"I surrendered to the stage." Dami Im releases Eurovision extract from her upcoming book 'Dreamer'
Dami Im's highly anticipated autobiography 'Dreamer' is set to be released on November 9, 2022 and is now available for pre-order!
Dami's autobiography runs through her time on 'The X Factor Australia' in 2013, which she ended up winning, to her huge achievement at Eurovision 2016 finishing in runner-up place with 'Sound of Silence', which remains Australia's best result in the Contest.
Ahead of the book's release, the Australian Eurovision royalty released an exclusive extract from her memoir, in Stellar Magazine over the weekend. Dami revealed what it was really like behind the scenes of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest where Dami stood up for herself and came into her own.
"The call from SBS came through on a Friday night. It was all very last minute and unexpected.
When my manager rang to ask if I’d like to accept the offer to represent Australia at the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, my first thought was, Oh. My. Gosh. It was a big adrenaline rush. And obviously my answer was yes – a no-brainer.
For me to be the second Australian to ever compete at Eurovision was hard to believe. Having watched it over the years from a distance, suddenly I was going to be there. And by there, I mean in Stockholm in Sweden, on the famous Eurovision stage, competing against talented and creative artists from 41 countries across Europe.
When we arrived in Sweden – after two flights, 24 hours and 15,088km – we hit the ground running.
My team consisted of people from SBS and Blink TV, my husband Noah, my parents, my make-up artist Liz, head of the delegation Paul, and Grant, a representative from Sony.
My manager didn’t come with me. Sony had told me they couldn’t afford to cover the flights and accommodation for my make-up artist, so I asked if she could come instead of my manager, and they agreed.
At that time, I knew my make-up artist would be more helpful to me than a manager, which I guess says a lot.
Eurovision is aired live across Europe, so each performer has a full week of rehearsals in the lead-up to the actual show. There’s no room for error on live TV, so everything had to run like a well-oiled machine.
From the first rehearsal, you’re watched by the Eurovision press pack, which is made up of journalists from all over the world. So going into a rehearsal isn’t just about practising, it’s about setting the tone for the whole competition.
After every run-through, we’d find something to fix or change. There were so many tiny details that had to be perfect – from the lighting to the timing of me coming off the [high, glittery box where the performance started] and the camera angles.
We rehearsed so much that week and, with every rehearsal being watched by the press, I treated all of them like proper performances – it was exhausting.
As we were tweaking and tuning the version of the song, I received a call from Sony. “Stick to the original,” they said. “Don’t change it.”
I’d been experimenting with different notes and alternative melodies to get the most out of my performance, but Sony wanted me to sing the song exactly as it had been recorded, because that’s how the song was released and they wanted it to sound the same.
Paul was there when I was on the call, and after I had hung up, what he said to me was life-changing:
“I think you should do what you want to do.”
He didn’t tell me to go against my label or do as they said; he told me to go my own way, to trust myself and to own my performance.
I didn’t know I could do that. It was the first time I started to see that my label might have a different agenda from mine.
Knowing that they wanted the song one way, and I wanted it another, made the stakes even higher.
Coming into the semi-final, I knew that I needed to be able to do the song with my eyes closed and my mind switched off, using muscle memory alone.
I had to know that if my brain shut down with nerves, my mouth would keep singing. Luckily, that’s exactly what happened.
I shook as I stepped onto the semi-finals stage. The thought of having 200 million people watching me live – including all the Australians who I was representing and who had woken up at 5am to tune in to the show – was so much pressure.
At that moment, it felt like I was responsible for a whole group of people. I know it’s just a music show, but I felt as though the fate of the country was sitting on my shoulders.
That’s a lot to carry for one little person.
I sang the first notes of ‘Sound of Silence’ on top of my box, in my Steven Khalil gown. I was frozen with fear, but I went into autopilot and trusted in the work I’d done. I surrendered to the stage.
The Eurovision stage is massive. The stage and the stadium are unlike any TV studio I’ve ever been in – the scale is so large, and the cameras are everywhere, including flying around in the air like gymnasts capturing all the angles.
It was as if I’d landed in another dimension, with hundreds of lights pouring down like stars and cameras flying around as spacecrafts.
Tens of thousands of people were waving their flags, roaring and dancing, all of them high on music. It felt like a dream, even as I was standing right there."
Extract from 'Dreamer' (Hachette Australia)
'Dreamer' book tour
In celebration of her book release, Dami is embarking on a book tour. The dates are:
November 14, 2022 at the Darlinghurst Theatre Company, Darlinghurst, NSW
November 30, 2022 at the Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane, QLD