“I think Anton is the biggest competition. After him, Alcazar.” – Linda Bengtzing [Interview]

The final semifinal of Melodifestivalen 2014 is almost upon us and one of the most well-known veterans of the competition is back in 2014. Linda Bengtzing was kind enough to talk to us at escXtra about her comeback and what’s new this time!
escXtra: Thank you, first of all, for speaking to me, Linda! How are things going?
Linda Bengtzing: I’m so excited, I have to tell you that this year feels like the first time because it’s a new genre, like I’ve found my own genre with a lot of attitude and my energy is used to its every inch.
X: I’m so excited too because I knew; I saw the songwriters and I immediately said “oh my gosh, it’s gonna be so different”.
LB: Yeah it is and it’s not gonna be in Nicke’s way: it’s Nicke’s but it’s changed. It’s not typical schlager, it’s more Swedish pop in its current state. It’s clubby, you wanna dance like a maniac. It’s uptempo and I think you’re gonna love it.
X: I’m really looking forward to it for several reasons: we’ve seen you have four entries, “Alla flickor”, “Jag ljuger så bra”, “Hur svårt kan det va”, “E det fel på mej” and you got the feeling that every time, it was fantastic. Like you say, this one was going to be different and with attitude. I know you can’t say very much but what can you tell us about “Ta mig” – my first thought was that it would be like “Kan du se”, in terms of the attitude that came through in that.
LB: It’s more like “Han är min”. It’s more of that. My voice is almost cracking, it’s on the edge and it’s a lot of energy. It’s more like that.

X: Is this, then, the best entry you’ve ever had for Melodifestivalen?
LB: Yeah. In every way. I love Melodifestivalen more and more every year in which I participate. I take it, the contest, very seriously but maybe I don’t take myself as seriously as before with each participation and actually I think that’s a good thing. I can have more fun and the songs are more ‘me’.
X: So, “Alla flickor” was your first time and actually you had to go through Andra chansen to qualify to the final.
LB: Yes, I was with Alcazar that year and now, I will be with Alcazar again.
X: Oh wow, I hadn’t even realised.
LB: Yeah… I try to forget every single day, haha! They have a very good song, I have heard.
X: Well, this is the thing… you have always sung in Swedish, other than your two duets with Kim-Lian and Velvet, respectively. They were two very good, very different songs but obviously you have a very specific Swedish singing sound.
LB: Exactly. I feel more real, more like me when I sing in Swedish. I don’t know what it is. Maybe because I listen to a lot of Swedish music. Maybe it’s because I am Swedish!
X: Sylvia Vrethammar said to me last year that she preferred to sing in Swedish because she felt it came more from her heart.
LB: It’s exactly that. Absolutely.
X: Okay, have any of your Melodifestivalen entries ever had some English lyrics ready, just in case you won and you were to go to Eurovision, or if you win, hypothetically, would you go to Copenhagen in Swedish?
LB: That’s a good question. Uhm, I did an interview today for a Swedish paper and I said I really would like to do an English version of this and put it on the Internet because I want people to enjoy it all over to understand the words because it’s so great. If I go to Copenhagen and win the competition then I really hope I can sing it in Swedish and that no-one convinces me to sing in English because Swedish is the thing that gives the song the meaning. The whole point is the Swedish lyrics. So I hope I can sing it in Swedish but I do want to do it in English and put it out there for you, for everybody.
X: The Aftonbladet poll, I don’t know if you like discussing this, had you in first place.
LB: Yeah, I was. Nicke reads it all and sends me it in a text. So he sent me that poll as a photo and I was like “oh, st!”
X: I kept checking that poll every few hours and your position didn’t change! You just sat there at the top.
LB: I think people have waited for me to come back. I don’t think they want me to win, really, because Swedish people think that we need an English song for Eurovision. I don’t think we do.
X: You say, “this is a winner’s song” but let’s be honest, you aren’t exactly going to take a bad song to Melodifestivalen are you?
LB: Exactly, of course. It’s very important that you feel that you have a winning song because every one of the 32 participants think they have a winning song.
X: Yeah but you’re not filling up the numbers. In that semifinal, okay, there’s Anton Ewald, Alcazar and Janet Leon along with new talent Josef Johansson but it’s not as if you’re there just to fill in on the night, you’re a real contender given the poll and the fact that you’ve always made the final.
LB: I hope we have the answer there but I realise that maybe this new sound helps people, I don’t know.
X: That’s it.
LB: I think so because when I played it to some people to check out their honest reactions, they said this is such a hit and that’s more important to claim before Melodifestivalen. So, it’s super. Of course, I care. I want to come out and perform my own songs, you know, Melodifestivalen is important but I want people to like the song. That’s the most important thing.

X: So we’ve already named a few other artists who are in the fourth semifinal with you. Who do you admire the most for their musical style and who do you think is the biggest competition? Alcazar?
LB: I admire Alcazar, I love their songs and my daughter Vera, who is now four and a half years old, she loves Alcazar and she loves Ulrik Munther. She fell in love with him. She met him the other day and I didn’t recognise her, she was so cute and she flaming loves him! My biggest competition, I think that’s Anton. He has the expectation to win the whole thing but I’ve heard that Anton’s song is very good.
X: Well it’s written by the person who wrote the Agnes & Björn Skifs duet for the Royal Wedding isn’t it?
LB: Yeah and he’s also a great singer so maybe he will be a backing singer for it. I think both him and Alcazar would be hard to beat and Sweden loves rock music too, hard rock. I think Anton is the biggest competition. After him, Alcazar also because, a little bit, we are in the same genre. I’m not anymore but people think so. I hope they will realise that.
X: Does your participation mean that we will get another new album or have you been far too busy with children!?
LB: Absolutely there will be a new album. I am recording. I’ve got one song ready and another few coming up so there will be at least four songs on an EP. We have so many good songs. Nicke is working very hard. This song that I’m performing, he had a key change for that but we took it away and put something else there that you’re gonna love, I hope. Yeah, so we took it away because it was too expected, you know.
X: Okay, I can understand that given it was in all your other entries.
LB: It’s taken away and it’s very modern, almost a little indie. And some punk! You wanna go crazy. It’s just got that dance feeling in the song. The tempo is the highest ever for my Melodifestivalen entries.
X: I thought “Alla flickor” was fast…
LB: Yes, it’s like “Alla flickor”. In that, I sing half-tempo so I don’t have to sing until I’m dead!
X: No, I couldn’t imagine anybody singing that full-tempo.
LB: “Alla flickor” is not singable at full tempo, you just can’t. It’s studio-made singing. It’s impossible to sing that fast. You know, the words are not readable in three minutes. It’s crazy.

X: When you performed in 2008, I don’t know if you will remember this, but when you hit the key change and your face just lit up, were you just over the moon at the fact it had gone absolutely right, no problems whatsoever?
LB: “Hur svårt kan det va” was the first time that I did everything exactly as I wanted it: the performance, I had Sweden’s best dancers, the clothes that I wanted and they were perfect but you know, I was so happy. With that song, I had so much happiness in my body.
X: Yeah, you could see it.
LB: It shows. I seldom watch myself back but when I do I watch my performances of “Hur svårt kan det va” because I’m so happy. I’m doing a happy jump when I run over the small bridge, when I jump and clap the soles of my feet together. That’s when I know that I am really having fun.
X: You laughed in one of your performances too when the dancers fall back on that podium.
LB: Yeah!
X: You can see you’re a performer who bears all their emotion live on stage.
LB: I know, I know. That’s the danger with this new song because the lyrics are quite serious and as I said before, it’s a happy song, and my energy is real positive but I can change. If I get too energetic, it can be negative. I’ve asked people to tell me if I get negative on stage. I’m not negative but my face gets negative because I have so much energy inside. I overdo it and I don’t want that to happen as I want to show the happy feeling. That’s the only danger.
X: It’s not a bad thing in the sense that…
LB: No it’s not but I can end up pulling a face like an old banana or apple!
X: Ah, understood! [pause] That might be the best description I’ve heard in my life!
LB: Yes, you know like when an apple gets soft and goes brown…!

X: Linda, what does the future hold for you? Do you ever see yourself trying to represent another country like the UK?
LB: It’s the dream! Several years ago, it was so close to happening. We found a collaboration with Denmark and I really want to do a contest in another country. You know, there’s no expectations there. People have expectations in Sweden and people put me down because of the schlager. In another country, I can just go there and be myself and I think that would work. So, I would really like to compete for another country some time.
X: So there was a little grounding to the idea that after the final of Melodifestivalen 2011, in which you came bottom of the public vote, you wanted to go elsewhere where there would be no prejudging requirements.
LB: Exactly, prejudging is the word. I’ve always been prejudged.
X: It now makes so much sense, the article may have been exaggerated somewhat as I interpreted you would never go back to Melodifestivalen again.
LB: I felt like I had to take s
t from everybody, for everybody in my own genre, it was a lot. I just do what I do so please, please, let me do it. Don’t rob me of it! So it’s sad, I felt sad. It’s why I don’t get the votes of the people, like we said before. They vote like crazy in the semifinals because they like it but in the final they vote for something that they think will work in Europe and that’s why I don’t get the points. It’s very hard anyway.
X: So changing the question slightly, now we have sorted the international juries instead of Swedish juries in the final, and I know you experienced this in some part in 2011, when it wasn’t quite fixed, I’d say now the system works. Ulrik & State of Drama were very high on the vote last year and I think that was a good reflection of European tastes.
LB: Yeah.
X: Do you think then that the European juries, if they back you, do you think that proves to the Swedish audience that you would be the right thing to go for?
LB: I think so because the European juries, I think they are watching a show, a performance, you know like “Euphoria” just fell into place. It could have been in Swedish and she would have won anyway because everything had found it’s right place. The European juries don’t prejudge an artist, like we said. I think it’s good that the European votes come first but they come too late.
X: Hmm, yeah you only get five minutes after the European juries to vote.
LB: Actually, I really have to get to the final first.
X: You do, but would you be happy to go through Andra chansen especially now it works, proved last year when Robin Stjernberg won. Would you be happy to go through Andra chansen and perform first before you then go to a duel afterwards?
LB: For me, it really doesn’t matter. It’s one big fking question with Andra chansen, especially economically with the price of each performance. The bank might cry but I would do the happy dance because I think it’s good to perform it again and repeat the song. I would love to do it once again, and then get to the final to do it all over again. God, it would be the three most wonderful weeks of my life. So money aside, I’d be happy!
X: Away from the world of Eurovision, what do you enjoy spending your time doing when you’re at home and with your family?
LB: I love horse riding, I do that every week and horse jumping. I want it to be as dangerous as it can be. I’m a little crazy like that. I love things that go fast: cars, motorbikes and things like that. I can’t really do that in Stockholm but horse riding I do. I love food and wine, I just love food! I love to cook and training physically: for my health, going to the gym. Also, being with friends.
X: Just the average person then!
LB: I’m afraid so, yeah.
X: Don’t be afraid so!
LB: Really?
X: Yeah. It’s really relatable.
LB: I know. You know, I cut my fingernails today and then I thought “Oh s
t, what have I done, I’m doing a photo shoot tomorrow” but what the heck, this is me. I’m not the one with long nails and blah, blah, blah.
X: Do you have a message for our readers and your fans?
LB: Well, I have one thing to say: I really, really hope that you will love my song as much as I do as it’s so upbeat. Kisses, hugs and lots of love. Mwah!
X: Linda, thank you so much!
LB: You’re welcome!
We would like to thank Birgitta Haller for her assistance with this interview and wish Linda Bengtzing the best of luck for tonight.
Semifinal 4 of Melodifestivalen 2014 takes place tonight at 20:00 CET.


Our collaborative articles are here! Of course, it's worth saying that our favourite entry is 🇧🇬 Sofi Marinova - Love Unlimited (2012).

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