Sälen: The UK’s most explicit pop act might just be one of the most exciting

Uncensored and witty electropop to get down and dirty to

Hiding underneath Sälen’s sugary sweet electropop is a fierce NSFW streak. In the video for 2016 single ‘Copper Kiss’ they writhe around with a load of venomous snakes, and their lyrics tend to feature sordid tales of bedroom shenanigans (‘Copper Kiss’ again) or straight up telling haters to go suck a d**k (‘Pretty, Fake’). They may well be the most explicit pop act in the UK. Let Ellie Kamio (vocals) and Simon Milner (production) introduce themselves…

Did you sing much before you joined the band, Ellie?

Ellie: “One of the only times I’d performed in public was when I sang the pretty inappropriate ‘Lady Marmalade’ in front of these French exchange students at the age of seven. My mum was trying to entertain them so said, ‘This will be a French song that they know, Ellie. Sing it!’ So I did it, then the students were like, ‘What are you doing getting your seven-year-old child to sing that?’ It took a while to get back to it after that.”

Your songs are both funny and pretty explicit – ever think you’re taking it too far?

Simon: “We do make ourselves laugh when we come up with our lyrics. Sometimes you don’t know if someone’s joking when they go, ‘What about this?’ and you’re like, ‘Is this a joke? Or is it serious?’”
Ellie: “We’re gonna start using animal noises to cover up old explicit lyrics – like on our song ‘Pretty, Fake’ we’ve used a big panther growl to mask the
word ‘d**k’. But we probably should start writing some non-explicit ones.”

Some of your music videos have featured live animals, though some are a bit more lo-fi. Which one is your favourite?

Simon: “Probably ‘The Drwg’. We had £200 and just rented a car and drove round. It was supposed to be easy. But Ellie did an all-nighter and when she turned up for the shoot she was still drunk, technically. After we looked at the footage, Ellie kept saying, ‘You can’t use that shot, I look too drunk there’, so it took forever to edit.”

Your last single ‘Heartbreak Diet’ was your most straight-up pop song yet. Where do you go from here?

Ellie: “We’re going to do an EP and have a featured female act on each track, whether that’s with rappers, singers, DJs or producers. Then, by the end of the year, I want us all to have matching red, white and blue grills.”

From: East London

Social: @heySalen

Live: London O2 Forum (April 28) w/ Rejjie Snow; The Great Escape, Brighton (May 19)

Buy: Single ‘Heartbreak Diet’ is out now

Heartbreak Diet by Sälen

Stream Heartbreak Diet by Sälen from desktop or your mobile device

Best Track: ‘Heartbreak Diet’ – While they routinely flip the break-up formula on each track, this is their most acerbic and witty to date.

Strange But True: The trio are known to read their YouTube comments, but they don’t take them to heart – “Someone called us a ‘hipster N-Dubz’, can you believe that?”