Calgary electro-pop singer-producer Selci has emerged from the deep end of a soulful electronica-infused pandemic to dip her toes into the wild world of hyper-pop. In that shift, she’s also shed the gravity of her usual work to make a song for the good-old-fashioned fun of it. “Type and Send” coyly comments on the commonplace, yet absurd, phenomenon of endless text loops. In the video, filmed and edited by Kidd Concept, Selci’s friends perform Cirque du Soleil caliber tricks on their roller skates while she stumbles and clutches at her phone. The pink polo, mom jeans, and camcorder aesthetic push the visuals to the heights of 80s nostalgia glory.
Producer Sylvia Massy, who made a name as a sound engineer working with Prince, Kate Bush, and other heavyweights from the late 80s through to present day, turned “Type and Send” into a Jackson Pollock painting of iPhone sounds. Innumerable gadget bleeps are layered with chaotic precision atop syncopated synthesizer and Selci’s soaring vocals.
We caught up with Selci to learn the reasons behind her genre-hopping, the process behind her songwriting, and what it’s like to be a young musician in Calgary.
Congrats on the new music video! “Type and Send” is a lot more energetic than your previous music. What inspired the change, and is it representative of songs to come?
“Type and Send” was my attempt at an upbeat pop song. I tend to be so emotional in my writing and I wanted to create something that’s sole purpose was just fun. It was a challenge to myself to create something that was pop forward and that people could bop to. To be honest, it isn’t much of a representation of my upcoming music. I wrote this track for my next album initially, but it totally didn’t fit with anything else on the record. I loved it anyway and I had such good feedback that I wanted to release it anyways, so I did it as a single instead just for fun.
What’s your typical approach to writing a song, and this time around how did it lead to “Type and Send”?
Typical approach is sitting at the piano and plunking away to find a good chord progression. Somewhere in there, a melody will come and I’ll spit out some lyrics to expand on. Sometimes I’ll pre-write my lyrics and work them into progressions, then write the melody after. For “Type and Send,” the chorus came naturally while I was at the piano. Then I wrote the rest of the lyrics and put those into the melody. After that, I started making a beat in Ableton. I knew I wanted it to have an ’80s vibe from the start. From there, I took it into pre-production with Ian Dillon to prep for recording at the National Music Centre (NMC). At NMC, we re-recorded some parts with analog patches. Then we did some more editing and sent it to Sylvia (Massey) where she added some more harmonies, synths, and those fun little ringtone effects.
How did you get connected with Sylvia Massy and what was it like working with her?
When I finished producing my first EP Effervescence in 2018, I made a dream list of who I would like to mix it. I knew about Sylvia through my first mentor for audio, Paul Yee, in Winnipeg. He showed me her book because I was interested in alternative recording styles right from the beginning. She ended up getting back to me and to my delight was super excited to work on the project. She invited me to Ashland to do an in-person session with her and I almost didn’t go but Ian convinced me that I should and I would regret it if I didn’t. It ended up being a magical trip – turns out the water that runs through Ashland has lithium in it making it naturally effervescent, which also happened to be the title of the album I was working on. We were there in early spring and the flowers and foliage were gorgeous. Anyways, Sylvia and I really hit it off and have stayed in touch ever since. We connected at Canadian Music Week in 2018 and she has graciously met me over Zoom to talk about music lots over the years.
You have a great eye! You’re so stylish and I see you’ve been the creative director for some of your music videos. How do you approach the interplay between fashion, visuals, and music? And how did that inform this latest video?
Oh, thank you so much! Yes, I have taken on creative direction in all of my music videos so far, but naturally with music videos many of the elements are a collaborative process. Budgets are tight and crews are small, so everyone ends up contributing so much. The interplay between those three elements is conceptual based on what I want. If I want it to be more fashion-forward or more costume-forward, then that’s what I go with. Sometimes it’s a bit more abstract. But the concept on this video was pretty straightforward. It was inspired by vintage nostalgia.
How has it been navigating the music scene in Calgary, and who are some of your favourite local musicians?
It’s been incredibly fun navigating the music scene. I have been fortunate to work at a number of venues in town including Koi, which was my first job when I moved to Calgary, and now with my work at Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, the King Eddy, and the Calgary Philharmonic. The community is small and everyone is very supportive of one another. But there are so many pockets in the scene depending where you play or what style of music you play. Such incredibly talented people in every pocket. If you want to hear house music on vinyl, you could catch Jack Ryan or Esette; alternative folk you have legends like Laura Hickli and Bennett Mitchell. The post-punk in this city is unmatched with bands like Sunglaciers and Window Lamp. Pop-country artists are killing it here, too. Not only that, but there is also the traditional country scene with so many gems like Carter Felker and Matt Masters. There’s great hip-hop and R&B, as well. I could go on and on.
Describe a perfect day in Calgary.
Wake up, sun is shining, take my dog for a nice long walk through Lindsay Park, water my garden, get a coffee from I Love You Coffee Shop or Caffe Beano, then start whatever creative projects I have going on for the day. In the evening, get a tasty bite to eat and lastly chill at the river with my pup and a nice drink, or go to a fun show!
What’s your favourite Emoji?