Nemo, among the favorites at Eurovision, is finding acceptance onstage and off – Metro US

Nemo, among the favorites at Eurovision, is finding acceptance onstage and off

Sweden Eurovision Song Contest Dress Rehearsal
Nemo of Switzerland performs the song The Code during the dress rehearsal for the second semi-final at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, Wednesday, May 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

LONDON (AP) — No matter whether Nemo wins the Eurovision Song Contest this weekend — which would make them the first nonbinary contestant to take home the crystal microphone — the singer is already a success.

Representing Switzerland with a track called “The Code,” Nemo says there is now more understanding and awareness in their country about being nonbinary and what it means.

“People start understanding more and I think that understanding means the world to me. And just being able to represent this community at Eurovision is amazing. And I’m so glad that I am not even the only one this year. You know, like that’s even better because it just, it just shows that it’s needed.”

Among the contestants who’ve made it to Thursday’s next semi-final round is Ireland’s gothic fairy Bambie Thug, who is also nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns.

Nemo’s powerhouse number “The Code” is about struggling to find their place and discovering it “somewhere between the zeroes and ones” of a binary system. It’s one of the favorites to win Eurovision, which takes place this week in Malmö, Sweden.

”(It) would be cool if people like my song about banana pudding,” Nemo said.

“But knowing they like a song where I am, like, unconditionally myself, and I talk about the journey of finding myself and being non-binary and knowing that it touches them … it’s really beautiful.”

So far in southern Sweden, the atmosphere between acts has been fun and supportive. This is not a cutthroat competition — its slogan is “united by music” — and Nemo jokes that “the twist is, everyone wants each other to win.”

In Malmö, Nemo’s been hosting some hotel room sessions with other artists and would like that to lead to future musical collaborations.

The downside of the hotel is the fierce air-conditioning, which isn’t great for a recording artist who both hits operatic high notes and also raps at a fast pace.

Not only is Nemo singing and rapping, in a huge pink hairy coat, they are also being turned around on a giant spinning top while pulling Matrix-style, gravity defying moves.

“That’s one of my favorite parts, actually. That’s so much fun to do,” they said. “People ask me, do you have, like, do you have, magnets in your shoes? And then I was like, ‘No, but I should have magnets.’”

Switzerland is one of 37 counties competing in Eurovision this week, which is being held in Sweden, after Loreen won last year’s contest.

The tracks range from power ballads to zombie-folk, electro dance and empowerment pop.

Other favorites include Baby Lasagna’s raucous “Rim Tim Tagi Dim” representing Croatia, Ukrainian duo alyona alyona and Jerry Heil with the melodic “Teresa & Maria” and catchy pop “La Noia” from Italy’s Angelina Mango.

“It’s the most versatile music community ever,” said Nemo.

“You could have like someone be into more like a metal song that year, but also in like a bubblegum pop song, you know, and love both worlds equally. I think that’s so beautiful, like the openness of that.”

As for the possibility of winning Eurovision, Nemo said that after all this week’s fun, acceptance and understanding, the top prize “would mean the world.”