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“I really think the attitude is changing and becoming more positive to Eurovision” – Sam Ryder talks about representing the UK in 2022

After a breathtaking second rehearsal, Sam Ryder took the time to speak to us about what this Eurovision journey means to him, the changing attitudes within the UK media corps and what he wishes to see next for the United Kingdom on the Eurovision stage.

“The purpose isn’t just the three minutes on stage”

After seeing Sam Ryder smile his way through rehearsals and his press conference today, we wanted to check in with him about how much he’s enjoying the whole Eurovision Song Contest 2022 experience:

“Yeah, massively. It’s been so rewarding. Even last night, I was going to bed and realising the purpose isn’t necessarily the obvious one – the three minutes on stage – and how important this whole experience is and will be for the rest of my life.”

Sam Ryder talking to ESCXTRA.com

“It’s not even necessarily to do with the obvious part – not even the staging or the song, and the three minutes on stage. From the outside, that is ‘the thing’ – the whole purpose – but there’s so much treasure to be found in all of this build-up, and all the conversations you’re having with people… really seeing how inclusive and gorgeous not only the fanbase, but the institution, of what Eurovision is and what it attracts is really cool.”

“The call came out of the blue”

Eurovision fans will know that TaP Music was involved in the selection process for this year’s entry to represent the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest, working alongside the BBC team. We asked him at what point did he think going to Eurovision might be possible:

“I had no indication, the call came out of the blue. I had no idea about it. The song was written a year and a half ago so God knows how anyone else knew about it and the song wasn’t even released yet – I thought it was only on my hard drive! We’re here now and I’m all the more grateful for it.”

Sam Ryder talking to ESCXTRA.com

We also asked Sam about his European tour, and in particular his heart-warming appearance on late night Bulgarian television with Nikolaos Tsitiridis:

“He was a total stranger five minutes before, that’s the beautiful thing. That’s what this whole thing is about. To be honest, if that’s like that… and this interview is like this… surely everyday life should be the same thing? I guess we put guards up to stop this from happening – and also because people would think you’re a maniac – but like it is true, you can find common ground or something to enjoy with just about anybody. That’s something I’m reinforcing here. I’ve always tried to have this as something I really believed.”

Сам Райдър - от TikTok до Eвровизия 2022 | Шоуто на Николаос Цитиридис (22.03.2022)Сам Райдър – от TikTok до Eвровизия 2022 | Шоуто на Николаос Цитиридис (22.03.2022)

“Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps”

Given his extensive European tour and multiple positive UK television appearances, we also wanted to ask Sam Ryder about how it feels to show Eurovision-sceptics in the UK that people really can get behind us:

“For me, I keep saying this so forgive me for repeating it: what I signed up for is nothing to do with the 3-minutes at the end. Just thinking about [the idea of changing people’s perceptions] gives me goosebumps.”

“Firstly, it gives you a certain kind of freedom – the whole team here, it wouldn’t be possible without the amazing energy we have in this team, pulling together towards the same collective goal with the same positive mindset, it couldn’t happen without it.”

“It’s even less about the scoreboard. Disregard it. Absolutely put it in the bin, and throw it out because it doesn’t exist to myself or anyone else on this team. This is about the lead-up, how we hold ourselves, the energy that we carry, and what we do with the platform that we are blessed to occupy for a very brief moment in time in the build-up to something as gorgeous, bright, blazing and fun as Eurovision.”

Sam Ryder talking to ESCXTRA.com
Sam Ryder performs on stage in London
Sam Ryder performs “Space Man” at the London Eurovision Party 2022. © Tomodo Photography / Tom O’Donoghue

“You have to bring a hacksaw to your song”

One of the unique elements of the Eurovision Song Contest is the rule that song length cannot exceed three minutes, commonly referred to as the ‘3-minute rule’. As Sam had a hand in writing “Space Man”, we asked him whether the cut to the song was restrictive or a creative challenge?

“The original cut of “Space Man” was around 3:45 or something, so I already cut one of the verses out and then we had to cut it again… you have to bring a hacksaw to your song but I think we did a good job actually of finding a way to keep the emotion and the story, but also fit in the Eurovision rules.”

“It was tough, honestly, we even spend it up slightly to get it to fit into that time. It was definitely a creative challenge. There wasn’t any point where we were angry, or like “this is ridiculous, it’s ruining the art”. That’s just the wrong way – the tortured artist, no way – I don’t buy it. There’s always a way if you’ve got a song.”

Sam Ryder talking to ESCXTRA.com

What’s next for the UK

As we know, Sam is a Eurovision fan himself. So we wanted to end the interview by picking his brains about what he would like to see happen next for the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest, no matter his results:

“That’s a really good question – nobody’s asked that. I would love for the mark that we leave on this amazing annual event of bonkersness… I would love it to be that of not fearing what people think of your expression and your choices.”

“So many people tell you all the time: “don’t do that, it’s cheesy”, “you’ll regret that if you lose” or “that could end your career” – ignore that. There are piles and piles of people who never chase something they were desperate or capable of chasing because of the fear of how they would look to people who are not involved in their path whatsoever. That’s the stamp, if we’re gonna leave anything on this thing, I would love it to be that.”

Sam Ryder talking to ESCXTRA.com

“I really think the attitude is changing and becoming more positive to Eurovision. Almost becoming way more exciting too. The bar is going to be lifted year on year on year and I would love to see a plethora of the amazing talent in the UK coming forward and beating down the door to being involved in Eurovision – how cool would that be? And I think it’s going to happen.”

Sam Ryder performs “Space Man” for the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 in Turin, Italy. © EBU / Corinne Cumming

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Nathan Waddell

I am the Editor in Chief of ESCXTRA, a huge Melodifestivalen fan and love sports. You can find me singing along to Scandinavian Eurovision entries, listening to the latest chart music on Spotify or watching the football and tennis on two different screens at once.

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