‘Send Them to Coventry’: An Interview With Pa Salieu


Gambian-British artist Pa Salieu is emerging as one of the best in UK music. His debut mixtape ‘Send them to Coventry’ shows just how gifted he is, featuring an original blend of genres and lyrics that pay homage to his Gambian heritage and upbringing in Coventry. I had the chance to speak to him about the experiences that shape his music and how he’s just getting started.

Lauren: What have you been up to this week?

Pa: It’s just been hella shoots, photoshoots, interviews. We’re working.

Lauren: What can you tell me about your mixtape?

Pa: My mixtape is my first body of work, first ever mixtape. It’s the start of a journey you know, it’s just me.

Photo of Pa Salieu

Photo Credit: Will Robson-Scott

Lauren: What was the inspiration behind it?

Pa: Just everything, coming up from everything. The pain, coming from ends – it’s just me. I’m not a punchline artist, I hope that my music is understood, you can close your eyes and picture, have a little glimpse. I’ve been doing this for two and a half years now, it started off as stress relief and it’s still stress relief, so I don’t know how to fully explain it but this is me.

Lauren: What has the creative process been like for you?

Pa: It’s been very smooth. It’s a lot of ideas, a lot of ideas, I’ve had to pick out of a lot of songs. Like, there are 15 but we started off with so many, it’s crazy.

Lauren: What was it like collaborating with other artists?

Pa: Natural, organic, you know, a vision – every artist on the tape is my vision.

Lauren: What experiences have influenced your music?

Pa: Experiences like being sent to Gambia. Just going through hella shit. Just roads, school, what I’ve been taught, what the streets taught me, what I’ve seen happen, people I’ve lost, so many people gone, yeah a lot of stuff. It’s just this music ting, when I write a lot of stuff pushed me and I’m yet to explore, I ain’t travelled since Gambia. I still have life to see, thank god I’m alive to see. I’ve got so many places to be inspired by, people to meet. It’s just the start you know, everything’s an inspiration, I’m pushed by motivation.

Lauren: What do you have planned for the future; what can you tell me about the EP you have coming out next year?

Pa: I want to surprise this one, it’s going to be very different from my mixtape. I just want to keep hitting the unexpected and experiment, experiment, experiment. Just expect something different.

Lauren: What other artists are you listening to at the moment and what do you think of the UK rap scene right now?

Pa: The UK rap scene is on point and there’s a lot of artists now. Rap is yeah but there’s artists as well, a lot of artists that explore their sound. ‘Cause there’s labels, even my music, there’s one interview I’ve done that says grime – I’m not a grime artist, drill – I’m not a drill artist. A lot of people ain’t taking the bucks ting no more, this is what I like about England now, the whole scene. There’s a lot of artists that’s come with branches, they’re singing, they’re rapping, they’re doing this and that, using their voice right. That’s what I’m starting to love, everyone’s exploring, everyone’s becoming artists. Visuals – I see every artist hitting it now with visuals.

I love the whole scene right now, I’m thinking of it as a whole, I love what’s going on at the moment. Different people are given the chances, they’re pushing. There just needs to be more opportunity outside, it wasn’t easy you know.

Lauren: How do you think we can create more opportunities in the music industry?

Pa: It’s just started now, there’s hella outside artists now. Like me, I’m trying to build studios in Cov as well, just make sure it’s available. A lot of artists should be doing this too, just outside or making charities to gets some funds you know, equipment. Trust me there’s so much talent in this country, you don’t understand, I’ve been everywhere, not for this music ting but before this. I’ve seen so much talent, the whole UK scene now, it’s good. Now it’s what we do to motivate the next – just keep it going, let the voices be heard, it’s deep.

Photo of Pa Salieu

Photo Credit: Will Robson-Scott

Lauren: How did you get into music yourself?

Pa: I met a friend, an international student, I saw a studio in his house, I ended up staying there for a week. It was a shit set up though, it was my first time seeing a studio you know, just fell in love with it. Like when I say it was a shit set up, just audacity, that’s it proper. I just fell in love with it and it wasn’t the greatest of qualities no but it was a studio you know; I could put my thoughts and stuff and then listen back to it. It’s a means of stress relief, which it is still but now it’s just a passion. It became a passion in a very short space of time. I put my 100 in it, the day I stepped in the studio, it’s mad, it’s spiritual.

Lauren: How has your Gambian heritage influenced your music?

Pa: I’m just doing something different with this, this is still new, I’m shaping it right now. My auntie does folk music but I’m just at the start, I’m shaping it right now. I ain’t think about music before, just been going through life, so yeah you see the point.

Lauren: What are you planning to bring out in terms of visuals now?

Pa: I swear down, I want it to be on point, I can act, have me acting in my videos. I want to make it creative, I want to make it crazy. I can’t wait till my ideas come alive. I can’t wait until I’m shooting in Gambia as well. There’s a Nigerian director called Boy Director, one of my kin, great energies, my brother you know. He’s based in Nigeria and I’m telling you his quality is 10/10, the thing is with back home, don’t let the media fool you – there’s hella talent, there’s hella sauce and its wavy. There’s a lot of influenced people. Quality – when they work on something, they put their 100 in it. When I go back home, that’s what I’m going to bring back to the table as well. It’s crazy, there’s so much talent in Africa. I’m telling you music is going to unite, going to be part of the hands that unite Africa.

Send Them To Coventry is OUT NOW on streaming services such as Spotify and Youtube.