There's No Excuse Not to Speak Your Mind
June 11, 2019 7:56 AM   Subscribe

In 2018 Seinabo Say sat down with Billboard to talk about her upcoming second album, "I'm a Dream." From Billboard: On her critically acclaimed debut album, 2015’s Pretend, the Swedish-Gambian singer battled self-doubt and self-sabotage on soul-pop tracks like “Younger,” which chastised herself for not working harder, and “Who,” a brutal self-interrogation that asked questions like: Who do you think you are? What have you done to deserve that? But on her upcoming second album, I’m a Dream, she’s noticeably changed her tune. The video for the first single, the ominous banger “I Owe You Nothing,” sees Sey posing like royalty as she declares, “I don’t have to smile for you/ I don’t have to move for you/ I don’t have to ‘dance, monkey dance’ for you."

I went to Senegal by myself. That was the spring where I was like, “Fuck this shit.” I’d been writing the album for maybe six months or so. I went to Dakar. I don’t really understand the way they speak Wolof, the language from that region of Gambia and Senegal. I understand Wolof, but they speak it with French, so I didn’t get shit. I was so lonely, but I still really felt like I was supposed to be there. I was drawn to that place.

I tried to write down why. I remember I was telling myself as an exercise, “Please stop decorating, just be as simple as you can, just write down why.” So I was like, “I love it here because I don’t have to explain to them why I’m beautiful.” So [that’s how] I wrote “Breathe.” And after I did that, I came back home and was like, “I think I have to write this album for somebody other than myself.” I felt like the people I was talking to this time have to be people that look like me, that are much younger than me, like my little sister. What do I want to tell them about life, much like Lauryn Hill did with me when I was a kid?

From GQ: Did you write at all in Gambia? No, I didn't write anything. I didn't sing, I didn't write, I didn't talk about being an artist. I just existed, which was pretty nice. I realized that I don't have to be a musician, I choose to be a musician. And I liked realizing that, because sometimes it feels as if you are supposed to be like, The only thing you can do is be an artist, and if you don't feel that way you're not authentic enough. Or whatever. But that idea kills us, because it's such a desperate and weird thing that people ask of us, to live and die for our art. And I don't think that's healthy.

A four-song playlist from Marie Claire; Senegalese superstar Youssou N’Dour reworked one of his songs with Seinabo Sey.
posted by Bella Donna (5 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, her music is beautiful. It's amazing to see the confidence in her new singles. Thanks for posting.
posted by gaybobbie at 10:24 AM on June 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

I love the lyrics in Breathe so much. I love hearing someone sing about their beauty, someone who does not look like an American fashion model or actor and is, indeed, beautiful.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:36 AM on June 11, 2019

Younger was an absolute anthem for me when it came out so I'm rapt there's new music to listen to - thank you for this post!
posted by Gin and Broadband at 11:02 AM on June 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is great music, I love her lyrics and her basic attitude. The beauty of the whole thing is transcendental! So well done.
posted by Oyéah at 11:25 AM on June 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

"These aren't tears / this is the ocean." YES.

Thank you for this post! Her music is completely new to me. The album is great, and it was really interesting to read about her evolution in her own words.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 1:21 PM on June 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

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