We got to hug them; can you imagine. How Mother of the Night is that! They were so welcoming to us.
I was so complete awe that I was talking to them. I hardly remember what I said, and I probably rambled on out ofnervousness. It was so surreal. I can tell you first hand now that they are the nicest people you will EVER meet. They thanked us for travelling so far to see their concert. But the truth is, we would have travelled to the moon and back to see them sing live. We even got the front row at the concert. I had always dreamed of hearing Alexandra hit the high note “Thunder and Gloria” and she did not disappointed. KEiiNO even added Alexandra’s Never Enough to the set list for us. Heartwarming. We got to hear Fred’s joik live, and Tom’s soulful smooth vocals. Fred was able to sign our OKTA Deluxe CD and Tom was so sweet to give a few shouts out to us Canadians in the audience. We felt like such special guests. This was by far the greatest concert and experience of my life. EVER! A treasured memory of a lifetime. Thank you so much Tom, Fred, Alexandra. Words cannot express our heartfelt gratitude.
Unfortunately, we did not get to meet Tom’s Husband, Alexander, who was not in attendance as he was busy with work. We know KEiiNO and KEiiNO’s songs would not be the same without his song writing contributions. Thank you, Alexander, for your adding your talent and magic to KEiiNO.
Part of me cannot understand why Keino is not a world-renowned super star group selling out large stadiums but then a part of me is selfishly happy that they are not as I get to be on the KEiiNO secret and magic. I hope for continued success for KEiiNO as a group and as individual artists combined. I will continue to be a lifelong a fan of KEiiNO as their music has captured my heart and soul. I will continue to annoy my husband, family and friends with everything KEiiNO. Canada is set to join Eurovision in 2023 and I am hoping the KEiiNO get invited as special guest performers so that the rest of Canada can hear and see the beauty of KEiiNO. Fans can help make this happen by emailing Lindsay Cox, the Canada Eurovision event organizer at firstname.lastname@example.org . Tell her about KEiiNO and how much having Internationally renowned Eurovision fan choice group KEiiNO be a guest performer would amplify the show.
Tom mentioned that KEiiNO is planning a larger tour in 2023 and that Toronto Canada might be included. Fingers crossed! If there is anything I can do to help make this happen, I’m all in. I would love to welcome KEiiNO to Canada.