Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Shelley Segal || Interview

I mentioned this in my previous post but Shelley Segal is the big sister every girl needs. Her songs are filled with the body positivity, relationship, mental health, and general empowering advice that I kind of want to bottle her up as my personal advice-giving genie.

Sidelined is a pretty amazing song, is it a recent tune or have you been working on it for a while?
Thank you. The track has been in the works for a while. I wrote it back in 2011 yet we only started recording it late last year. It was fantastic to hear it come to life in the studio. I'd been looking forward to getting down. The clip we shot this February.

Body image is such a big topic for so many people, but it isn't very often covered in music in such a real way. What inspired Sidelined?
I wrote the song after a romantic liaison where my lover said that he wanted me to change the way that I looked for him - that I was perfect for him except in my weight. I wanted this song to describe how I felt after this situation, and after other scenarios where the way I looked affected the nature of my outcomes.
A lot of discussions on body image tend to proclaim that 'it's what's inside that counts'. While I agree to a certain extent - character is more important to me than looks, the reality is that the way you look, and the extent to which you subscribe to or reject society's expectations of beauty will have a major impact on your life. The song for me is accepting this reality, reflecting on it while questioning whether it is something we can overcome.

How did you feel about yourself after you wrote this song? Did it change your perspective on your own body?
It was definitely empowering to be able to sing so explicitly about my body and someone else's impositions on it. It helped me to gain a clearer understanding and acceptance of my thoughts on the issue.

Can listeners expect a similar sound throughout your new EP?
The whole EP was recorded at Birdland Studios with Robert Upward and Lindsay Gravina. The band was the same throughout the project (except for a couple of feature players). We really wanted to keep the sound consistent throughout the record. For one session we had a live recording over Skype as the keys player, Luke Howard, was in Iceland and we wanted him to play on all the tracks. No escape!
The content of the songs is similar in that they are true to experience. They are my reflections and emotions, a perspective that is composed through my experiences and create a space to engage with ideas relating to the everyday.

How do you know when you want to write a song about something? How do you pick the topics you sing about?
Occasionally something will happen to me and even before it's over I'll know that I'm going to write about it. Other times an idea or topic will brew in the back of my mind until the first musical part of it comes out. I like to write about what engages me, what is taking up my attention at that time. After my first album , An Atheist Album where I wrote an entire album after leaving my religion, I decided I liked the idea of completely immersing myself in a topic and writing a whole album about it. I'm looking forward to creating something like that again.

Do you have a song (from this album or a previous release) that you're especially proud of? Why this song?
From this EP, I'm quite proud of Sidelined. I really wanted to put across an idea that was more observational [than] judgemental which is hard when you're, in a way, sticking up for your own body. I think I managed to do that. Another song on the EP I'm really proud of is Background Noises. It was written about some close friends of mine getting divorced. I tried to put myself so completely in that situation, to look around me and imagine what would be different from my life. It's always scary writing about someone else's experience. You want to get it perfect but don't want to be presumptuous. My other favourite tracks are Eve (discussing Jewish and Christian liturgy's taken on woman's roles) and Apocalyptic Love Song (discovering there is no meaning to life).

I hear you're a veteran on the touring circuit; do you still get nervous before debuting new tracks live?
I'm lucky that I have gotten to tour quite a bit! 3 tours at home, eight tours of the US and my first English tour last year. You're spot on - it can be hard to share new tracks, regardless of how comfortable you are on stage! It's different with each new track. Sometimes you're so excited about a track, you're just bursting to play it. Other songs can take a few runs before you feel confident with the response.

Thanks so much for having a chat with Love 'Em!
Thanks so much for having me and for sharing my music!