Swedish singer-songwriter Seinabo Sey is on our watch list this week

Swedish singer-songwriter Seinabo Sey is on our watch list this week


Text: Rachel Chan

Image: Instagram | @seinabosey

Seinabo Sey has been slowly making waves in the music world. Her new single, ‘Breathe’, is why we’re obsessed with her this week. Here’s what you need to know about this big-haired beauty

1. 'Breathe' came about when she was on vacation
Even professional singers get to that point in time where they don't know what they are doing. To clear her mind, the 27-year-old took a trip to Dakar in West Africa. "I was feeling kind of lonely and a little out of place. Everyone speaks French and Wolof there, and I don't. Still I felt like I was supposed to be there," she mentioned in an interview. "I took a paper and pen and wrote down exactly why I wanted to be there and why I liked being there and the words just came out in the simplest form."

2. Her father used to be a famous musician
Like father, like daughter. Sey's late father, Maudo Sey, was an accomplished Gambian musician as a drummer for afro-pop band, Ifang Bondi. He also sang in three languages — Wolof, Mandinka and English — and dabbled in some acting, starring in Lars von Trier's Manderlay in 2005. "My parents really instilled in me that anything is possible," said Sey. "I understand now what a gift that is, that they've never said I can't do things. They're definitely the reason I make music."

3. Being free as a black woman was the inspiration behind the music video of  'Breathe'
"There's so many things that we black women have to go through. Everything in our lives from explaining our hair-dos, to not finding our foundation colours," said the award-winning singer. She went back to her father's roots in Gambia and shot the artsy-looking music video for her latest single, together with an all-female cast which included some of her childhood friends. Wearing huge colourful tulle dresses, Sey wanted to represent how black women shouldn't care about how they look and be free. "The music video's meant to represent an abstract place where women can be free to be honest."

4. She signed a letter speaking about sexual abuse in the Swedish music industry
Alongside singers Robyn, Tove Lo and Zara Larsson, Sey was among 2,192 who called out the Swedish music industry for sexual harassment. The open letter, which was published in November last year in Swedish newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, also featured stories from women who were victims of it. Their efforts were not for nothing, as it got a Warner Music Sweden executive suspended after sexual allegations were made from artists and employees.

5. She went on tour with a Swedish rap group before her solo career started
For almost a year, Sey toured with Swedish hip-hop duo Afasi & Filthy's Herbert Munkhammar (Afasi), where she found herself performing as a sidekick rapper for his other music group, Maskinen (Swedish for machine). "I loved it actually, it was like my secret dream that I would absolutely never, ever try. I might sing quickly but I would never say I’m a rapper, but I do really, really love hip-hop," confessed Sey.

Listen to Seinabo Sey's new single, 'Breathe', on Spotify. For last week's #WomanCrushWednesday, click here.