Zen Selekta

Inspired by her spirituality and conscious living practices, Zen Selekta strives to heal her listeners through the universal language and love that is music.

Her original work pulls inspiration from dubstep, UK bass and world music. Combining deep basses with beautiful ethnic melodies and driving tribal percussion, Zen’s music is as much for meditation and introspection as it is for the dance floor.

Zen’s stage presence immediately commands your attention, engulfing you in the present moment. She strives to create an energy exchange with her audience as she radiates and expresses everything she feels throughout the performance.

Zen has taken her live performance global, embodying her calling as a Selekta.

The Interview
By Timothy Baptista

For the record, state your name and who you are.
My full name is Nicole Gracia Barton. I am a half Spanish DJ and music producer.

How did you first get into the underground music scene?
I started going to electronic music shows when I was 15. I discovered more underground artists through attending these events and festivals and by spending countless hours digging for music on Soundcloud. By 18 I was very involved in the underground music scene and fell in love with it.

Where did your inspiration for the Zen Selekta project come from?
Since I was very young, I felt a calling within me that I was supposed to be some sort of music performer. When I started listening to electronic music, I became so passionate about it and began dreaming of becoming a DJ. I started meditating in high school which is what set me on my spiritual path and helped me realize I wanted to do what it takes to pursue a career in music. I found purpose in helping to heal others through my music as music has always done for me. I chose my name “Zen”, later adding “Selekta” when I settled into making dubstep.

You’ve come up quite fast in the scene over the last few years. What have been some of the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get here now?
My biggest obstacle has been staying true to my path and allowing myself to succeed by not giving into my fears, self doubt, or comparing myself and my journey to anyone else’s. It has taken a lot of self work to get to a healthy space inside my mind and I know the importance of mental health to lead a healthy life as an artist.

What are some of your biggest accomplishments to date and what are some you’re still looking to achieve?
My biggest accomplishments include releasing my debut EP recently and getting the opportunity to perform at well-renowned festivals this year.
My long term goals would include starting my own record label, creating a “live” performance with musicians, traveling to different continents to play shows, and curating my own events.

I’ve been seeing your name pop up on event flyers left and right lately. What upcoming events are you looking forward to the most?
I am most excited for my show with DEF in Atlanta on April 28th. The energy at a DEF event is unmatched. Hamdi will be headlining and I am beyond grateful to have the opportunity to open for him. I have been following his music for years and I am genuinely so excited to rage to his set!

I noticed you’ve recently had your first official release with your IKIGAI EP. What’s it been like stepping into the production side of things?
I started producing in 2016 and releasing singles in 2017. I was off and on with producing since I started my project but I am currently committed to growing my skills and stepping into my sound. I am so excited to continue on this journey. My whole life I have dreamed of the music I would create and I finally find myself getting closer to this vision. I am genuinely having fun with it and it feels great.

How do you plan on making an impact in the scene, and what type of legacy would you like to leave behind?
I hope to be a role model and helping hand for other women wanting to pursue their passions. I would love to eventually be in a position where I can lead workshops at festivals like discussion panels, yoga and meditation. I plan to create a platform/collective dedicated to sharing ideas, supporting each other, raising awareness and growing within our community.
I hope to leave a legacy by bringing others happiness and healing through my music and platform as an artist.

Are there any more releases you have planned for the near future?
Currently I am almost done with my next single and I am very excited to put this one out as it is a little different from anything I have made before. I am also working on my next EP which is locked in for my first ever label release. I plan to continue releasing singles as I wrap up my next project.

Who are some artists you would like to collaborate with?
Ourman and Gisaza are two of my absolute favorites. I love their style of dubstep and the ethnic influence in their music.

I know you have a job as a server on top of traveling around the country DJing. Has it been difficult to maintain that balance, and what have you done in order to do so?
It has definitely been challenging. I try to maintain a balance by working Monday-Wednesday. This way I have Thursday-Sunday to work on music, tour and everything else. Working in the restaurant industry is draining but there are things I enjoy about my job like sharpening my people skills, meeting interesting people, and learning new things about cuisine and beverage.

What’s been your favorite city to play in so far and why?
Big Fam Festival 2021 was held in Traverse City, Michigan and I had a wonderful experience there. I stayed for two nights at an airbnb near the festival. I had the best time visiting Lake Michigan, exploring the gorgeous festival grounds and trying the famous cherry pie. I’ve been playing in Michigan for some time now and it’s always one of my favorite crowds. I meet so many kind people that are open to all styles of music.

Favorite place to eat on tour?
I prefer eating vegan so I always do some research on the best spots in whatever city I am playing in. It is tradition for me to go to Watercourse Foods in Denver every time I play there but most recently I was blown away by a vegan cafe in Portland called “Sweetpea Baking Co.” where I enjoyed a waffle, tofu scramble with tempeh bacon and an assortment of pastries with a matcha latte. I’m a huge foodie.

Is there anybody you’d like to shout out?
Definitely. My sister Natalie, who is my biggest fan and supporter. My parents, Lee and Rosa, that come to every show they can and made me who I am today. My stepdad Todd, whose artistry inspires me. George Sideris, who has been a mentor to me since I started my project.

Follow Zen Selekta online