Graced with multifarious experience across industries, Sellah possesses a perceptive approach to creation. Bearing an album cover thick with symbolic references, the visionary instills a movement of freedom and success both in his work and beyond with Sorcery. Drawing on his acquired clarity, Sellah presents an insightful and honest plunge into the complex entity of his world. The EP launched on 6th January last week and Northern Light444 releases in April.
Hey Sellah! One conventional reason that artists opt for a pseudonym is to create a level of separation between personal and professional lives. Is this why you chose to operate under Sellah? Or is there a more complex meaning behind this?
The more that I continue with my journey I am learning artists operate this way in order to maintain some form of peace and balance between both personal and professional. Being too open comes with its demons. I am learning it is important to project my energy on the daily because this truly alters my reality from being either positive or negative based on my reactions to what's being dealt and what I am placing myself into. The name Selah came to me in a dream. I was going through some personal things and had trouble sleeping. I woke up and heard the word “Selah” in my ear. I searched the name on the internet and saw Selah (with one l) means to be free. It means to stop and listen, weapon. Selah also means the ending of a prayer in many different religions and cultures. This was something I was looking to do and become in my life. Showing [my]self freedom to create effortlessly through my art. I added the extra l to be authentic and not to take away any respect from its true origins. So that is where Sellah comes from. It was very important to keep the same meaning. Making Sellah a movement of like minded individuals with one goal; to live freely and succeed.
Through the blending of genres, you craft this pure sonic infusion that’s uniquely yours. Is there a particular scene or muse you draw inspiration from?
Cape Town has been my biggest influence with my sound and growth as an artist. I met so many talented and good hearted people out there. I experienced a few things that changed my life forever. There is something about the energy in the Motherland that truly helped me mold into my confidence in who I am and what I am capable of.
Your current discography has a personal and retrospective feel to it. Is there an overall message or feeling you endeavor to communicate with your music?
No matter what, you feel some type of related emotion when you hear my music. Whatever that song is about, whatever lyrics I am saying I want them to feel it as they experience it. This separates my older work from my new work. I am fully focused on making sure every sound has a particular mood, tone and personality to it. I spent the two years solely focusing on challenging myself to make my vocal pitches and tones change naturally through more focused effort. I am at that point where the placed in effort is now showing and I am finally just getting started with what I wanted to sound like. I'm applying more voices and textures to blend differently together.
Your EP Sorcery came out January 6 – congratulations! The title conjures up this dark and mystical image. The single cover also pertains to this nature, with illustrated chains, angel wings and a booming volcanic eruption. Can you divulge any meaning behind the name?
I appreciate it, this interview is amazing by the way. It means a lot that you took time to dive into my work this much. I respect you and the magazine for this endlessly. The single cover was made by dynastyaesthetics. I am in a new chapter in my life. Sellah is a movement so there is more to me as an Artist. This EP is just the door opening to my viewers what to expect from me. Northern Light444 is something everyone will see from me in April. He is the ultimate form of my music. He is the legend, he is everything I strived to be. So the wings in Sorcery are a representation of my music transforming into this new sound, new being and new experience. There is more to this the persona and being of Sellah. The wings are just the physical representation to the start of my ascension.
At the height of modernity, your latest EP cover, designed by Wade Wetheim, is set to be available as an NFT. The meteoric rise in the use of NFT by musicians is just one example of the digital metamorphosis we observe within the music landscape. As a creative within the field, do you view the digital evolution of the industry as an entirely positive change?
To me with anything new there are always amazing things that come with the exact opposite. I just don't want to see things fully become digital. This causes us to escape too much from reality and lose [our sense] of self. A fusion of both digital and real could be honestly amazing. Therefore I am keeping positive and doing my best to only take part in the things that I feel good about. With this NFT I really wanted to give this South African talent, Wade Wetheim a chance to be seen more. I love his work. As for NFTs I saw it as, what harm goes into placing an art piece by someone that I believe in on the web? We made the price affordable and are just testing out these new waters.
Keeping to the digital sphere, let’s talk social media. What’s your relationship like with it? With such a large following do you ever struggle to present yourself candidly?
Social media is easy to get lost in and trying to maintain a specific persona and image can be draining when I am investing lots of time into my music as well. I am connected to people with way bigger followings than me. I always look at it as a work in progress. I need to make due with what I got and keep it moving. The main thing I struggle with which is part of the process of depicting what this certain person wants from me or should I even reply to most messages anymore. I take it all with a grain of salt because I never know what real perception people have of me or I am surprised by what I am told. I find myself still being friendly to a degree on socials but sticking more to myself much more lately.
Your YouTube channel boasts an impressive array of videos for tracks Sorcery and S.M.I.T and most recently, Expired. What was the concept behind the video?
I remember watching an American Horror Story episode with my sister Candice McCloud. I do not watch TV much but while I visited my parents I would watch shows or movies with my sister Candice sometimes. I remember this one episode where people needed to drink blood in order to gain their truest potential in their creative careers. To be the best they had to kill for it. Part of my transformation sonically is killing part of self, in a way dying again to regain life in a new way. My goal is to become the King of Alternative R&B. That is what I want people to hear when they play my music especially for Expired. Its alternative, yet you still feel the soul and the drums and 808 keep the beat at a constant pace. The beat production was made by a 17 year prodigy from Florida named litlikenoah. The video showcases the wings I grew in the single Sorcery. Expired is representing me changing form and as the video progresses you see that I accepted it. I am now this hybrid being, not just man, not all angel, not all demon but something new. I have worked so hard to give my new music and image a storyline. This is my time to fully manifest my thoughts and my ideas, taking my loyal and new viewers on a new journey.
With success in modelling, design and various other industries – it almost seems reductive to categorise you as just a musician. Having worked across a variety of fields would you say there are many intersections between the industries?
I mentioned a few years ago in another interview and still believe that fashion, design and the music industries go hand in hand. I gained more music connections and followers because of my previous work in the fashion and acting industries. I would be on set realising I created this opportunity so use it. I would tell each director or client about my music and what else I do, leaving it up to them to want to connect further. I learnt never to force that part onto people but always let people know what you do because you never know what that could open up for you.
It seems as if your stage apparel emulates the ambiance of the tracks you are performing, in a way that amplifies and consecrates the character of the music. Is this a conscious mirroring that you intend to create?
Thank you so much for taking notice and bringing that to light. I work extremely hard to match my image with my music. I want to be my own trend and not follow any. This keeps me always trying to renovate something about myself and my skills. I always find myself reaching out to the right creatives to help bring that to life such as Camila Molzahn in South Africa and Light Street Productions back in Maryland. Camilla was a big part of my growth visually as an artist being the fact she gave me her time when no one else did. With Light Street Productions they shot my music video for Expired. This was the first time I was fully able to bring to life everything I conceptualised with my manager. My talented brothers James Carline, Rob Silver Visuals and Thaddeus who make Light Street Productions took time to do me this favour before I left for France. We did this video on no budget and we were able to create something that I see as my most favorite video I shot to this date. It is humbling when you have talented friends who believe in you and we do not pay each other to work. We know anything that we do or one of us will do will bring income so we focus on just creating for certain projects like this. I feel that is what is missing, many think I put so much money into things but I really do not. I take time to create and attract those who want the same until we all are consistently making the cash we sought to then we reinvest and pay our people. This causes me to always want to create some sense of self in my art which comes back to just being more free to do and act how I need in order to gain this freedom.
Although showing progression, the music industry and creative avenues afield are still operating under a persistent ruling of inequality, with bleak statistics for POC and LGBTQ+ individuals in executive positions. As a minority within these industries do you find tokenism hard to discern from genuine appreciation?
It has been something I battled with for a while. Not fitting the stereotypes of being a gay black male has always caused me a bit of depression. I did not like people telling me I was not like most of the gay guys that they know even though many I knew meant with this good intent. It was the thought behind the idea of someone being placed in a category based on that person's perception. This causes an ongoing cycle that really never changes. I know this is why a lot of people are still not coming to terms with their sexuality based on how it is promoted and perceived. There is no real type of gay person I feel we are an endless amounts of different personalities, colours, shapes, talents and characters just as we are as humans. I do not want to be the gay Drake or the gay Weeknd I am working to be in the same room with the OGs and the generation Greats solely because of my talents. When my sexuality makes me more marketable because more of the community finding out about me but genuinely liking my music and movement then, yes that's the biggest goal for me. I am really working hard on my skills and talents to prove to self and to the world as my own entity.
As the owner of your own fashion magazine, and host of your own podcast, MusiColors, you're certainly no stranger to the media industries. As both a talent and executive in this field, are you grounded with an appreciation of the importance of using these platforms to spotlight upcoming artists?
Yes MusiColors are the people who shot my podcast back in Cape Town. I have not had time to give my podcast any attention how it deserves, so I am waiting on the right moment to create a few more episodes which will be shot here in France. The podcast is called See Life Through My Eyes And I Swear You Wouldn't Blink. Having these different creative outlets to cross promote yourself has way more pros than cons. Any type of way people can step deeper into your thoughts is always a way to make anyone feel more connected. I felt creating my own podcast would help me be a bit more unfiltered while still being entertaining. I have cool ideas that will open more doors for my music and give others a platform to speak and be themselves on. As for IMMO Magazine, I created this years ago just to have a way to showcase and promote things that inspired me. The first year I made it I got a few celebrities to be on my covers which helped my magazine to be spoken about and shared on Fashion TV. That really gave me the confidence to never stop but just do things the right way because running a magazine is a lot of work which I cannot do alone anymore. My magazine was a way for me to connect with people in the industry I was inspired by and give them a platform to promote their images, voice, work etc. they helped me gain some life changing connections for my music. To provide a service for someone who takes a liking to your work can only leave with something good. A digital experience for people through art. Magazines like METAL always inspired me for years and was one of the reasons I wanted to test those waters. I respect magazines like METAL to my soul. So when I put out IMMO next I need the magazine to be something on its own with a team behind me running it. The imagery at METAL is always so inspiring. The quality, feel and creative direction has always inspired me as a creative person in general , especially with my music. Things like this keep me grounded to keep working. Everything I am doing needs to leave people inspired.
Although you must be basking in the afterglow of your latest projects, what can we expect from Sellah in the upcoming year?
I am not where I know I need to be yet so I am still working on many projects. I am just working on less things with more structure and dedication to each. There is so much music and visuals coming up that I am really excited about. Also I moved to France to work and live with my music manager/business partner Loic Kennedy. We have been friends for over 8 years and felt it was just time to join forces and work together. We started a new company called 626 Agency. Where we will be specializing in Marketing, A&R, Connecting brands to clients and more. Loic used to work with known music labels and has experience in the marketing industry with his other company that I co own called I AM Agency. So we make a very solid team and he keeps pushing me which is all I need for me to succeed. With my full length album coming out in April, there is a lot of great material and work everyone will be seeing and hearing. I know this EP and this full length Album coming out in April is changing my life. Big shoutout to Zac Hasenfuss, Cooldudesdotcom, Ruen, Karli, Max Season, Krispy, Sean Richards and Noah.