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Behind the Scenes of Outside Lands 2022: Interview with Salem Ilese

Behind the Scenes of Outside Lands 2022: Interview with Salem Ilese

Last weekend we attended a NorCal favorite, Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival 2022, and interviewed the enigmatic Salem Ilese. Team


4 min read

August 12, 2022

Once again, Outside Lands has come and gone with a bang (literally);  ending each night’s headlining performance with a fireworks show! This incredible annual music festival turned Golden Gate Park into a temporary party venue, and visitors were more than satisfied with all the musical performances. Our team was also part of the attendees of Outside Lands 2022 and can confirm that it was an absolutely riveting experience.

Fan-favorite artists like SZA, Post Malone, Kali Uchis, Salem Ilese, Wet Leg, and many more performed their hearts out, with Bay Area punk icon Green Day headlining the three-day event. Visitors just did not have the time to get bored or laze around, given the endless number of incredibly talented acts.

Discover the incredible 21-year-old pop singer, Salem Ilese.

On the second day of the festival, we got to witness acts of legends and first-timers make their Outside Lands debut. The wonderful Salm Ilese was one of them.

This was an especially momentous occasion for her, having been born and raised in Mill Valley, as the 21-year-old pop artist has stated that she had been waiting for this moment her entire life. The American singer recently caught the attention of 10K Projects/Homemade Projects and signed a record deal.

Her song “Mad At Disney” caused a big commotion in the TikTok community, as it began trending and gained viral momentum with 208 Million streams on Spotify and the creation of 3.8 million TikTok videos.

Salem Ilese is known for her masterful way of storytelling and continues to express her passion for it through her singing and songwriting.

Up Close and Personal With Young Pop Star Salem Ilese

Outside Lands is filled with performers singing their hearts out to the audience (courtesy of Alive Coverage/Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival).

After her incredible performance, we were able to catch Bay Area native, Salem Ilese, for an exclusive interview. Can you start by telling us what originally drew you to singing and songwriting? I know you started at a pretty young age.

Salem Ilese: Yeah. I've honestly just been singing for as long as I can remember. It was my best way of communication for a while as a kid, I would sing more than I would talk, honestly. It's just always been my first love and passion. My parents were really supportive of it, which I'm super grateful for, so I've been doing it for a while, and then I got to go to school for it for a bit which was amazing. Now I'm doing it in L.A. but it's always a pleasure to come home to the Bay [Area]. Absolutely, California is beautiful. They're very different places: the Bay [Area] and L.A.

Salem Ilese: They really are. Yeah. I always forget how big a difference there is until I come back here. And I'm like there's just a beautiful calm around the Bay and San Francisco, especially that I've missed. It's so nice. Since you live in L.A. and tour throughout California, is there a place where the audience stands out to you, or do you notice a difference in the audience?

Ilese says it’s surreal to have performed at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (image by J. Ash Bowie/Wikimedia Commons).

Salem Ilese: Definitely. San Francisco has been my favorite place to play. Also, just because my friends get to be there, my family and my parents, it's so fun yeah, that was the last stop on the tour that I went on in November. We got to play [at the] Bill Graham [Civic Auditorium], which was so cool. I went to see Lana Del Rey there when I was like thirteen. It was such a crazy moment to actually stand on the stage. A lot of my friends were in the audience, it was just a really good crowd. That's fun! Yeah, Bill have gone there and seen people and then perform there yourself would be special. Do you think California has especially influenced your music style? If yes, how so?

Salem Ilese: It's so funny, actually. I've been recently getting told that by a lot of my fans in Asia. I'm traveling there next week, to Korea and Japan, and a lot of people have said your music is very California like it gives California energy, and that makes me so happy. I never would have thought of that. But I love that; I love California. That's so funny and cool. And when you start the planning for your songs and your inspiration, are there certain areas that you go to kind of ground yourself and find that inspiration?

Ilese would go up to the Marin Headlands to write and produce in her car, with a view overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.

Salem Ilese: Great question! When I lived in the Bay I would go to the Marin Headlands a lot. I would sit, there's like one parking spot that no one really knows is a parking spot, and it's always open. It's overlooking the whole ocean, you can see the bridge and everything. It's beautiful. So as a younger person, I would park there and try to write songs in my car and sometimes I'd bring my laptop up there and produce. And I would just sit in that parking spot for hours. Sometimes I’d even bring my ukulele. Yeah, that sounds like a beautiful spot. What is your favorite thing about living in California? What do you think makes California so unique?

Salem Ilese: Probably the ocean, it's a big one for me. My happy place has always been somewhere at the beach. The ocean is just so healing.

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