i-D's music class of 2017: sälen

We meet the writers, thinkers, players, and performers who are creating, crafting, and composing the future of music right here, right now. Next up, it's North East London three-piece, Sälen.

by Francesca Dunn and Frankie Dunn
05 January 2017, 2:50pm

Sälen are a friendly bunch of laid-back cats on a shared mission to make the kind of sickly sweet pop music destined to soundtrack a next generation Mean Girls. Like all the best projects, this lot were friends first, collaborators second, and everything started with a voice memo. The trio got blogs talking last spring with its self-released debut "IILWMBF," an ode to unrequited love that was soon followed by "Diseasey." Laced with the bitter taste of regret, it finally provided us all with something to drown out the bad decisions that felt so right at the time. Now impressing R1 producers and presenters all over the shop, Ellie, Paul, and Simon keep busy by shooting music videos on their phones ("The Drwg") and hanging out with snakes. It's all kissing, licking, and cheating with Sälen. Dark love poetry with a side of sour candy. Shiny happy lustful life mess. Have fun!

Name: Sälen
Age: Ellie, 21. Paul, 26. Simon, 33.
Occupation: musicians.
From: North East London

How did you all meet?
Simon: Me and Paul have known each other for about six years. We had both been in bands before and wanted to do something together but weren't sure what. Ellie and I worked together and when I asked if she could sing, she sent me a voice memo of her singing "I'm In Love With My Best Friend."

What're the best and worst things about living in London?
Ellie: It's multi-cultural and very artistic and there are a lot of opportunities. It's pretty dirty though, isn't it?
Paul: I like the fact that there are things going on every night, but I have a love/hate relationship with the transport system.
Ellie: Coming back from Japan to London, London just seems so dirty and the transport sucks!
Simon: The cost of living is definitely the worst thing though.

And what're your thoughts on things post-Brexit?
Simon: About 70% of my friends are not from the UK and they're all a bit uncertain about what it means for them.

What role do you think you play in the UK music scene?
Ellie: I'm the big sister letting teenage girls know that it's okay to be a bit gross. I think that's my role.

We heard you got your name from throwing a dart at a map?
Simon: Well, a metaphorical dart at a map. We just needed something short that you can Google.
Ellie: It looks pretty and people don't know how to pronounce it, which is fun and it makes it stick. You just need to hold down the 'a' button on a Mac.

What do you want to say with your music?
Paul: I guess we just want to make pop music that's not obvious.
Ellie: And to keep it tasteful!

And who or what influences your creativity?
Ellie: Awful Records. 
Paul: The Neptunes.

Which song do you think you're best known for now?
Ellie: "Diseasey."
Simon: We've got a new video coming out though for "Copper Kiss," so maybe that will change.
Ellie: It's got snakes in it.

So we can expect something kind of Britney?
Ellie: Kind of. We had one handler and technically you're only supposed to have three snakes per handler, but this guy let me have four. It was awesome. They were kind of just slithering on me. There's a black snake in the video, which looks the coolest, but it was definitely the naughtiest. It would sit there until nobody was looking watching and then try to escape.

What's the worst job you've ever done?
Simon: I used to clean a hotel in Bournemouth and it was so dull. I had to Brasso doorknobs for fucking hours.
Paul: I worked in a call center for a month up in Highgate and it was the worst. We were selling really sturdy bin bags to people.
Ellie: When I first moved to London I worked in an ice cream factory for a month which was really hard work but at the end of each day you were allowed to take a huge tub of ice cream home with you.

To cry into?
Ellie: Basically, yeah!

Who would you most want to collaborate with, from any discipline?
Ellie: I'd love to have A$AP Rocky singing on a track.
Simon: It'd be cool to have Gaspard Noe direct a music video.
Paul: I really like two American producers called Mike Dean and Harry Fraud. I'd love to work with them.

What film do you think your music would best soundtrack?
Simon: A new rom com starring Rachel McAdams.

Like a grown-up Mean Girls?
Paul: Yes. Ellie loves Mean Girls!

Who're you tipping for 2017?
Ellie: DanielOG, Jelani Blackman, and Average Sex.

And what are your plans for 2017?
Ellie: We're not really expecting anything, but things seem to be going well at the moment... I guess we'd like to go on a U.S. tour! 


Text Frankie Dunn
Photography Hanna Moon
Styling Max Clark
Hair Maarit Niemala at Bryant Artists using Moroccan Oil.
Make-up Athena Paginton at Bryant Artists using Kryolan.
Set design Mariska Lowri.
Photography assistance Alessandro Tranchini, Ilenia Arosio.
Styling assistance Bojana Kozarevic.
Hair assistance Benjamin David, Mikaela Knopps.
Make-up assistance Billie McKenzie.

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