‘It’s going to be the wildest ride,’ says the star in the first interview since his Eurovision news.
“I’m scared, but I’m excited,” says Olly Alexander. “I’ve wanted to do this for a really, really long time.”
The star is backstage at Strictly Come Dancing, minutes after revealing live on air that he would be singing for the UK at the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest.
“It’s all a bit of a blur,” he says of the announcement, but reality is starting to sink in.
His phone buzzes with an endless stream of messages from family, friends, cousins and even his neighbourhood pet owner’s group.
He has yet to organise who will look after his cats when he heads to Malmö for the contest next year – but that’s just one of the many big decisions heading his way, including choreography, staging, costumes, and expanding his Swedish vocabulary from its current tally of one word: Tack (thank you).
Plumping himself down on a horrible lime green sofa, he settles in for the first (of many) interviews about his Eurovision dreams.
Congratulations, Olly! How long have you been sitting on this news?
I’ve known for about two months. It’s been really tough to keep it secret.
Are you a long-time Eurovision fan?
It goes right back to being a kid and watching the show with my family – ordering pizza and spending all night in front of the TV watching this insane, amazing show.
It’s a bit like a spiritual homecoming for me because I love Eurovision so much.
What makes it so special for you?
I love the theatrics, the drama. There’s such an amazing chaos of different musical styles and performers. You get so much on one night. It’s just so fun and camp.
The staging is always a big deal… You must be looking at books and books of costume ideas.
Oh, for sure. It’s fun just imagining what you could do on stage – but it has to be achievable in a short amount of time because there’s such a quick turnaround [between acts].
You’ve worked with Lady Gaga in the past. Maybe she could lend you her meat dress.
I’m a vegetarian, Mark! I wouldn’t be putting that on!
Maybe a Linda McCartney veggie burger dress, then.
A Tofurky dress! But, yeah, it needs to be a wow moment. Maybe there could be multiple outfits. Three minutes, three costumes.
I know you haven’t revealed the song yet, but is there anything you can tell us?
I wrote the song with Danny Harle, and it’ll be coming next year. And it’s really good.
For people who don’t know, Danny has written with Charli XCX and Dua Lipa – so this is going to be really cutting-edge, forward-thinking pop, right?
That’s definitely the vibe. It’s gonna be electronic, something you can dance to. But yeah, I can’t say much more than that.
That’s actually quite a lot!
I mean, it wasn’t gonna be a ballad. Or maybe it could have been a ballad. I love a ballad. Am I saying too much now?
It’s not a ballad.
Normally, the BBC doesn’t announce who’s going to be doing Eurovision until February or March so this suggests you’re really taking it seriously.
Yeah, that’s good though, right?
I hope so! Are you going to tour Europe promoting the song, so that people are already familiar with it by May?
Oh, definitely. I can’t wait to get out there and meet the fans and everyone else taking part. It’s going to be the wildest experience of my life.
As a Eurovision fan, you know that the UK doesn’t have the best track record. How does that weigh on your mind?
It’s a competition, so you never know what’s going to happen on the night. I’m just going to give it my best shot and not think about any of that and make the most of it.
One advantage is that you’ve tons of stage experience from playing events like Glastonbury.
Yeah, it’s not my first time at the rodeo. I mean, this will be my first time at Eurovision – but I’m going to take all that stuff that I’ve learned from all the stages I’ve been on and just put it all into this performance. It’s going to be my mission to do something incredible.
And you’re doing it as Olly Alexander, not Years and Years. What’s behind that decision?
I’ve wanted to do it for a while, I suppose. It felt like this was the right time to start releasing music under my name. A new chapter and new music.
Finally, I have to ask: What’s your favourite Eurovision song of all time?
Oh, that’s so hard… I knew you’d ask me that and I actually do love Euphoria by Loreen. It’s one of the best ones ever.
And she’ll be in Sweden next year as the returning champion.
She will. Queen!