Elegant and haunting music to set the mood for the colder, darker months ahead
I met Ségo while studying abroad in Venice last fall. After seeing a painting of mine, she introduced me to her music and I am so excited to share her work and brilliant thoughts on creativity with you today!
Interview with Ségo Raffaitin:
When I asked Ségo how she would describe herself, she said:
I am a French woman, fascinated by English language and culture, who fell in love with Italy at age 19 in the same way that you might find a cousin you never knew: it felt like meeting a long-lost family member.
What are you listening to right now?
I just started listening to Moodymann, and his eponymous album. I love the piece called “Ulooklykeicecreaminthesummertyme”, it’s a cool overview.
I used to listen to vocal music almost exclusively, now I’m getting more curious about instrumental stuff, like house/funk.
How do you like to start your day?
I don’t have a ritual, I am genuinely unable to keep up a strict routine, even if I try.
Sometimes I go for a run, sometimes I do yoga, sometimes I just go get breakfast.
Coffee is imperative though.
I don’t have roommates to talk about my weird dreams with anymore. Actually, I don't think I've ever had to spend my mornings alone and it kind of it freaks me out just thinking about it. Morning is when you enter the world, and I want it to happen gradually by making contact with the outer world: other people.
I will be sharing links to Ségo's music throughout the interview:
Listen to "l'appuntamento" here
What do you do when you’re feeling uninspired? Has that changed because of quarantine?
YES. I started to write when I got back from Italy actually, just before quarantine. I had done that before in notebooks, but I think that writing by hand is just less natural to me, even if I think it looks cooler.
So I opened a word document and just wrote. The only rule was to not re-read what I was writing.
Typing felt so right. Your writing and your thinking are virtually simultaneous. So yeah, it was a revelation. It has liberated me in so many ways. The fact that you don't allow yourself to read what you wrote totally frees you from any fear of judgement, because it protects you from your own judgement (which is usually the harshest). I ended up emptying a bunch of stuff and explored my own thoughts and feelings and ideas much more deeply than when I’m just thinking.
Putting things into words like that, without limits or goals, just allows things to emerge. Ideas, new thoughts, a bunch of stuff, in the middle of a useless stream of flowing thoughts.
Now, whenever I’m feeling weird or uninspired, I just write for a moment, try to unclog the stream, clear out the heavy stuff that might be weighing on my imagination. And it usually works!
Any fun musical projects you're up to these days?
I wrote a song about taking a nap under a tree, and now I’m waiting for a dear friend to help me mix it properly. I'm going to incorporate some nature sounds that I recorded this summer in the forests and gardens I visited.
Listen to "Divagation" here
I love how you initially introduced yourself:
“Well, I am a happy person navigating a life surrounded by wonderful human beings. Sometimes I think that I think too much but then I realize it's what makes me grow and that I wouldn't want to be anyone else.
I am unsure, very curious, trying to find my way. It's as exciting as it is terrifying”
Does this “way of being”, so to speak, shape the way that you compose and create your music?
I guess? I find it hard to look at my own music. I think my mind finds rest and ease in making music.
When I sing, and when I write stuff, it’s like I disconnect, the only thing that matters is what is happening in the moment: those few words that you will choose, the melody you’re creating, the sounds you imagine, how you will make them happen. It's so peaceful, just writing it feels right. I also think that singing helps you to let go: something literally comes out of you! It’s so good, everyone should give it a try.
But even if I feel pretty happy, I tend to create “melancholic stuff” or idk how to describe them, maybe “deep”? Some have said “soothing”?
Definitely not funk, if describing what it’s not can give people an idea : it’s definitely not funk. I can't quite describe it though. . . maybe it's because I love combining multiple voices so much, slowly layering my voice to tell stories.
Listen to "une compo pour la fin de l'été" here
We live in a world where it can be very easy to share your creative work (especially music) with the everyone through social media. When I asked what sort of artist you would consider yourself to be, you said:
“an in-my-room artist???? I post videos on instagram and I record homemade stuff with my electric piano and the mic on my headphones”
We grew up with this, so I think it has been relatively easy for us to embrace the potential that the digital/social media world holds for art. I am curious to know how you distinguish between your private experience as a musician and the public image that you create for yourself as you share your music with the world on social media.
Surprisingly (or not) there is no difference between what I am and what I share, I mean musically speaking. Of course some songs I've written are too personal for me to post, but I think that's no different from someone who posts some poems on their blog and keeps others private.
I feel no pressure. I create. And if, by chance, people are interested in what I do, then they can discover, listen to, and download my music! I know that some songs could be perfected, that the recording isn't always “professional", but that's just the kind of artist I am! In my room and in the world.
Listen to "REALITY" here
I love that you highlighted the difference between your deep, melancholy work and your bright, cheery personality when I asked about your main source of inspiration:
“my own emotions usually, I feel like I compose either about stuff I've experienced, or stuff I want to imagine myself into, as far as the lyrics go, at least. The general mood it gives though is a little bit startling for me because my music is kind of "dark" at times but in life I'm also like super energetic and deeply happy, so the contrast is still a mystery to me.”
I have two questions, actually. First, a more philosophical one: how do you think your emotions, memories, and imagination interact with one another as you engage in a creative act? Do you have to be very intentional about how you address each (emotion, memory, and imagination)? Or do they mix and meld with each other until you figure out what to do with them??
My second question is more psychological, do you feel like your music is an outlet for feelings that you would not normally express? Or is it rather the source of emotions which you are not at comfortable with?? How do you see it?
Yo these are SOME questions!
I don’t think that much when I’m writing songs. I mean usually the music just kind of comes to me. I do know that I naturally tend to create images, though. I guess that's how I handle the mixing of emotions and imagination and why it’s sometimes hard to find the right words to say it all. As everything is mixing together, the words will suddenly sound right: they suddenly represent whatever I'm trying to say. Even if they seem vague or absurd.
I also like the idea of images, the idea that people will have to interpret images that are not transparent and cannot be understood instantaneously. I also like songs that are not too direct. . . when it tickles my imagination, it's charming, dreamy.
I’m thinking of King Krule’s OOZ for example, and his poems as Archy Marshall, and freaking poetry in general actually, you get the idea! You can link the words to whatever it evokes in you, even if the artist meant them in his own personal way.
But then, at times, when I have something to say or a strong emotion, whether it's anger or sadness or peace, it feels good to be able to let it out in some way other than talking to people in real life. You are free to allow it to take whatever form it wants.
I also love how songs can “contain” a certain moment for me, like what I was feeling at that particular time, what I lived, you know? Like a picture, it becomes something.
You said that you’ve found composing to be intimidating because of Serge Gainsbourg? Was it because you felt like you had to achieve something similar?
Yeah, okay, the story is that in high school I discovered Gainsbourg's discography. It is HUGE. Hundreds of songs about everything, from the sound of a razor in a bathroom where a girl is shaving her legs to mumbles about love.
Some are so subtle, so elegant. His style is just fascinating, and simple, it’s hard to put it in a few words. So anyway when you plunge into a universe this rich, and then you try to compose some music yourself but you're just in highschool………………………...
You usually begin to learn through imitation, I mean in art but also in life, I guess. But imitating Gainsbourg is impossible. So I was not proud of what I was creating, because it was never "as good". But then I found my own voice, and Gainsbourg's influence combined with all the other artists I admired. So I stopped comparing myself to him, haha.
Listen to "SUD" here
Finally, I just want to include what you had to say about your time in Italy and ask what it was about “living so intensely” that perhaps prevented you from composing any music.
“I started the year in Italy, where I was hardly composing anything, maybe because I was living so intensely?”
How would you describe/explain the period of time you spent not creating anything new? For me, when I have those spells, I usually feel as though I am gathering up new memories and emotions. What would you say to that?
I honestly do not know what happened, haha!
It was the first time I've had such a remarkable experience without feeling the need to create. I wasnt even worried about it actually.
I remember trying to write a song about Venice one day, on the little piano that I bought in Padova with my roomate. I was facing the window in Via Castelli, thinking to myself, "Girl, you’ve been here for months now, living life to the fullest, but you're just singing covers. . . HOW COME?!"
But none of the words or images seemed right, or close to what I was feeling. So I figured if it doesn't come, it's just not gonna! And I thought the same thing you said, “Yeah, well maybe I'll have to digest this experience and then something will come out of it eventually...” but it never did. Maybe it will, in like 2 years. (“Oh shit, Venezia was like this!”) Haha, I don’t know.
I also tried to compose in Italian, thinking that it might add a different color to what I was experiencing. I remember reading these lines (I think it's a translation of an Indian poem but I have no idea where I read it) :
“ Il tetto si è bruciato,
Posso vedere la luna”
It's been on my mind for a while, I was writing it in my notebooks, drawing stuff around it, then I wrote something of a song based on it. But I haven't yet made it a “proper” song.
Merci beaucoup, Ségo!
Listen to my personal fav, "Ophélie" here
And then go follow Ségo on soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/s-go-raffaitin