It’s the morning after the launch of Tottenham singer S.E.L’s latest single Daydream. She’s feeling tired, but there’s no time for that now, there are interviews to do, fans to reply to and promotional work to be done. Since setting out as an independent artist last year, she’s barely had a chance to catch breath.
“Rest is something of a luxury to me. I don’t rest. It’s constant,“ she tells me, her voice nonetheless full of spark and energy. “There’s always something to be done, that’s my motto – there’s always something I could be doing.“
S.E.L, which stands for Soulful Emma-Louise, released her debut single Necessary in 2010 with the backing of a label, at the time while working at Northumberland Park Community School as head of music. She’s since struck out alone, putting together her own crack team to help spread the S.E.L sound.
“It kind of got unbearable: I was doing the work of a full-time musician but during the day I was still a teacher,“ says Emma. “I wasn’t feeling being signed at all. I’d generated such a following and learnt about the business side of things. I started to think, do I even need anybody else to do this?
“I didn’t have much faith in it to begin with, but the do-it-yourself approach has worked for me. I realised I actually don’t need a big label telling me how to do it.“
It certainly worked. S.E.L is in constant demand live, Daydream is already proving a hit and her debut album, Soul Haven, is due for release in the summer.
“You have to be constantly on your phone to reply to that email, an opportunity can come and go in a flash,“ explains Emma.
“When you’re someone who’s always going, to stop is really hard to be honest.“
It’s an inspiring work ethic, but Emma has always been this way. She took up both violin and piano at five, all the while training and competing as a swimmer. She even managed to get tipped as a future cricketing star and trained at Lords.
To date S.E.L has worked with many music greats including Soul II Soul, Alicia Keys, Omar, Debbie Harry and Duncan James to name but a few, as well as all the writing, arranging and endless gigs. With so much on her plate, how does she keep it together on stage?
“It’s a character who goes out on stage,“ she explains, “because it’s not me. Before I go onstage I’m Emma but when I’m on I’m S.E.L.
“Fearless I think is the most appropriate word for her. All of my insecurities and all of my fears just vanish.“
Does she ever get the chance to unwind? “To relax I’m mainly on iTunes. I also do tap-dancing. I really need to take up yoga! But I love that I’m so busy. I’m a musician, that’s what you want to be, busy, earning money and making a living from doing what you love.“
Daydream by S.E.L is available for download on iTunes now. Details: www.s-e-lsoul.com