Interview With KEiiNO’s Alexandra Rotan

By Jeremy Williams Chalmers, Yorkshire Times, June 14th, 2020
Original interview: (- no infringement intended.)

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Eurovision’s voting system has changed radically over the years. In terms of the end result there is only one winner, but in reality it can work out that there are three. Last year the overall winner was Duncan Laurence. However, Tamara Todevska impressed the jury at took their crown and KEiiNO stole the hearts of the public, being rewarded 30 points more than their closest competitor! A year later and the love for KEiiNO has not dwindled. As they release their debut album, we caught up with Alexandra Rotan from the Norwegian trio.

First and foremost, hello and how are you? Tell us all about OKTA…

Hi! We are doing great, thanks! We are so happy that our album finally is out and that fans and reviewers seem to like it! OKTA means ‘ONE’ in Sami (the language of the Sami People) and is an album which contains collaborations with other indigenous artists from around the world. Last year we went to Australia and wrote ‘Would I Lie’ with Electric Fields and ‘Roar Like A Lion’ with the Maori band Te Hau Tawhiti. We also went to NY to meet up with Charlotte Qamaniq, an inuk throat singer from Canada, and created ‘Black Leather’. Such an amazing experience being able to travel the world and at the same time meet so many inspiring artists and create music together!

How do you feel when releasing a record?

It is an exciting process releasing so many new songs at the same time. We feel that this record really reflects who we are as a band – different, edgy and diverse. We are so excited to tour again and perform the songs live!

What inspired the record?

2019 was the year of Indigenous Languages, and we were announced ambassadors by the UN. So we felt that including amazing indigenous expressions in our music was a good way to recognize this award.

Tell us a little about your creative process…

Also by Jeremy Williams-Chalmers…RJ Thompson – LifelineCam – The OthersideAne Brun – After The Great StormDolche – Exotic DioramaKev Sherry – Foxy OrthodoxyAs a band doing everything ourselves, we have to create new music while on tour. So that is what happened – we wrote the songs/ideas on the plane, in the car, right before or after a show, and did the final recordings in the studio. We sent the ideas to our main lyricist Alexander Olsson, Tom’s husband, and then to our producer Rüdiger Schramm in Germany. The creative process is always exciting, and we are working on more new songs right in this moment.

You are still a relatively new band, but you’ve had huge exposure. Did you feel under pressure to deliver an album?

Not at all. It felt right giving the world an album now, after releasing singles and covers after Eurovision.

If the record were an animal, what animal would it be?

This album feels more like a zoo, where any animal is included.

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Define your sound in five words…

Diverse, different, edgy, indigenous and northern.

You are known for your use of native sounds, how did that feed into the writing process?

It is just as natural for us as any other part of the writing process. We write everything together, and it’s always exciting to find which part of the native expressions fits into every song!

Which song are you most excited to perform live?
Of course all the songs, but Roar Like A Lion stands out a bit!

What was the best concert you have ever seen?
We watched Kim Petras in Brooklyn and thought that was very inspiring!

What did the experience teach you that you have translated to your own shows?

How she interacted with the audience was amazing, and how the staging and outfits were.

OKTA is available now.