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Shelley Segal: 'An Easy Escape' - Album Review & Interview

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by Leona (Devaz) Fensome (subscribe)
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Published May 26th 2014
'Morocco' from new album An Easy Escape
Shelley Segal
Shelley Segal 'Morocco'

There's a lot of talk surrounding Shelley Segal's new song 'Morocco' from her upcoming album 'An Easy Escape' set to launch on June 6 this year. At the time of the interview, the filmclip had over 30,000 views. Not even one week later, there's now over 50,000 views. Segal is touring through Sydney and Melbourne in June and July, if you haven't had a chance to view 'Morocco', the clip is below:

Shot over a two day period in Morocco, Segal flew over from London [while recording her new album] with her team a production company consisting of a director and cameraman. The song was inspired by a trip made to Morocco in 2007 with friends and filmed in Marrakech and Essaouira. "We had a local team as well, a local makeup artist who works on film and stuff over there."

The song has received mixed reviews.

A news blog in Morocco posted the story [of her song] and framed it as Segal being very critical and denouncing the kingdom of Morocco, which she explains never happened. "Everybody that saw the video through the website, was watching it through that lens. I think that is what spurred on the really aggressive responses. I think that is interesting in itself, how an article is framed can really shape what people are looking at. It makes me wonder how often that happens for us, we read an article and just take it for granted it is being objective."

Segal raises a valid point when it comes to journalism and how media can steer readers thinking.

"I think it is a bit disappointing that people want to get that kind of hatred across [negative comments], it's never pleasant to read. The way we can kind of have this global conversation is pretty new and pretty amazing and some of the comments have been really positive and really encouraging. It's great for me as a songwriter to put something out in the world and to get a response. I am grateful to have people, even in their criticism, properly engaged I was happy to hear them."

When reflecting on the 2007 trip, Segal explains that she remembers being excited to see such a beautiful country and experience that with her friends. As a tourist, everything was accessible but as the trip started, " I started to see things that were a bit darker and not part of a fun trip, so that song kind of reflects my experiences on two levels. And I don't think it is specific to Morocco in every way, there are issues in every country nowhere is perfect."

Critical debate is an integral part of Segal's ethos and something she cites as that is a big inspiration for her first album An Atheist album. "That was a bit contentious, I didn't expect this to be contentious! I think it is really important to question things though and discussion of really complicated issues is important. I was saying earlier today the clip really puts Morocco across in a really positive way, it is really beautiful. Some of the comments have been 'I want to go to Morocco now!'"

A secular activist, it seems apt and quite timely that Segal will be performing and speaking in London later this year in October at the Religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Liberties conference. She'll be performing songs from 'An Atheist album', and is incredibly excited about the opportunity. "When I do my performances I tend to speak a lot, I try and get a few words in anyway. It's so amazing, to be on the same lineup as some of the people. A lot of them I look up to and read actively."

Segal will be spending a month touring the UK and performing during this time, "which will be pretty fun and nice to be back on the road. After that I am going to be releasing another EP, I am going back into the studio next week. I am really excited about the EP it is going to be pretty special. It's a combination of all the things I have been doing. Folky, jazzy, all smooshed together."

No stranger to touring, majority of Segal's fan base interestingly resides in the USA. "I think I got a bit of traction over there with my first record An Atheist Album. I've been to the US ten times, touring and playing shows. So really that is where I've been building my fan base. It's just me going by myself really! It's pretty fun and I do a lot of shows and conferences as well. It's really nice, the organisers will put you up and you don't have to sleep on a couch!"

A close friend works as Segal's tour manager and everything is done under her label. "I have my own record label and we put it all together through that. When I was in the UK, recording this album we were having talks with major labels." Segal explains that she understands sometimes as an artist people only want to concentrate on the artistic side of things. "You think I don't want to deal with business I am the artist. If it is going to be successful and if it is going to be a viable career which is what I want if I am not in charge of it and not running it my way, it will be done in someone else's way, with someone else's ethics."

"I get to work with a bunch of other awesome local talent and help them with their careers, I never thought I would enjoy business so much. It's a lot of work, but the rewards are: getting to present yourself in the way you want and not having to do things with the consideration of what is going to appeal to the masses."

For Segal, having a company still means she needs to look at surviving and getting by. She understands it can be challenging, but knows this isn't specific to Australia,"I want the freedom to do things that are important, something that is really unique and special." Amidst the highs and lows, Segals father and her family remain her number one fans. Growing up playing in her dad's wedding band, a young Segal played different genres of music throughout the night, dance music, rock music, jazz and folk.

"My family come to every gig. My old man will play a song with me on the violin. Its really nice. I did a show in Adelaide and they surprised me, my old man just jumped up on stage!" Segal's family aren't the only ones eager to see her play, it seems her foray into electronic dance music was met with open arms as well. These things happen when you pair up with a UK heavy-hitter in the dance music scene.

"I am friends with Josh Abraham and he actually recorded my first EP [in Fish Tank studios] with his partner David Carbone [Drum and Bass producer], they were working on Carl Cox's album. I wrote a track with them and that was picked up for the record, I played at Stereosonic with Carl Cox in 2010. That was amazing, 35,000 people and everyone was going nuts!"

Segal has certainly creating a ripple effect with her melodic vocals, heartfelt passion, thought-provoking lyrics and continues to do so. For her, leaving a legacy like one of her musical idols Ben Harper is a dream, "he has been a really big influence as he puts so much of his world view into his lyrics, they are really quite political in a way," and as Segal so eloquently frames it, "find your own way and be happy."

Staying close to her fans brings great joy, not only does Segal enjoy chatting to fans after her gigs, she also personalises her work."Sometimes, when I get an order for a CD, I go to the post office and buy a package, sit down and write thanks so much on the back. People will email and say I can't believe you signed the CD! I thought there was a factory where they package it and send it out! I think it seems a lot more glamorous than it is, it is a lot of fun and to be able to put something out into the word and resonate with people that is a pretty amazing exchange for me."


Fri 13 Jun - Northcote Social Club, Melb

Thu 26 Jun - The Vanguard, Syd

Sat 28 Jun Paynesville Wine Bar tickets on the door

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