Salem Ilese: “My goal as a kid was to be Hannah Montana before I turned 13” | My Life in 20

19 November 2020, 12:32

Salem Ilese Coke and Mentos PopBuzz Interview
Salem Ilese Coke and Mentos PopBuzz Interview. Picture: EMI Records
Woodrow Whyte

By Woodrow Whyte

"I was pretty let down on my 13th birthday when I wasn’t Hannah Montana yet"

If you haven’t heard of Salem Ilese yet, then you’ve probably heard her music. At least, you will have if you’ve been on TikTok this year.

The 21-year-old singer-songwriter from California landed an unexpected viral hit earlier this year thanks to her anti-Disney anthem “Mad At Disney”. The song channels Salem’s disillusionment with unrelatable fairytale endings, and portrayals of women as people in need of rescue, and turns it into 2 minutes and 16 seconds of pure pop perfection. The song has been streamed 236 million times globally across all platforms since its release which, if you didn't know already, is a lot of streams.

Salem is now following that up with new single 'Coke & Mentos' which further cements her profile as a star in the making. Salem kindly agreed to be the first guest on our new Q&A series, My Life In 20, so we can get to know the person behind the music a little better.

Read Salem's My Life in 20 after the jump...

Salem Ilese Coke and Mentos Artwork
Salem Ilese Coke and Mentos Artwork. Picture: EMI Records

20) Describe 2020 in a word.


19) What was your favourite album from 2019?

When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go? By Billie Eilish

18) What was the most important thing in your life when you were 18?

I met my boyfriend, Bendik Møller, who’s also my closest collaborator.

17) Who was your crush at 17?

Lauv! We actually now have the same music director so I’ve been trying to get in a session with him for a while. I’m such a fan.

16) What did you do for your sweet 16th?

I was in Hawaii on vacation with my family for my sweet 16. Wow, it’s harder to remember that far back than I expected.

15) What job did you have when you were 15?

I did not have a job when I was at 15. I was still doing chores for allowance money from my parents.

14) What TV show were you obsessed with at 14?

I’ve always been obsessed with Friends. It’s funny and very comforting to watch. Like a warm hug haha.

13) How do you remember feeling at 13?

At age 13, I remember being really bad at myself because my goal as a kid was to be Hannah Montana before I turned 13. I was pretty let down on my 13th birthday when I wasn’t Hannah Montana yet.

12) You’ve got 12 hours to kill in an airport. What are you going to do?

I’m going to try on all of the glasses at the sunglass stands they have in airports and just go shopping around.

11) Who was your best friend when you were 11?

Her name is Rebecca, and she is still my best friend! We’ve known each other since essentially birth because we were born only two days apart. She’s so awesome.

salem ilese – coke & mentos (official music video)

10) What advice would you give to yourself at 10?

Keep doing what you're doing. Don’t worry because the music thing will work out, but maybe don’t wear your hair in a side braid every single day.

9) What was your biggest fear when you were 9 years old?

My biggest fear was (and still is) airplanes.

8) What job did you want when you were 8?

I wanted to be a popstar because singing was my passion then and still is. It’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do.

7) Which of the seven deadly sins are you most guilty of?

Sloth (Laziness) because I have to be busy at all times with a packed schedule. If I have any free time, I will completely waste it. I try to keep myself as busy as possible to that doesn’t happen!

6) You can invite six people to your dream dinner party (dead or alive), who would you invite?

Mom, Dad, David Bowie, Bernie Sanders, my boyfriend, and Lorde. I have to invite my dad because he would be so mad if I met David Bowie without him.

Salem Ilese
Salem Ilese. Picture: EMI Records

5) Name five things you can't live without.

My family, my pets (Lil Cow and Bowie), my microphone, ice cream, scented candles.

4) Describe yourself in four words.

Grateful, animal-enthusiast, Californian, pessimistic.

3) Your top three songs of all time.

'Skinny Love' by Bon Iver, 'Mr. Brightside' by The Killers and 'Yellow' by Coldplay.

2) Can you love two people at the same time?

Definitely because there are different types of love!

1) What or who is your one true love?

Music! It’s the only thing that will never let me down.

QUIZ: Only a music expert knows which songs hit Number 1 in 2020