I've been thinking about writing something about Epic Sax Guy for a while and I had the finishing line prepared: "What the guy himself thinks about all this is yet to be revealed..." Well, yesterday we finally got a comment from him, so I guess this article will have to end differently.
So, I've just told you how this text will not end, but where should I start? I'm tempted to say "if you don't know who Epic Sax Guy is, just google him". Well, if you do that you might just end up watching a video loop on YouTube with a saxophonist humping on stage. Epic Sax Guy, sure, but who is he?
Eventually you might find something more informative, however, such as the background info on the Know Your Meme website and a short comment that also is a bit enlightening, called The Eight Finest Seconds in Europop History.
In short: Epic Sax Guy's real name is Sergei Stepanov and he plays the saxophone in the Moldovan band called Sunstroke project. Along with singer Olia Tira the band represented Moldova in this year's Eurovision Song Contest with a song called Run Away. The show was hosted in Oslo and Sunstroke Project & Olia Tira was the first act in the first semifinal. They made it through to the final where they ended up in 22nd place.
As far as I have understood (correct me if I'm wrong), SunStroke Project mainly plays house music and have been performing in various different places and contexts, including festivals and clubs. Apart from rearranging existing songs and joining other artists during performances they also write their own songs. Sergei Stepanov, originally a jazz saxophonist, is credited as a co-composer in the band while the violinist Anton Ragoza, originally a classical violinist, is credited as the main composer. They create an interesting mix with saxophone and violin along with powerful vocals from Serj Yalovitsky. You can read more about the band on their Facebook page
Well, this text is not so much about the band. It's not even so much about Sergei Stepanov. It's supposed to be mostly about the phenomenon Epic Sax Guy. The phenomenon that probably is one of the contributing reasons to why Moldova became one of the winners of the Eurovision Song Contest 2010 after all.
So what's the hype? And why? Basically it's about some short sequences in Moldova's ESC performance where the band's saxophonist takes some dance steps during his sax riff. I wonder if the saxophonist (Sergei Stepanov) and/or whoever came up with the choreography that created Epic Sax Guy could imagine the response. Probably he/they thought it was no big deal. A little side-to-side and back-and-forth movements and some thrusting of the pelvis, so what? It's not as if something like that has never been witnessed on stage before.
Check out the performances:
The 1st Semi-Final (watch 0:35-0:50 and 1:48-2:05)
The Grand Final (watch 1:23-1:38 and 2:37-2:52)
I have many theories about why this actually is a bit special, but I won't go into depth right here and right now. When it comes down to it, I think that the main reason for the hype is actually the sax riff itself. It is extremely catchy and sexy in its own right. It fits very well with the feel of the song. In one way it is the song. The choreography during the sax part is a physical and visual extension of the riff. The dance moves make perfect sense in the context, whether you like it or not. I'm not saying that Epic Sax Guy would have emerged without the dance moves. But without the quality of that sax riff there would be no hype.
In my opinion the dancing is sexy, and sexy in more than one way. First of all I think it looks sexy in a cool way, not in a vulgar way. The ray-bans and the cut off sleeves contribute to the cool image. This coolness is probably the reason why guys seem more inclined to approve of him than one might expect. Also, there is something incredibly sexy about his confidence. The Eurovision Song Contest has more than 100 million viewers and the guy looks like he was born in the limelight of that stage, doing his thing. Well, you could say that this is true in a way, because Epic Sax Guy was per definition born on that stage.
Of course people may argue that the dance moves mostly looked ridiculous and that this is why Epic Sax Guy is popular. This might of course be one side of it, but I seriously doubt that there would be much hype if there was no admiration. From reading comments on YouTube, in blogs and elsewhere I think it's obvious that very many people really think Epic Sax Guy is cool, not saying that everyone does, of course. Cool and sexy isn't enough, it also has to be entertaining in some way.
So, what happened? Lots of things. People got very creative and started to edit video clips (or even make their own interpretations), print t-shirts, remix the song/sax riff, create images in which Epic Sax Guy is put in different contexts such as the oval office, on the moon, in movies etc. Among other things.
The most significant contribution to the phenomenon is all the loops of the humping, such as this one:
EPIC SAX GUY - Sergey Stepanov as himself
Apart from the loop clips there are animal clips, parodies, music videos, you name it. I have also found clips that have nothing at all to do with Epic Sax Guy. The tag epic sax guy is simply used to attract viewers, along with tags such as gay, lesbian, porn, plane crash, assassin's creed cheat, U2 etc. This if anything shows that this guy is popular.
Someone also created a Facebook page for Epic Sax Guy and it rapidly attracted fans. Today it has got almost 22,000 fans while SunStroke Project's page has about 3,500 fans. Is Epic Sax Guy more popular than the band? Well, in one way, yes. There must be thousands and thousands of people that don't even know about the band, but vice versa is not as likely. But, as I mentioned, all this hype makes SunStroke Project & Olia Tira's entry one of the winners of this year's Eurovision Song Contest, because clearly it directs at least some people to the original song.
The song Run Away is very popular on the internet although it ended up in 22nd place in the contest. Only Germany's, France's, Greece's and Serbia's live performances are higher up than Moldova's in the search result if you search for eurovision 2010 and sort by amount of views. That really says something.
As I mentioned in the first paragraph I cannot end this text with the line "What the guy himself thinks about all this is yet to be revealed..." because yesterday he acknowledged the hype in a videoclip posted on SunStroke Projects official Facebook page and on YouTube. Apparently there will be a song/remix called Epic Sax available soon, if I didn't misinterpret the message. He called it a present to all his fans (at 3:58). This is a wonderful example of interaction between artists and fans!
PS I have (apparently) done some research about Epic Sax Guy, but I might not have my facts straight. If there is something odd here please tell me so. Also, feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you have any ideas or thoughts about this.
Some more YouTube clips
Below is a list of YouTube clips from my playlist called Epic Sax Guy, which actually consists of about 100 clips at the moment.
For those of you who want to know more about the saxophonist and his band might find my playlist called SunStroke Project even more interesting.
== Music videos ==
Lokarytmi - Epic Kihaus Folk Sax Guy
EPIC SAX GUY - (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO) (well, not really)
(including a rap at 2:08)
== Some animal clips ==
Epic Sax Walrus
Epic Sax Cats
Grizzly Loves Moldova Epic Sax Guy
== Some parodies etc ==
Saxing all over Oslo
Epic Saxuzela Guy
How epic sax guy was born
The clip below is referring to the rickroll phenomenon vs the saxroll dito.
You can read about this comparison on CNN's (!) website.
Rick Ashley [sic!] loves Moldova
== Some remixes ==
Epic Sax Guy Remix (longer version)
Moldova Sax Guy Song (Norsk Brygge Edit - SunStroke Project)
Moldova eurovision 2010 Sax-remix - Dj Östberg
Saxophone Guy Remix 2010 - Dj Langset
== Some interpretations ==
Epic Sax Guy metal cover
EPIC SAX GUY REMIX by Erä-Kalle feat No Sax Group @ Partaharju, Finland
A young Finnish brass band performing the Epic Sax Guy theme