Photo: Timothy Norris
Meg Myers can't be taller than 5'2", but you forget that when she's in the room. And it’s not the singing that crescendos into screaming; it's her unwavering eye contact that will unravel you.
She sings. She screams. Then her eyes find you and lock. And if you're one of those pairs staring back, you know you can't hide from the truth. No, not hers: the truth about connecting and how we all, in our messy, uncoordinated glory, run away and towards it from polar opposites.
Video: Raymond Lew
Whether she's stomping on demons and ex-lovers or nursing a wound, Meg isn’t afraid to pull back the skin covering all of our desires festering in the darkness and whip them to the forefront of scrutiny. At the same time, she makes you feel less bad about being there in the first place (“I’m a fucking monster when all I wanted was something beautiful,” she confesses on “Monster”). Hence the social handles: meginthedark.
A listen to Myers both explains and shakes off notions that she's punk, pop, grunge and simultaneously some progressive aggregate of all of it. The influences are there, and the background too: she played in a grunge band with her brother in high school; she likes Nirvana. But her creative zone lies somewhere further along, off the road. She's funny, she's blunt, but mostly - she’s arresting. She sits alone on a buoy in an ocean that touches it all, and all of us. She may not be easily categorized, but a tell-tale sign of her forcefield is that the Pixies tapped her to open several major dates last year. And who could ever truly pigeonhole the Pixies?
Just a sampling off her past two EPs - Daughter In The Choir and this month's Make A Shadow - produces standouts "Tennessee (ft. Dr. Rosen Rosen)," "Go," and "The Morning After," an illuminating trifecta that's hilarious, scorchingly dismissive, and heart-wrenching, in that order.
We caught up with Meg while she was at home in Los Angeles working on her forthcoming album. We talked about performing, her Twitter bio (FU*K - Steve Martin | MARRY - Mark Knopfler | KILL - Colin Firth), and more. Check out her latest EP, Make A Shadow, and read on for our interview below.
I loved your new song "The Morning After" and the character-switching perspective of it. Can you tell me about writing it?
I try my best to talk about every song I have, I give it my best. "The Morning After" is a really personal one though, I haven't quite figured out how to explain it. It's definitely something I went through and it's all from me and an experience I went through.
What was your first musical epiphany?
It's tough, I have so many influences and inspirations. Since I was born my parents were huge music lovers so there was always, because of my mom and stepdad, always music around. A ton of classic rock. I think, even though I don't sound anything like him, Sting has been a big influence, and The Police. It's so cheesy to admit, but A Boy Named Goo by the Goo Goo Dolls too, I loved that so much. I was a Jehovah's Witness so I wasn't really allowed to listen to rock until my later teens. I picked that out because it wasn't really explicit - so it's funny. Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, and Jewel too - I really loved her. Spirit was my first tape I ever got.
Your live performances are so compelling, and people are so into how into it you get. Did that really intense aspect of your performance develop recently?
It was never planned. I always, until the past couple of years, played with an instrument in front of me. I never just sang without having an instrument, so I always kind of hid behind that. So when I started working with Andy, Dr. Rosen Rosen, and we started preparing for the show after we put out the first EP, I was like "Maybe I'll try to just sing on some of these" and in rehearsal he was like, "Hey maybe even try to move around." I was like, "No - don't tell me what to do! If I feel it, I feel it, and if I don't, I don't!" And he was like "Okay, okay." And then our first show - it just happened. If I feel it, whatever happens happens.
Do you ever get scared?
Sometimes, I got scared a few times last night actually - although it has been a while since I played a show. You can't help but feel a little bit of that pressure. I try to just get out of my head. And man, I love it when I have those shows when I'm not in my head at all the whole time. And then it's over and I'm like, "Holy shit that felt so good." If I'm in my head at all on stage, unless it's like for a technical reason really quick, I should not ever be in my head.
Usually I get up there, my nerves are crazy and they just die out after a couple of songs, sometimes they stay.
What writers do you admire in the literary and musical worlds?
I grew up reading a lot of Stephen King and short stories of his. The Grimm fairy tales too. That and visually, with T.V., I was really into sci-fi. My stepdad got me and my brother into that whole world. I think I grew up being into the really dark stuff, just like murder mysteries and all of that - it was almost all we watched. It was PG but it was sci-fi too, so it did have this darkness to it. I think that has definitely become a part of me and something I'm sure influenced me, being drawn to that dark world.
It's interesting how people can grow up with that and be normal and able to find that balance in life. I had a friend who's dad bought her cartoon books when she was little, it turns out they were really creepy, morbid storylines - but he didn't know.
Yeah. There's something even darker too - about that kind of stuff!
When it's brought in innocently, it makes it even worse.
That's kind of like my "Desire" music video. I'm sure that came from it - because I wanted to have cartoons. Like I wanted it to be this innocent thing, because the song is so dark and sexual. I didn't want to make this dark video - you know, like it is - I wanted to mix it with really really innocent things, like wearing socks and little tank tops and a teddy bear on the t-shirt.
Did you help write the script for that?
Yeah, my team - my manager and his wife and the director - we all kind of just came up with it together.
I read your Interview story where you mentioned you're a Libra and your interest in astrology. I feel like Libras are very compassionate and practical people. But seeing you perform and listening to your music, there's this dichotomy where you go from total control to chaos very fluidly. How do you feel your astrology plays into that?
I think that going deeper into the astrology thing, my moon and Mercury and Venus, I think there's more, are all in Scorpio, and then there's some other water too. I have a lot of water in my chart, but I'm a Libra, which is not. Libras are about balance and are peaceful. The reason I believe in the astrology thing is I read about it and it's like "That's fucking me." It's not anybody else, that is so spot on. I couldn't ever explain the way it explains things about me and how I work. It's weird, I think I definitely struggle with the light and the dark every day. And I'm really stable, but I can become unstable really quick.
That's definitely the water in your chart. Where do you go for your astrology information?
I used to have stuff my mom and friend had given me, but I just go online now, and had my chart done as a birthday gift a few months ago. It was in Glendale.
Your Twitter bio openly mentions your past. Was the transition from being Jehovah's Witness to not a really earth-shattering one, or were you not very devout to begin with?
It was really hard, actually, because I grew up and that was what we believed. And I was just entering teenage years when I stopped. It was like, "Yeah I'm free!" but at the same time it's engrained in my brain forever. I think I'm just a very spiritual person now. I don't go to any one religion. It was pretty difficult, and it was a hard stop too. My mom and stepdad separated at the same time, and all of a sudden we were like playing music and going to bars and playing shows and it was just a completely opposite lifestyle than what we grew up in.
Also in your Twitter bio is the intriguing Fuck, Marry, Kill scenario. Could you elaborate on that?
[Laughs] There's not even elaborating that! Me and Andy were being goofballs, we were just being silly. I love Steve Martin, and Mark Knofpler from Dire Straits, I love him so much he was one of my big inspirations growing up. And Colin Firth…that was just funny because he's awesome. I've gotten hate tweets about it and it's like, come on guys…
What about Mark Knofpler do you love so much?
We just grew up listening to him and his song "Brothers In Arms" is my favorite song, like my all-time favorite. Everytime I hear it, it does something to my body. It's just one of those songs. I love his style of playing, too. He's using that guitar and you know it's him. I love certain vocalists you hear and it's like "Whoa, thats really special." He just has this style.
When did it click for you that you wanted to do music full-time?
When I was little, I loved art, I loved dancing, acting. And music was something I was most drawn to, but it was also just around me so much. My parents were musical, they bought us instruments, so I just started doing and it and it became my therapy. I always had a dream from an early age that I wanted to be up there and perform.
I think as time has gone on and reality kicks in and what it really is -there's a lot of struggles in this business. Like, you don't just get to play music, there's so much more to it. I think it's just something I have to do. It's like I don't have a choice. Even though I am doing it for myself, I feel it's just what I have to do - like how it is for everyone else: you just have to do it.
Do you find the reality of it - industry deadlines and obligations, touring - creatively constraining?
It's been pretty difficult and overwhelming. But in the end, I have this addiction with it. I want to perform and create something, and especially when other people feel it so much, that just keeps me going. But it's really painful actually - not to like, complain [laughs] but it is hard - it's definitely a love-hate thing. But I think the love outweighs the hate.
When can we hear your album?
I think we have the songs for it but we still want to write a few more. We wanna get more live instruments on it. It'll definitely be songs off the last EP and this EP that will be on the album.
For more on Meg, check out her website here.