a year ago, singer-songwriter Seinabo Sey took a solo trip out of Sweden, into
Dakar, Senegal. It wasn’t a vacation; it was an escape. “You know when you have
those periods in life where everything is actually going wrong?” she asked.
Sey, who is Swedish and Gambian speaks Wolof but not French, so she only
understood about half of what she heard in Senegal. But still, she believed she
was meant to be there.
“I remember sitting at the pool and I wanted to really write down why I liked being there so much even though I was lonely, but I really felt a sense of belonging,” Sey recalls. What started as a writing exercise became her single “Breathe,” which appears on her sophomore album, ‘I’m a Dream’. The track opens with: “I love it here ‘cause I don’t have to explain to them / why I’m beautiful, ‘cause I am beautiful.”
Such themes of self-discovery and self-love are rich in ‘I’m a Dream’, which released. In the three years since releasing her celebrated 2015 debut album, ‘Pretend’, Sey has found her voice and become unafraid of using it. Her newfound confidence is immediately apparent in her lead single, “I Owe You Nothing,” which dropped in March. The first lines are: “I owe you nothing / I be myself and I ain’t fronting.”
“I feel like more than anything, this is an ode to me,” Sey says of the album. “I felt like if I could be what I wanted to be in my music, instead of maybe who I was at that point, I would become that in the end. It kind of worked, actually.”
On Pretend, Sey’s EDM influences were obvious, especially on hits like “Hard Time,” “Pistols at Dawn,” and “Younger,” where she paired synth-heavy, rhythmic production with her booming vocals to make dark, chilling bangers. On I’m a Dream; however, Sey’s sound seems truer to soul and R&B. There are even funk influences, at times.