Who are you? (When did you start, what is your musical background?)
My name is Selma. I call myself Selma Judith in musical contexts. I live in Nørrebro with my roomie and my two cats, and I grew up in Frederiksberg (both Nørrebro and Frederiksberg are Copenhagen neighborhoods –ed.)
I started singing at an early age. I can’t remember when. I started playing the harp when I was 15. The first band I was in was an indie girl band when I was 15-17ish. When that project fizzled out, a long time went by before I began making my own things again. When I was 22, I was introduced to various Danish pop acts like Mø, Vera and School of X, who I played with a bit. I started the Selma Judith project in 2018.
What was your first musical experience?
I can’t quite remember, but learning to accompany myself on the guitar on a song (it was a song called “Donna Donna”, which, I believe, is an old Jewish song”) really sparked a longing to get to express myself in music. I guess it sounds bloody pretentious, and maybe it is, but I’m really glad I have that longing.
What type of music do you play – genre, expression, mood?
My song “Kind of Lonely”, to take one example, is basically about love. Sometimes you love someone in spite of, rather than because of. It doesn’t make the emotions less intense or less real – quite the contrary in fact it can push the love to wuthering heights. The view is spectacular, but it’s a long fall. The thin air can be quite addictive but in the long run it is bad for you. That is pretty much what “Kind of Lonely” is about. How you hold on to a feeling of love to satisfy a selfish need for safety or excitement. I guess it all sounds terribly depressing, but in many ways, it is still a beautiful and very human experience, which I’m sure many people wouldn’t want to be without despite the pain and chaos.
What are your sources of inspiration – other bands, people, experiences?
I have had many heroes and people inspiring me in many different genres: Bach, Joni Mitchell, Arvo Pärt, Nina Simone, Joanna Newsom, Sanne Salomonsen, Hiatus Kaiyote, Hildegard von Bingen, Björk, Syd tha Kid, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, and a new artist that just blows me away right now is Tash Sultana, but yeah, I could just keep going. I can’t really say how they have inspired me or exactly where their influence is evident in my music, but they have all made a tremendous impression.
I feel really drawn to Joni Mitchell and Nina Simone, who despite being so different share a magnificent ability to generate authenticity and sincerity. That gift of theirs has spellbound me for years and it still does.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned so far?
The best piece of advice I have ever received is so banal that it actually hurts to say it out loud: It’s a piece of advice I try to pass on to others and certainly also something I try to remind myself when I’m neck-deep in self-pity: If you want something, then keep at it! There is no guarantee you’ll ever get to be good at it, but you’ll certainly be better at it than when you started
Where do see yourself in five years?
Currently I work hard to be gifted enough on the harp to be admitted to the Danish Conservatory. I’ll need to practice at lot – and probably at least three years to be good enough. Other than that, I also try to write and compose small classical pieces for short films and similar things. I do that to well have fun with it, and then we’ll have to see what the future brings in that department.