BRINGING BACK THE SOUL ERA: S.E.L
SOULFUL EMMA Louise (S.E.L) has sold out the legendary jazz club Ronnie Scotts, toured around the world supporting UK soul giants Soul II Soul and had her first single Necessary playlisted as track of the week on Jazz FM, despite only making the leap into her musical career three years ago. It is safe to say that her rise in popularity has been stratospheric, especially when you consider the fact that S.E.L has garnered all her support as an unsigned artist. Having been previously tempted by a major record label in 2010, the singer found herself walking a fine line between potential commercial successes and losing artistic integrity. In the end, artistic integrity won, and S.E.L chose to be an independent musician, speaking to L&S she explained why.
You have only been performing professionally for three years, but already you have had a tremulous journey. Why do you think that is?
I have always worked around music, I used to be the head of a music department at a school, but in 2009 I branched out into a music management company to work in the industry as a writer, backing vocalist, vocal arranger. Working with so many artists I was constantly told to put my skills to good use.
You were previously signed to Cubic records, but have since parted from the label, why is that?
I signed with the label for one single - that was my decision. Before I joined them there were a lot of people saying different things about being signed, some people said that you do need to be signed to be successful and some disagreed. The opportunity to be signed fell in my lap, in terms of being completely funded by a label, so I thought I would do it and see. When I got signed it was such a devastating experience, we did my first single, Daydream and I couldn’t take it. I felt like I was being molded into something I wasn’t and I think it was a cross between being too strong willed, knowing the industry, knowing my brand and my message, but for them it was all about statistics, and sales and it took the joy out of music, I didn’t like doing it any more.
Did you not know what to expect when you joined the record company?
No, because before I signed it was all sugar coated. You’re given this amazing package and you think ‘wow’ and as an artist you believe you have ‘made it’ because you are signed, but that’s not how it works. In reality it’s a loan and you have to make the money that is invested in you back and if you don’t, boy, that’s on you.
So why do you think so many artists want to be signed?
If you don’t know who you are as a brand and you don’t know about music then being signed is the best thing for you, but if you’re a person, like me, who puts so much time and effort into the music and developing as an artist then it’s not good. Because I found that I was just being led and I was listening to so many people it got to the point that I was lost and I didn’t even know it. So I worked hard to get out of all those contracts and do it by myself.
Now you are an independent artist, what can your fans expect from you?
My intention is to take British soul back to its roots, that is my sound and everyone knows what I’m about. I’m hardcore soul.
Is it safe to say that you are in a happy place in your career?
Yeah, finally I am. I’ve been very blessed. It’s amazing to know that there are people who have paid money to come and watch me perform my songs, there’s nothing like it! I am my happiest when I am on stage and when I sell out venues, it’s like ‘wow’.
What has been your career highlight so far?
When I was track of the week on Jazz FM and when I was in Japan performing with Soul II Soul, fans came backstage and asked me to sign my single cover, that was a nice feeling.
If you were not a singer what would you do?
I would own a cupcake shop, that is something else I want to do, I love cupcakes, I don’t bake cakes, I just bake cup cakes, they are amazing, people tell me I should do it professionally, it’s weird, but I love it.
To find out more about S.E.L’s music visit, WWW.S-E-LSOUL.COM