Tone Sekelius: “I’d always choose to send some strength and be a glimmer of hope because I know how that is important for queer kids and people overall”

This Saturday we will be watching the grand final of Melodifestivalen 2023. A total of twelve acts will compete for the chance to become the next Swedish representative at Eurovision Song Contest. Tone Sekelius is a Swedish social media influencer and singer who already took part at the show last year when “My Way” ended on 5th place in the final of Melodifestivalen. Unlike last year when Tone needed to go through the Semi-final round, this year the ticket for the final was snatched after the first performance of “Rhythm of My Show”. Alongside Tone the song was also created by Dino Medahodzic, Anderz Wrethov and Jimmy “Joker” Thörnfeldt.

Hello Tone, first of all I would like to congratulate you for qualifying to the final of the show. How does that feel and what made you decide to return at Melodifestivalen?
Honestly I just loved my first experience in Melodifestivalen. I felt that I have to do this again but if I returned I loved to do something different, but yeah I just felt what I felt first time, I loved being on stage, I loved everything around Melodifestivalen, I loved the bubble. I loved everything so for me it was a very natural decision to do it again.

You rose up to fame among the Swedish audience as a YouTube vlogger who made daily vlogs, make-up and funny videos. How did you get the idea to start a YouTube channel and how is it to be “Youtuber” in Sweden?
I actually got the idea to start my YouTube channel in 2015. I had a blog which I ran for 2 months and then it was just a very natural decision to go over to YouTube because writing wasn’t really my thing and putting up the camera and talking to a camera was more up my alley and that’s how it basically started. I just loved it, as it combined everything I enjoyed at the time: makeup, being in front of the camera, editing, it was the technical thing as well and I just loved everything about it. It was the first time in my life I felt like wow I have to put my entire being into this.

Back in 2017, you released a song “Awakening” through which you came out as homosexual, how was that experience?
It was not through that that I came out it was more of a description how coming out feels. I have been out for a while before that. The whole experience of releasing that song and lyrics being very LGBTQ friendly was very big for me. Everything I do that is LGBTQ friendly and talks about the community is very big and important for me. I always try to have in mind that even though I’m out and I live my life as fully myself I know that a lot of people aren’t out and aren’t living their life completely as themselves and if I can send some strength and if I can be some kind of light in the tunnel and a glimmer of hope I will always choose that because I know how is that important for queer kids and people overall.

Your song “One More In The Crowd” was the official song of Stockholm Pride 2017, how did that feel and what it meant to you?
That was such a big moment for me it was so big to represent Stockholm Pride and to write a song that just encapsulated the joy of coming out. It wasn’t really a heavy type of song with a deeper meaning it was more joyful and celebrational song with deep meaning and it focused on the great thing of coming out. With one part of it saying: “who are you even to talk to me you’re just one more of the crowd, I’m just celebrating me and my life”. That was the focus of the song, being out, proud and not taking care of the haters. 

Two years ago in one of your videos as well as in an interview with Aftonbladet you came out for the second time, as trans, how was that for you?
Honestly, that was one of the biggest moments of my life. There was a video on my YouTube channel as well as the documentary. That was just so big for me I was very scared. I don’t even know how to explain that feeling. I was working on the video and the documentary for a while and built up strength, I came out my friends and family before releasing this and then I came out to the public through the video and that was huge. I was very scared but I felt free as that big burden I was having came off my chest. 

Many people would think of Sweden as a country of very liberal, open minded people and system which takes care of LGBTQ+ people. Is it truly so ideal as it’s portrayed? How is it to live as trans in Sweden?
Both yes and no. I mean as a whole I think the country is very forward but as queer I think that you have to choose where you “exist”. I don’t usually go to a party in super straight clubs because I don’t feel 100% safe, because even though the country as a whole is forward there are still a lot of people against queer people and as the country moves forward the people that are against queer people are also louder, so it works both ways, but as a whole I’m very proud of this country and I’m very happy to be living here, because I know that in many places in the world it’s so much worse. Sweden has come very far but there are still a lot of things to work on here.

With your last year’s participation at Melodifestivalen you made history as the first transgender who competed, how did that feel?
As it was with coming out as transgender overall this was also such a milestone in my life. I was just trying to focus on me as an artist, fulfilling a dream with taking part at Melodifestivalen. But being first it’s always this political statement being made and it came with me being at Melodifestivalen last year. I am very proud and happy that I was the first transgender person to take that space. It was a bit scary in the beginning but I was so proud on myself and happy with the way people treated me. That was just lovely and amazing. I just felt so happy with that whole experience. That was definitely big milestone in my life.

Can you tell us a bit about “Rhythm of My Show” what does the song mean for you?
I want both for myself singing it and people listening to it to just feel confident and feel like that’s the rhythm of my show and they will love every single inch of themselves. The song starts with “Been a minute but I really gotta say I’ve been loving and appreciating me” so basically what that means is that it’s been a while since I could say that I love and appreciate me but now I really do and I want the whole feeling to be very dancy and self-love.

Is there any advice which you received after last year’s participation at Mello which helped you this year?
Yes, there was and it was basically to try and focus on your own song. Especially in the competition you could end up comparing yourself to others but rather than that trust to yourself and in the process. Last year coming to the rehearsals on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I was so nervous that everything wasn’t perfect and this year I just trusted that these are the days to make the changes you want for it to be perfect so just trust the process do not overthink and relax.

Do you watch Eurovision regularly, if so would you like to share a memory which you have of it or a favourite song from the contest?
I loved the Ukrainian song “Shady Lady” by Ani Lorak, it will always be a bop for me, I danced to it so much when it came out in 2008 and I also of course love Euphoria because who doesn’t love Euphoria.

What are your plans after Melodifestivalen 2023?
I don’t know if I’m gonna tour but I know I will sing a lot. I wanna write a lot of music, I just auditioned for an acting thing and I hope that I will get it. I don’t know if I would do so yet, but I do hope. I would really want to work on an album and release music. I have a goal for myself – I wanna release a song which will do well without being connected to Melodifestivalen. You know it’s a huge exposure opportunity to be in this competition but I wanna solidify me as an artist with releasing a song that does well on it’s own as well.

Thank you so much for your time Tone. We wish you the best of luck at Melodifestivalen. Do you want to share something else or you maybe have a message for readers of escbubble?
Thank you for voting. I love Eurovision, I love Melodifestivalen I know you do too and I wish you the best of best season and I’ll do my absolute best best to win your votes and hearts so I hope that you’ll enjoy. 

You can watch the performance of “Rhythm of My Show” by Tone Sekelius below:

If Tone Sekelius is your favourite in the final of Melodifestivalen 2023, don’t forget to cast your vote in our poll below

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