In the ever-evolving landscape of contemporary pop music, Selin is emerging as a rising star like no other. Raised on a diet of rock legends and Y2K pop icons, she skillfully blends the best elements from these formative influences into something entirely new, infusing it with what she affectionately calls 'Turkish spice.' Her latest release, "LIGHTS OFF," is just one sparkling gem in a series of bilingual masterpieces, offering a tantalizing glimpse into her forthcoming debut album, PARANOIA. Her powerhouse vocals, striking visuals, and dynamic stage presence have not gone unnoticed. Selin's free-spirited creativity, paired with chart-topping successes and millions of listeners, propels her toward the forefront of the global music scene, cementing her status as a name to watch in the industry.
You explore the theme of closing the door on a doomed love in “LIGHTS OFF.” Can you share the inspiration behind the song and what you hope for listeners to take away from it?
When I originally wrote it, I was in the middle of a relationship at the time. And the thing with me is it's a blessing and a curse for the person that I'm with. Because I know they're going to get a song out of whatever happens, but in this case, it was more like I kind of had a feeling that it was already going to end, and I wanted to write an ode to that. I want them to think that sometimes it's okay for things to end. Sometimes, you have to close those metaphoric lights on a relationship because two people don't match.
One of the details I noticed in “LIGHTS OFF” is your signature wordplay that you use in your writing. Can you delve into the lyrical choices you made in the song and how they contribute to the overall emotional depth?
I think all the chorus. The repetitiveness definitely kind of symbolizes the general relationship falling apart. It's almost like when I wrote it, the visualization is what I had in mind. This person is in front of me, and I can see this relationship almost falling apart. It’s this last cry-out saying, like, okay, look, this is happening. It's going to end. But I'm giving you one last chance, one last time. I'm reaching out my hand. Even with the words, it's all kind of on the edge, wanting to turn the lights off, or one last time I'm reaching out my hand, and it's almost like a cry out because I don't want to let go. The gospel part is a cry out to almost say, I don't want it to end, but I had to end it.
You describe your music as having a Turkish spice. How does your Turkish heritage influence your music? And can you give us some examples of how it's incorporated into your work?
I was born in Istanbul but raised in the UK for twelve years. Sometimes, I'll sit down and write a song; for me, it'll just be in English because “LIGHTS OFF” was fully English. There's an unreleased version with a Turkish verse, and the intro is a Turkish instrument. It has obvious effects, too, but we kind of sprinkle that in the start. I like to put a bit in it even if the language isn't there. My friends here, when they listen to my English stuff, and I've put something of Turkish inspiration in it, it's cool. My friends in the UK, when they hear me sing or do something fully in Turkish, it's interesting because they don't understand the lyrics. But I think after a point, it's not even about the lyrics; it’s just about what the melody does to you or what the vocal textures bring to you and evoke a bit of curiosity.
I love how when you talk about your dynamic of songwriting, you also include those intricate parts of yourself that make your sound unique. Can you give us a glimpse into your creative process when you're coming up with ideas for songs and what that looks like for you?
It's very mixed. Sometimes, it'll be a session with myself, a producer, and another writer, and I'll walk in and say, “Guys, I've had this happen to me!” it's not even funny. I tell people I've just met on the day secrets about me that maybe it would take me some time to tell my friends. But it's a weird process with writing. It's just as you walk into a room of this honesty hour, and for the first 2 hours, it's just talking about our emotions, what we feel, stories that are alike, and then we start putting out ideas, and then we bring them together, and then it comes out. Other times, it'll be when I'm alone in my room, and I'll come up with a lyric or a melody, and I'll just play that on the piano and then do a quick demo and take that to a producer I'm working with. So there's no fixed way, but I would say for me, most of the time, it's with a small idea first or a story.
I know creating visual art is a passion for you. Your videos, such as “cool” and “Enemies” have achieved millions of views. How do you approach the visual aspect of your art when you're telling such personal stories, and how does it complement your music?
It starts with an idea that I'll visualize while writing the song, but then it turns out completely different than what it started out to be in my head, like “LIGHTS OFF.” At the start, it was something so different that I envisioned, but then it turned into what it is now. I really liked how it turned out because I am also very lucky to work with very creative friends, and they understand what I want and what I want to see in the video. It really fun because there was a very kind of a cheeky story to it. I wanted to go full sassy on it. Everything has symbolism in every scene in that video. But for me, it's not even that it has to link with the song meaning. It's more visually what complements it, what feels good. I think that's what's fun with visuals, you kind of create something, and then you find ways to link the visual and the song together.
You came up with PARANOIA and “LIGHTS OFF” as a result of that connection. Can you tell us more about the album and what themes or stories it explores?
PARANOIA kind of came about during the pandemic and then faded into, you know, the years. It was just about these late-night thoughts I had at night, and it incorporates relationships and a lot of self-doubt. It's almost like your inner negative voice in your head. It's based on these paranoid thoughts at night, these paranoid feelings, and then it turned into something a little more. I started adding a bit more of my current feelings. I call it PARANOIA because I think everything in this day and age is so confusing sometimes, especially after the pandemic. I put it all into this mixing pot and called it PARANOIA because my internal brain is also a bit mixed these days. It also made the process easier for the album because I didn't want to have a specific theme. I wanted to make it a multi-genre, multi-feeling concept. It’s kind of like RAYE’s album, My 21st Century Blues. That album inspired me a lot. There's a theme of meaning, but the genre, the style, and her attitude all varied in the album, and that's what I wanted to also give with my new work. But it's multi-genre and multilingual; it’s got a bit of everything for everyone.
What do you think sets you apart from rising artists, and what do you hope to achieve in your music career in the coming years?
I spent a lot of time thinking, “What makes me different?.” The more I got into my own thoughts, the more I looked back and said, “This is me. This is what I make. It's, it's bilingual. Sometimes it's just English. Sometimes it's just Turkish.” This is what makes me stand out. But I'd like to think that this East and West mixing the languages brings something different. I love seeing completely non-Turkish people listening and interacting with the bilingual songs. I think that's what I want to achieve, opening a door to people who haven’t heard much of this music before to be interested in it. I would say a sprinkle of Turkishness sets me apart from other musicians.
You performed at the 2023 Istanbul Champions League. Can you share some highlights or moments from the performance and how it felt to be a part of such a prestigious event?
When we got the news, I was a bit confused. I almost didn't believe I was like, “Wait, is this real?” But it was really fun. One of the parts of music that I love the most, besides the recording and writing, is being on stage. I think playing live is where you see an artist be a hundred percent. It's really exciting to watch that and to be a part of the actual performances, and the preparation phase is even more exciting. It felt very natural and like home, as it always does. I can't really say it was different than the other performances, but I guess because we had dancers for that one, too, that was really fun. And just being together on stage, sharing that harmonious energy, and sharing a mutual thing that we all love is music and arts and dancing. It was really fun, and it's definitely one for the books, as they say.
What's your secret to delivering your signature compelling live shows, and how do you prepare to connect with your audience on a deeper level during your performances?
The most important thing for me is the interaction on stage is to build a connection with the audience, and, for me, that is through storytelling. I think storytelling is a way you get a bit more personal, tell about a current, a feeling that they had, and they almost reflect it to us and weave it inside a story. It allows me to connect with people more; I think music is a mutual thing for both ends. It's almost like two best friends sharing something. I also want to create that atmosphere as much as I can at my live shows.
With the reference to fans as “best friends,” you have the upcoming Besties Tour on the horizon. Can you give us a sneak peek into what fans can expect from this tour, and are there any cities or venues you're particularly excited about performing in?
I went to New York once in my life when I was 10. I'm going to say it's my first time going to the States officially to make music. I've never been to Los Angeles or Texas. I might have one small show in New York as well, which I haven't announced yet, but I'm very excited. I don't know what to expect from it, but the excitement is a lot. I'm very lucky and grateful to be doing this with my friend, Dennis, who helped me make this tour happen.
Are there any surprises fans can expect during the tour?
Collaboration-wise, there's nothing planned yet, but it happens so last minute that who knows? I have a couple of sessions lined up in Los Angeles and New York, so maybe we'll get some collaboration from that.