Songwriter inspired by Mom, the ’60s and the Old Testament

Lillian Simmons
Published on November 1, 2011
Musician Selina, who has recently released her first CD, is shown with her boyfriend and musical partner, Christian Johansen. — Submitted photo by Bryce Murdoch

Identifying yourself by just one name makes it difficult for other people to put a label on exactly who you are.

That’s one of the reasons singer/songwriter Selina goes by her first name only, and the title of her recently released first CD, “Defined is Confined,” is an apt one.

But Selina does say she likes to introduce herself as the daughter of Laverne Squires, poet and lead singer for ’60s rock band Lukey’s Boat. It helps define her music, she says.

Inspired by her mom, ’60s folk music and the Old Testament, she says she wrote her first song at the age of four.

“It was a short song called ‘I Need You Today,’” she remembers with a chuckle.

 “I Can’t Stop Collecting,” a song about buttons and seashells, followed at age eight.

Now, at 30, Selina has a different collection of treasures — about 150 original songs.

She’s released electronic versions of her original singles before, but this first physical CD, featuring five songs, was only released in August.

“Over half of the 300 copies released are sold and digitally I’ve sold a lot,” she says. “I would have done this years ago if I could’ve.”

But like the majority of artists, getting work out there comes down to money.

“Unfortunately, we had to save up our money to pay for it. Anything to do with art, you really need funding from the government and it’s hard to get, but I keep trying.”


‘Parable-istically’ speaking

Selina says she wants her lyrics and music to stir up images in the listener.

“I don’t like to tell people what my songs are about. I like them to read into the music and try to figure it out themselves. I like to write parable-istically — if that’s a word. You kind of take away from a song by explaining it.

“My mom would read the Old Testament — a big, huge, black book Bible — to me when I was a kid. It didn’t have any pictures. So I had to kind of imagine it and I think I got inspired by that because I like to evoke imagery and I like to come from the fantasy point of view.”

Imagery and fantasy make for unpredictable and imaginative songs, influenced in part by what Selina listened to as a child.

“Mom raised me with a lot of Newfoundland folk music. I don’t really listen to any (modern) music. Most of the music I listen to is from the ’60s and it’s folk based. I’m inspired by meaningful songs that tell a story or have a deeper message in the music.”

Selina says she’s learned you can’t force art. It takes patience; she waits for the songs.

“I don’t sit down and try to write — ever. The song always comes to me. It’s like something I have to catch immediately. It’ll be a melody in my mind or lyrics.”

The song “Hero,” from her new CD, came to her suddenly while she was driving home from work one day.

“It was just two lines and as soon as I got home it all came out.”


iTunes compilation

One of the songs on the CD, “A Man Riding a Donkey” was just chosen to go on an iTunes compilation called Amazing Compilation, alongside well-known Canadians like Dan Hill, Natalie MacMaster and Fred Eaglesmith.

The CD, to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society and

Bluewater Health’s (Ontario) new cancer program, will be released today.

“Somebody saw my website and wrote me and asked to use the song,” she explains.


The locals

Selina has been living and working in Calgary for several months. Her recent visit home was short, but she plans to move back to St. John’s early in the new year.

She describes her five-song CD as training for a bigger, 12-song album in 2012.

She and her partner Christian Johansen play an acoustic show together in addition to playing in a band called Selina and the Locals.

“Christian is from Norway. He’s added a great sound to my music because he comes from a Norwegian folk background. Norwegian folk and Newfoundland folk are different, but when you bring the two together, that itself is kinda neat.”

Johansen’s Norwegian influence comes through in his lead guitar, she says. He also played drums and keyboards on the album.

Drummer Ryan Sullivan and bass player David Frid make up the other half of Selina and the Locals in Calgary.

“But we’re gonna need a bass player and a drummer when we return in 2012 and with that new band we’ll release our 2012 album.”

Selina and Johansen will play an acoustic gig at Kickaxe Guitars in Inglewood, Calgary, Nov. 5 to promote the new CD.

“Defined is Confined” is available at Fred’s Records in St. John’s and online.

“The online album can be downloaded at any price you want.”