We’re excited to announce that Mary Segato is our featured songwriter for February. Mary's been a member of Frettie from the very beginning and we're excited to finally get a chance to learn about her process and see what she's been up to these days. As always, if you like it and find it valuable, please don't hesitate to share it with others!
Where do you call home?
Wolfville, Nova Scotia
Where did you grow up?
Halifax, Nova Scotia
When did you write your first song?
I wrote my first song at 16 years old.
How did you get started in songwriting?
I had been writing poetry for a few years when my children were young. As they became older, I picked up my guitar after a very long absence and started writing songs.
Did you have any parents, siblings or was someone else in your family musical?
No, but my uncle had played guitar. This introduced me to my passion for music.
Do you have an ideal setup?
Although I did set up a small space for music with a tascam recorder and mic, I don't use that space to create, but rather to record my demos. But now with the usage of cell phones, I usually just record on that. It is always nearby when I'm feeling creative.
What book(s) or blogs are you currently reading?
I recently finished "A house in the sky" by Amanda Lindhout, "The World in Six Songs" by Daniel Levitin, and "Virgin Cure" by Ami McKay. I am now reading "The Paying Guests" by Sarah Waters.
Who are your top three favorite artists or songwriters?
This is difficult because I have many. But definitely Carole King, Diane Warren, and Adelle would be among my favorites.
What is your songwriting process typicaly like (from start to finish)?
Well I usually pick up my guitar by my fireplace, and if something is brewing inside my brain, it is usually apparent very quickly. I then keep playing what ever piece of the melody is with me until a song starts to take shape. Sometimes the lyrics and music come together in which case I quickly record and write the lyrics down. Other times, I just have the melody which I record and come back to at a later date if lyrics come. Other times a phrase has come to me that I write down which usually ends up being a title to a future song. Once I have the bulk of the song down, I then go back to it for a few days or longer to refine my lyrics. Often, I find if I don't at least get the majority of the song down, it is unlikely that I go back to it. I have lots of melodies on my phone that I never seem to get back to. If I think the song is reasonable, I will then have it recorded.
What album are you currently listening to?
Today, I have been listening to Adelle, Ed Sheeran, and Dean Brody.
What other creative outlets do you have besides songwriting?
Throughout the years I have done scrapbooking projects, knitting, beading, poetry, and cooking.
How do you stay inspired?
I think life experience everyday is what inspires me, either through my own personal experience or from others around me. It could be something I hear on the news that has a strong affect on me which inspires me to write down those feelings. I find songwriting to be a great form of self expression and dealing with feelings that sometimes we are not really conscious of.
What's your biggest challenge as a songwriter?
I think my biggest challenge as a songwriter is getting my songs heard. I am not a singer/songwriter and do not perform.
How important is environment in your writing process?
I am definitely a creature of habit! I always write in the same place. I like to have quiet and be by myself when I'm creating. I need to break out of this and start the co-writing process which I recently have done with my daughter. This was a very interesting process for me. I hope to do more of this.
What time of day do you prefer to write your music and where?
I usually write in the evening by my fireplace, but the odd time have written in the morning; although seldom, because I don't seem to be that disciplined. There are always other things I feel I have to do first.
What's your favorite memory as a songwriter or musician?
I think my favourite memory would be the first award I ever received for placing a song in "Song of the year". It was one of the first songs I'd ever written and it was recorded with me singing and playing which I don't like to do. I guess it was a confidence builder to keep trying and writing more!
How do you maintain your professional growth?
Well I have only been into songwriting for the past 5 years, so haven't done a lot of networking with others. In the beginning there is a lot of self-learning, but I have gone to 3 or 4 songwriting workshops over the past few years. I also try to read the various articles to different music sites I belong to, for example Songwriters Association of Canada.
When it comes to lyrics: pen and paper, or computer?
I have never used the computer to write. I always have my notebook nearby.
What are some of your greatest accomplishments to date?
I have won numerous awards as a semi-finalist and finalist with ISC, UK, Song of the year and a few others. I also won Songwriter Universe January 2015. Most recently I won Toronto regionals for IMSTA FESTA songwriting competition. I am presently competing against the winner from NY, Chicago, and LA. We each had to write a new song with "Santorini" in the title. The winner will go to Black Rock Studios in Santorini, Greece. The winner to be announced at NAMM in California the end of January.
If you could provide any advice to up-and-coming songwriters, what would it be?
I think the biggest thing for me to realize is that you must be "thick skinned" and not take too seriously what anybody has to say about your music. Music is very subjective, and just because one person doesn't like it, doesn't mean you're not a good songwriter. Also, I will always learn something from every critique regardless of whether it is favourable or not. Most importantly, the more songs you write, the better you get. Like anything in life...practice, practice, practice.
What online tools do you use today for songwriting?
I really don't use any online tools, sometimes the dictionary online if I'm looking for a word.
How has Frettie benefited you and the songwriting community?
I think Frettie is a great resource for songwriters, especially for getting feedback from other like minded people. When you are starting out as a songwriter, it is a little intimidating when there is no support network. Getting feedback on your song from non-musical friends and family is not as helpful as it is from other songwriters.
What's next for you?
Hopefully good things:) I don't really know, but hopefully the near future brings me to Santorini, Greece! I would like to concentrate on getting my music placed, and writing new songs. Maybe get another FACTOR Grant, which I was grateful to benefit from in 2015.
Thanks for the time Mary! One final question.. Besides Frettie, where can readers and songwriters find you?
You can find me on Frettie, Facebook, Soundcloud, and my Website!
We encourage everyone to give Mary a shout out, say hi and check out the awesome music she's writing on Frettie!
Until next time!
- The Frettie Team!
P.S. Want to be a featured songwriter on Frettie? Hit us up in the comments below!