Duncan Laurence will never let go of his inner “Small Town Boy”

By: Sabrina Li

Photo credit: Eurovision.tv

At 26, Duncan Laurence has already travelled halfway across the globe and back, gone viral on TikTok, and won the 2019 Eurovision Contest.

Since winning Eurovision last year, Laurence has managed to retain a level of relevance that has become elusive to Eurovision winners in the past—Salvador Sobral (2017) and Jamala (2016) have both released full-length projects since their respective wins to minimal plays, Conchita Wurst’s (2014) latest single currently rounds out at roughly 70k streams, and a look into Emmelie de Forest’s (2013) online presence presents a defunct Spotify page dissonantly paired with an Instagram actively showcasing her musical talents. This doesn’t go to indicate all Eurovision winners are doomed to become footnotes in a trivia game—acts like Netta (2018), Mans Zelmerlow (2015), and Loreen (2012) are evidence enough against this idea—but that a Eurovision win doesn’t necessarily necessitate a path of artistic achievement.

Laurence, on the other hand, was able to ride his wave of Eurovision success through a tour (planned before his win, then expanded thereafter) the following fall into winter and managed to have his Eurovision song, “Arcade,” go viral on Harry Potter TikTok right before the release of his debut album, “Small Town Boy.”

“That small town boy has always been a part of me,” reflects Laurence.

Laurence grew up in a small Dutch village without many outlets of expression other than songwriting. From a young age, Laurence learned to process his emotions through music, turning inwards when bullied in school, and always managing to find a silver lining by healing through his lyrics.

There is a refreshing willingness to share present in Duncan that shines through not only in his conversation (on responding to the Zigga Dome show cancellation: “I cried in this exact corner.”) but his songwriting as well (“[Songwriting] gives me this world that I can create myself.”)

The result? A booming melancholic body of work that draws from equal parts European storytelling and American composition, yet always leaves the listener with a sense of hope.
In contrast to the solemn personality Laurence conveys through his music, Duncan Laurence the Person can’t keep from cheesing at his phone as he scrolls through our Zoom icons, one-by-one. And as Duncan gushes about his favorite Dutch dish or earnestly agrees to release a slowed-and-reverbed version of his song, you can’t help but smile back.

Even through all the press, fame, and success, Duncan Laurence remains the same wide-eyed boy playing his school talent show that he ever was, forever amazed at how his ‘Dutch dream’ turned into his reality.

“I don’t think I will ever lose this feeling.”

Listen to Duncan Laurence’s “Small Town Boy,” out on all streaming platforms today!