Duncan Laurence has had some tough months. He received heavy criticism around the Eurovision Song Contest. The singer read more and more untruths about himself, he tells NU.nl. It all became too much for him, so he decided to postpone his album release.
“I was… Maybe overwhelmed is the right word,” says Laurence, just days before the release of his album Skyboy.
That album should have been released in May. But as the release date approached, it became clear to Laurence that this was not the right time. He felt “mentally exhausted and sad,” he wrote on Instagram.
“It was everything that happened around the Eurovision Song Contest. The enormous negativity that arose, in combination with the fact that I tried to fight for it with all my might. It was tough. At a certain point I no longer read the truth. truth was lost,” says the 29-year-old singer.
“It felt like what I worked so hard for all those years… like it was slipping away. And that was tough, but I also learned a lot from it.”
Photo: Daniela Gyllensten
Criticism wasn’t just about work: it became personal
Laurence went to the Eurovision Song Contest as creative director. He had introduced Mia Nicolai and Dion Cooper to each other and they had together with his husband Jordan Garfield Burning Daylight written. The song was received quite positively and fans were happy that “our Eurovision winner” was involved in the project.
But when Cooper and Nicolai sang the song live for the first time and they still needed practice vocally, the sentiment changed. And Laurence also received heavy criticism as the first semi-final drew closer. He would not be involved enough and not take his role as ‘coach’ seriously enough. “Where is Duncan Laurence?” was asked when the singer barely spoke to the press in Liverpool.
It didn’t stop there. The criticism was not just about his work: it became personal. “Then I read that I’m on hard drugs. And that my eyes look crazy. And that I’m too skinny. I’ve always struggled with my weight. If you have to lose weight during puberty, nine times out of ten it works.” not good. That was very difficult mentally. So I found it very difficult to read that constantly.”
“I kept hoping that someone would say: this isn’t all right. That someone would write that down. But that didn’t happen. And that was difficult. That was painful. I don’t blame anyone, but I’m like, yeah, shit. If only someone could have worded it differently. But it was also my choice not to speak to the press.”
Photo: Daniela Gyllensten
‘Maybe I should have opened my mouth sooner’
Laurence was clear from day 1: he would not be a coach for Mia & Dion like Ilse DeLange was for him in 2019. He would be creative director. Ultimately, it turned out that the duo needed more guidance and so he was asked to make adjustments.
“Maybe I should have opened my mouth sooner. I should have said sooner, ‘Hey guys, I’m here. I want to help. Don’t just see me as the one who makes the backgrounds and tries to set the lights right. Involve me completely.’ It finally happened. But maybe too late. And that is something I want to take responsibility for.”
Mia & Dion did not reach the final of the Eurovision Song Contest. Laurence was on stage that evening, as part of a medley. Then he pulled the plug. “Just put everything on hold. Go to therapy. Work on myself. Go to the gym. Do things for myself.”
And he married his great love and musical partner: Jordan Garfield. “I’m glad I told myself: you have to stop now. Because in August, at least until now, is the most important day of your life: your wedding. I didn’t want it to be just a spot in the agenda, something that still had to be done. I’m glad I took the rest.”
‘That boy came up again’
Now comes Skyboy out. His second album, on which he shows new sides of himself. Because of everything he has been through in recent months, he was unsure about this. His bullying past, which he sings about on the song Broken Parts, was stirred up.
“Unfortunately, I’ve had times where I looked at the album and thought, ‘Did I do something wrong? Did I go in the wrong direction by showing this part of myself? Did I go too far?’
“That little boy who looked in the mirror and spoke to himself: shoulders low, chin up, chest out, tighten arm muscles, don’t be too feminine, don’t be too feminine. That came up again.”
Ultimately, the words of his new husband helped him: “Art is when one half loves you and the other half doesn’t.” That is also what the singer decided for himself: whether you like it or not, this is what he wanted to make. “Skyboy is Duncan when he searches for himself and perhaps finds himself. You hear that back.”
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