João Borsch: “I started in a thrash metal band with my brother when we were teenagers”

Ahead of the first semi-final of Festival da Canção 2024, ESCBubble caught up with João Borsch, who’ll be competing with the song …Pelas costuras. In this interview, João spoke about how their gender identity influences their music, their origins in thrash metal and emo music and what the lyrics to their song really mean.

You can remind yourself of João’s song HERE:


Thanks so much for taking the time to chat to us! So, to begin with: who is João Borsch, and how did they get into making music?

Hi – I’m from Madeira, an island in Portugal, and I started playing music when I was about 9 years old. I started in a thrash metal band with my brother when we were teenagers and that was our first experience with music making, production and playing concerts. When I was 16, I began writing my own songs and, at 18, I released my first EP. As of today, I’ve also released two albums: Uma Noite Romântica com João Borsch in 2021, and É Só Harakiri, Baby in 2023.

Your most recent album, É So Harakiri, Baby, covers many different musical genres and is set out like a concept album with a clear narrative. What, and who, inspires you when writing your music?

I draw a lot of inspiration from Queen, My Chemical Romance and System of a Down, because of their eccentric and sometimes theatrical sound. I’ve always been interested in exploring many different sounds and blending them, so that inevitably happened in my own music.

You were born in Madeira, as was recent winner of FDC, Elisa, from 2020. What do you think the Madeira music scene adds to the festival, and Portuguese music in general?

It’s a bit hard to pinpoint a “Madeiran style” when it comes to music – there’s no cohesive or structured music scene, but there are a lot of different artists with very distinct ways of approaching their compositions, and I believe that’s also very interesting in its own way.

As a non-binary performer, how would you say your music fits into the Portuguese queer music scene, and how important is that element of you to your music?

I feel that the queer aspect of my music has been increasingly more recognised these last few years and it’s always been in my interest to, in a way, reflect this desire that I don’t have to fit in a neat little box when it comes to the kind of music that I write, and the same goes for my gender identity. I believe that part has come across, from the way that my work has been received.

Your song for FDC, …Pelas costuras, describes someone “bursting at the seams”. Could you please explain what the lyrics are describing?

I try not to over explain my lyrics, because I believe that a multitude of personal interpretations is far richer than a single hard approach. That being said, the song reflects on the agony of being overcome with desire for a lover and the rush to have your body explode and expand its limits.

Did you always know …Pelas costuras would be a FDC song or did that decision come later?

I actually wrote the song after getting the invitation, because I had nothing leftover from before or any ideas to start from. I wanted to write two or three songs for the festival, but I ended liking the first one too much, so I chose that one, and it became …Pelas costuras.

The song has many dynamic moments, with acapella sections and a guitar solo. Can we expect it to be just as dynamic on stage? How have preparations for the live performance been going?

They’ve been going great and we’ve been working hard to get a nice set for the performance. I prefer not to reveal too much, but I intend for the performance to be as dramatic and dynamic as the song itself.

Have you had the chance to listen to any of the other participants’ songs? Whose do you like the most and why?

I’m very fond of Maria João’s song Dia, but also Perpétua’s Bem longe daqui and João Couto’s Quarto para um.

Looking beyond FDC to the Eurovision Song Contest, to what extent do you consider yourself a Eurofan? What are some of your favourite memories from watching the Contest in the past?

Admittedly, I’m not the most devoted Eurovision fan, I’ve only started paying attention to it since Salvador won, but I became obsessed with Cha Cha Cha last year. That’s definitely one of my favourite songs of all time at Eurovision.

Finally, what plans do you have for the future, musical or otherwise, regardless of whether or not you win FDC?

I really want to tour and play live with my band. I love meeting new people and going to new places that way, and we have a lot of fun on the road.

And now onto some bonus questions so our fans can get to know you better…

If you could duet with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

Gerard Way.

Is there anything you’re watching on TV at the moment, or a film you’ve seen recently, you’d like to recommend to our readers?

I’ve been watching Avatar: The Last Airbender for the first time.

Outside of performing, what is your favourite pastime?

Reading books.


Thank you so much to João and team for setting up this interview, and best of luck on Saturday!

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