For many kids, the story of Meg Myers is considered a fantasy: dropping out of school to be immersed in a diverse and rich musical career. For the Tennessee-born musician, it was simply called adolescence. “I picked up a guitar and started learning, and have been playing ever since. It became what I wanted to do. It became my therapy.” Born in Nashville, the heart and soul of country music, Meg ended up living in the Smoky Mountains, and stopped going to school at 12, dedicating most of her time to her music. “When I was five, I moved up to Toledo, Ohio and I lived there for eight years. And when I got pulled out of school, I moved down to Florida.”
Growing up in so many eclectic environments, amidst a myriad of musical instruments, Meg was shaped into the songstress she would become from her earliest days, and in turn, navigated her own career path. “I grew up around a lot of different styles of music,” she says. “Growing up in Tennessee, there’s a lot of country music and a lot of classic rock from my mom’s side. I always loved drawing, acting, and dancing, but music was always around and instruments were always around that I could just pick up and play.” For her, music. “was the easiest way to express myself.”
Self-expression is something Meg considers to be of singular importance. “I think that first off, it’s really important to not be afraid to feel and find a good way to express your feelings, even if you’re not good at it. Just finding a way, some sort of outlet, whether it’s creative or whatever, to just be ourselves and do what makes us happy.” That happiness is something Meg has found through her songwriting, although her sonic leanings are admittedly a bit dark. “I hate to say it, but most of my songs have a negative, dark feeling or are sad, but I don’t know, that’s what I need,” she claims. “I have to get it out of my body so it doesn’t kill me!” Exercising her personal demons is something Meg has done to the benefit of her audiences. After moving to LA, playing shows and subsequently garnering more and more attention, her now-manager stumbled upon her music on Myspace. However, her breakthrough moment—or as she’s dubbed it, her “oh shit” moment —is something she claims is difficult to pin down. “An ‘oh shit’ moment would be opening up for The Pixies. That was the big ‘oh shit’ moment, actually. But it’s weird because there haven’t really been a lot of them. It’s so gradual and now every show seems to get more and more intense.” She has also opened for Royal Blood, and Broods, and played at festivals like Lollapalooza. This summer, her debut album is scheduled for release, along with a headlining tour launching in May. Her newest single is called “Sorry,” but we’re not sorry at all that we’re seeing more of this aspirational star.
Marianne White: What compelled you to start writing songs and performing?
Meg Myers: I grew up around music. My parents were musical – they played guitar and piano and my brother taught me how to play bass… that was one of the first instruments that I got into. I’ve never really written on it – I’ve always written on piano or guitar, but I love to play it and it’s one of my favorites.
MW: So you got started from your family’s influence? Did that inform your creative process?
MM: Yeah, they definitely. I grew up around a lot of different styles of music – growing up in Tennessee there’s a lot of country music and a lot of classic rock from my mom’s side… we listened to a lot of classical and Celtic… a lot of random…
MW: That sounds very eclectic.
MM: It was, it was all over the place, but it was awesome to be exposed to it. I started really learning songs when I was round 12 or 13 – I picked up a guitar and started learning and sort of have ever since. It became what I wanted to do, and my therapy, and I wasn’t going to school. Starting at 12 I got pulled out of school and I just started playing music.
MW: So you felt like once you started, it was evident that it would be your lifelong passion and career; you kind of knew it from the get go?
MM: Yeah because growing up I always loved creating, and drawing, and acting, and dancing, but since music was always around and instruments were always around that I could just pick up, I didn’t really have to go pay for classes. That’s just what it became. It was the easiest way to express myself.
MW: When did you decide to move from Tennessee to LA? Was that a career choice?
MM: Well, I was born in Nashville and I lived in the Smokey Mountains – my dad is still there, he’s always been there… there is something really special about the Smokey Mountains. So, when I was five I moved up to Toledo, Ohio and I lived there for eight years and when I got pulled out of school, I moved down to Florida.
MW: So you lived in Florida, and that was the last place you moved before LA?
MM: Yeah. I moved to Florida, and that was the first place I ever lived on my own. I moved when I was 18 or 19 and I moved out to LA right before my 20th birthday and I’ve been here for seven years now.
MW: Do you enjoy living there?
MM: I have ups and downs with it. I really hated it for the first five or six years, honestly. I was hating it but I moved out of the city – a bit outside of LA and I’m doing better now.
MW: You must miss nature, going from the wild to an urban metropolis.
MM: It wasn’t easy; I have to have my ‘no people around’ place – especially since I have to have people around for work constantly.
MW: When you got to LA did you start performing right away?
MM: Yes, when I got here I got a job at a coffee shop and the whole time since I’d been here I was waitressing and every few days I’d play an acoustic show somewhere. I’d always try to find musicians to play with, but it always ended up being too rock ‘n’ roll and I couldn’t find what I wanted. I played out here for a few years, and then my producer discovered me on Myspace and we started working together.
MW: How do you feel like your songwriting has evolved since you got picked up by a producer?
MM: I feel like it’s made it so much better, that’s for sure. It’s made it a little… a bit more impactful and easier to understand like since I’ve been working with Andy. It’s what I’ve always wanted and needed help with. He came along, and we just clicked and he just brings out the best in me. I think it’s definitely harder sometimes because if you grow up writing you’re just writing, and throwing your songs out there then someone comes along and starts crafting everything and it’s awesome. That’s what I want and what I need. I think it’s good, but sometimes it’s like ‘oh, this is work.’
MW: I think it can be as emotionally taxing as it is rewarding to be in a creative industry.
MM: Yeah, because you want to completely let out your emotions, but sometimes I think it can be completely irrational or not make sense on paper, but he takes them and fixes them.
MW: What inspires you when you’re writing songs? Is it stuff you’ve been through emotionally, your environment, your personal relationships…?
MM: It’s a mix of everything, but I think that personal relationships tend to be a big one… personal relationships and stuff that I’m going through… depression…
MW: So it allows you to get it out?
MM: Yeah, I think that, well, I hate to say it, but most of my songs have a negative, dark feeling or are sad… but I don’t know… that’s what I need. I have to get it out of my body so it doesn’t kill me.
MW: What are you listening to right now? Is there anything that influences you musically?
MW: Do you ever, when writing songs, make arrangements for multi-instrumental stage plots? Would you ever bring any string instruments into your writing?
MM: Yeah, well Andy and I have a lot of ideas that we’ve written on piano. I don’t know if we have anything out yet, but we definitely have a lot of piano stuff for the album. He and I aren’t classically trained, so we don’t have the ability to do that fully.
MW: Is there a moment for you over the course of your growth and your process in your career that you would count as a breakthrough moment?
MM: I think that probably it’d be one of the first shows with this project. Our first shows were at the Bootleg; we did a residency, I don’t even remember how long ago, maybe a year and a half ago and since then. An ‘oh shit’ moment would be opening up for The Pixies. That was the big ‘oh shit’ moment, actually. But it’s weird because there hasn’t really been a lot though… it’s so gradual and now every show seems to get more and more intense.
MW: Do you have any dream collaborations?
MM: I’m sure that there are collaborations out there that would be really amazing for me but I feel like you never know until you meet them. I’ve said before maybe John Frusciante.
MW: That’s always in the realm of possibility.
MM: Yeah, I think someone like that who has a raw sort of… there’s also, yeah, I don’t know. There are people who I looked up to growing up who I really love that it’s like ‘would that make sense for me?’ I might love somebody so much, but then you meet them and it’s like ‘aw shit.’
MW: Is there anyone who you would consider your mentor in this industry?
MM: It’s a mix of people. I would say that Andy my manager/producer is the main person because I’m with him so much, but even that sometimes it’s like you need to call your dad. I call my mom and just cry to her and my dad. Also, my lawyer has been really great, a sort of mentor to me. He’s a really nice, zen sort of dude. I have a lot of really great friends and family there for me who don’t necessarily understand the music industry, and I have a lot of friends in the music industry who don’t understand the deep side of me who needs family and needs to cry. I kind of choose as I go along who to call.
MW: If you weren’t doing music, what do you think you would be doing with your life?
MM: I love nature so much and animals, and it’s what really makes me happy and feeds my soul. Maybe I would be doing something with that or doing another type of art. I love drawing and acting and dancing, so maybe something like that.
MW: Is there a particular artist that you like?
MM: I’m trying to think. I really love sketching so much, I’d say, over painting… I just… nobody is coming to my mind… I grew up being really inspired by my stepdad.
MW: Is he an artist?
MM: Yeah, he’s an artist. He’s so good. I also love cartoons.
MW: It sounds like you were surrounded by a lot of inspiring people growing up, so I can see why you chose the path that you’re on. Are there any words of wisdom that you live by that you would maybe give to someone who wants to be a musician?
MM: I think that first off, it’s really important to not be afraid to feel and find a good way to express your feelings even if you’re not good at it. Just finding a way, some sort of outlet, whether it be creative or whatever, just going on a walk, just finding someway… and not hold your feelings in… I think it’s really important to let them out. Also, I just think it’s so important, and we forget everyday, to just be ourselves and do what makes us happy. I think just ‘be yourself.’
MW: I think that’s beautiful, and people really do lose sight of that.
MM: Yeah, it happens to me sometimes too, and I have to say ‘Meg, you’re you.’
MW: This is the legendary issue so we’re featuring past, present, and future legends. What do you think is your personal definition of the word ‘legendary?’
MM: Legendary? Hm… that’s a tough one. It’s so tough because I don’t want to sound ignorant or not true to how I feel… it’s weird, I have idols and stuff, and there are legends and people but to me I think… I don’t know. I mean I think even a legend can be someone in your family. I think about my grandpa way more than I think about any famous person.
MW: What was he like?
MM: He was adventurous and would take me on motorcycle rides and would take me in his plane and he was really fun, he was a really fun guy.
MW: He sounds like a badass.
MM: Not to go back to the feeling thing, I don’t want to sound cheesy but I think a legend is how they make you feel. That’s so hard.
MW: Is there anything that you’re working on right now that we should be looking out for in the next year?
MM: I’m working on a full-length album that either late this year or early next year I’ll be releasing. I’m going to be playing Governor’s Ball…I will be doing some touring and playing some other festivals, but I can’t announce it yet.
Hair by Yuji Kojima
Make-up by Noel Nichols
This article originally appeared in The Legendary Issue of The Untitled Magazine (2014), pick up a copy of the issue here!