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Style, innovation & equality

Are Benjamin Ingrosso’s hips the best thing that have happened to Sweden?

After his dance off in the 2018 Eurovision ­finals, Benjamin Ingrosso is ready to go beyond big and hit the international arenas.

Words: Stefanie Ravelli Photography: Fredrik Andersson Andersson Styling: Robin Douglas Westling

The Swedish singer and songwriter is about to release his second album and has a third one in mind. Being in the media spotlight since his childhood: figured in both reality TV and musicals and with a family of actors, singers and artists, this young musician has got the groove in his heart.

We need to talk about your hips.

— Okay (laughter).

Have you heard of or listened to the podcast Daddy Issues?

— No.

It’s a podcast by Swedish Julia Frändfors and Julia Lyskova who talk about everything that has fucked up up their lives. After your performance in the Melodifestivalen (the Swedish competition to qualify for the Eurovision Song Contest) finale in Sweden this spring, where you sang Lionel Richie’s All Night Long, they dedicated an ­episode of their podcast to your hips. Have you ever received that kind of compliment before?

— Yes, I move my hips a lot when I dance. I grew up with movie stars such as John Travolta, Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, they’re all my idols when I was about seven. While my classmates played football, I watched Saturday Night Fever and Grease, films all about hips and feminine moves. I’ve always felt that I like music with a beat, a groove that’s more dance-friendly than doing the “hand in the air”, to music with someone roaring. I want it to be sexy.

Do you do hip exercises?

— No, I don’t. I actually got a hip inflammation once, so I guess I shouldn’t put too much pressure on my hip area, (laughing).

There are plenty of yoga positions to soften rigid hips. Do you ever do yoga?

— Unfortunately, I’m the last to do yoga. I only exercise my arms and chest at the gym, and go for runs. I never exercise my legs though, because I’ve quite strong legs and calf muscles that I’ve inherited from my dad.

Your dad, Emilio Ingrosso, has been a professional dancer.

— Yes, he was a professional dancer in the late 80s, a ballet and show dancer.

So he didn’t motivate you to start dancing?

— Well, not really. He’s also a songwriter so he has always been a mentor, and introduced me to old movies and music. I grew up listening to Bobby Caldwell, Neil Sedaka and George Michael. I’ve always preferred vintage in everything.

You recently released the song “Costa Rica” and your second album is about to release this fall. Does it sound different compared to your ­previous album?

— My debut album, “Identification”, is a collection of songs that I wrote over the course of two years and, yes, it has a completely different sound. My next album is something new. I’m never constant. That’s what’s so nice about the music scene today, it’s limitless. We don’t care about genres anymore.

What’s your new album about?

— I was heartbroken, so I wrote the whole album in three weeks in Los Angeles. The texts are honest, more descriptive. I sing about things and situations that I’ve been ashamed of.

Give me an example.

— There is a song about a one-night stand that went catastrophically wrong. When I wrote it I felt hesitant about being able to sing about it, but I figured that everyone have had a bad one-night stand.

How old do you feel?

— Never like the age I am. Either 33 or 12.

Why 33?

— It feels like that, I’m old in some cases and at other times, I just want to run around and play Batman.

It seems like you’ve got a very good idea about who you are.

— Yes, I’m aware of how I’m in most situations. People usually say that I’m aware of my poor self-esteem and immense confidence. That’s what I mean. I never feel my age; I don’t click with people my own age, I almost feel strange when I try to talk to them. When I was a kid, I used to sit with my friends’ parents after dinner and chat, while my friends left the table to play games.

Do you ever doubt yourself?

— Always. I know what I want and I know where I’m going but I always doubt ­myself. But it’s about experience. It’s only just now, in the last six months, that I’ve started to feel that it’s really fun to be on stage, and can trust myself. Two or three years ago, looked at myself and noticed that I wasn’t present, even when I received praises for my performances. I’m always one step ahead, I always want to move forward. My second record is about to be released, but I already have a third album in my head that I want to be completely different. It takes time in the music industry, especially building a relationship with your fans. Ultimately, if you love what you do, it’ll infect others. It’s not sexy being some sort of pop product.

Are you a pop-product?

— There are still people who believe that I am, and people don’t even know I’m a songwriter and write my own music. Instead they think I get songs from a major label and that my biggest dream is to win Eurovision. But that’s not the case. I’m grateful for being signed to the music label Ten when I was 16. However, my record company manager Ola Håkansson didn’t want to sign me before he heard me sing and play music, because he had preconceived opinions too. After hearing me, he apologized quickly. He old me that I can do my thing but that it won’t come overnight.

You come from a family that has been in the spotlight for generations. What have you learned from growing up in that environment?

— The only thing I’ve learned is that nothing comes for free. I know that it’ll take time to change people’s perception of me. It’s just about proving what you can by continuing.

Since the 2002 Eurovision Song Contest, slogans have been introduced in the show. The slogan is decided by the host ­broadcaster. Which slogan do you like the most?

— ”We are one” and ”Dare to dream”, because we need to take care of each other, but also be allowed to be selfish.

The 2020 slogan isn’t yet announced, but I think it should be “Hips don’t lie”.

— Yes, [laughter] it would be wonderful and then I would stand in the box and roll my hips.

Photography Fredrik Andersson Andersson Styling Robin Douglas Westling Edited by Stefanie Ravelli Hairstylist Jakob Kajrup / Agentbauer Make up artist Elvira Brandt Production Douglas Jakobson Stylist Assistent Etchell Dorkenoo Casting Ohlogy