Sally Seltmann has carved herself an impressive an admirable career as a songwriter and performer. As she now turns her attention to developing a new record label in Los Angeles, Sally took some time to speak about why she chose to start a label, taking her music into new directions and learning to accommodate her nerves in her professional life.
This rather leafy illustration of Sally Seltman comes from Melbourne’s Christopher Karamihos.
HAPPY: Hi Sally, it’s good to be speaking with you. You’re in Los Angeles now right? How long have you been there?
SALLY: Hi! I’ve been in LA for about a year now. I’ve been coming to LA for quite a few years doing writing with other people, and my husband and I really like it here and just thought it’d be nice to move here.
HAPPY: Well I guess it is appropriate now that you’re the head of a big label. You’re there with all the label big shots!
SALLY: Yeah! (laughs)
HAPPY: I was very intrigued when you announced your label Three of Hearts, how did that come about?
SALLY: Well, it pretty much came about because my two New Buffalo albums and my album called Heart That’s Pounding their rights reverted back to me. So I have the rights again and I thought I just wanted to release them again on my own label. So I started up the label, and then I thought that I didn’t want to start a new label without having a new single, so I wanted the first thing off the label to be the new release.
HAPPY: So since then has this project developed any further than a channel to release own music on?
SALLY: Well, at the moment it’s just to reissue my stuff, but I’m not sure what I’ll do with it in the future. I think I’ll just play it by ear.
HAPPY: So it’s still a pretty casual affair then?
SALLY: Yeah. I always go with what feels right at the time. Then wait to see how I feel then keep figuring it out down the track (laughs).
HAPPY: So I guess even though it’s early days for Three of Hearts how much work do you have to put into it?
SALLY: Well it is a little bit of work as I’ve discovered over the last couple of weeks! It’s not too bad. I’m used to working quite a lot with all the music stuff I do. But it’s been a good feeling and I feel really surprised by the response. Some people seem quiet excited that I’ve started my own label. Hopefully it encourages people that they can all do that kind of thing as well.
HAPPY: What would you say is the biggest benefit of now having Three of Hearts?
SALLY: I guess it’s being your own boss! You get to make your own decisions on what you want to take on and how you want to do things. That’s always good. I’ve pretty much always worked with independent labels anyway, so I am used to doing things on quite an independent level when it comes to releasing my own music. Yeah, it’s felt quite exciting and new to me because it’s something I haven’t done before.
HAPPY: Being a relatively new part of the business to you did you have to ask around for advice?
SALLY: Not really. I’ve been quite involved the way I run myself as an artist and as a business over the years. I did get some help from a few friends to get there opinions on different things, but I feel I’ve been in music for quite a while now. I feel like I have a good grasp of how the music industry does work I think. So I felt kind of okay about with going ahead with it all.
HAPPY: So moving forward with it was there anyone you had in mind you’d like to sign to There of Hearts one day?
SALLY: Ummmm, I don’t know! (laughs). There’s not anyone I can think of right now, but I guess I’d always be open to hearing, something. (laughs). Yeah, I’m not really sure. For now I’m just using it as a way to launch my new single and reissue my back catalogue, and then I’ll wait and see.
HAPPY: Well if you had say, a dream signing to Three of Hearts, does anyone come to mind?
SALLY: Oh, ummm. Hmmm, I don’t know! (Sally pauses then begins to giggle) I can’t really think of anyone! Sorry!
HAPPY: (laughs) That’s alright! Well I know things are still quite young, but have you thought about any ideas as to who you’d like to see things grow with Three of Hearts?
SALLY: (thinks for a moment), Wow, you’ve made me realise that I don’t have big long time plans! (laughs). I kind of act impulsively and start doing things! (laughs) So no, I don’t have any major long term plans. I think I just like to go along, try new stuff and do things, and just see what happens. For now I still love writing and recording my own music, and I co-write a lot of songs for other people too. So that’s kind of what my main thing is right now, but I guess I’ll see what happens with the label. Maybe suddenly it can become a big thing! (laughs).
HAPPY: Well I think it’s really cool to see you do this, it’s not often that a songwriter like yourself will dip two toes in different waters so to say, and as you said before there is plenty of potential now to inspire up and coming artists.
SALLY: Thanks! You’ve made me feel reassured about doing this whole thing (laughs).
HAPPY: Well as you’ve said the label’s first release is your new single We Are the Music, and when I think about it it’s an unashamedly jolly track.
HAPPY: I read that when you came across the melody and the music you just wanted to make a song that would make people happy, is that correct?
SALLY: Yeah, usually when I think before I write a song I’ll have these feelings and I’ll think “What kind of song do I want to write today?“. And that often changes as it goes on, but for this I thought that I really wanted to do a really fun song that people would can just feel happy when they listen to it and dance around with their friends.
HAPPY: Is that kind of the direction for the next album?
SALLY: Well this approach has been quite different. Usually I try and approach each album like it it’s own world. We Are The Music is quiet different to stuff I’ve done in the last couple of years. It’s much more pop, and up, and happy!
HAPPY: Would you say that is a weird different or a good different for you?
SALLY: Oooh, that’s a good question! It’s always feels there risk in involved in working on my music, to make songs that don’t sound like your other songs (laughs). Which I guess is kinda fun, and something that I have the courage to try new things like. So yeah, it feels kind of fun for me now and often the beauty of when you’re an artist when you make music and put in into your world, you’re the on who chooses what you’re gonna sound like and what it can do, there’s no rules. It just feels kind fun to be able to offer music for people that’s different.
HAPPY: You just mentioned that it teaks courage to take that step forward, I imagine a lot of that was needed for all these things that you have going now?
SALLY: Yeah, I’m quite a nervous person. There’s nerves with everything I do (laughs). I just feel like I’d rather be nervous and try new things rather than not try new things. Then usually once you make a decision and put something into action the you get a good feeling.
HAPPY: Awesome! Well with that mind my final question for you, at Happy we always write about stuff that makes us happy, so Sally what makes you happy?
SALLY: What makes me happy? Lots of different things. I’m really happy when I’m working and writing songs and making music. I’m really happy when I’m with my family, and I’m happy when I’m with my friends having a good time. (laughs). I’m happy when I’m running, and I’m when in nature! Is that too many things? (laughs)
HAPPY: Is that running amongst nature or those things separately?
SALLY: Running in nature (laughs).
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