Talia Segal will charm the Bullfrog Brewery, 229 W. Fourth St, at 8 p.m. Sunday. Recently, Segal granted the Sun-Gazette an interview to discuss her music, life and songwriting process.
APRIL LINE: I like the idea of doing a free CD tour. Are you selling CDs, too?
TALIA SEGAL: Getting free music is cool. Releasing a new album is a really special occasion and it just makes a live show experience feel more special if everybody gets a present. Plus, in a stinky economy like we have - with people on tight budgets and the holidays coming up - it's harder to spring for that $10 CD by an artist you don't really know or care about yet and I really want people to have this album and get as excited about it as I am.
On this tour, CDs and stickers are free. I do put out a tip jar, so that people can leave money if they want to, but it's not at all required.
AL: Your voice is so clear. Have you taken voice lessons? How long have you been playing the guitar?
TS: I'm mostly self-taught, though I did take a few years of classical voice lessons while I was in college, where I learned to sing Italian Arias. I've been playing the guitar for about 10 years; the first five of which I'd only play alone in my locked bedroom. I was really shy about it.
AL: Why aren't you selling stuff on your website?
TS: I'll start selling the new album on my website in early 2012, when it's released. My website was just launched and is under construction, which is why it doesn't have an online store yet. It will soon, though! In the meantime, I have links on the site's main page to both CD Baby and iTunes, if people want to buy my older albums.
AL: How do you afford to travel around?
TS: I've always been good about saving money, living on very little and avoiding debt. While I was recording my first EP, I worked two jobs to cover all the expenses. I kept all the money I earned in a white letter envelope, and everybody got paid out of that envelope.
The guys I worked with used to joke that they felt like we were doing a drug deal!
These days, between album sales, royalties, live shows, my weekly music gig, and survival jobs to fill in the gaps, I'm able to make ends meet. I spend my days off on tour chilling in my (cheap) hotel room, so that I don't waste gas and money.
AL: The production on the third album is really nice. I'm a total sucker for folkish songs with too-honest lyrics.
TS: I'm really glad to hear that you like the production. It was a major objective for me this time around, to make a record with nice "sonic candy" on it.
AL: What's with writing in food courts? They are like anti-inspirational for me!
TS: Malls and food courts should definitely be anti-inspiration, but I'm drawn to them. I love my coffee, but I have a hard time writing in coffee shops for some reason. They make me restless. I find the bustle of food courts both stimulating and comforting.
AL: Are you driving between Laramie, Wyo., and Williamsport in three days?
TS: Yes. I'm a machine! I've got good endurance from being on the road so much, and actually like driving.
I much prefer to drive during daylight hours and I can go eight to 10 hours in a day without batting an eyelash. I'm also a bit of an amateur photographer, so I always bring my camera along.
Road trips can offer some pretty amazing photo ops!
AL: What do you listen to while you're driving?
TS: I like to listen to local radio stations while I'm going across the country. It helps me feel more connected to wherever I happen to be. Usually, my dial's tuned to the country stations. I love country music! The more modern and "poppy" the better! CDs and satellite radio are great, but they make me feel cut off from the world, especially since I tour alone. That said, I usually acquire CDs while I'm touring, since I interact with other musicians and we share our music with each other. I tend to latch onto one or two that really speak to me, and listen to them on repeat for hours and hours and hours.
AL: When you write song lyrics, is there anything that's taboo? Where do you find the most inspiration?
TS: There aren't any subjects that are taboo for me, but there are subjects that are more difficult for me to write about than others. It doesn't mean I won't tackle those subjects, though. I think it's good to push my comfort levels, and consider it a healthy way to deal with issues in my own life. I'm constantly surprised when inspiration comes from totally mundane situations. The other day, I noticed the flashlight that I keep on my bedside table, and wrote a song about it. A song on my last album is about a really profound conversation that I had with a complete stranger while we were waiting for a bus.
AL: Do you live in D.C. now?
TS: Right now, I split time between D.C. and New York City, though I am a Washington, D.C.-based artist.
AL: I love that you say, "I never pay retail." Any shopping strategies you care to share with fellow "hobo hippie fashionistas"?
TS: The best strategy I've found is to buy as much as possible off-season. The selections might be slimmer, but when I find that perfect piece, it's at a rock-bottom price. I also wait to shop when I have lots of time to browse through sale racks and bins. I love Goodwill, and I have had luck with T.J.Maxx's handbag department. I'm a Filene's devotee, and nearly had a traumatic blackout when I heard that they were going out of business. Such a travesty! Another great place to go is the Angel Street Thrift Shops in New York City. They have tons of awesome stuff (including designer brands!), the prices rock and the money you spend benefits programs for New Yorkers with substance abuse, HIV/AIDS and mental illness. So, you shop for a great cause!
AL: What do you wear while you perform?
TS:?To me, a live show is a special occasion, where I want my physical appearance to reflect how I feel about myself, and my commitment to putting on the best show possible. I wear "outfits" when I perform, and tend to avoid wearing jeans - they just feel too casual to me. However, I just found an awesome pair of really dark, straight-leg jeans with some cool detailing on the cuffs that I might work into my "professional" wardrobe.
For more information, visit www.taliasegalmusic.com.