Released in time for Mother’s Day last month, the glorious new single Mother from Melbourne singer-songwriter Shelley Segal simultaneously tugs at the heartstrings and awes with warmth. A stirring ode to Shelley’s own mother, Mother is also accompanied today by a sentimental music video featuring footage of Shelley with her mum that perfectly complements the raw and beguiling new track.
STM: What’s the Shelley Segal story?
SS: I’m an artist and songwriter from Melbourne Australia now based in LA. I grew up singing and playing music in my father’s wedding band – which was an incredible foundation for a life in music. I played cover gigs around Melbourne for many years. I eventually started recording and performing my own music which is a singer songwriter / folky / story-telling style, though still very influenced by the pop and rock I grew up singing at functions.
I got a degree in music at Box Hill Tafe, opened my own label, True Music and started releasing my own music and touring overseas. I booked my own tours and built a dedicated fan base around the US until I eventually moved here in 2016. Since then, I’ve opened my own studio and music production house where I work with other artists and creating music for film and TV.
STM: Tell us about your new single Mother?
My new single is inspired by my mum, Jenny. I had the idea for the song when I walked past the mirror and saw my reflection in the corner of my eye. For a split second, I thought it was my mum that I was seeing and I was blown away by how differently I processed the image of my own body, when I thought it was my mother. It was an amazing revelation to me how much I look like her. How beautiful and perfect she is and how it follows that I am as well. As her beauty is undeniable to me, so became my own. It’s a message of self-love, strength and defiance.
STM: What’s the creative process like for you?
It’s different all the time. It depends on who or what I’m creating for. Sometimes I’m just writing because I feel I have something I need to get out. Usually when that happens, I pick up my guitar and will start with a melody, a riff or a lyric or sometimes a combination of those.
When I’m working with other artists, I try to tap in to what they’ve been going through lately and find some relatable experiences in my own life and draw from that. When I’m working to brief for a project, often we’ll pull up a track, jump in the booth and lay down a bunch of takes and pick the bits we like best. There are endless ways to do it. I love doing it alone and I love doing it with others too.
STM: If you could change something about the music industry what would change?
I think I would like it to be more diverse. I think that’s something that is happening and is very exciting, but it still has so far to go to work towards creating accessible spaces.
STM: What do you think life would be like for you if you didn’t have music/visual art as an outlet?
I can’t even imagine. Music is my whole life. It’s the way I process what I go though. It’s a way I connect to others. It’s my every day. It’s been the adventure and gift of my life. I don’t want to imagine life any other way, I think we all need that creative outlet. I wish more people got to experience the catharsis from writing about your experiences. I love writing with other artists and helping them to get their message out in the way their want to express themselves. It’s one of my favourite things because I know how good it feels to get up on stage and perform something that perfectly expresses how you feel or think.
STM: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with?
Yes, lots of people. I’d love to get to write with Ani Difranco. Or even just spend time with her. She really changed the way I saw the world and inspired me to be part of that change of consciousness myself, through my own music. I’m also lucky enough to have collaborated with Adam Levy on our album Little March. So that’s collab goals already made! https://shelleysegal.bandcamp.com/album/little-march
STM: What’s your advice to young people who want to make a career for themselves in the industry?
I would advise young people to learn the business side early. If you understand what assets you have then you can advocate properly for yourself in every situation. It’s hard to learn and takes a while but is invaluable. It’s allowed me to advocate for myself and others around me. I would also say to try and keep a part of your music that’s just for you. There can be so many moments of rejection, or compromise, sacrifice, disillusionment. But if you have this sacred part of it, that’s just for you, that you can keep coming back to and cherishing no matter what then I think that can help you get through the harder days.
STM: What’s your favourite song to perform?
I love performing ‘Dance Me To The End Of Love’ with my father, Danny, on the violin.
We’ve been playing the song together for decades. We’ve performed it as the first dance at people’s weddings. It’s very special to me and when I play it with my dad it feel like time has stood still
STM: Got any secret hobbies that we might be surprised by?
Actually yes! I’m super into table tennis. My whole family played and as a teenager I would train several days a week with the state squad. I was nationally ranked and played competitively as a junior for many years. I love it so much – it’s the best sport!