Interview: Pa Salieu

Syd Lawther chats with quickly rising rap artist Pa Salieu.

Syd Lawther
20th November 2020

It’s been a pretty mad year for Pa Salieu. The 23-year-old Coventry rapper has had immense success with his single ‘Frontline’, a song that has gathered over three million views on YouTube and catapulted him into the limelight as one of the UK’s most exciting new artists.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, he’s already collaborated with some of the best in the game right now and has appeared on the front cover of numerous well-known publications.

Having lived in Gambia until the age of 10, he is extremely proud of his heritage and keen to represent that through his work.

I got the chance to speak with him about his debut project, Send Them to Coventry, and the progress he’s made this year.

How would you say growing up in Gambia has shaped your sound and approach to music?

It hasn’t shaped my sound but it’s shaped me. Being so proud of where I’m coming from and my family comes through me in my music. It’s new, it’s not something I’ve always thought about or had in mind.

What’s your musical journey been like up to now?

It’s still to start for me you know, the way it’s perceived from the outside is different to how I perceive it. I don’t see nothing man, in my eyes I’ve still got ten followers and I ain’t there yet. I’m not aiming for one sound, I just need to master this and feel comfortable you know what I’m saying? It’s just the start.

Is it quite a shift adjusting to the growing success?

It’s meant to happen, it’s just part of the growth. Don’t get it twisted I’m watching and appreciating everything, but I’m not gonna lie to myself if I’m not seeing it. I’ve still got work to do. 

Have past events like losing your friend AP and being shot in the head changed your outlook and made you want to take the music thing seriously?

Yeah, but it’s that scar that’s making me not accept that this is it. This ain’t no success, it’s working towards a success. For all my family and my friends… I haven’t had success yet.

Would you say that’s who you’re doing it for? Your family and friends?

Yes. Family, friends, unity. It’s the whole thing. Music is power, music is unity. Use it right. 

What was the inspiration behind working with the artists that you have on this project? 

I just had them all in mind. I love musicians who use their voices like instruments, there’s no limitations with it you know? I like the whole vibe to experiment with and to be able to bounce off each other. 

Do you have any personal favourite tracks from this mixtape?

All of them. Every song is personal to me. I’m not a punchline artist, everything I’m writing is important.

How long has this project been in the works?

Not long. Minus three or four songs, about four months. These tunes are nothing in terms of an amount, again this is just the start for me. I’m always thinking it’s not good enough, to keep pushing. Thankfully my whole team are on their A game. Most of these new songs aren’t even new, it’s just fun to keep pushing. It’s my first body of work so I’m still not thinking it’s sick, I can’t wait to see what I learn from it and how it can help my next project. 

Did you have a particular process while recording?

Any way, sense or form. Music is music, as long as there’s energy and the beat is fire, I’ll create the moment.

Have you got anything in the pipeline or anyone in particular you want to work with next?

Protoje, Vybez Kartel, Youssou N'Dour and expect a few songs with a lot of Gambian artists that I stay in contact with. Just expect a whole lot of different shit. 

What’s next for you? Are you gonna get straight on with making more tunes or are you gonna take a break while this tape blows up?

Straight on with making more tunes. I’ve already started, I’m in the studio everyday… I love it. I’m addicted.

To anyone who hasn’t heard of Pa Salieu before what would you like to say to them?

Get it by any means. If you’re doing music, push, push, push. Believe in yourself, outsider or not, it’s about the difference. Keep your motivation. Blessings.

Be sure to follow Pa Salieu on Instagram, listen on Spotify, and watch on YouTube.

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