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Eurovision Song Contest 2023

The Swiss song for Liverpool: Created at the SUISA Songwriting Camp

The Swiss song for Liverpool: Created at the SUISA Songwriting Camp
The songwriters of “Watergun” (from left to right): SUISA member Argyle Singh, Mikolaj “Tribbs” Trybulec and Ashley Hicklin.
Photos: Nina Müller, Tabea Hüberli
Text by Manu Leuenberger
The Swiss song for the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 is called “Watergun”. The song was composed at the SUISA Songwriting Camp.

In May, Liverpool will host the 67th Eurovision Song Contest. Switzerland takes part in the contest with the song “Watergun”. The song that is now going to be performed on the big stage of the Liverpool Arena was written at the SUISA Songwriting Camp two years ago. Lyrics and music were written by SUISA member Argyle Singh, Scottish songwriter Ashley Hicklin and Polish producer and songwriter Mikolaj “Tribbs” Trybulec. The piece is sung by “The Voice of Switzerland” winner, Remo Forrer. The 21-year-old singer from Toggenburg has also recently become a SUISA member.

In the summer of 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic was just about to subside. The SUISA Songwriting Camp, organised in collaboration with Pele Loriano Productions, could take place again after a one-year break. At Powerplay Studios in Maur on Lake Greifensee, SUISA members met with renowned producers and songwriters from Switzerland and abroad. Some participants were on site, others were connected online.

Emotional song with a strong message

“Within just one day, you write a song at songwriting camps like this; often with people you’ve never met before. This can either work like magic or go wrong”, says songwriter and singer Argyle. In the case of “Watergun”, everything went smoothly: It started with a catchy piano riff, several words spinning around in the mind and quickly joining together into a lyric concept that fit the underlying musical mood like a glove.

“Watergun” is about boys playing soldiers. Childish play turns serious when the young adults enter their military service. With the gun in their hands that can kill, the threat of a warlike confrontation becomes real, culminating in the awareness: “I don’t wanna be a soldier,” as the lyrics of the chorus go.

The lyrics are actually based on a theme from a personal background: “In the area in Scotland where I come from, there were many young men who joined the army just to get away from home and the difficult circumstances there”, says Argyle, who came to Switzerland eight years ago and has lived here permanently since 2018. When the song was written in July 2021, the composers knew nothing of the dramatic developments in Europe in the months that followed. Today, the message of the song acts as an even stronger statement for a non-violent and peaceful coexistence.

From the Greifensee to Liverpool

Since the day of its creation, the song has been worked on intensively. A string arrangement by Polish orchestrator Wojciech Kostrzewa was added to the mostly acoustic demo version. Swiss producers Tom Oehler and Pele Loriano, both SUISA members, were involved in the fine-tuning process. The recording was mixed and mastered in Sweden.

Remo Forrer from Hemberg, canton Sankt Gallen, took the song to his heart the first time he heard it and will perform “Watergun” on Tuesday, 9 May, in the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 in England. It has been a long way from the SUISA Songwriting Camp from Greifensee in the Zurich Oberland to Liverpool in front of an audience of a million. From there to the final is just a small step.

The making-of video for the song “Watergun” can also be viewed on the SUISA Music Stories Youtube channel.

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