Interview: Shelley Segal

Shelley Segal is a talented young Australian musician set to release 2 very different albums simultaneously. I was given the opportunity to ask her some questions about her music and her career, I hope you are as intrigued as I.

Welcome to Beauty and Lace Shelley, what made you want to be a musician?

I was brought up in a musical family, singing from the age of three and performing with my father’s wedding band from age eleven. I loved music and I loved the joyful atmosphere that it added to people’s special occasions. Those experiences during my childhood made it an easy choice. I’ve always known that I was going to be a musician.

Can you tell us a little about your career to date?

I’ve been performing my original music live for 10 years now and recording for four years. I made my first recording in 2009, an EP with Josh Abrahams.
In 2010 I co-wrote and recorded a song, ‘Chemistry’ with DJ Carl Cox and Davide Carbone. The song was a drum and bass single on Carl’s last album and our remix spent 2 weeks at number 1 on the beatport charts.
In 2011 I moved to the UK for a production deal and recorded two albums. The first is ‘An Atheist Album,’ a reflection on my world-view as an atheist, on religion and related themes. I have been to the US six times last year to perform my music for various secular/humanist/atheist conferences and I am currently on my first ever national tour with a double album release.

Where does your songwriting inspiration come from?

At 11, when I first started writing songs, it was almost like therapy. I would write songs to get things off my chest. It was great because I would feel relieved and also productive at the same time. Turning a difficult experience into art. Now my writing has evolved. It’s a lot more about capturing a moment, a reflection, an idea and what it feels like. It’s more about communication now, as well as expression. I tend to write about what is engaging me at the time.

How would you describe your music?

I would describe my music as story-telling. I’ve written and recorded pop, folk, jazz, blues, country, electronic, reggae and rock songs. Writing across a really broad range of genres and what makes the song stylistically mine is the way I deliver it. I like to be very expressive and honest with my vocals and my lyrics.

You’re releasing 2 albums on February 22nd and 2 singles, can you tell us a little about why there are 2 albums?

The two albums are ‘An Atheist Album’ – a folk pop almost protest record and ‘Little March’ – a jazzy/bluesy collaboration with US guitarist singer song writer Adam Levy. It’s nice to be able to release two contrasting works at the same time to showcase the range of what you are doing. I know that I’m going to be releasing a lot of varied material in the future and I feel like this double release will reflect that. It’s great to feel free to write whatever I like, regardless of genre.

What sets the 2 albums apart from one another?

‘An Atheist Album’ is a reflection of my world-view as an atheist. I was brought up in a religious community. I became an atheist around age 19, while I was traveling around the world. I began to take issue with some aspects of mine and others’ religions. I think it’s important for everybody to have the tools to be free, to choose how to live their own lives and to do so free from discrimination. I became involved in secular activism. ‘An Atheist Album’ documents my change in perspective, challenges dubious moral doctrines as well as the idea that only the devout can be grateful and good.
Little March is less political in nature. It was a collaboration with Adam Levy. Adam, as well as being incredibly talented (he plays guitar for Norah Jones, Tracy Chapman and more), is also a very warm and genuine person. The albums are going to be very different as one is the combination of two different writers reflections, as opposed to just mine. Also stylistically, the songs on ‘Little March’ are jazz, blues and folk tunes. The instrumentation is also very different. The tracks are a lot more raw and bare bones than ‘An Atheist Album.’ They also have the guitar as a feature.

Can you tell us a little about the upcoming Aussie tour?

This is my first ever Australian tour. I’ve played a lot of shows overseas but this is the first time I will be playing outside Victoria and I am really enjoying it. One of the great parts of touring is meeting locals and learning the geography of the area. It’s a real treat to get to do that in your home country.

What can we expect from the shows?

Other than my Melbourne show, my gigs are solo. I sing and play guitar alone. As with my song writing, I like my performances to be raw, honest and expressive. I like to sing passionately (or to sing my guts out!!) and I like to share my thoughts, inspirations and reflections with the audience.

What’s next for Shelley Segal?

The day after my Aussie tour, I will be heading to the US for three months. When I return I will be releasing a new album along with another Australian tour. So lots of gigs, lots of traveling and hopefully lots more experiences to write about.

What does being a woman mean to you?

In the not so distant past, being a woman in my society meant that your path was already mapped out for you. For many women today, it still does.
I celebrate the fact that I am not held to those same gender roles and am able to identify as is relevant to me.
Growing up in a religious environment I found that my gender defined expectations upon me and my behaviour. That was the first lens through which my ‘womanness’ was understood. It is only recently, having rejected this ideology, that I am able to respond, explore and discover what being a women can mean for me.
Perhaps, because of this introduction to gender from which I have rebelled, I now associate it with freedom and autonomy.
Being a woman, to me, is about embracing all aspects of who I am. It is also about the freedom for it to have whatever meaning I want it to.

Thanks so much for your time Shelley and good luck with the album releases.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to share my music with people. It’s much appreciated.

If you are as intrigued about Shelley’s music after this interview as I am you can check her out live in the following places:

Friday Feb 8
Babushka Bar, Ballarat
Supported by Lauren Glezer
Doors open 8.30pm
$5 Entry at the door

Tuesday Feb 19
Byron Bay Brewery, Byron Bay
Free entry

Sunday Feb 24
X&Y Bar, Brisbane
Doors open 8.30pm
Free entry

Wednesday Feb 27
The Toff in Town, Melbourne
Supported by Lauren Glezer and Anna Smyrk & The Appetites
Doors open at 7pm
$15 entry at the door or $12 presale:: 03 9639 8770

Saturday Mar 2
Tatts Hotel, Lismore
Doors open 7.30pm

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