Gregg Sgar

Song Premiere & Web-Exclusive Interview


Song: “Signs”


Never one to play by the rules, Gregg Sgar has found new and inventive ways to manifest the kind of music he wanted to create—on his own terms. On his new single “Signs,” he breathes inspiring words of hope onto the track: “Please believe the signs. I’m begging you, read the signs.” The singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist sings, “Even when you’re crying, look for just one sign.” It’s a song filled with poignant lyrics. He holds on to the hope of making music and changing lives.

We talked with Gregg Sgar about his songwriting, his creative process and his passion for making music to help people feel something.

GREGG SGAR Interview
with M Music & Musicians magazine publisher, Merlin David

How did the idea for “Signs” come to you?
“Signs” is a special one. When the co-writer Matt Pelosi and I were writing it, we were at my beach house along the Jersey Shore on Toms River and it was a monsoon outside. The house was shaking from the thunder, and it was raining so hard that it looked like we were in the middle of the ocean. The song started with just the synth chords and drums. Interestingly, the first arrangement was more of a metal song. The composition spoke to me so deeply that I immediately started recording vocals.

Gregg Sgar

Seems like the song has deeper meaning.
At the time it was written, I was watching a family member being heavily affected by depression. A big part of this song was a way of explaining to this person that it’s okay and they’re not alone. It bounces back and forth between the victim’s perspective, and the perspective of hope. This song relates to anyone looking for a sign of hope or who is in need of a second chance. It’s one of those things that happened in 20 minutes—everything was perfect. I just want my fans to feel something—happy or sad, as long as they’re feeling.

How has your experience as a mixing/mastering engineer influenced your own music?
Studying my favorite mixing engineers helps. I look for the little things that inspire me—that people maybe don’t hear, but they feel—textural, hidden elements.

What is one thing you learned about yourself after recording this song?
I have a lot more to do. I haven’t come close to reaching my full potential—and I hope I never do. These songs are where I am right now and I can’t wait to see how I evolve for the next chapter.

Who originally inspired you to write songs?
Originally, Metallica—I wanted to learn every riff and create my own. Once I expanded my palette to other genres of music besides metal, I found Max Martin from listening to the Backstreet Boys record Millennium. The vocal sound was so tight. I wanted to produce vocals like that. Every part of every song is a hook. I want to write songs like that. Also, the dynamics by Trent Reznor, the rebelliousness by David Bowie and the experimentation by The 1975 were my inspiration.

What songwriting tip would you like to offer?
Don’t be afraid of the creative process and get everything out as soon as possible. It’s so easy for the creative juices to go away after the initial waterfall of ideas. So lock your door, send all the texts you need to send, and let it all flow. The mentality of “Oh let me come back to it later” is toxic if you’re in the middle of creating the work. You have to know when the song is done—and move on.

What instruments/equipment can you not live without?
I use Logic Pro X to record and produce. I love working with Native Instruments Maschine—it makes sampling so easy, sequencing so quick and sound designing so boundless. I can’t live without my Gibson Les Paul guitars—especially the 7-string Les Paul.

Gregg Sgar

Which Top 5 Musicians inspired you to become a musician?
My Dad—not a musician, but he learned the guitar to get me into it; Carlos Alomar—songwriter, session-musician, producer, music director for Bowie and others; James Hetfield (Metallica); Supernatural (the TV show because of how similar the life of a musician/artist is to the main character’s story); and Jimmy and Peter Pallis (Anaka band).

What are your Top 5 favorite albums of all time?
Young Americans (1975) – David Bowie
Metallica (1991) – Metallica (aka the Black album)
Trench (2018) – Twenty One Pilots
Vitals (201) – Mutemath
I like it when you sleep … (2016) – The 1975
Songs from the Big Chair (1985) – Tears For Fears
7 (2015) – Seal
The Fragile (1999) – Nine Inch Nails

Tell us a “pinch me” moment when you thought “Wow, this is really happening to me!”
When my last band packed out Webster Hall in New York City!

What is the best advice someone has given you?
One of the reasons I went to school at a college called Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ was because I knew Carlos Alomar was an instructor there. I’ve been a Bowie fan forever and a Carlos fan—who’s a hidden gem. He has this research place—it’s like walking into a spaceship. One thing he said to me was to continue to be curious about everything—keep questioning everything. How I interpret that for my music is to always push boundaries. He said, “Gregg, always say ‘Yes’ to everything.” I said, “What? Why?” He said “Because it makes everything more fun.” He’s right.

Gregg Sgar

Where can new fans get more info and stay updated?
Instagram: @GreggSgar
Facebook: @Greggsgar
Twitter: @GreggSgarlata
YouTube: @GreggSgar
Soundcloud: @GreggSgar

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