Megan Lara Mae
THE fabulous Megan Lara Mae…
has been giving me the skinny regarding her new single, From the Ashes, and how the song came to be. I was keen to know whether more material was coming and which artists have inspired her to this point – she tells me what Brighton is like a base and how inspiring it is.
Mae reveals who she’d support on tour given the chance and recommends a rising artist we need to get involved with; whether there are going to be gigs coming up; which musical memories she counts as the most precious – I was keen to know how songs come together and whether she has a songwriting process.
Hi, Megan. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi. My week has been great, thanks! My band and I had our debut London headline gig on Saturday at The Finsbury. The main support was Dutchkid - it was their first-ever live gig but they were insane and, if that’s what they’re like now, then we should expect crazy things from them by the New Year!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
So. My name is Megan Lara Mae and I’m an unsigned Electro-Pop singer-songwriter. I’m originally from Birmingham but I moved down to Brighton a few years ago to start studying (I absolutely love Brighton and have no desire to move at the moment…). I was brought up learning and playing Classical music and within church choirs - I like to draw on this, together with my contemporary music training. My songs aim to have an uplifting and empowering yet sentimental vibe that can hopefully identify with many people.
I would say it’s for fans of Sigrid, Florence and the Machine and Bat for Lashes.
From the Ashes is your new track. Is there a story behind the song?
There is indeed...
So. It’s reflective of my own story but, essentially, the song carries the message of rising from a dark place and going into the light, while never dwelling on the past. So, for me, I had an experience in my life that hurt me pretty bad and put me in a really dark place and I could’ve kept following that path for myself, getting darker and darker… but, instead of dwelling on it and letting that define me, with a lot of help from some amazing friends, I was able to rise from it and be at peace with the situation. I hope that From the Ashes can help other people in similar situations.
Might we see more material next year? What are you working on at the moment?
Oh, yes! So From the Ashes is the final song to come out from my current project - my debut E.P., Into Daylight. But, my goal is to make everything I do a learning process so that the next thing is always bigger and better than the previous thing…so, at the moment, I am currently producing and finishing writing some brand-new material ready for a new project to come out in 2019…keep your eyes peeled!
How do songs come together for you? Do you set time aside to write or is there a particular process?
There’s no particular process. I used to fear writing lyrics, as I’d told myself I couldn’t do them, so I leaned on building my creative process for the melodic side of things. But, since moving to Brighton, I’ve loved going for bike rides and walks along the seafront, which is just the perfect time for me to think (and probably overthink) – but, usually my best lyrics come from these times. So, now, I try to go on a few solo bike rides and walks every week.
Do you recall when music came into your life? Was there a moment you knew it was the career for you?
My first-ever musical moment was when I was six-years-old. The teachers at primary-school clearly saw something in me and gave me the lead role in the junior musical - I was the Frog in Frog’s Spring Party (so much fun!). From then, music was a process and I just constantly grew a love and desire to be involved in it more and more and I eventually studied classical flute, piano and voice all up to grade 8.
We went on a family holiday to Corfu when I was twelve and my parents encouraged me to sing in all the karaoke bars. My favourite song to sing was Don’t Know Why by Norah Jones. When we were there, we met someone who asked whether I wrote my own music. With limited life experiences to draw from at age twelve, when I got home I tried putting together the piano and my voice and actually started improvising to films that I’d put on silent and out came some songs. By fifteen-years-old I was performed my original music and shows and festival across the U.K. and that’s when I looked back and knew that it was a career for me!
Which artists do you consider to be role models and inspirations?
I’m inspired by the works of legends, including Elton John with his heavy piano-led songs and Kate Bush, whose voice is just incredible! I love Kate Bush’s crazy attitude and sweeping melodies and this is has definitely become a feature in my own music. But, I’m also influenced by lots of current artists…the ‘Pop’ genre is massive so I try to listen to so many artists in this style by engaging with Pop playlists on Spotify. Some specific artists that I adore though include Sigrid (all her songs are hits!); Rae Morris (she just oozes ‘Cool-Pop’) and Lorde (everyone knows how brilliant her stuff is).
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
My 2018 goal was to release my debut E.P. I started recording and producing the tracks back in January and the first single off the E.P. came out in April 2018. Since then, I’ve been dropping tracks from the body of work and by the end of the year I hope to have achieved this goal. I’d also hope to have everything ready for the next project by the time the year comes to close. I’m just loving being in the creative head-space at the moment!
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
I have two…
Firstly, in summer 2017, I had the crazy privilege of playing a few sets at Glastonbury Festival. While it wasn’t a big stage or anything, just the opportunity to play at one of the most renowned festivals in the world was mind-blowing. The feedback was incredible and I’m praying that I get a similar opportunity to play at Glastonbury 2019!
Secondly, as I’ve said I aim to write songs with uplifting messages that can identify with audiences. Earlier this year, I released my first single from the E.P. called Caribou. The song is about not letting things chase us down but to persevere in these times. Just after releasing it, I got a message from someone saying how they’d been listening to the song during their mornings to help them not feel down but to encourage them to keep going, despite what their life’s circumstances was telling them. This is exactly what I want from my music - not to just release music, but to make a difference to people’s livelihood.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Sigrid! She is killing the game at the moment! To support such an awesome artist who has been noticed for her credible Pop songwriting would be an opportunity-and-a-half!
And, my rider…I’m quite a simple person (I like to think anyway). Before any gig I love having a hot drink of honey and lemon, so that’s pretty much all I’d request. I asked my guitarist what he would want too (his expectations are clearly way bigger than mine) - he would ask for a PS4 with a T.V. screen, probably with additional driving seats for specific games and then a coffee machine (we are Brightonians and therefore need good coffee).
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
This industry isn’t easy but, if you’ve got dreams and ambitions and are clearly gifted to make it as an artist or musician, then absolutely don’t let other people discourage you. Society tells us we must have ‘proper jobs’ or work at desk or whatever, but some of us just don’t function like that. I don’t believe we’ve been gifts in music to let those gifts become dusty and eventually forgotten.
If music is your brick in life, then put that brick in the bucket first; then you can add your smaller stones (e.g. money) and then the sand (i.e. all the little details in life)…don’t add the sand first or else there’s no room left for the brick. This was recently my advice to myself and it’s made such a difference in my approach to my music career – so, I hope that makes sense and can be helpful to others.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
My next gig is in Southampton on 7th November at Heartbreakers with my gorgeous band and we will be supporting a very cool upcoming Indie-Pop duo called Deco. Then; I’ll be heading to my hometown of Birmingham on 7th December to play at the Cuban Embassy, so if you’re in one of the two cities, then please come along! (There is also potentially a little support tour lined up for the New Year with a super-cool artist, but that’s all hush hush at the moment…).
IN THIS PHOTO: Dutchkid
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Absolutely. Please go check out Dutchkid! As I said; they were insanely good when they supported us on Saturday in London. They are an Indie-Pop band with some killer-catchy tracks and I would not be surprised if they go massive very soon! Also; a Brighton-based artist called Lydia Evangeline - the voice on that girl is from another world. I’d describe her as Power-Pop, but she also has the ability to break chains with her lush intimate voice.
IN THIS PHOTO: Lydia Evangeline
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
While I’m not brilliant at unwinding; I always make an effort to have one complete rest day per week. I usually do this at the beginning of the week so that I’m working from my time of rest, rather than resting from working myself into the ground. I love to channel my creativity into other things like making tote bags or finding some cute activity on Pinterest and seeing if my close friends want to try it out with me. I’m also a bike ride lover and get such a thrill from cycling to new places and seeing what else there is beyond what I already know.
Finally; who can’t unwind to a great Netflix series…?
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I’ve mentioned them quite a few times now: but Dutchkid are epic so I’m going to choose my favourite of their songs, Glow
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