To move from a small town in Texas with a population of 1,200 to London, when you’re only eighteen-years-old takes a lot of guts. The remarkable thing about Shea Seger, who did exactly that for the purpose of exploring her musical desires, is that she had no reservations about the move. “I went and fell in love with the city,” she says. “I was completely enthralled with it, so I came home to make sure that I wasn’t being irresponsible.”
Three years after moving halfway around the world to pursue a musical venture that never panned out, Seger has put her experience and inherent traits into her confident and compelling debut, The May Street Project. A collection of infectious pop gems such as “Last Time” and the can’t-get-it-of-your-head hook of “I Love You Too Much,” the album mixes her bluesy Texas roots with the more contemporary London dance beats. It’s a unique combination she has affectionately dubbed “mutt pop.” Her sound and style reflects a diverse selection of influences that runs from John Fogerty and the Beatles to Nat King Cole and Johnny Cash.
“What I come from and what makes me up musically are lots of different genres and lots of different ends of musical spectrums,” she says. While that diversity is an admirable quality, it also can make things difficult in the category-crazed world of popular music. It’s certainly made Seger’s task of finding the right musical companions harder over the past few years. “I talked to people before in my past musical ventures and personally they wanted to work out, but musically they didn’t really understand, because there were so many factors involved,” she says. “I knew it was going to be a matter of balance ultimately.”
Seger found that balance with songwriter/producer Martin Terefe, and a group of friends that includes Flawless/Interscope recording artist Kenna (who was signed by Fred Durst), Nick Whitecrest (ex-lead singer of Kissing the Pink), Ferrell of the Neptunes, and singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith, who duets with Seger on the beautiful “Always.” “I wanted a couple of people who I felt were trustworthy and I felt that I could use as a sounding board,” she says.
In finding a group that she gelled with musically, as well as personally, Seger created her own little bohemian commune for the writing and recording of The May Street Project. “We had a very small core [group], lived on top of one another for a very long time and just kind of sucked each other’s brains. And they were the first people that really understood or were willing to go there with me,” she says. “All of us did everything — the writing, this and that — it just depends on which track. It was a close-knit unit for about a year. It was an amazing experience I will probably never share with anyone else.”
In support of the album, she was able to open a few dates at Radio City Music Hall opening for David Gray. Even for someone who’s appeared on Late Night With Conan O’Brien show, as well as multiple European dates, playing Radio City was an overwhelming experience. “It was really surreal,” she says. “The Radio City experience all the way around was awesome in the truest sense of the word. It was really crazy. The first date you just felt like you had been transplanted into some film that you didn’t have to pay the admission to get into. But the second date was kind of a bit more relaxed.”
Helping make her more at ease, or making her more nervous, was the fact that her family drove from Texas to see the shows. Because of her family, which she remains very close to, Seger has kept a watchful eye on American politics during her years as an ex-patriot. Her father is a disabled Vietnam veteran, which she says has influenced her life since infancy. “This country and our government played a very big role in my life growing up,” she says. A very opinionated free-thinker politically, Seger is not shy about expressing her views. “We live in a comical life in a farcical country. There’s inspiration for me everywhere I go. It’s kind of scary how much there is to be had right now,” she says. And while she does hope to incorporate her strong views into future material, she says The May Street Project doesn’t have an agenda because this was more about telling her personal stories.
“The album’s very much based on me as a person,” she says. “That’s my sister [on the CD cover]; that’s the town I grew up in, and these stories are a summation of twenty years of whatever.”