In-between jokes and serious reflection, Washington is ready to continue showing a raw vulnerability that is the driving force behind her evolution as an artist. Following the release of her new singles ‘Claws’, ‘American Spirit’ and ‘Dirty Churches’, the Brisbane singer-songwriter is finally hitting the road again for a string of exclusive East Coast shows. “After finding this new artistic self, I feel like I just need to take her on the road and test drive her” she admits after discovering a newfound confidence. She’s no longer afraid to get experimental and have fun and she’s no longer afraid of pop music. After releasing her sophomore studio album ‘There There’ and becoming a mother, she’s found an untethered side to her creativity. Inspired by all the great alternative pop which is taking over the airwaves currently, she wants to get a little magical with her unique take.
I recently chatted to Megan Washington about sonically heading towards a heavier indie-pop direction, reflected on her evolution as an artist from her debut album which was released nine years ago, reminisced on bad parties and discussed about becoming a tree in the afterlife. Check out the chat HERE;
TB: Your new singles ‘Dirty Churches’, ‘American Spirit’ and ‘Claws’ hear you heading towards a more synth injected indie-pop production. So what has been sonically inspiring you recently?
MW: It’s been a lot of things really. I’ve been listening to a lot of pop music which is not something I’ve done before. I used to avoid pop music but for some reason I’ve been really excited about all the alt-pop music which is coming out at the moment like Troye Sivan and Sasha Sloan. There are a lot of dark textures in pop music currently so I guess that has really inspired me to dive towards this new sound.
TB: In 2017 you did a tour with symphony orchestras where you played a new album of material. Are we going to hear any of those songs re-appear? or have you found that your direction and message has shifted from that time in your life?
MW: It’s been funny because I’ve been trying to find a way to talk about this. I kinda made a record and all of the songs I did on that symphony orchestra tour are from that record. We were getting ready to put things out but I started making new music that I was more excited about so I hit pause on it. I’m not sure what will happen with that record but I’m really vibing what I’m making now. I know it’s really unorthodox, indulgent and wasteful to be like “hmm, I don’t know about that anymore” but I really feel like I’m onto something with these new songs and I’m just going to follow it and see where it goes. But that old album will get released in some form at some point.
TB: It’s been nine years since you released ‘I Believe You Liar’. So reflecting back on your debut album what would you now say is the strongest and weakest thing about it?
MW: The strongest thing about it is how immaculate it is *laughs* No, I love that record though. Your first record is always so special and magical because they say it takes you ten years to write it and that was very true for me. I started writing songs when I was 14 and by the end you are in your early twenties you are like “yes, this is exactly what I’ve been thinking about”. It gets so many layers added to it. I really love how strange and bold it is, and how dark and filly it is. I guess the weakest thing about it is the cover art *laughs*.
TB: Whats so amazing to see is that after nine years people are still connecting to that record so deeply. I was looking at your Instagram yesterday and reading through everyones requests on your post about your upcoming tour and so many people were asking for deep album cuts like ‘Clementine’. It must be so cool to see that response still?
MW: I seriously have the most amazing fans. I feel like I originally took my fans for granted because I thought all fans were like that but now that I know the industry better I know that my fans are extra amazing and are very special in my world. People still ask me for songs off my EP’s that I made when I was in University, which is so crazy and cool. My fans really dig deep. That’s one thing I really loved about that Instagram post because it showed me whose listening and who wants what. I really wasn’t sure what would come from it but it seems like there is a very even spread of songs from singles, b-sides, rarities to collaborations as well as album cuts that they want to hear. Sadly I’m not Springsteen though, I can’t do a three hour set but I was really overwhelmed by how amazing the response to requests was.
TB: Was there any songs you were surprised people wanted to hear?
MW: Yeah! Gabe from Japanese Wallpaper asked for a song I did on a collaborative jazz album with Paul Grabowsky when I was 19 which made me laugh.
TB: Ever since the early days you’ve always been very vulnerable through your music with songs like ‘Underground’ reflecting on death to the likes of ‘Marry Me’ which saw you becoming unengaged. So looking back at your back catalogue and to your new material what would say has been your most vulnerable moment as a songwriter?
MW: It’s funny to me because ‘Underground’ started off as a joke. I thought it would be a quirky concept but turns out death isn’t that funny *laughs*. However I do think the process of writing ‘There There’ with Samuel Dixon was the most vulnerable I’ve been with another person. I mean, ‘Insomnia’ was very sad and vulnerable too. It was made in a time of my life where I was really depressed and so fucking sad. But even then the songs on that EP weren’t as bare chested as they are on ‘There There’. The process of writing ‘Marry Me’ was so brutal as it wasn’t long after the “un-engagement”. I kept writing these lyrics that didn’t mean anything and Sam asked me what I meant and I was like “I’m not sure” and that unravelled my deepest thoughts.
He called me out a lot when I was trying to be vague in those sessions. We were writing ‘Yellow & Blue’ and he asked me what this song was about and I was like “It’s obviously about jealousy”. He was like “why’s that” and I quipped back “because yellow and blue make the colour green and green is the colour of envy” and he was like “oh my god, this is way too meta! You need to be more direct”. So he really pushed me to go there and I ended up going there but it was a very raw experience.
TB: ’Underground’ was a very dark but beautiful song that served as a reminder to people around you that you wanted to be cremated after you passed and not buried. So is that a sentiment you still stand by?
MW: I just really don’t want to be engraved in general. I think it’s a total waste of land and space. There is a really cool tree burial thing that I’m interested in because I don’t know how great being cremated is for the environment so if that’s not a great option then I will just be a tree *laughs.
TB: I mean, that is a pretty great alternative.
MW: Right? I would fucking love to be a tree!
TB: Ever since becoming a mother have you found your songwriting has shifted in any way?
MW: Yeah, it’s got even weirder *laughs*. I think before I had a baby my artistic life and my real life were blurred together. I was living my life as my muse. I was listening to music, seeing bands, playing shows and then I would write about the relationships I formed and the thoughts I had. But now that I’ve had a baby I’ve found this other dimension to who I am. It’s like there has been a really clear split now from my artistic self to my private and family self. I think it’s made my artistic identity very untethered. I feel like what I’m writing is a little bonkers and mad, and I love that. I want to write about magical things now.
TB: You’re heading out on tour in June for a little run of shows. So what are you most excited or most nervous about returning to the stage?
MW: I’m honestly just excited about getting back on the road and playing shows again. After finding this new artistic self, I feel like I just need to take her on the road and test drive her.
I’m not nervous at all. I feel like I was born to perform. I just fucking love to sing in front of people which is ironically why I became a singer *laughs*. Some artists don’t love touring but I honestly love it.
TB: One thing I’ve always loved about your live show is your candid stories and banter between songs because you just seem so unapologetically you in those moments. I remember during the ‘There There’ tour you told a story about how ‘Rich Kids’ was actually about a bad party you attended at The Triffid before it became that venue and how it was the reason you moved away from Brisbane. Is that story actually true?
MW: Yeah it is! I’ve never really been much of a partier. I mean, I don’t really go to parties in general but I went to one in Brisbane because I was trying to impress a boy. But then I was like, “fuck I hate you and I fucking hate all of these people too” because they were all so pretentious so I moved away and wrote ‘Rich Kids’.
TB: And then you came back and played that venue so many years later, which I absolutely just love *laughs*.
MW: Life has a funny way of bringing things together doesn’t it *laughs*.
TB: Your social media presence is gold. I mean, your tweets make me figuratively LOL on a regular basis. But has there been any time that you’ve posted something and then gone, “fuck I probably shouldn’t have done that”?
MW: Thank you, I am a genius *laughs*. I posted something about the election the other day and I got SO much backlash for it. But to be honest I don’t fucking care if people don’t like what I tweet because there are truly obnoxious people out there saying some awful things and I personally don’t think I’m in that category. I may have strong opinions but GOOD so I don’t even think I should delete something after I post it.
TB: Recently a little bucket list moment for you came true, where you were a guest presenter on Play School. So how was that experience? Was it everything you had imagined it to be?
MW: I did it! It was so good! I got to hold Jemima and Maurice and it was so magical. My manager said it was the only time she’s seen me shut down and not have anything to say. After I did my segment they were like “you were really good, you should be a regular presenter” and I was so excited that I didn’t know what to say and just shut down. I just wanted it so bad I couldn’t talk *laughs*. I LOVE Playschool. I would be a presenter in a heartbeat!
TB: Let’s play a little game of rapid fire questions where I’m going to ask you some questions that you just need to answer with the first thing that comes to mind.
TB: My morning pump up song is…
MW: ‘Formation’ by Beyonce
TB: Pineapple on pizza is…
MW: Vegan therefore it is acceptable.
TB: The emoji that best describes ‘Dirty Churches’ is…
MW: The purple crystal ball!
TB: You just love that emoji, don’t you?
MW: It’s MY emoji! It was also my wedding cake *laughs*
TB: If I could have any super power it would be…
MW: Mind control!
TB: My go to snack on tour is…
MW: Dry seaweed!
Dirty Churches Australian Tour
Friday 21 June – Howler, Melbourne
Thursday 27 June – The Foundry, Brisbane
Friday 28 June – The Lansdowne, Sydney