Home Electronic dance Calgary artist Selci pays homage to Fallen Woman on two-part concept album

Calgary artist Selci pays homage to Fallen Woman on two-part concept album

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Samantha Selci has a super glued flower under her armpit.

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That’s the first tidbit the Calgary-based singer-songwriter shares during an interview with Postmedia earlier this week about his new EP, Fallen Woman I. A bit strange, perhaps, but it will seem probably less strange to those who know her. ambitious and high-concept videos, of which she has produced nearly ten since 2019.

She insists that this new video, which will accompany soulful electronic dance track Luscious Lovin’, is simpler than some of her previous efforts. But everything is relative.

“I just wanted to do a little visual for the day the album was released on March 4th,” she says. “My partner is a cinematographer and has great gear, so it’s just him and me working on this little visual. There’s going to be a lot of close-ups and we’re smashing fruit and rubbing berries all over… yeah… and flowers under the armpits.

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Ambitious videos have been a feature of Selci’s career since before her 2019 debut EP, Effervescence. In late 2021, she directed and released a video for the haunting single Ghost, a multi-character and slightly surreal undertaking that was partly shot in the beautiful Alberta wilderness. Selci set out to recreate Romantic era paintings with video. She borrowed her grandmother’s wedding dress in a scene meant to evoke Ophelia. In general, the idea was to fill the video with ornate visuals that reflect Selci’s obsession with the Victorian era. It was followed by a video for When I Became A Routine Task, the melancholy opening track to Fallen Woman I.It has a sci-fi air to it, at times reminiscent of the work of filmmaker Terry Gilliam, and casts the singer as a leather-clad mad scientist. While Selci credits the vision for this latest video to director Ian Johnson, both are elaborate and ambitious and clearly labors of love.

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“It’s not easy,” she admits. “It’s actually super exhausting and it’s a pretty thankless gig. Usually you lose money. You have a really long day and you destroy your body. There’s so much about it that could potentially make it not worth it for a lot of artists. But I love adding that visual component. I find it’s so satisfying and so much fun.”

Calgary singer-songwriter Selci.  Photo by Annabeth Trondsen
Calgary singer-songwriter Selci. Photo by Annabeth Trondsen .jpg

It’s another reminder of the all-or-nothing fervor that Selci applies to all aspects of his art. A producer and songwriter who does sound engineering at the King Eddy and National Music Center and for the Calgary Philharmonic, Selci is a graduate of the University of Manitoba’s classical music and voice program. As the title suggests, Fallen Woman I is the first of two eight-song EPs she plans to release this year. Just like his videos, the two-part album is also very conceptual. The idea of ​​the fallen woman may come from the biblical story of Eve in the Garden of Eden, but is actually based on the Victorian depiction of those who transgressed the strict sexual mores of the time. .

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“I was reading a lot of Victorian literature and poetry and essays and stuff like that, just trying to get more information about relationships from that era,” Selci says. “When I was doing all this research, that’s when I came across the term Fallen Woman and I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s the perfect name for an album.’ Then I started to delve into what it actually meant and I thought that was exactly what I was trying to portray, I also wanted it to be an ode, especially about Fallen Woman II because it’s much more intimate and personal, to fallen women of the past. Because it was women who chased away love. It was just young girls or innocent women who were abused or oppressed and wanted to have a different life. and they chased away love and had to be punished for it.

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That said, she says the theme was also taken from her real life and was inspired by deep soul-searching, particularly about the relationships she had been in.

“I was experiencing repetitive dynamics with my relationships that felt really patriarchal and traditional, things that didn’t feel very healthy to me: power dynamics between partners, emotional dynamics, sexual dynamics and things like that,” she says. “I felt like I felt an echo or reverberation of that harshness of tradition that has existed in the past between men and women in traditional cis-style relationships. I was trying to figure out why these things kept coming back without cease. I’m in these very progressive relationships and I consider myself to be very progressive. Why am I dealing with some of these dynamics that seem really dated?”

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It became enough of a concern for the artist that she found herself writing many songs that explored the anger and sense of danger she felt about her relationships and uncovered her identity as a member of the queer community.

“What am I comfortable with when it comes to sex and when it comes to touching?” she says. “Instead of ignoring my body and ignoring the signs that I wasn’t happy because I was trying to fit in with something, I think the journey of the album helped me learn to asking myself what I needed and walking away from things when they didn’t feel right.

Although it sounds heavy, the first part of Fallen Woman lightens the mood by incorporating an endearing mix of dance music and chamber pop. His collaborators included American producer and sound engineer Sylvia Massy, ​​known for her work with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Johnny Cash and Tool. Massy has been a mentor since Selci read his autobiography, collaborating with the artist since his debut. She has also worked with Montreal-based Grammy winner Mark Lawson, who engineered albums for Basia Bulat and Arcade Fire, and Beatchild, who worked with Drake and Shad.

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Eventually, Selci found that the album fell naturally into two parts, the first being more upbeat and pop and the second – which includes the song Ghost and will be released in the fall – more intimate.

“Initially, I just wanted it to be an electronic album that had some acoustic elements in it,” she says. “But I wanted to work with strings because of that classical element and do composition to flex that muscle. They just started to sound really different. So I thought Fallen Woman could be electronic, alternative, a bit more edgy, quite pop. It has this low-art aesthetic. Then I started developing this electro-acoustic concept further and started writing more intimate songs. With Fallen Woman II, it’s a bit quieter and the instrumentation is smoother.

Fallen Woman I is available March 4.

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