As one of Slovenia’s biggest bands, it’s not too much of a surprise that Joker Out has taken centre stage in 2023’s Eurovision Song Contest. Their entry Carpe Diem is bringing a sense of “softboi rock” to the competition that has rocketed straight to the grand final. FILMHOUNDS sat down with the band to find out how they are managing the contest chaos.
Eurovision week has officially kicked off. How is it all going? What are you making of it all?
We’re enjoying it a lot more than we thought we would! It’s way more fun and not so stressful. We’re also really big fans of Liverpool because it’s about the same size as our hometown, Ljubljana, so it feels very manageable. We came here a month ago and we got the chance to get to know the city and the very magnificent cultural and musical history that it has.
What is it that made you want to be involved in the contest?
We’ve always been very big fans of Eurovision, since about 2004. I think we watched every single one of the performances. It’s something that has always been kind of a dream. It’s a big honour to represent our country, in our own language, but also like, realising this childhood dream has been amazing.
There are going to be a lot of potential fans tuning into the competition never having heard of you before. If you could sum up who Joker Out are, how would you describe yourselves to them?
That’s an interesting question. While we consider ourselves “Shagadelic” rock and rollers — that term is taken from Austin Powers because we’re big fans of the movie — in reality, we’re just five really good friends who enjoy we enjoy each other’s company and love playing music together. We really bring raw and live energy when we’re playing on stage. That’s where we shine the most and that’s where people should see us first.
Do you think it feels different to compete as a band, as opposed to a pop artist?
There are times when you aren’t feeling the best like mentally, and it’s good to have four best friends with you on this journey. You can always have a conversation with someone. It’s good being in a band because we kind of lift each other’s energy and we share the same problems. We can’t imagine how it is to be onstage or do these interviews alone. So yeah, respect to all the solo artists.
I think amongst the acts there has been a general feeling that no one really realised how much pre-party stuff happens, whether that’s with the fans or not. How have you found all of that?
We also had no idea what kind of machinery Eurovision is even months prior to the event happening. Firstly there’s the national selection season, where everybody watches every national selection. There’s a pre-party season, where every big European country or capital, hosts a big Eurovision event — and we went to all of them this year: Barcelona, Warsaw, Tel Aviv, Madrid, Amsterdam, and London. It was the most hectic band experience we’ve ever had. We did something like 22 flights. So we have to admit our carbon footprint has been quite large in the last couple of months! But it was incredible. We were really lucky that we could do it because we met most of the artists and developed great friendships with them. We met all of the Eurovision fans from all different countries and they sang our song in Slovenian even though they don’t speak a word of it.
Come the weekend, the Eurovision journey is going to be over, but I feel like almost beginning. There are going to be so many people that tuned in at the weekend not knowing who you are, so there’s another big explosion of Voyager fans incoming. Are you ready to be intertwined with Eurovision for essentially the rest of your career?
Well, it’s interesting that you said that because it feels like we’re closer to the finish line. We’ve been thinking solely about Eurovision for the past 6 months. When you’re on Eurovision, you’re Eurovision forever… so we’ll try to keep a healthy balance between being a rock band that does festivals and music outside of the contest, but we’ll also try to stay in touch with the Eurovision community.
Does winning matter to you? Or are you just happy to be here for the experience?
We asked a lot of the other artists one question: Would you rather have the success of last year’s Rosa Linn, or win Eurovision? And I think most of them said that they want the Rosa Linn success. And I think so do we. Winning Eurovision would be amazing. But we don’t consider ourselves only Eurovision artists. We consider ourselves artists that make music for all kinds of people. Eurovision is just like a side quest, let’s say. No matter what happens, we’ve achieved a great deal. We’ve built a huge fan base outside of Slovenia. When we look at our statistics now, before we started this Eurovision journey, 95% of our listeners were from Slovenia, and now it’s more like 40%. So our foreign audience has taken over the domestic one. That speaks volumes in regard to what we’ve achieved.