Getting to Know Tusse from Sweden
Tusse will represent Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest this week with his song ‘Voices’.
But this isn't the usual perfect and somewhat "plastic" pop star you may be used to seeing from the Eurovision powerhouse.
It's a remarkable success story and one of positivity, inspiration and some pretty good styling.
Who is Tusse?
Tousin Michael Chiza (known as Tusse) is a 19-year-old singer, who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and immigrated to Sweden as an 8-year-old refugee.
He became known in Sweden in 2018 when he entered Talang (Sweden’s version of the Got Talent series), where he made it through to the finals. From there he went on to take park in Swedish Idol 2019, where he won the contest.
Since then Tusse has released three singles, while continuing his high school studies (which is something that doesn’t stop even for Eurovision, with him mentioning in his press conference that he is completing homework in his hotel between rehearsals).
In 2021 Tusse entered Melodifestivalen for the first time, taking out first place and winning his ticket to Rotterdam to represent Sweden at Eurovision.
There’s been quite a journey to get to where he is today
Growing up in Kinshasa, the capital city of Congo, Tusse credits his musical inspiration to the Congolese culture.
“I think one of the most influenced things are my moves. Everybody in Congo, they move and they dance and they sing, so music is a natural part of the culture”.
At just 8-years-old Tusse travelled to Sweden alone as a refuge. He was welcomed into a family in the village of Kullsbjörken, where he has been since.
He thought he had lost his birth parents forever but discovered they were alive when he was 13. He shared his that experience with Eurovision press this week saying,
Actually, when I got lost from my parents, I assumed that they were gone forever, and we would never see each other again. I didn't know they were alive until 2015 when we got in contact with them. So that whole time I just thought that they were gone. And that was really hard for me because I thought that I was an orphan until I was like thirteen. So, it hasn't been easy, but there has always been hope. And I've come to a much better place in my life right now. So,I'm happy about that.
When asked in his press conference if he knows if the people of Congo are aware of what he has achieved, he said he was unsure, but spoke of conversations with his biological father.
“My Father still lives in Congo and he is really excited. He’s been writing and we have been talking. He’s been asking when he can vote, and I’ve said I don’t think you can, but you’ll be with me here [in my heart]”.
In interviews Tusse has spoken of being a huge Eurovision fan as he grew up, citing Charlotte Perrelli as one of his idols and endlessly singing ‘Hero’.
During Melodifestivalen he often spoke of his disbelief of sharing the stage with the likes of Eric Saade, Jessica Andersson and Charlotte Perrelli.
For one of his performances on Swedish Idol he brought the house down with a performance of ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’, the 2014 Eurovision winning song by Conchita Wurst.
It’s all about positivity
In his interviews Tusse has spoken of the importance of his performances representing the journey of overcoming negativity and getting to a better place.
“Because of my history, I’ve experienced a lot of negative and traumatic life things, I’ve just chosen to look at life on the positive note. I think ok, because I’ve experienced a lot of negativity, then I only have the positive things left. I choose to see things in the hopeful way and believe that things get better”.
He says the song Voices and the staging concept behind it is about having a road ahead, kicking any negativity aside and leaving it behind you.
“Every single person who feels like they can’t be themselves, or they feel like they are alone, or they feel like they haven’t been listened to. I would love for them to speak their heart out and to speak their minds. I hope for this song to be a huge reminder that it’s ok to be you.”
In his press conference last week Tusse also spoke about the importance of diversity in the contest.
“Growing up I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing people that look like me on television as much, and being here and being me, if that helps others, that has an impact on me, and I think it makes most of us happy when we include everybody”.
He knows how to serve a look
There hasn’t been a public appearance so far where Tusse hasn’t stood out for his fashion forward wardrobe, his bling and bright nail polish.
When asked about his style he explained that he and his sisters have always been interested in clothes. He also explained that he sees his look as an outlet for brightness and positivity.
“I always dress up in happy colours and that brightens up my mood”.
As for his look for his Semi-Final performance, it sounds like the red outfit we saw in rehearsals will be the one.
“There are other options that we have, but I thought it looked really fantastic on stage, so I don’t think I’m even going to try other options – I’ll go for that one”.
You can catch Tusse in the First Semi-Final this week, right before Australia in the running order.
For more information on Tusse’s song, including our review and rank podcast episode, visit our song profile page here.