“My music reflects the way you want to be loved,” says Selassie, a statement that is all the more proven by his latest single, “Agua”. On a bed made with lo-fi beats and a seductive tempo, Selassie lays his soul-soaked vocals to rest, gently lulling audiences into a lucid state of dreaming, where we are invited to take a minute, reflect and reset.
On the track, Selassie explains, “The song is about how you are the coolest kid everything, but your ego is too big and it burns you out. Sometimes you just gotta fall in love or someone might throw you some water to burn down the ego. ‘Agua’ is the feeling of you having it all yet love humbling you with water; purity. Like a flowering plant, being set to grow into a better version of yourself.”
Delivered in a manner reminiscent of pure poetry, the Ghanaian-German artist seamlessly exemplifies his penchant for bending expectations — not only blending genres in his sparkling yet hard-hitting melodies, but also in his spoken-word-meets-singing style of vocals.
Elsewhere, Selassie is also making noise with XYZ123: a small collective of musicians, artists and talents who are encouraged to create their art as a unit. Showcasing the best of emerging and likeminded talents, Selassie not only helps others with his sound, but helps other artists find their own.
To celebrate the release of “Agua”, we sat with Selassie to discuss his single, the inspiration behind its visual and the exciting projects he has coming up. To stream the track and read the full interview, head below…
Selassie! Where am I speaking to you from?
I am in a studio somewhere in Berlin right now making beautiful music.
You’re a jack of many trades: an artist, poet and musician to name a few. Where do you find inspiration for your creativity?
In these current times, it's just about enjoying what you are doing and being able to inspire yourself! I’ve been taking a lot of walks lately.
What music did you grow up listening to? Do you think it influenced your sound at all?
I listened to a lot of highlife and jazz as a kid - it’s definitely influenced some elements of my art. Since my grandparents were really religious, I would go to the church on sundays so there’s a slice of gospel within it. My mums playlist is full of 80s and 90s rnb, and also a lot of hiphop. I love NERD and OutKast. defo inspired me.
Congratulations on the release of your second single, “AGUA”! Did you find your approach changed at all with writing this track to your first?
This song was a journey! It really needed some time. I think it is also the only song on the upcoming EP that was recorded without the others as a stand-alone track. The vibe just fits perfectly with my current mood… how coincidental!
What was your mindset when writing it? Were you drawing on any particular personal experiences?
It feels like I am reflecting in a really cool way but also at the same time, getting humbled by love! It can be anything but in this case, finding love is what made me go through this reflection.
The track touches on ego, burn out and love. Why was it important for you to deliver a humbling message?
I used to not talk about all this but experiences in life make you think differently. I went through times when I would have loved to open up to people yet it wasn't possible at that time… Hopefully it inspires others to just open up and let be.
Talk me through the visualiser. What prompted you to take an abstract approach to the visuals?
It’s just a really abstract way of explaining love in the song. One of my loves is painting and drawing. Also, Nikolaus Goldsmith is one of my old atelier partners. We always wanted to do a video together but it always had to be painting and drawing... This is our first project together and he hand sketched it all — it took a LONG ass time. Mad guy!
What do you hope to achieve within your work?
For me personally, I am achieving growth, fun, love… I am doing me.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Memories are time travels by my Grandma.
What is making you the happiest right now?
Definitely my daughter.
And finally, what’s next for Selassie?
Next plan is finessing our new label XYZ123 - we are a non-genre confirming and diverse collective. We’ll run the world soon, you’ll see, getting into these dope releases and doing some beautiful work within our community! I also have my EP coming out next year with a few more singles. My next single is “My Mind is Happy” - we’re dropping it on my mum’s birthday! Also, I’m currently building a charity fund in our label, to go support project Justine in Benin! It’s all love, let’s go!