If there hadn’t been a pandemic, Segarra might have made a very different sort of album from Life on Earth, which became the record she’s waited a lifetime to make. Like the rest of us, Segarra had the disconcerting experience of putting the brakes on life as they knew it in March 2020. “I need to keep moving all the time,” says Segarra on a Zoom call from their light-filled studio in the shotgun house they call home in New Orleans’ Seventh Ward.
Segarra had been a human embodiment of Newton’s First Law of Motion even before they ran away from their home in the Bronx at age seventeen, illegally hopping freight trains or hitchhiking across the country in the company of a band of street urchins, sleeping rough under dense underbrush at night and hiding in trees for shelter. Coming from a fractured family, they weren’t quite sure what they were looking for, but they had the feeling they would know it when they found it. And they did when they pulled into New Orleans in 2007. There Segarra formed two bands: Dead Man’s Street Orchestra and Hurray for the Riff Raff, releasing an EP and seven albums with the latter.