FeaturesRotterdam 2021

🇵🇹 Karetus + Romeu Bairos: “For us, music is visual”

We speak to Karetus and Romeu about fan reception, their inspirations behind Saudade and their staging plans

Last week I had the pleasure of [virtually] sitting down with Carlos Silva and André Reis from Karetus and their collaborator Romeu Bairos. In this interview, we discussed how their collaboration came about, their unique sound, the reception to their song from Eurovision fans and what we can expect from their Festival da Canção staging.

Karetus and Romeu Bairos will be participating in the first semi-final of Festival da Canção 2021 with the song “Saudade”, due to take place on 20 February 2021.

You can watch our full interview below:

Unexpected fan support for Saudade

My first question in our conversation was how they’ve found the reaction to the song from international fans. All three noted their surprise at how Eurovision fans from around the world have fallen in love with their song, despite the lyrics being in Portuguese. This was never part of their intention; their goal was to simply bring a mix of electronic music and traditional music from around Portugal to the festival.

We really wanted to have a Portuguese soul on it. People are calling this ‘electro-Fado’ or something, but we have no name for it. We just wanted to mix electronic music with typical Fado and traditional Portuguese music.

Carlos and Andre on Saudade’s unique sound

How their collaboration came about

When I asked the trio about how their collaboration came about, I got a great story. Karetus had received the invitation to participate in the festival from RTP, and Romeu then ‘invited himself’ over a big bottle of wine:

I came [to Andre’s house] to have lunch with him and we opened a really big bottle of wine and got drunk. But basically, I invited myself to singing in Festival da Canção with them.

Romeu Bairos on the conception of Saudade

“Saudade” roughly translates to ‘missing’, but in truth is more of a state of being, which is both nostalgic and forward-looking. They felt that the song is perfect for the times that we’re currently in. The song captures the tone of our current circumstances, but also the optimism that we will be able to be together once again in the future.

Impact of RTP’s changes

As with most of my conversations with Portuguese friends and artists, I ask the trio on their reflections on the changes RTP made to Festival da Canção following Salvador’s win. They noted that since 2017, they noticed a groundswell of their fans encouraging them to participate.

Since Salvador won, many people commented on our YouTube, on other songs we did, like ‘you have to go to Eurovision.’ Maybe the change in the festival was that. Many people that follow us and friend started seeing us that way.

Carlos on the impact of recent changes to Festival da Canção

They went on to note how strong the song quality is this year. When I asked which of their fellow competitors they would love to collaborate with, a number of names came up. Carlos noted his discovery of Mema, who he is currently in contact with about a potential collaboration. Romeu mentioned Nadine as fellow FdC 2021 participants they’d like to work with. Note, Karetus have worked with Carolina Deslandes on multiple occasions.

What to expect from their staging?

Understandably, they wanted to keep the details of their staging a secret for now. However, they did treat us to a little hint of what we can expect to see later this month:

Romeu with the suit and the cravo (carnation flower) has to be there. And the rest…if people know us already and have seen our live performances, know we will bring the karetus Portuguese instrument and visuals.

Carlos hinting at what to expect from their staging

What do you think of “Saudade”? Are you rooting for Karetus and Romeu? Let us know! Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter@escxtra on Instagram and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates! Also, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see our reactions to the news in the upcoming months.

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