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We Are Domi: custom guitars, alumni support, and an Olympic connection

11 May 2022 at 09:00 CEST
Czech Republic's We Are Domi WIDE EBU / Corinne Cumming
With an American-born Czech singer and Norwegians on guitar and keyboard, all meeting while studying in the United Kingdom, We Are Domi have an international flair that fits perfectly in with the vibe of Eurovision.
We Are Domi performing Lights Off, representing Czech Republic, Second rehearsal EBU / Corinne Cumming

Vocalist Dominika ‘Domi’ Hašková, guitarist Casper Hatlestad, and keyboardist Benjamin Rekstad all met while pursuing their educations at the Leeds College of Music (now the Leeds Conservatoire), first performing as an ensemble for one of Dom’s vocal recitals. The recital itself wasn’t the hard part, it was what to call the band afterwards! Benjamin describes their hunt for the perfect band name:

We tried to find a cool band name, but we couldn’t think of anything. So we were like, why don’t we just call it ‘Domi’? After that, we kept playing together and kept trying to come up with a cool name. We tried for two or three years, but couldn’t think of anything. When we entered Eurovision, we thought, now or never. We thought for years, but ended up changing from ‘Domi’ to ‘We Are Domi’. Boom.

The trio are not only musical collaborators, but they’re also great friends and even occasional roommates. During the early days of COVID lockdown, they lived together in close quarters, only going out to get a little bit of fresh air when mandates allowed. Despite the stress of the times, they were only drawn closer.

We’ve never really fought, even though we went through lockdown together in the UK, and in the Czech Republic. Maybe we fought a bit over playing Monopoly after four weeks in the same room together…

We Are Domi from Czech Republic prepares for first rehearsal EBU / Andres Putting

One of the hallmarks of We Are Domi’s sound is Casper’s customized guitar, which he plays with a bow like a cello or violin. Don’t try purchasing this in your local music shop, however; this instrument is one-of-a-kind!

During my bachelor and master’s program, I wanted to find my own sound, so I customized my guitar. It took me a long time to build it, and to figure out how to make it work with the bow and strings, to see what kind of effects I can create. I figured out my own technique how to hold the bow, too. I looked at so many cellists and double bass players to see how they hold it, but what I do is a bit different.

📺 Watch: We Are Domi – Lights Off (Official Music Video)

The Czech Republic has only competed in ten Eurovisions over the years, but We Are Domi has a wonderful rapport with two other recent Czech acts. Domi went to high school with 2018 Czech representative Mikolas Josef, and the band recently put out a collaboration (the summery bop High Speed Kissing with the band that represented the country in 2019, Lake Malawi. She says:

Mikolas was one of the first people to call me after we won our national final, before we really even started planning. He just said to stay authentic to ourselves. Lake Malawi’s main advice was to enjoy every second, because that will show up on stage! It’s good to have a balance between stress and having fun, but not having too much fun!

📺 Watch: High Speed Kissing – Lake Malawi feat. We Are Domi

If the name Dominika Hašková seems a bit familiar, maybe you recognize the very similar name of her father, famed ice hockey goaltender Dominik ‘The Dominator’ Hašek. Domi was actually born in the United States while her father was playing for the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. In a strange and wonderful coincidence, Hašek played with the Czech national hockey team in the 2006 Winter Olympics, which were held here in Turin. Not only did the competition bring him to to the Piemontese capital, but he actually won a bronze medal in the PalaOlimpico, the exact same venue in which his daughter will take the stage at Eurovision.

I hope there’s some good energy that he left here for me to pick up! We’ll see if we make it to the Finals!

We Are Domi performed Lights Off, representing Czech Republic, Second rehearsal EBU / Andres Putting

We Are Domi’s entry for Eurovision, Lights Off, is a high-energy EDM-influenced song that ends the Second Semifinal with a bang. Despite being about the picking up the pieces of your life and starting over again, the song is uplifting, and tinged with a sense of hope and a driving rhythm that keeps the beat going strong. Domi is thrilled to see the response to her band’s song for Eurovision this year.

Our goal from the beginning was to have our music heard, which is amazing. Without Eurovision, we’d never be able to reach so many people, and it’s lovely that people are messaging us from different countries, places where we’ve never gigged, saying they love our song, or that it’s their breakup anthem, that it gives them something. We work hard on our music, and the best part is releasing it! I’m just happy to make people happy.

Be sure to watch We Are Domi’s Lights Off at the Second Semifinal of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest, on Thursday 12 May.

📺 Watch: All 40 Songs Official Recap

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