Sam Ryder has said he just had to “trust in everything” as he took to the stage during the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest where he went on to secure a second-place finish for the United Kingdom.
The singer and TikTok star, 32, beat Spain and Sweden to land in the second spot with a national jury vote of 283 points, giving his home country the best result in 20 years at the singing competition.
The annual event, held this year in Turin, Italy, was won by Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra.
Speaking on BBC Radio 2, Ryder, who was 22nd to perform on Saturday night out of the 25 finalists with his song Space Man, said waiting to perform went “quite quickly” on the night.
He added: “And I don’t know just I felt so much, just encouragement and support and love from home. And not just home, but in the Eurovision community in general, because there’s so much love, sitting in that arena is like being in a church, it is just incredible.
“I can’t explain it, and I can’t even begin to do it justice, the feeling that you have when you’re there.
“But going on that stage, it just felt like, just trust in everything.
“Trust in the years that you’ve been singing and enjoying singing and music and take it all in.”
He told BBC’s Radio 4 that it had been the “most rewarding experience ever” and said “that experience started way before the scoreboard”.
He said: “We were sat there in the green room and absolutely engulfed in the energy of that arena, it was like being in a church because there was so much joy.
“I’m sitting there with my friends who are also my team and that’s just so lucky. I’ve just been swept up in the joy that is Eurovision, I’m just so excited.”
Asked about Ukraine coming first, he added: “They needed to win that. They were always going to win that.
“It’s so important that we use the platform of Eurovision to celebrate solidarity and to shine light into darkness.”
Ryder told Capital Breakfast he had been speaking to the group, fronted by rapper Oleh Psiuk, about a collaboration.
He said: “Because the build-up before the big night is two months-long. You’re doing the pre-parties, which are basically like shows, mini-Eurovisions, that the fans absolutely are stoked about.
“And yeah, so you get to know everyone, and we’ve been chatting for a while and sharing demos and stuff like that.
“So watch this space. Hopefully, I’d love to do something proper like guitar-heavy Beastie Boys with them, I think that would be sick.”
Ryder landed at London’s Heathrow Airport on Sunday wearing a pink Kalush Orchestra hat, a celebratory nod to this year’s winners.
He told Zoe Ball on her Radio 2 Breakfast Show about what is up next for him, saying: “Absolutely, tons of festivals this year, tour dates just gone up around Europe, I’m sure there’ll be more news for the UK very soon.
“Single, as well, working on the mix of that now. There’s tons of stuff…”.
Ryder, from Essex, uploaded cover songs to TikTok during lockdown and caught the attention of global stars including Justin Bieber and Alicia Keys.
He signed to the Parlophone record label, part of Warner Music Group, and released his debut EP The Sun’s Gonna Rise in 2021.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said in a Facebook post following his country’s win that: “Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” and also vowed that Ukraine would host the singing competition next year.
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said in a statement after the finale: “We congratulate Ukraine and Kalush Orchestra on their win and superb performance. Now we will begin planning for 2023 with winning broadcaster UA:PBC.
“Obviously, there are unique challenges involved in hosting next year’s competition.
“However, as in any other year, we look forward to discussing all the requirements and responsibilities involved in hosting the competition with UA:PBC, and all other stakeholders, to ensure we have the most suitable setup for the 67th Eurovision Song Contest.”
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