Statia wants to go to the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of the Netherlands. Artist and firefighter Gerson Herrera (26) has submitted two songs for the national selection. This makes it the first entry ever from the Caribbean Netherlands.
Herrera was born on Saint-Martin and moved to Statia when he was 12, the island that really feels like ‘home’ to him. His mother bought herself a keyboard. “But when she saw me tinkering away on it one day, she taught me how to play. After that I taught myself things.”
When did you think: I want to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest?
“I was tipped off about it two weeks before the deadline. I actually didn’t know anything about it yet. I was on Bonaire at the time for the fire brigade. So what little time I had after the training, I used it to work on it. I always have a laptop and a small set with me to make music.”
So you were immediately enthusiastic. People on the island say that you also think it is very important to do this for Statia.
“You don’t often hear about people who come from a small island going far. It could open doors for other people like me. This is important. I know a lot of kids here really love music, but sometimes they feel like they can’t get any further.”
“It would be something big for the island. That Statia can be known as a place where good music comes from. That it not only receives regional recognition, but also worldwide. That would benefit the island in the long term.”
How would you describe your music style?
“I would say pop and R&B. I get a lot of inspiration from genres such as Afro, Latin and House.”
The two songs you submitted are called ‘Risk it already’ and ‘Love Again’. Why those two in particular?
“I made Risk it all especially for the Eurovision Song Contest. In my hotel room on Bonaire. The title says it all; it’s about daring to take a risk. That’s how it feels to me with the competition. But it is also a song about love. About a girl who has a major influence on my life, but who is not aware of it. So I have to take the step to tell her that.”
“The song has an 80’s, retro vibe. I hope that someone who listens to it gets the same happy feeling that I got when I made it. I was literally dancing in my hotel room.”
And ‘Love Again’?
“I wrote Love Again about 8 years ago. It’s about a girl who is afraid to love because of past experiences. At first it was a piano ballet, but with a producer I turned it into a dancy house beat. It’s a good song for a club. It has been on my hard drive for about 3 years now.”
You said earlier that you didn’t actually know much about the Eurovision Song Contest. Have you ever seen it?
“To be completely honest: no. I’m not sure if many people from Statia watch it, but if I’m allowed to participate they will definitely watch it.”
“When I heard it, I started watching videos from last year and previous years. I knew most of the artists and thought the quality of the productions was very good.”
How does it feel to be the first artist from the Caribbean Netherlands to submit an entry?
“I think a bit overwhelmed, nervous, exciting… all in all. It is also something new for me.”
There are a few hundred entries. Is that discouraging or motivating?
“That makes it fun. I know I did my best and gave it my all, so now it’s just a matter of waiting. And now that I know about the competition, I might participate again next year!”
“I have no doubt that as a tiny island we rank high among our European counterparts,” says Alida Francis, government commissioner of St. Eustatius. “Our kingdom must show its diversity. Statia has talented artists who are looking for an opportunity.”
She hopes that more people in the Caribbean Netherlands will watch the Eurovision Song Contest if there is more representation. “That is exactly the effect we hope to achieve for this artist and others in the future.”