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Interview: Megan Washington


For many music lovers, their instant attraction and love affair with Megan Washington was one of the many singles lifted from her 2010 debut album ‘I Believe You Liar’. The ARIA-winning songstress has since pumped out two more studio albums of delightful alt-pop, and her latest single Saint Lo is an dreamy and brooding introduction to her forthcoming album. With the release of the single’s music video, we chatted to Washington about the creative process behind her latest crop of songs, the artists who inspire her, and overcoming her stutter!

First off, we’d like to congratulate you on the release of your new single Saint Lo! We love the shimmering soundscape and your gorgeous vocals. Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the track? 

Saint Lo is an avatar for sex and sensuality. I resonate with the idea of personifying a concept and to my mind nothing is more sacred and sacrificial than a saint. The song is a meditation on how much we sacrifice for love, and how devotion is a notion prevalent in both romantic and religious ideology – so a fusion of the two makes perfect sense to me.

Musically I have been exploring rhythm and a percussive vocal… listening to a lot of rap, and the ‘Hamilton’ soundtrack. I’m trying to figure out how to write a song without belting the shit out of the melody, because when it comes to touring and singing live I just find myself pushing and pushing and there’s zero chill. This is a song where the music does most of the mood-making, and I get to “surf” that wave melodically. It’s very relaxing!

You’re currently working on finishing your new album, what’s the creative process behind making a new record like for you?

Every record is different. Every time I start to make one I find I am never using the same process as before, obviously if you do the same stuff you get the same result. Having said that, I’m a serial re-drafter… so the only really consistent habit I’ve always had is doing about 20 master vocal recordings.

I always think I’ve cracked it and then a few days later I want to change something, big or small, like the way I take a breath, the shape of the chorus… it drives my producers crazy!

Your musical beginnings are rooted in jazz singing, however your style has evolved into something more along the lines of indie pop. How did that transition take place?

I just started writing my own songs, I guess… it’s kind of that simple. I never really think about genre, just repertoire and what a song can ‘do’. I think more about function than form, so in my music genres kind of come and go and bleed into one another.

I don’t think any artist wants to make music adhering to a trope, otherwise it’s just a parody, right? I’ve never understood fashion bands, or people who sing “songs in the style of” whoever. I don’t think that’s actually creating, it’s recreating… which is a different skill set entirely. It’s like those people who recreate famous paintings. Even if they do it really well, they’re not putting those elements together for the first time. I don’t want to do that.

Who are some artists you find yourself looking to for inspiration at the moment and how do they differ from your inspirations when your career first began? 

I think I have always been and will always be mostly drawn to narrative and storytellers. People like Rufus Wainwright, Leonard Cohen, Jeff Tweedy, and erudite rappers like Missy Elliot.

I care about words more than anything else. I think it’s for this reason I’ve never been able to put a “la la la” or a “yeah baby” into any of my songs because I feel like every sound out your mouth has to be doing something for the story, otherwise it’s gotta go!

I suppose over time my taste has evolved to appreciate the more condensed, pop versions of that idea… writers like Robyn, Sia, Adele, or Tame Impala. They say so much in so few syllables. Sonically I just do whatever the song wants.

You’ve spoken out extensively about growing up with a stutter and even gave a TED-X talk on the subject. How do you feel talking openly about overcoming something like that has affected you as an artist?

The most recurring thought I have on a daily basis is something like, “We’ll all be dead in a minute so just do the thing”. That may seem maudlin but it’s a very comforting thought to me.

I think that fear is fed by the idea that there’s some attainable level of correctness that we need to strive toward, and I wholeheartedly disagree with that. I spent a long time believing there was a right and wrong way to do something, but now I know that’s not true.

There’s only you being your most authentic, and that shouldn’t affect what you do, only how you choose to do it. The only way having a stutter affected me as an artist is that it probably MADE me an artist, because singing was my main form of therapy.

Lastly, what do you do to wind down and take a break? 

I play with my dog, Friday! She’s a great dane, she’s heaven on four legs.