On her debut EP, songstress DemiMa Mseleku fuses a quintessentially UK sound in broken beat with electro synths, hip hop, soul and poetry. ALT. FRQNC is her alternative yet relatable 7-track EP – expressing her Zulu heritage through the lens of South West Londoner. At the heart of her expression is a love for nature and people. We chatted to her about her sound, new EP and the environment of course.
“My expression is alternative,” DemiMa says. “I’ve always been fascinated with the effects frequencies have on energy. Everything is sound or vibration and that’s a universal language. I think that way of thinking’s alternative.” Exploring energies through vocal loops and intergalactical references – find our way back to earth, touch down and kiss the ground on “Freequency” – DemiMa foregrounds her notions of divine feminity and the sanctity of nature.
Opener “Palo Santo” alludes to finding strength in our collective unity, rather than promoting division. “I made ‘Palo Santo’ in Ibiza and recorded it on my phone!” she shares. “I had some spiritual experiences in Spain recently. Healing and inner work are necessary for outward progression and I really wanted to express that.”
For its part the DemDrums-produced “In Mind”, and its accompanying video, is a love letter to nature in this dystopian reality. “I am a passionate environmentalist and wanted to bring the viewer into my environment,” says DemiMa. “I feel that one of the biggest contributions to approaching the climate emergency is to keep nature ‘In Mind’ and appreciate it.” Fittingly, the Director44-helmed video includes shots of the outdoors while serving as a collaboration with fashion designer Charli Cohen – fusing two brands making powerful statements with an effortless cool.
Meanwhile, DemiMa’s multilinguality shines through on “Supanova” with its hypnotic Zulu bridge. On her multicultural approach DemiMa says, “I love that I have two very different culture pools of creativity to draw from. I’m defo proud to be bilingual! It’s important to me to present myself in a holistic way.”
Along with the thematic threads on the EP, a standout element of ALT. FRQNC is how DemiMa explores the textures of her voice – both in relation to production and performance. “Using vocals for production has liberated me as an artist,” she reveals. “I love that I’ve been able to share compositions I’ve made with just vocals and effects. I’m inspired by the overload of sounds, cultures, people on the London Underground. I wrote ‘Spirit is Formless’ as a poetry piece that speaks on spirit being a non gender conforming, immeasurable energy field. In short, the message is to love self and love each other.”
The Lorenz Okello-assisted “Calm Suite” is also vocally stunning and draws attention to DemiMa’s collaborative chops. Having previously worked with South African rapper Kid X on his “Ocean Summer Nights”, she’s recently been featured on British jazz fusion band Blue Lab Beats’ “Umoya| – a number that sees DemiMa flow beautifully over the sinewy instrumentation.
Like with ALT. FRQNC, “Umoya” is the perfect alignment of powers, something DemiMa sought for the EP. “I wanted to write this authentically,” she concludes. “I was focused on creating a sonic synergy between myself and my collaborators. Sonically, this is an insight into my world.”