The MGP-winners happy with their own microphones

 by John Berge, December 23rd, 2019

KEiiNO (from the left) visits Sennheiser: Fred Buljo, tom Hugo Hermansen and Alexandra Rotan. Photo: John Berge, 

Oslo: The most important instrument for a vocalist, apart from the voice, is of course, the microphone. – I haven’t thought so much about which type of microphone I have used, vocalist Alexandra Rotan from KEiiNO admits

Together with Fred Buljo and Tom Hugo Hermansen, the trio won the year’s final in Melodi Grand Pris (Eurovision Song Contest) with the song, “Spirit in the sky”.

Therefore they got to take the trip to Tel Aviv in Israel and ended in the final, where they were number six, after having received the most televotes.

The KEiiNO-trio “opened their ears” to Sennheiser, after the trip to the Middle-East’s only democracy. 

  • We were very happy with how it sounded in Israel, Tom Hugo Hermansen tells.
  • They had an EM 6000-system and only Sennheiser-microphones. It worked really well for our voices. We liked the sound a lot better than the one we got in Norway, where we used Shure Beta 58.
KEiiNO on the MGP-stage. Photo: NRK/Pressphoto

Hermansen says that he thinks regular microphones can sound great too, if only you spend some time on the settings.

  • Now I have worked as live musician for 20 years and sure some fits my voice a lot better than others, he adds.

Just like for a top athlete, it’s the details that count, Hermansen thinks.

  • “The mike” should communicate and reproduce things the best possible way. You can say that a mike is a mike, like a ski is a ski, but it is a lot more than that. To go from OK equipment to the best, and improve in all areas, helps the performance.

KEiiNO is brand new as band and none of the group members knew each other before they came together as a grand prix band, late in 2018. Now, with the record speed, have become a solid gang, which travels around in their newly sponsored Relault and give concerts and performances. They also travel to the great abroad, amongst other countries, Australia, where they are planned to record a song for the upcoming album. After Eurovision Song Contest, the group announced that they plan to release a concept-album, with indigenous languages from the entire world.

KEiiNO (from the left): Tom Hugo Hermansen, Alexandra Rotan and Fred Buljo. Photo: John Berge,

What is it like to have concerts with such few songs?

  • We have a few solo songs we bring along, and some cover songs, so it is fine, the trio replies.

Hermansen, the oldest and the one with most experience of the trio, has used a lot of different brands during his career, but appreciates that a microphone holds a tolerance for “noise” and for being thrown about a little.

  • I haven’t thought so much about this with microphones, Alexandra Rotan says, and points out an important element of bringing one’s own microphones around.
  • It’s a hygiene thing also. A lot of microphones don’t see the light of day. I find it fascinating that not more have their own microphone-sets, precisely because of the hygienic part.

Together with technician, Adrian Nordeng in Sounddesign, KEiiNO AS has invested in a great deal of technical equipment which they bring along on small and big jobs. They also have a flexible set-up, where drummer and guitarist are with them on larger jobs. They use and Allen & Heath dLive-mixer.

Adrian Nordeng in Sounddesign (to the left) has a chat with teamleader, Richard Osahl-Engen Nordbæk, at Sennheiser Nordic AS. Photo: John Berge,

KEiiNO release their own music

KEiiNO is now a full time job for all of them. Alexandra has put her education as nurse on hold and Fred Buljo has taken leave from his job as kindergarten teacher in a Sámi kindergarten. Tom Hugo has lived from his music in almost fifteen years and has amongst other things, had success in Asia as songwriter.

  • But nobody knows who I am, hehe, he says with a big grin.

When the debut album is released in 2020, KEiiNO also wants to release it as a physical product, since they already have a lot of fans overseas, not least Germany, where there still is a healthy physical market.

The Sennheiser-team is happy to have gotten hold of KEiiNO as users. From the left: Robert Chaston, Terje Aamodt  Nybakk and Richard Opsahl-Engen and then KEiiNO: Alexandra, Fred Buljo and Tom Hugo Hermansen. Photo: John Berge,
KEiiNO (from the left:) tom Hugo Hermansen, Alexandra Rotan and Fred Buljo, with an interesting branch magazine in their hands. Photo: John Berge,

KEiiNO (pronounced kaeino, like the last part of Kautokeino), is a Norwegian music group consisting of the Sámi songwriter, rapper and joker, Fred Buljo, the singer Alexandra Rotan and singer-songwriter, Tom Hugo.

KEiiNO is a Norwegian-Sámi collaboration project and was formed August 2018 in connection to the group’s participation in Melodi Grand Prix 2019. None of the three band members knew each other beforehand. The 2nd of march 2019, KEiiNO won the Norwegian final with the song, “Spirit in the sky” and represented Norway in Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv in May 2019. There the group ended in a sixth place in the final.

“Spirit in the sky” has elements of pop, electronica, dance and joik. It is composed by the group, together with the songwriters, Alex Olsson and Rüdiger Schramm, and the Finnish producer, Henrik Tala.

The wek after the international final, “Spirit in the sky” went to the top on the VG-lista, and hit lists in several European countries. This was the first Norwegian Melodi Grand Prix-winner who reached the first place of the Norwegian single list, since Stella Mwangis “Haba Haba” in 2011.

April 26th 2019, the group released their second single, “Shallow”. The song is a dance- and joik-inspired cover-version of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s song with the same name, from the movie, “A star is born”. June 21st, the group released their third single, “Praying”, which is about fear of dying. September 20th they released a cover-version of “Vil ha deg”, originally performed by Swedish Drömhus.

KEiiNO (from the left) visiting Sennheiser. Fred Buljo, Tom Hugo Hermansen and Alexandra Rotan. Photo: John Berge,