“Mum, I got hit by a bus.” Find out how SELKI’s life-changing accident fed into her single Skins

For decades the cautionary idea of being hit by a bus has been used by the inspired, the careful, and those who use it as a reminder to wear nice underwear – in case they end up on display in the hospital… or maybe that was just my grandmother?

A metaphor for a wake up call, a reason to seize the day (or clean pants), it’s not often a real expectation. Except for Melbourne’s SELKI, who was actually hit by a bus. An accident which really was a wake up call, and inspired the writing of her latest output, Skins.

Photo: Carla Venus

With skipping melodies and the production aesthetic of a perfectionist, SELKI’s first foray into the realms of electronic music is a dazzling one.

Having begun her career back in 2014, SELKI originally leaned towards the acoustic, indie rock end of the scale. Voted into the top four as part of Melbourne’s Music Bank Competition, her soft voiced, atmospheric style drew audiences, radio play and international gigs.

It was during a stint in Paris that SELKI had her accident.

“It was actually super interesting; a week before [the accident] I had to pull off the road as I was overwhelmed with anxiety that I was going to be hit by a car in the near future. I remember being like, in my mind, “please life, if I get it by a car can I just break some bones, theres still so much I want to do”. I guess I never factored the bus part in.”

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Luckily, broken bones were the worst of SELKI’s physical injuries; however, broken arms are problematic for a musician. Faced with a long healing process, physically and mentally, her convalescence found SELKI heading in new directions.

Unwilling to stop making music, but unable to play any instruments, she began experimenting with electronic music – something entirely new for her.

“It was a huge learning curve… my old share house in Melbourne was full of producer types but I had always fancied myself more of an indie-rock-folk-kinda-jam. So I kind of learnt about it whilst creating the tracks with Paris producer Loic Devehat.”

“I found it super cool how easy and effective electronic stuff can be, and how broad your possibilities are. There are so many more tones and textures immediately at your finger tips. My inner perfectionist was loving it.”

Photo: Rhys Newling

Skins is the first release from SELKI following her shift towards electronic production. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and as much as her broken bones pushed her towards a new style of writing, the process of mental healing equally inspired the single.

“In many ways though, the painful months that followed were also some of the most beautiful and epic of my life. It’s amazing how much perspective you can be given after such experiences. You really get a glimpse and understanding of your whole life and its workings, especially what your values are and what’s important to you.”

The resulting three tracks hardly hold a clue that this is SELKI’s first foray into electro-pop. Appealing song structures and assertive lyrics, they are not a complete departure from her roots.

An electric guitar grounds opening track Burn, but industrial sounding beats and quirky accents make for more interesting listening. Perhaps it’s SELKI’s lack of initial expertise that loosens up her style and prevents the tracks from becoming overly processed.

The upbeat, skipping melodies and hand claps of Mary Pie couch lyrics which lean towards both darkness and motivation. The pop sensibility definitely lends itself to SELKI’s ear for hooks and infectious melodies.

Photo: Rhys Newling

Title track Skins takes on electric production at full pelt, bringing an almost new wave feel to it with accent synths and the low pitched chorus refrain. Lyrically, this is also the closest SELKI comes to fully referencing her accident. It even features a voice clip of her saying “Mum, I got hit by a bus”.

“I was imitating an excerpt from what I said in a video I directed at my parents, telling them what had happened, and that I was fine. I couldn’t use my phone or really move due to broken bones, and couldn’t really communicate with the staff about contacting my parents… so I got my friend at the time to post a quick iPhone recording of me describing the accident.”

The first single, Skins, was released last week. Also watch out for the accompanying clip coming soon; the result of a collaboration with Melbourne videographer Rhys Newling;

“…its pretty much 80’s pop with my ragtag avant-garde flavour all over it. Imagine balloons, pastel fashion, dancing and epic quality footage… The concept behind the release of Skins has really been a message to myself, and one I feel many can resonate with: to let go of our skins and layers of protection and just trust ourselves; it’s so important to celebrate our imperfections and individuality as this makes us the authentic humans we are.”