In Talks With Sello: “There is no Irish identity in the Drill scene”

Afoma Andrea

By Afoma Andrea

Afoma Andrea

21 Apr 2022

Hailing from the shores of Éire, Dubliner rapper Sello is fast emerging as one of Irelands greatest exports.

Blending the Drill backdrop with an Irish twang on tracks such as ‘Oggy’ and ‘As Gaeilge’, Sello’s defiance in representing the Black Irish identity is a protest. “There is no Irish identity in the Drill scene. A lot of Irish kids and my peers want to be from the UK” Sello explains. Indeed, general criticism of Irish Drill has resulted from the plethora of ‘faux British accents’. Yet a counter-argument could be made regarding the ages of these Irish Drill artists. They are young and still trying to find their feet, so maybe they should be cut some slack. Though understanding, Sello is adamant that a change must be made sooner than later – “You can still express yourself on all these type of BPMs or whatever while still keeping the Irish DNA and not making it cringe” he quips.

Following the success of recent single ‘Process’, we sat down for a chat about the inspiration behind the track and his thoughts on the Irish Drill scene so far:

So I’ve noticed that you have become the face of ‘Gaelic drill’. Who came up with that moniker?

The original idea of that was like, I’ll just make a new genre. I’ve been reading this book, it called [paused] I can’t remember the name. I haven’t read it in like four or five years as obviously, when I started the book, I was like really young. So even going back to it during COVID, it inspired me to just create a new genre. I needed something brand new something fresh. So I just said let me create something that’s never been done before.

What was the name of that book?

It’s really about entrepreneurship but connected to modern art, like music basically. It’s really good actually, you will love it! I don’t read much but that book, yeah bang on. Oh, yeah I remember its called ‘Good Artists Don’t Starve’.

That actually reminds me of an old tweet of yours that I came across. It was in regards to working 9-5 jobs that you hate but trying to fund your career as an artist. How has that been for you mentally?

It’s actually so bad. Even today, I’m not where I want to be but in some people eyes like I’m there. I feel like I still need to work, I still need to get out of college. I still need to make sure my girl is happy, my family is happy. I have so many responsibilities at the same time. Sometimes I can’t even be the artist I want to be because of all these other commitments. So it’s just being able to strike the balance and always be creative everywhere I go. I used to work at Subway, I hated it! In between I would do freestyle and though we weren’t allowed to wear earphones, I always had my AirPods in regardless. I just can’t survive without music. I just can’t survive without my art.

Would you say you have a strong support system?

As in a family?

Family, team?

100% My actual team, music wise is probably in my opinion one of the best I could get from the situation I am in right now. In regards to my family, my dad probably supports me more than I support myself! My mom does the same thing so as a family, everyones backs it cause they understand that my music is actually doing its thing.

This actually relates back to your latest song right now, which is ‘Process’. What actually sparked that tune? It does differ greatly to your previous singles lyrically.

I’m happy, you noticed that because I felt like, nobody really caught the meaning of that song. So it actually came from my ma. We had a long conversation about like music and shit like that. She was praying for me and stuff like that. So like, I literally wrote the song in a similar timeframe to Take Me To Church. At that time in my life, I was just literally like yo let me just make some meaningful music and show people that I am more diverse. I’m an artist, I’m not just a rapper in my eyes. That’s the way I want to portray myself. At the end of the day people connect a lot more to artists. Every day I wake up, I’m always angry that I’m not there yet. Just aggressively chasing success. ‘Process’ shows exactly how I feel every single day. ivermectin tablets for humans uk People are doing music for 10 years and they only get recognised after like 15 years in the game. It’s all a process.

It’s a very tough game this industry is.

I’ve dropped ‘Process’, I have dropped Take Me To Church and shown people that I can switch it up. On my actual tape theres going to be a lot more Afrobeats, straight rap, theres even some Amapiano. I’m trying to show people that I can do it and still be Irish because a lot of people don’t understand that its possible. You can still express yourself on all these type of BPMs or whatever while still keeping the Irish DNA and not making it cringe. When it comes to Irish people representing Ireland or putting yourself forward as an Irishman, they are always looked at as a joke. Irish people are funny you know what I mean. Everyone wants to be American, be from the UK or whatever. They only want to be them cause they haven’t seen someone do what they do and is Irish.

You actually have this line that caused some controversy. You said – “You man are only Irish on Paddy’s Day?”

[Laughs] That bar got me in trouble with a lot of rappers. The thing about me yeah, nobody can hate me. That’s how I feel, nobody can hate me unless your insecure. You man are only Irish on paddies day, your only true to yourself when it suits you. When it’s popular to be Irish, you are all going to be coming back and claiming where your from. At the time when I said it, it wasn’t serious but once people started hitting my manager on “who is he indirecting?”. Artists were saying I was indirecting them but I was like, if the shoe fits then [pause]. I was indirecting everybody that don’t rap the way they talk or don’t talk about shit they go through rather things they see.

How has it been navigating the music scene as a black Irish person?

I see a lot of people looking at me as if I’m some sort of meme in a sense. Even when I was at the Black and Irish award show, people were looking at me like “is he gonna take the Guinness?” ” Of course he’s gonna take the Guinness”. People think that I’m like Fabu D or something, I’m not Fabu D bro. buy stromectol no rx So that’s the way they look at me and I hate it because I do not want to be that guy. Thats been done already, we’re missing the serious stuff. Thats where I feel like I come in, because that hasn’t been done yet but I feel like a lot of guys don’t take me serious because I sound like them or I’m too used to what they’re hearing but I’m just myself. That’s what I feel sometimes.

The Black Irish identity is quite a strong point to your brand.

Right now the Irish identity [pause] there is no Irish identity in the Drill scene. Like a lot of Irish kids and my peers want to be from the UK. The videos are from the UK, they don’t want to represent where they are from basically. Unless its a postcode or they put a postcode there but that’s about it. They rap like they are from somewhere else again but you see it bothers me, but then again, it doesn’t bother me. If everybody is rapping like me, I wont make my money. If everybody’s copying the UK, the scene won’t grow. You know, it’s very embarrassing.

The Irish scene is in its early stages though.

It is in it’s early stage, so that’s why I don’t take that to heart. ivermectin topical side effects I just focus on my thing. I feel like it’s the younger generation thats going to see me doing stuff like Longitude, Forbidden Fruit. They are gonna see that this is the right way to do it. If I want to do Longitude this year, I need to rap like Sello. Thats the type of shit that grows the scene because if we have like 8, 9,10 rappers really representing Ireland. Once one of us takes it globally, it’s gonna bring the spotlight towards the whole of Ireland. Like okay cool, this Sello guy is sick, who else they got in Ireland. They start taking in other Irish artists because right now, that’s where we’re at. Globally, the UK can consume because we sound like other UK artists. America can’t take us in cause they are American, they barely take in the UK.

I’m getting a feeling that we have an issue regarding unity in the Irish scene.

We always did and we always do.

Do you think that’s going to change anytime soon?

I’ll give it like 20 years! Right now Ireland is like the survival of the fittest. It’s really like school, everybody shows up for their own. Everybody chills with their own little groups. The new kid comes in and everybody fucks with him at the start but then just leave him because it’s very hard to blow in Ireland. He dies out and doesn’t give a fuck about Ireland and subsequent music.

But to build a scene, there needs to be some collaboration.

It’s true! The thing with Ireland, we have a lot of demotivated artists. A new guy will come in then people start taking their craft more serious. Dropping more music and start going harder but after they lose their momentum. Another new guy will come in and then it repeats. Everyone wants to be number one but nobody wants to be consistent. So right now even where I am, I don’t even look at like other artists. I just keep my head down and just do my thing. If you respect what I’m doing thats great but if you don’t then cool you go. I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing. A lot of artists do it for the hype or do it to be popular or whatever. I don’t!

I wanted to ask your opinion on this debate I had during the Clubhouse era. We’re kind of seeing the similarity between the early Grime years and Irish Drill scene when it comes to the gardai (police) shutting shows down.

None of my shows have ever been shut down but like the reason when it comes to shows actually [pause] see me I’m antisocial. I’m not gonna lie, I barely even go out. Police shutting down shows won’t really be that prevailing because a lot of artists don’t even get shows in Ireland. Call a spade a spade! A lot of these kids are claiming they have shows on and Gardai shut the show down but they don’t have shows. The shows are probably at churches like they are performing in front of their church. A92 had a headline show and everything was bang on I loved it. I was even a special guest at that show, everything was bang on. Police didn’t shut it down because it was well organised. Police were there to prevent something from happening but the show started and the show finished. Let me not sound like I’m egotistical, bigger than everybody else cause I’m not but I’ve done shows that people have booed me off. I’ve performed with my Irish accent and they actually walked away. I’ve been there, you know what I mean, but then again I’m not a coon. I’m not gonna be like fuck everyone. Unless your thing it’s profitable or everybody’s on it, no one was going to fuck with you at first.

Are Irish acts gonna have to look to the international market to build the scene?

That’s right. The reason why I came up with “Dublin” and “Oggy” was because there’s about 80 million Irish people on the planet. 80 million spread all over the world, especially in Australia. So my aim was to sell that generic Irishness to a lot of people but “Process” is different. Everything before that was to be sold globally. Not just to like the UK and the US but whoever is like connected to Ireland in any single way will be able to flick on “Oggy” and just fill a void. I’m just like, trying to connect Irish people globally to my music.

Speaking of connecting globally, I see you have done a couple of live performances. Are you looking to doing a mini tour?

Oh, yeah, right now, I’m just doing festivals upon festivals. I’m doing Forbidden Fruit, its a big festival in Ireland and Longitude well.

I like that!

I’m main stage for Longitude as well, which is a surprise to everybody. Except for me, but [pause].

Only you will know why you’re meant to be on a stage whilst others won’t cause they don’t see the journey.

Exactly! I’m just literally trying to be constantly on my grind 24/7. I want people to be like “Oh, how’s he doing that?” “How’s that possible, he’s only in the game for a year”. I was consistent and that was smart. Irish people only eat what they know, the only language that they know. People look at me as a pop artist but if you really hear what I’m saying in my raps, I’m talking about just literally being black and Irish. That’s about it and people connect to it and that’s why it’s easy for people to consume. They understand the message.

Are we getting a full project this year?

Yeah my first project, “Sellotape”. So I’m gonna show my versatility a lot more. That’s what that tape is all about. Literally there’s no story behind it just the versatility like – hi my name is Sello and I can rap. My portfolio basically.