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Catch up with Hosts Edsilia Rombley and Jan Smit

18 May 2021 at 09:00 CEST
First Semi-Final, Rotterdam Ahoy, 18 May 2021 EBU / Andres Putting
Two of this year’s batch of hosts are no strangers to the Eurovision Song Contest. Edsilia Rombley represented the Netherlands twice, in 1998 and in 2007, while Jan Smit has been one of the Dutch commentators for the last decade, so let's talk Eurovision with them.

Last year, Edsilia and Jan were chosen to host the cancelled Eurovision Song Contest, and presented Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light (the replacement show), so how does it feel for them to finally be hosting the Eurovision Song Contest?

For Edsilia 'it’s an honour' and for Jan 'it’s a dream come true. It’s totally different now that I’ll be on stage, but the overall feeling is like coming home'.

Of course, for Jan, commentating for the Dutch audience is not exactly the same as hosting it for a global audience: 'I cannot say whatever I want, which is what I normally do, sitting next to Cornald Maas, the actual commentator, and I’m his sidekick, but now on stage I must remain neutral.'

Watch: Eurovision Europe Shine A Light

For Edsilia, as well as her double participation and presenting Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light, she’s also been the Dutch spokesperson on a number of occasions: 'After I represented the Netherlands in 1998 with Hemel En Aarde, I was always interested in the contest'.

On that occasion she placed 4th which, at the time, was the best result for the Dutch since their win in 1975. Edsilia also got to represent the Netherlands again in 2007: 'It was almost 10 years after I participated and I thought: "why not!" I still don’t know why I said yes, but it felt like a good moment.'

It wasn't a great year for the Dutch delegation, as Edsilia didn't qualify from her Semi Final: 'many things had changed, the orchestra was not there, there were many more countries participating, the results were only via televoting… but still I had a good time performing On Top Of The World and I had a great crew!'

Watch: Edsilia Rombley - On Top of The World (The Netherlands, 2007)

How do our hosts feel now they know there will be an audience of thousands in the Rotterdam Ahoy? Edsilia explains: 'the performances will be better as the artists can feel the people around them when they perform, hear their applause. They’ll hold on to that because it’s a great feeling.'

Jan adds: 'And the tension as well. Last year we were doing Europe: Shine A Light with no audience, then you don’t feel the tension. And also because of how it’s designed inside we’re very close to the Green Room now where the artists, and Edsilia, will be.

I think it’s a big family. It sounds cliché, but it is true. I’m also involved in the football world and there it feels more like a fight but in the Eurovision family there’s only love; everyone’s happy sharing the same thought: having fun and enjoy songs wherever you’re from.'

Eurovision 2021 presenter Jan Smit NPO/AVROTROS/NOS

And, of course, wanted to know our hosts favourite Eurovision moments of all time...

'Obviously when Duncan won it was amazing for us - such a great song, great voice, good artist… the total package was there,' Edsilia explains. 'But it was also incredible with Loreen and Euphoria, because it was something so different to what we usually see, it was so pure and natural.'

Jan agrees: 'For me Loreen was a highlight because I was there in Baku and we already knew before it begun that she’d win. What she did was outrageous, so different.'

Eurovision 2021 presenter Edsilia Rombley NPO/AVROTROS/NOS

Edsilia has an idea about why the Netherlands have been better at the Eurovision Song Contest in recent years: 'The Contest started to be less about the glitter and glamour and more about the songs, a more natural approach, smaller concepts and not everything has to be huge and explosive all of a sudden. And the newer Dutch entries fit better with that, with more pure songs, singer-songwriters… it worked for the Netherlands!'

Finally, what’s going to be special about 2021? Jan feels it’s the fact that’s already happening: 'I’m also very happy about the people that are eventually coming. I hope they enjoy Rotterdam, it’s a very beautiful city.'

Edsilia reflects: 'it’s going to be more special than ever because of the very difficult times that we’re living, some people are still struggling with it, so I hope that we’re able to do something beautiful, and that when they see the show they can forget a little bit about the troubles and get a little power from it.'

Join us later in the week when we chat to Chantal Janzen and NikkieTutorials. Find out how to watch the Eurovision Song Contest Semi-Finals and Grand Final.