“Truly an artist with international flair” – (AU review).
Shelley Segal‘s powerful voice has taken her around Australia, Hong Kong, China, England and eight tours of the United States. She has performed to festival crowds of over 30,000 people.
An artist, an activist and an explicit storyteller, Shelley uses her music not only to express the way she sees the world but to create the world that she wants to see.
How would you describe your journey in the music industry so far, and where do you want to go from here with your music?
Hi – thanks for having me!
I’ve been performing for a long time now. I started out playing in my dad’s wedding band and then started performing my own material at 15. Since then I’ve released 2 EPs, 3 albums, I’ve toured across Australia, the United States and the UK. I’ve started my own indie label and publishing company. I’ve moved to the United States and written for other artists and projects. It’s been an incredible adventure and I hope to be doing all of the same things in the future, just bigger and helping other artists to achieve their goals.
When did you know you wanted to make music and perform as your career?
I’ve always been doing it really. I started writing and performing at the same time, around age 11. I grew up surrounded by working musicians so I always saw it as a viable job. It’s something I’ve always loved and I’m grateful to be doing it.
Who have been your musical influences through life?
The first music I listened to from about 6-10 years old (other than all the Disney movies) were singers like Tina Arena, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and Taylor Dayne. I loved their voices and their vocal performances which conveyed so much emotion. When I was 9 I first heard Alanis Morisette’s ‘Jagged Little Pill’ and it changed my life. I realised that you could make truly powerful statements through music. Even though I always kept up with pop music (being in a wedding band and all) I started to get more into folk and roots singers that I felt had a strong message. My favourite artists were Jewel, Ben Harper, Ani Difranco, Katie Noonan (George). After school, I studied music and was introduced to jazz. I fell in love with all the old standards and masterful voices like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and also Aretha Franklin. I began to appreciate more instrumental music. The last few years I’ve been obsessed with Mark Kozelek and influenced by more delicate music like Tiny Ruins and Brighter Later.
Are there any artist’s or musicians that you have been so impacted by that it changed your view on life or mentality?
I would say Alanis Morisette and Ani Difranco. As I mentioned above Alanis showed me that music could express really powerful messages and that’s when I started looking for that in music. Ain Difranco is the embodiment of that. I spent every day at school in the library looking up her lyrics and making notes on the parts that moved me or made me question things. What’s amazing about artists like this is they stay with you forever, Their phrases can spring back to mind when you encounter something. It’s magical. I want to be part of that exchange. I want to share my thoughts and ideas (as they grow and change) through music. I want to use my music to change the world like their music changed my world.
How would you describe your sound, and why is it unique from other artist’s sound?
I would describe my sound as Folk Pop. Sometimes Folk Rock. I do like to belt and get worked up, let it all out hehe. I also love including jazzy chords, I like my songs to be harmonically distinctive. It’s not always called for especially when there is a focus on the lyrics but it’s something I like to play with. I think my voice, my thoughts that come through are what makes my music unique. I have all these influences and I’m sharing my experiences, my political thoughts, my hopes. my pain. That’s always going to make you unique coz it’s yours and yours alone.
What can fans expect from your upcoming Australian tour in January?
I’ll be performing new songs and old favourites and of course, lots of stories from the road. Maybe even some new stuff I’ve been working on in LA. I’ll be performing as a duo and introducing the electric guitar which has been a nice addition to my live sound. I definitely will be performing ‘Begin Again’ a song I wrote for the Emmy award-winning web series ‘Venice,’ my new single ‘Somebody Like You’ and songs from my upcoming EP.
After touring Australia what is next for 2018?
I’ll be releasing my upcoming EP that my current single, ‘Somebody Like You’ is from. That is an epic record and I’m really excited to get it out there. I’m also working on a conservation-themed EP with a biologist from Washington State about the Puget Sound Watershed (a local environment) and the animals that live there. We’ll be incorporating animation and virtual reality elements. We want to share this beautiful resource with the world and impart a message of conservation for Puget Sound and for the planet as a whole.
If you weren’t working in the music industry, what else do you think you would be doing with your life right now?
I’d like to be a biologist, working in genetics or as a science communicator. I’m so enamoured with animals, with the natural world and with our ability to comprehend it through the scientific method. I think it’s so important for societies to be scientifically literate so that we can make the right decisions for our future and so that we don’t get taken advantage of so I’d like to work in that area or promulgate the work of those who do.
What’s one song fans might be surprised you really like?
I don’t know if anyone would be surprised by my music and influences are so varied. Perhaps some people would be surprised how much I love and appreciate pop music. Growing up in a wedding band really showed me how much people love and value pop music, how great it as at making people move and feel amazing. It’s the soundtrack to a lot of people’s lives. I really appreciate the art of creating something that can move hundreds of millions of people in 3 minutes and 20 seconds. It’s not the end of things for me but I don’t care to knock it for the sake of its popularity. One of my favourite songs in the world is ‘Peaches in Regalia’ by Frank Zappa. That was the first time I really cared about a piece of instrumental music so it changed my life in a way.
Do you have one performance that stands out so far as being your favourite, or most memorable?
It’s hard. I love playing music with my friends and I love performing with my dad on violin. Sometimes you get that transcendent feeling just playing covers at a bar if it’s the right vibe and you’re loving the people you’re playing with. Most memorable would be performing at the Reason Rally in Washington DC on the National Mall in 2012 and then 2016. Performing to tens of thousands of people. Sharing the line up with Tim Minchin, Eddie Izzard, Wu-Tang Clan. That was incredible.
Also performing at Stereosonic on stage with Carl Cox was pretty freaking sweet!!
Lastly, just for fun – If you had to eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
That’s too hard haha. Vegetables I guess. If I can sneakily count that as one food. Coz you can cook them in so many different ways and eat them raw as well so you’d get some variety. Although you wouldn’t Iive too long.
Thanks for the chat!