Want My Job? With singer-songwriter Semaj Dee

South London singer-songwriter Semaj Dee on the highs and lows of his musical career to date

Want My Job? With singer-songwriter Semaj Dee

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader? 

Hello, my name is Semaj Dee. I am a singer, songwriter and producer, hailing from London, UK and I have just released a single called ‘DREAMS’ produced and featuring Grammy nominated artist Georgia Anne Muldrow and hip-hop star Wakai. It is available now to stream on all major streaming platforms. 

Tell us about your new single, ‘DREAMS'

My current single ‘DREAMS’ was a concept that Georgia Anne Muldrow (a Grammy nominated artist) initially devised in 2018 after our first meeting where she nicknamed me ‘Baby Stevie’ (as an ode to the legendary Stevie Wonder). Around the time we met, I was working on some demos for Sallok & James and I selected one for her to redevelop. The initial demo was of a different genre but she completely transformed the feel and mood of the production.

In Georgia’s own words: ‘...I wanted to go for a suspended feeling like when you really can’t believe something so good is happening yet.’ If you listen to the first 20 seconds of the song, you can hear a snippet of the original demo interwoven in the production. In 2021, a producer on social media connected with me and he asked LA rapper

What are your sources of inspiration for this single?

As a teenager I was very much into neo-soul and R&B as my sister enjoyed listening to artists like Mary J Blige, SWV, Mariah Carey, Tevin Campbell in addition to soul/jazz artists like Frank McComb, Omar and others. I think many people have compared my vocals to Stevie Wonder, including Georgia Anne Muldrow herself. I also made a music video to the song, fully animated and that was inspired by my love of Batman as the video itself features a Gotham City style setting to match the mood of the song.

What are the highlights of your career to date? 

I think my collaboration with Georgia is the most exciting one because I remember listening to her EP ‘Worthnothings’ and just being spellbound by her alternative soul music and unique expression.  I also auditioned for a role in Louie Spence’s ‘Showbusiness’ on Sky TV back in 2010 and it was there that I met the X-Factor finalist Maria Lawson and we have kept in contact ever since. 

I remember performing at London’s Jazz Café in 2009 in the presence of Martine Girault, a fellow UK soul singer. Most recently, some of my collaborations on social media with the likes of UK artists like Louise Golbey and Nathalie Miranda have drawn a lot of attention and are some of my proudest moments. 

Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it? 

I have had some differences with publishing labels in the past and this has prompted me to be an independent artist at present.  It also reminds me however that releasing music independently can be a challenging yet beautiful thing, because as an artist there is no bigger reward than to see other people feel moved by the sounds that you have crafted and honed personally. Being part of a network of amazing musicians also helps me to stay focused and keeps me grounded constantly.

Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what? 

I have noticed that the attention span of our generation Z population has now shortened, and we are now in the era of streaming, followers and ‘content’, which means as an artist, to stay relevant, you must regularly post content or keep your following entertained and engaged for them to become interested in your music. It is not just about the songs anymore. My mental health advocacy is something that I regularly like to promote and raise awareness alongside my music, and I would be open to becoming more actively involved in promoting brands in the future. 

You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say? 

Your voice will become something that can bring joy and happiness to others - you should not be afraid to showcase it. Let others feel moved and inspired by your singing and remember that success won’t happen overnight. 

Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job? 

I think the most important thing is staying true to yourself as an artist and make the music that inspires you and moves you because if you do this, others will feel inspired too. It does not matter if you are not the next Dua Lipa or Usher, stay in your lane and hone your craft. 

Header Image Credit: Adam Christopher

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Michelle Thomas

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