Transcending the limits of music with Flint creator Selah Zeus

FLINT, Michigan -- Inside Churchills, located in downtown Flint, sitting across from me between a spread of hardly eaten chili cheese fries, two glasses of water, and two Black & Raspberry beers, is one of Flint’s mythical music creators—Selah Zeus. There’s an aura of mystery surrounding Selah, a man who rarely posts on social media. When he does, he shares the postings of someone else or pictures of himself with most of his face hidden with the intention only to be heard through his music and never seen. His GoodBoy Clothing baseball cap further enhances this, including a face mask that reveals nothing but his eyes—eyes that, during moments of our conversation, reflect the amount of trauma he’s endured and yet still overcoming to arrive at this stage of his life—and in my presence.

He sits attentive, listening to my questions and reflecting on them. His energy—our energy—is inviting, offering an open window into his unusual lifestyle—consisting of reading, meditating, creating music, and staying connected to family—and him an opportunity to ask about my life as a journalist. Selah, at last, takes a bite of his food and laughs at our comedic banter offering a brief glimpse of a pearl white smile that radiates his inward spiritual light. It’s hard not to be captivated and even harder not to listen, but his story resides in the one place he’s always found home—music.

There’s an aura of mystery surrounding Selah, a man who rarely posts on social media.“Music is what I use as a way to express emotions, to give experiences, and a safe place of growth—a place to break down and build yourself back up,” Selah says, arms folded with a pensive look on his face. “People tend to ask me what kind of music do I make. It’s really anything you could imagine, and I take it and make it my own.”

Our conversation is varied, spanning multiple topics reminiscent of the various musical genres he weaves in and out of. We talk about his upbringing in Flint, one colored in melodic notes from the age of eight, because of his three older brothers’ musical talent. One of them, he says, “taught me everything that he knew,” which set Selah down his path of music filled with “success and a lot of failures.” A saving grace, and perhaps to all musicians, was Selah’s knack for taking his emotions and expressing them through limitless music avenues. It’s the reason his body language abruptly shifts as he remembers the delicate balance of creating music and dealing with life’s hardships.

“The best thing that easily allows me to go through these different changes was acceptance. I noticed that we have to go through a lot of stages in life to get to the purpose that we truly live for,” he says with confidence and experience under his belt. “Things will get hard. But most importantly [you need] acceptance and belief. Keep it simple and go with the flow.”

Selah’s “go with the flow” attitude showcases itself through his inner working with notable Flint artists like Jeff Skigh, RaskE and connections to the group PHZD. He’s quick to mention that he doesn’t over-extend himself, choosing to work with an artist he recognizes has a good “connection.” However, it’s difficult, he says with a laugh, recounting the realities of having to put himself in uncomfortable positions to “allow me to expand my horizons.” Situations like being in the presence of Flint music legend Bernard Terry, who recently passed away. It’s a moment he’s still processing and sometimes beats himself up over, but he understands the duty of carrying on BT’s legacy.

“He always said, ‘in order to grow, you have to put yourself into position to make mistakes.’ It was something about him that I couldn’t discover or understand, but I was able to resonate with,” Selah says in a somber voice. “The reason why I feel so broken is that I never had time to sit down with him as much as I truly wanted to. I don’t see myself within him, but I see him within everybody. I can still learn a lot of things and be great within myself to help other people.”

That desire to help people, or rather, his desire to counteract the “dark and gloominess” caused by the pandemic, ushered in his 2020 project Lo-Fi & Chill—a nine-track EP of smooth instrumentals. The entire album was created by Selah with a mixture of different frequencies to make it feel “homely.” The artwork, also created by him, tells the story of Selah inside a jet, shooting up into the universe and trying to reach a destination. Lo-Fi & Chill is part of a two-part project, with the second, You Are Not Alone ..., tentatively scheduled to release over the summer. The cover art sees Selah floating by balloons, having now reached his destination on the other side of the universe—nirvana.

“Despite all the negative energy, I wanted to push something positively effortless to change the mood [with Lo-Fi & Chill]. Instead of [You Are Not Alone...] being real chill, it’s ecstatic, but it sounds really good. I take it down a notch towards the end of the project, so it’s real mellow and cool,” Selah says with a grin.

With a fresh mindset, Selah is adding to his legacy here in Flint through these two projects and continuing to pay homage to BT, a man he called “The Godfather.” Through his mysterious and elusive ways, Selah is now etched into the fabric of Flint’s explosive music scene, cementing himself as one of many people behind the scenes adding fuel to the flame. Though the journey has required him to expand beyond who he thought himself to be, he’s committed to facing it head-on. Because it’s not just his ability to take the notes and sounds given to him through spiritual meditation to make music that’s affecting change and inspiring the city to seek him out, it’s the incredible light he radiates.

“[Music is] a place for you to listen and hear what you’re feeling, embrace it, and grow from it, so you don’t feel alone. I do it to connect and give me the ability to express my feelings without having any limitations.”

You can find Selah Zeus on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. You can listen to his latest release, Lo-Fi & Chill steaming on all media platforms. You Are Not Alone …, is set to release in summer 2021.
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Read more articles by Xzavier Simon.