KEiiNO raises from the corona-knockout

Tom Hugo and KEiiNO went on a mental downslide when corona cancelled everything. Friday they stream their release concert from Søgne.

Published May 14th 2020, by Torgeir Eikeland, translated by Karina Brandt

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Last year KEiiNO sang in front of hundreds here on the square. Now they are back in Kristiansand. From the left: Fred Buljo, Tom Hugo Hermansen and Alexandra Rotan. Photo: Jacob J. Buchard.

Kristiansand: — Many things in life don’t go the way you had expected and this is one of those things. A year ago we were standing on a giant arena in Tel Aviv. Now we are playing a concert in front of a camera, in a storage facility in Søgne, Tom Hugo Hermansen says.

As a part of the trio, KEiiNO, he has been through a very unusual year. It was unusual to be sent to the final in Eurovision last year, and it was not an everyday thing to be nominated for the Spelleman prize for the song of the year. But it didn’t go really bad until corona entered the scene in March. Along with all other musicians and bands, KEiiNO had almost all the rest of 2020 cancelled, including their performance at the Spellemand awards.

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This is how it was for KEiiNO the last time they were gathered on the square, 24th of June last year. Photo: Kristian Hole.

Income down the drain

— All my life it has been a dream for me to perform there, so it was really hard when it was cancelled. It really hits you when you see all your performances for the rest of the year are gone, and that your income of around 900.000 kroner disappears, Tom Hugo says. As you may know, he also plays in RadioJam which usually is a confirmed act in Sommer på Torget, and it will be none of that this year either.

Into the woods

— The mental knock-down was so hard that I stayed under my duvet for a while. Fred (band colleague Fred Buljo) handled it in his own way by hiking into the woods to think and all of us really hit rock bottom, Tom Hugo says.

KEiiNO’s debut album, “OKTA”, was supposed to be released in March, but the record release had been postponed. Now the group has decided to release it and the release concert will be streamed to the fans on Friday, from a facility in Søgne.

— We have had a lot of requests from the fans to release this and a lot also want it in physical format in CD, Tom Hugo Says.

Indigenous people

Several of the songs on OKTA are recorded as singles and the red thread is the indigenous people theme. In October last year, Fædrelandsvennen wrote about the single, “Dancing in the smoke” which was brought on the tour to Australia. There they performed with artists with indigenous backgrounds.

— The recordings haven taken place from Alta in the North to Adelaide in the south, Tom Hugo says.

What wasn’t recorded before corona, the group has had to finish producing under the circumstances the quarantine and corona has set.

Thursday this week, Alexandra Rotan, Fred Buljo and Tom Hugo Hermansen gathered for the first time in a long time and it happened in Kristiansand where they prepared the release concert Friday.

— We have to practise and then we have to record 300 video greetings to the fans who ordered either the CD or the files with the album cover. It is going to take some time but will be very funny. Nothing is more motivating than to make music to people who really care, Tom Hugo says.