Semma’s slithery, pulsing electro-pop tracks leave us more than a little breathless.
The London based singer has just released her debut solo single, “Nude”, (she’s been featured before on tracks like King Henry’s “Gold Dust”), along with an accompanying music video featuring some funky crayon graphics / vintage VHS vibes directed by the acclaimed Kate Moross.
The R&B stained, multi-track vocals are a perfect fit with the dark, throbbing, stripped back electronics + the raw, edgy lyrics. While the title of Semma’s latest track is pretty suggestive, Semma sings about nudity in the symbolic sense of the word, about vulnerability, about laying yourself bare for another person. Saying she’s got great range really is putting it lightly, her voice glides effortlessly between breathy high-notes (we’re talking Mariah Carey worthy) and low, sultry, come hither drawls. Pure gold.
Can you describe your sound in five words?
Sexy High Powerful Pop Music.
When did you decide you wanted to pursue a career in music?
Singing and music are like second nature to me. I never really thought about it not being my career…I was listening to Janet, Madonna and Mariah, and I just started writing music. It’s just been a natural progression from a young girl singing to songwriting and now recording and putting music out. I can’t imagine myself ever doing anything else.
What’s your creative process like? Do you let the ideas flow or do you like planning things out?
Anything can inspire me. It could be a word that ignites a whole idea or visuals I’ve seen and want to put into lyrics and melody. They’re all centred around what I am going through at the time, so I always have something prepared before a studio session. But I do feel I work best when I’m alone and have time to sit back and really work on the lyrics and melody. I want them to be as beautiful as each other and that takes time. So most times I’ll turn up to the studio with a full song already written, but that’s how I like to work.
What’s it been like working with the talented Kate Moross? How do you exchange inspiration?
Kate and the whole Studio Moross team were so lovely to work with. I went in with some ideas that I thought would be cool for the video and we were totally on the same page. I uploaded all these images for her to look at and she took that inspiration and made it come alive. I’d send them inspiration for lighting and styling and we just went back and forth with ideas. There was a whole creative team working on my project, I mean they literally printed out every frame of the video and illustrated each one by hand.
Can you talk to us about the concept behind your funky video for “Nude”?
You hear the title “Nude” and the easy option would be to give the illusion of being naked in the video, but I didn’t want that. I wanted something more. I’ve always loved the iconic Janet Jackson ‘Control’ cover and I wanted to do a moving version of this. It’s illustrated by Tony Viramontes and I showed Kate some of his illustrations, and that’s how the concept of the video started. We also looked at Jean Paul Goude and his moving illustrations with the model, Farida. The two ideas just came together and a Kate Moross’ signature colours and style made it work.
“I want to make you feel like you can achieve whatever you want, no matter who you are, what you look like, who you love or where you come from.”
What’s been the toughest challenge you’ve had to face so far in your career?
Touch wood, I haven’t had anything majorly disheartening or tough yet! I guess it’s just getting people to actually hear your music and your voice and what you can do with it. And show them why you are different, especially when you first put music out. You need people to take the chance and actually listen to your songs. All I can do is continue making music that people can connect with, and hope eventually I can break through.
How would you describe the music scene right now in London? What’s good, what’s bad?
It’s just as inspiring to me as ever. Everything exciting comes out of London. That’s the thing about London, it’s such a small place in comparison to the US but it can have just as much or even bigger of an impact for an artist. It can be a shame, a lot of what is played is not the best that London has to offer. There is so much talent out there, that can go unnoticed.
Who are your dream collaborators? What do you think you bring to the table?
I would love to work with Pharrell. He just brings magic to everything. The chord progressions and those key changes, only he can do it like that. Darkchild, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, they’ve done some of my favourite songs of all time. So iconic. To work with them would be beyond a dream. I think they would bring out the best in me. What would I bring to the table?… First of all, being a curvy girl singing sexy pop is not really around at the moment. I’m different in that sense. I like to think, vocally, I’m unique too….I mean I sing a lot in whistle register and there’s not a lot of people that can do that. The new music I’ve been working on, I showcase this a lot more. I think I’m quite tame in ‘Nude’. And I write all my own songs….Good ones ha!
Your music feels pretty empowering. What do you set out to make people feel?
I want to make you feel like you can achieve whatever you want, no matter who you are, what you look like, who you love or where you come from. If I listened to anyone who ever told me I couldn’t be a singer or I couldn’t do this or that, I wouldn’t have even begun. I want my music to make you feel sexy, to feel in love and sometimes to make you cry. I’m pretty emotional.
Do you have any mantras, musical or otherwise, that you try to live by?
The world is MY oyster. It just reminds me that anything is possible…and of mermaids and singing and I like to channel both!