It’s safe to say that Seinabo Sey is stirring up perceptions about Swedish pop music. Raised in Gambia until she was six before relocating to Sweden, Seinabo was encouraged by her parents to be a free-thinker. As a cultural outsider in many ways, Seinabo has created her own strand of soul music that has taken her from chart success in Sweden and performing at the Swedish Grammy Awards in 2014 to being a blog favourite worldwide through songs like ‘Younger’ and ‘Hard Time’, all without conforming to anything she doesn’t want to do.
With her debut album, Pretend, now in stores, we caught up with Seinabo to find out a little more about Swedish culture and how she’s breaking down boundaries through her own practice…
At the moment I’m not really sure. I do know we have this way of writing pop songs in English that could be unique to Sweden, we’re pretty effective. We have a lot of really good producers and I think we use the English language in a different way because it’s not our native tongue obviously. So maybe that’s why people really like the songs, we simplify things in a sense. But the only artists that I know, that I think are really good, are women – I’d like to ask some kind of expert why that is. Because we do have a lot of very good female artists coming out of Sweden which is amazing.
Why do you think it is that female vocalists in particular are thriving in Sweden?
It’s like the guys are the producers though and the songwriters. There are huge songwriting camps in Sweden and they’re all pretty much men, but the really successful artists are all women.
It might be that we have a different outlook on creativity as well, because we’ve been a pretty gender equal country for a little bit longer than a lot of countries, so maybe we have some interesting female characters to come out of that because we’re not that generic. Everyone is pretty different and no one is really… we don’t really have a lot of Beyoncé-esque artists coming out of Sweden, people don’t really do that, so maybe that’s why – it feels fresh.