Subwoolfer, Eurovision

Ahead of their upcoming shows in the UK and Europe, viral Eurovision stars Subwoolfer have spoken to NME about unveiling their true identity and what the future might hold.

The Norwegian entrants for Eurovision 2022 finished seventh, but amassed a cult following and millions of streams for their song ‘Give That Wolf A Banana’ – mainly for their viral choreography and the enigma surrounding their characters wearing yellow alien wolf costumes with black suits.

Then, back in February, the characters of Jim and Keith were revealed to be Ben Adams from ’90s boyband A1 and Norwegian musician and Idol runner up, Gaute Ormåsen.

Ahead of this year’s competition and the duo performing in the host city of Liverpool, Adams told NME how he came to be involved in the project. Having moved to Norway years ago to pursue a life as a successful producer and songwriter, he was invited to take part in a writing camp to pen what would become Norway’s 2022 Eurovision track.

“I’ve been writing for various different artists in that for several years, but this particular time they gave me a particular brief that was to write the craziest thing that you could think of,” said Adams. “We weren’t planning on being artists in Eurovision, so we were a bit bummed out as it makes it even harder to pitch the song afterwards.”

Eventually, they came up with ‘Give That Wolf A Banana’ – a dance track that reimagines a world a Red Hiding Hood befriended her nemesis and convinced the animal to eat fruit instead of her grandmother.

“We just laughed the whole day because we just thought it was too funny,” Adams continued. “We didn’t really think too much more past that. We played our song and everyone in the room fell about laughing and just wanted to hear it again. We thought, ‘OK, maybe there’s something in this song’.”

Once the song was selected, the NRK (Norway’s BBC equivalent) struggled to find another artist to perform it.

“No one knew who they wanted to sing it, but – surprise surprise – it was very hard to find someone who would sing a song called ‘Give That Wolf A Banana’ for obvious reasons,” said Adams. “They asked why we wouldn’t sing it, we both said no because we have our careers outside of this and we didn’t want to do something that would ruin everything.

“They asked us if we’d do it behind masks and we thought, ‘Well, it has worked for Daft Punk and KISS, so it could work for us’. We eventually said yes but on the proviso that it would be a secret between NRK and us and that no one would ever find out that it was us.”

He added: “Someone asked what masks we would wear, and the more silly ideas we came up with, the more people would enjoy it. Somehow between writing the song and performing it we became yellow wolves from the moon.”

Subwoolfer, representing Norway, perform during the Grand Final show of the 66th Eurovision Song Contest at Pala Alpitour on May 14, 2022 in Turin CREDIT: Daniele Venturelli/Daniele Venturelli / WireImage

After “everything happened by mistake and coincidence” and matters seemed “so stupid that it turned out to be brilliant”, the duo’s personas soon found them a strong online persona as they travelled around Europe performing numerous tongue-in-cheek stunts on the campaign trail.

“When it started to become quite popular because of the things we were doing, we started to gather this army of fans that were basically writing down the lore of Subwoolfer,” he said. “They planned out the whole story for us.”

However, Adams said that they knew they’d have a challenge on their hands when it came to convincing die-hard Eurovision fans of their authenticity.

“The fact that we were at Eurovision with a song called ‘Give That Wolf A Banana’ was just so bizarre,” he said. “When we first came out with it, people just didn’t get it and thought we were trying to take the piss out of Eurovision – that’s 100 per cent not what we were doing. We were just having fun with the platform and seeing what was possible. It’s the only possible where you can possible do anything like this.

“The further we went, the more people realised that it wasn’t a joke. It was bizarre and stupid, but we wanted to take it seriously. We always knew that we’d get disliked by the jury. Also with everything in the Ukraine it was a dead cert that they were going to win.”


But, as Adams argued, “what the project represented was about more than Eurovision” – and with Subwoolfer designed to spread cheer during trying times.

“It came at a time when the world was dark and grey – and it still is – but people could really do with something lighthearted to take their minds off this stuff,” he said. “We get messages every day from people in the Ukraine saying how much it means to them.”

He continued: “If the actual core of the song was jokey and crap then it wouldn’t have won people over and became what it is. The song has quirky lyrics but it’s actually a damn good song.”

British-Norwegian pop boy band A1, circa 2000, (L-R) Paul Marazzi, Ben Adams, Mark Read, Christian Ingebrigtsen. (Photo by Tim Roney/Getty Images)

Off the back of the success of previous years’ Eurovision stars such as Sam Ryder and Måneskin, Adams said that he feels encouraged by how the competition is being taken more seriously.

“For so many years it has been seen as a joke, which is crazy when you consider the 200million people who watch the show,” he said. “For a platform for an artist to launch themselves on, it’s huge. Because the UK sent so many terrible entries and were getting ‘nil poits’, that probably explains a few things. But when you get an artist like Sam Ryder who is super-talented and does really well, that’s the time to take it seriously.

“Eurovision can be all sorts of things, but it really is just a good opportunity for artists to push themselves out there. ABBA, Celine Dion – people forget about these huge artists that had Eurovision as a launch pad.

Adams teased that “loads of gigs” were being planned for Subwoolfer, with plenty of new music on the horizon and even a children’s book and an appearance on an upcoming Just Dance in the pipeline.

“Our label Universal are quite happy because we’ve released quite a few songs after Eurovision and it was previously a struggle for them to know how to promote things,” he claimed. “How do you do radio interviews and chat shows when you don’t talk? It’s been a strange project and they’re quite happy that we can just be Ben and Gaute talking about the project, and also be Subwoolfer on stage.

He continued: “The crazy thing is that after de-masking, we thought maybe that would be the end – but the excitement surrounding the band is higher than it was when we first got through. If you like at our social media, it’s all sort of exploded.

“When you go to Disneyland to see Mickey Mouse, you know that it’s not Mickey Mouse – it’s just a guy in a costume – but it’s still bloody great to see Mickey Mouse.”

Ben Adams, A1
Ben Adams of A1 performs at Eventim Apollo on March 14, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Lorne Thomson/Redferns)

The Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Liverpool next week, with the UK hosting in honour of last year’s winners Ukraine. The semi-finals take place on Tuesday 9 and Thursday 11 May, before the grand finals on Saturday 13 May. Check out all of the competing songs here.

Sam Ryder, Netta and Kalush Orchestra are among the previous Eurovision stars confirmed to perform at the final, while Frankie Goes To Hollywood will be reuniting for their first performance in 36 years over the weekend and Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Charlotte Church will also be playing in Liverpool’s Eurovision village. Not only that, but Music Venue Trust also this week announced a free show with The Lightning Seeds on the site.

Subwoolfer will be performing in Liverpool next week too, appearing at Hangar 34 on Wednesday May 10. Other dates in Europe follow later this year. Visit here for tickets and more information.

The post Eurovision’s Subwoolfer talk unveiling their true identity and future plans appeared first on NME.


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