Saleka’s “Seance” at Hotel Cafe and the Evolution of her Sound: A Reflective Interview BC EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Saleka and Photos From Hotel Cafe 6/15/23
LOS ANGELES, CA- As a music journalist, I am fortunate enough to witness a multitude of performances, each with its own unique charm and musicality. Yet, every now and then, an artist takes the stage and leaves an indelible mark on your soul. Such was the case when I had the pleasure of attending a recent performance by the immensely talented Saleka at Hotel Cafe. Her magnetic presence, powerful vocals, and undeniable musicality left me in awe, eager to delve deeper into her artistry.
From the moment Saleka stepped onto the stage, it was evident that she possessed a rare combination of raw talent and a deep understanding of her craft. With every lyric she sang, every chord she strummed, and every note she hit, her passion for music was palpable. The audience, fully captivated by her presence, hung onto her every word, embracing the emotions she effortlessly conveyed through her performances.
Saleka’s music is a seamless fusion of genres, weaving together elements of soul, R&B, and pop with a level of sophistication and maturity that belies her years. Her ability to blend soulful melodies with thought-provoking lyrics creates a captivating sonic landscape that resonates long after the last note fades away.
At Hotel Cafe, Saleka showcased an impressive range, effortlessly navigating from intimate, introspective ballads to infectiously groovy tunes that had the crowd swaying and moving. Her performances were marked by an authenticity and vulnerability that allowed listeners to connect with her on a deeply personal level. It was clear that she not only possesses a powerful voice but also a gift for storytelling through music.
In anticipation of our interview, I couldn’t help but reflect on the impact Saleka’s music has had on me and the audience that night. Her undeniable talent and musicality are matched only by her ability to connect with her listeners and create an atmosphere that is both intimate and electrifying. I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to delve deeper into her creative process, inspirations, and aspirations.
BLURRED CULTURE: Since the release of ‘Clarity’ and ‘Mr. Incredible’ in 2020, you have consistently produced a stream of singles, all of which have been included in your recent album, “Seance”. Could you possibly elaborate on any personal or musical evolution you’ve noticed over the past years that has culminated in the creation of “Seance”?
SALEKA: Making Séance was the beginning of my education in everything- how to write music, record music, find the right collaborators, produce and mix songs, release singles, and create and shoot music videos. I really knew nothing when I started writing the album so making it was a long journey and one that changed my life. There was a lot of growth that I needed, to go from writing my first ballad at the piano to the point where I could put out a cohesive album of songs I wrote and produced. The album for me represents that transformative period of life where I learned how to make music and fell in love with it.
Are there specific tracks on “Seance” that hold a special significance for you? Could you elaborate on why they resonate with you personally?
They all do but I think Fantasy and Graves were two of the ones I really enjoyed working on at the end of making the album and have enjoyed performing recently. They both relate to my experience of womanhood at this moment in time. Graves more so on the social and political level is asking for sovereignty and freedom over my own body, and Fantasy in a more intimate way is talking about the complicated give and take of contradicting men’s expectations of you. Another special song to me is Samsara, which I had so much fun making the music video for. It’s romantic and eerie just like how I like it!
Regrettably, I do not have access to Apple TV+. However, could you provide a description of your experience in recording music for their show? Furthermore, could you explain why none of the songs from the show’s soundtrack were incorporated into your album, despite the notable jazzy influences?
I was lucky enough to make a whole separate project for the songs from the Servant show! It’s a 7 song EP called Songs From the Attic. That one is written and produced entirely by me, and making it was one of the best challenges of my life. Each song was specifically created for a particular scene or couple of scenes in the show and following the long-form narrative arc of a character named Leanne. I wrote songs for her story as she was growing up over 4 seasons of the show and it felt like I was growing up alongside her. Although the Songs From The Attic EP shared some Jazz influences with Séance, the writing and production side had much a different sonic intention. It had to feel a little less modern, and a lot more stripped down. I wanted it to feel like one band for the whole EP, and for all the instrumentation to be live.
Can you elaborate on how being raised in a family with a creative background has shaped your approach to music and songwriting?
It’s so hard to quantify because the creative background of my family has shaped my whole life. But one thing I can say is that it makes me take music more seriously. My dad used to tell my sisters and me not to go into the arts unless we were willing to give everything to it. The entertainment field wasn’t idealized for us. We got to see the reality of the grueling work every day. We understood the extreme vulnerability, resilience, and discipline it requires. We were also taught the power of writing your own material so that even if all your resources disappear, you can still create your art and get better. That mentality really made me focus on learning how to produce and write, and those parts of the process are honestly my favorite part- my true passion.
What sentiments or messages do you aspire for your audience to derive from your music?
I think each song has its own specific message, but an overall feeling I hope for from the music I write is vulnerability and connection. Every song is incredibly personal to me, even the ones written for the TV show, it’s always an expression of something I’ve felt and am either trying to remember or work through. Maybe if others have felt similarly, these songs will connect us, and we will both feel less alone.