Sunday, 1 June 2014

It's My Kind Of Interview - Shelley Segal

We became big fans of Shelley Segal last year when we heard her collaborative album with Adam Levy, Little March. The Melbourne-based singer-songwriter has kept herself very busy since then, working on her latest solo album, An Easy Escape. After hitting 100% of her online Pledge Music goal yesterday, the album is out this week! We've got a sneaky feeling that it's going to be one mighty fine piece of folk-pop. Tonight, Lou has a chat with Shelley about An Easy Escape, touring and the busy year ahead. Enjoy! 

Interview by Lou Endicott

Thanks for taking time to talk to us here at It's My Kind of Scene!

Shelley Segal: No worries :) Thanks heaps for having me.

First off I have to say that I am a huge fan of the jazz infused album “Little March” you recorded with American guitarist Adam Levy. I was lucky enough to see you perform with him live last year (in fact it was my first IMKOS gig review!) Levy has worked with some iconic names in the industry including Ani diFranco, Tracey Chapman and Norah Jones. How did your paths cross and what led to this record being made?

Shelley: It was such a pleasure getting to work with Adam. He is a class act. The producer of my first album, 'An Atheist Album' had worked with Adam on a previous project and thought that we would get along. We spent a week together on what Adam describes as a bind date, writing the songs from 'Little March' in my hotel room in New York. It was such a special time, the first time I had ever collaborated with someone before. We had long discussions and lunches at different quirky local haunts. After sitting with the songs for about a year, we decided to record the album. We recorded it in downtown LA with the lovely Husky S. Hoskulds. It was very minimal, just the two of us and a double bass (by Kaveh Rastegar from Kneebody). It's got this live,intimate and delicate feel to it which I love.

Thanks for your review of our show by the way. We were lucky enough to have our pictures drawn. Very cool!

Can you tell us a little about your process of song writing? What inspires you lyrically and melodically?

Shelley: The process really varies from song to song. Often a real world event will inspire me to write a song. I will experience something that creates a distinct feeling and I will try to capture that feeling. Sometimes a lyrical idea will come first, sometimes a melody and sometimes I will write a song that starts with a groove, guitar part or chord progression. I really like sad haunting spacious melodies, but at the same time, I really love fast-paced, percussive lyrics.

You have a new album coming out this month – which I can’t wait to hear! This album has been gathering support through online pledging. Is this the way of the future for independent artists? What has the response been from fans and supporters so far?

Shelley: Pledge has been a great way to get the album out to people. In the past my albums have been my only merchandise. This is a great way to offer unique merchandise, such as a personalised cover song, happy birthday call, hand written lyric sheet, etc. I feel like I am getting to engage much more with my fans through the crowd-funding. It feels like we are in a project together and I love getting to keep everyone updated and feeling part of the process. This is definitely something I would do again and I think that these kinds of interactive campaigns make a lot of sense for independent artists.

Can you share a little about the style and energy behind the upcoming album? What can we expect in terms of the sound?

Shelley: The album, 'An Easy Escape' has a full band and a folk-rock/pop vibe to it. It's very different to 'Little March' stylistically but still keeps a live feel. Drums, bass, keys, acoustic and electric guitar, vocals and padded harmonies :) A big sound but still getting the story across.

I got a sneak peak at the cover of your new album. I love the illustrative style and the quirky look and feel. I think it suits you to a t. How did you go about finding an artist/designer to create this?

Shelley: Thanks, I'm glad you like it. :)

It was made by an extremely talented friend of mine, Braden Keir. I have used Braden's work before. The disktop art on 'An Atheist Album' is his design. This was the first time I have ever had artwork made to my music and it's been very exciting watching it come to life and seeing how beautiful it looks on the CD.

You will be touring in June to promote the album. What is your favourite thing about playing your music live? Will you have a band with you or will you be solo on the stage?

Shelley: For this album tour I will be playing mostly shows with a full band and a couple of solo shows. Playing live is great, it brings the songs back to life, connects you to the ideas behind them and is an opportunity to share them with people.


Later in the year you have a gig booked for a religious rights, secularism and civil liberties conference in London. It sounds a little intriguing. Can you fill us in on what this event is?

Shelley: The conference will have many different speakers from all over the world discussing issues such as secularism and equal rights for non-religious individuals. These are complex issues that affect many people and so a forum with well qualified speakers will be a great way to raise awareness and facilitate discussion. Some of the topics discussed will include The Arab uprisings; ‘Sharia’ and religious laws; the burqa and conspicuous religious symbols; freedom of expression, apostasy, blasphemy and free thought; ‘Islamophobia’ and racism; minorities versus citizenship; the far-Right; honour crimes; faith schools and religious education; reproductive rights and secular values. I will be there performing songs from my first album, 'An Atheist Album.' I am also running a song competition about related topics called 'Sounds of Freedom' and the winner will be performing at the conference.

Growing up who inspired you to sing? Was there anyone in your life who was an avid supporter of your journey and encouraged your gift?

Shelley: I grew up in a musical family. My father had a function band and I grew up singing with them at weddings. I was always around live music and always encouraged to sing and perform. I remember doing my homework at my father's band rehearsals and getting up to sing. My whole family has been very supportive, encouraging and involved which helps a lot.

What advice would you give to emerging artists who are working independently?

Shelley: Be excited about what you are doing. Put yourself out there even though it can be quite daunting. If you really love what you are working on then that becomes contagious.
Get a great team together. There's nothing better than having a team of people who are extremely talented and passionate about what they do working with you on your project.
There are some amazing tools available to connect with fans and get your music out there. Use them.

Go to gigs, connect with other local musicians and support each other. Plan plan plan plan :)

Some quickies...

Last song that melted your heart:
Shelley: Here by Sarah Blasko and Chandelier by Sia

An Australian artist you admire:
Shelley: Sarah Blasko, Sia, Katie Noonan

An instrument you wish you could play:  

Shelley: Violin

Favourite pre gig ritual:
Shelley: Going for a run

Favourite post gig ritual:
Shelley: A good root ;)

An artist you wish everyone knew about:
Shelley: Humans as Animals

Good luck with your online pledging! I look forward to hearing the new album and seeing you play it live in June!

Shelley: Thanks Lou! Can't wait to play these songs live!

Big thanks to Shelley Segal for stopping by! An Easy Escape is out this week and Shelley also has some upcoming gigs this month in NSW and VIC...

Fri 13 Jun - Northcote Social Club, Melb

Sat 28 Jun – Paynesville Wine Bar – tickets on the door

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