Interviews

Singer-Songwriter Meg Myers Talks Laughing, Then Crying, Then Laughing Again

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Meg Myers-6702_photo_by_Catie_Laffoon

Meg Myers’ closest analogue is early PJ Harvey: a tiny woman with a huge, flexible voice singing songs about sex and death in a way that artfully blends sophisticated songcraft with raw power. The Tennessee-born, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter’s two EPs, 2012’s Daughter In the Choir and this year’s Make A Shadow, are full of intense ’90s-style alt-rock engineered perfectly by Myers and her producer Dr. Rosen Rosen. She’ll be performing Sunday, June 8 at the Governor’s Ball in New York City, and Saturday, August 2 at Lollapalooza in Chicago. Don’t miss her. We were nervous to talk to her, because her music is scary, but when Nerve called, she was eating oatmeal. We had a fun chat about the peculiarities of her personality.

How are you doing today?
Good! Having some oatmeal, waking up. Getting ready to go to the studio.

Anything in the oatmeal?
Well, I put butter and sugar in my oatmeal, and a little soy milk.

But no fruit or anything.
I like to eat fruit before I eat the oatmeal. I do love fruit, but I like to eat it separately. I was eating some blueberries and kiwi, but I don’t want to put that in the oatmeal, because it’ll get all warm and, ew.

Right, you know the expression ‘cool as a kiwi.’
Hahaha, yeah. That’s funny.

Are you ready for Governor’s Ball? Is that going to be the biggest show you’ve played yet?
I think so, but I don’t know, because I go on at 12:15, so I don’t know how many people will be there. I’ve never been to any big festival, so I don’t know how it works. I’d never even heard of it.

It’s the East Coast answer to the other big festivals. So it’s your first festival show.
Yeah, it’s my first one.

And you get to say that you played on the same bill as Outkast, so that’s cool.
Yeah, that is really cool to me.

And what about Lollapalooza? You’ve heard of that one, I’d assume.
I have, yeah. I wonder, is that bigger, or is it about the same popularity as Governor’s Ball?

I don’t know, that’s a good question.
I’m interviewing you today.

Lollapalooza has the history, and since you have that kind of grungy, ‘90s sound, you’d be part of that lineage.
Yeah, that’s what my family and friends have tweaked out the most about so far as me playing that.

And you opened for the Pixies, too.
Yes, last year we did three shows with them, two in LA and one in New York.

What was that like?
It was really exciting, especially since that was the first bigger band that I’ve opened for, and for my first one to be them was so cool, and they were really nice. Yeah, that was incredible.

Did Black Francis talk to you about screaming? Did he give you any screaming tips?
No, I met them, but I talked mainly to the bassist when she was in it. And the guitar player, but I didn’t really talk to [Black Francis] until right at the end. I would just kinda say hi. I think the rest of my band talked to them more. I’m so shy, which is a problem, especially when it comes opening for people or performing, I don’t know, it’s kinda hard, because I gotta get in the mode and I gotta do good, and we’re playing a show and I can’t really go hang out and talk. But I guess I did after the last show, I went out and talked, that was cool.

You have a similar vibe as the Pixies with the contradiction between the emotional rawness and the well-crafted, polished songwriting. How do you balance the two, the rawness and the finesse?
Well, I think the rawness is something that has always come to me since I started writing when I was 12 or 13. The rawness is in me, but I was always inspired by well-crafted songwriters. I listened to a lot of classic rock growing up, like the Police and Dire Straits and Heart and Led Zeppelin, and then I got really inspired in my teenage years by Nirvana and Alice In Chains, and all those guys had such good, well-crafted songs, they’re simple, the way they’re written and repetitive. I was always really drawn to that. But music was also so therapeutic for me, so I needed it to be a way for me to express myself, too, so I didn’t want to just write songs, I wanted it to be more than that. I would say my stuff was still pretty scattered, even though I did write pop songs all the time. Definitely when I met Andy, my producer, everything really came together. Working with him has changed my life. I learn so much from him, especially when it comes to crafting songs. I think we work so well together, and he lets me keep that rawness. And I think there are plenty of producers who wouldn’t, that wouldn’t understand that, and the fact that he sees that and allows me express that is really incredible.

Yeah, he’s really good. Actually, the first place I heard about you was on his podcast, Totally Laime. So he’s sort of your partner.
Yeah, but it’s become even more. We’re working on a new song right now, and, you know, we still have to communicate, to a certain extent, but we work so much like we’re in each other’s heads, we barely have to talk sometimes. We definitely clicked right away when we met a few years ago, but it’s taken a little time to get to this point. It’s really special. People don’t always get to experience that with their producer. 

The other thing you have in common with the Pixies is that you’re kind of scary but also kind of funny. Is that a conscious thing? Like, “I’m gonna kill you” as a come-on is funny, but it’s also scary.
Haha, yeah. Wait, what is the question?

My brothers and sisters are like this too. I think it’s something that has to do with the way we grew up. It’s, like, our genes. Especially my younger brother and sister, who I helped raise. I think I have an extreme version of it, but they have it, too. I don’t know! I really don’t know. I think for me, feelings are so extreme. Like the other day, I started laughing, and then I started crying, then started laughing again. I felt like a fucking lunatic. And it was about something, I’m not gonna say what it was, but it was about something really dark and sad. But I started laughing, and then it went into crying, and then I started laughing again because it was so ridiculous. I don’t know where that comes from.

Do you think in person you’re gentler or milder than your music?
Oh, so much. There is no question about it. There are still moments, like if you’re my boyfriend and you upset me, I can be really scary… See, I’m laughing while I say that. But everybody that meets me, and in interviews and stuff, they’re kind of shocked by the difference. I laugh a lot. I’m not so dark, and I have a sense of humor. The dark thing is a part of me, but the music is where I let it out.

And you’re working on a full-length?
Yeah, I’m going to work today. We’re still in the writing process. We have a few more songs we want to write, and hopefully we’ll go into production in the next couple of months. Probably put it out early next year. That’s the plan, I hope.

Can you give any preview of what it’ll sound like?
There are gonna be songs off the old EP and the new one, and the rest, I don’t know. I pride myself, when I’m writing, on saying, “What is this?” I hear it, and I’m like, “This sounds like INXS meets Tori Amos, what the fuck? I wasn’t even listening to them.” Whenever we’re writing, we’re just like, “Huh, alright.”