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Megan Washington has got no time for equality naysayers

We’re getting into a right state with Megan Washington about her new album Sugardoom and performing with the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra.

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Diving right into the deep end, you said recently that you have a creative process of dreaming songs into existence. As you explained in your TEDx talk you have a stutter when you speak but not when you sing.

I was curious if there’s a link between the synaptic workaround of singing which doesn’t use the language centre of the brain and the abstract process of creating music?

That may be the juiciest first question I’ve ever received in an interview. It’s something I’d never thought of before, how do I explain this? I think that much like in meditation, the way that one can train oneself to listen easily to a space that isn’t necessarily conscious or unconscious, sort of a hovering semi space where you can look at thoughts and feelings from a unique angle and from a perspective that you normally access in your conscious life.

I think for me in that songwriting space there’s a very well trod pathway in my psyche for me to get to that space where I sort of ‘nothing’ the songs into existence.

You were quoted recently as saying that each record has been a reflection of where you were at in your life and that your next album would probably be a disco record about trying to find a car park. Is this what we can expect from Sugardoom?

Well I’m full of shit, when I was doing press for that album I was so fucking sick of talking about my feelings that I started to say that to people and now I’ve just made another album about feelings so I’m going to have to do it all over again!

This album is not a party record, it’s an album of love songs, they’re not happy love songs, love isn’t happy all the time. I was fascinated by a bit in a Louis CK show where he says the best you can hope for from any relationship, like you meet someone, you like them, they like you, you meet the parents, you get married and live a long and happy life together… and then one of you fucking dies. It’s like when you get a puppy, it’s basically the same as saying, “Hey everyone, we’re going to be really sad in eight to twelve years”.

There are a lot of songs about “tonight were gonna have an amazing night and fuck tomorrow” and all this bullshit. I don’t think love is like that, love is different to that for me and I was interested in exploring the more complicated, less glamorous angles.

You first came to a lot of people’s attention in Australia through your appearances on the music quiz show Spicks and Specks, how much of an effect did that have on your career?

It was a real shot in the arm, a lot of people said you just sort of appeared and all of a sudden you were everywhere, but to me it was just another point in an extremely long road in a journey that began ten years before that.

Every generation throws a hero up the pop charts, we’re always looking for a hero, the challenge is how to stay there and remain meaningful and relevant and not just doing the same shit for twenty years.

Speaking of staying relevant you posted your yes vote for marriage equality on Facebook with the beautifully succinct caption “duh”, which connected to me personally at a point when I was suffering from a serious case of plebiscite fatigue, how important is social media as an avenue for communicating with your audience?

I really enjoy having a platform and engaging with shit like talking about how much of a total fuck wit Kyle Sandilands is, I love to talk about that. I will find any excuse to bring that up including this fucking interview.

That post (about the yes vote) was such a no-brainer to me. You can’t debate over human rights in 2017. I don’t know where we got to this point where every opinion is valid and needs to be to be heard, like why the fuck are we talking about white rights advocates? Why does that get headline space? I’m aware that my view is really strong but it’s really simple to me, go and get married if you love each other.

It’s so… oh but the children… NEXT!

…Oh, but the church… NEXT!

You’ve always presented your music with very inventive music videos and your latest for Saint Lo marks a visual as well as musical progression to a very polished mature style. The video is very sensual and intimate, would you have been comfortable with that had it not been your husband directing it?

Well we actually got married the day after the shooting and we did have nude underwear but once it got wet it turned the wrong colour and it looked really stupid on camera so we just got rid of it. It was just a moment where I’d just met Nick and we were about to get married and we were in love. He’d fallen in love with that song and wanted to do something for it and I thought his vision was really beautiful and it’s probably the simplest video I’ve ever made. It’s just me, lights, water and a mirror.

You’re performing with the WA Symphony Orchestra when you come to Perth and the reviews for this current tour have been extremely positive. One reviewer even called you Australia’s answer to Adele!

Well I don’t know if I go for that Adele thing, I’d rather be the world’s answer to Megan Washington than Australia’s answer to anybody else.

Why the choice to perform only the new album and not a greatest hits tour?

Well, I’m only 30 and I get approached to do that all the time and it doesn’t interest me; like when I’m on the stage am I actually going to care? I wasn’t really energised by the idea of re-imagining a bunch of songs you know and love so this was a conscious choice between looking backwards or forwards.

Foolishly, I though that the record would be out and it would be some sort of victory lap but it’s not out yet so the show is like the world’s most elaborate album preview.

How different an experience is it performing with the backing of a full symphony orchestra rather than just with your band or by yourself at the piano?

With an orchestra of 80 or so people there’s a train and the train is leaving in four bars and if you’re not on that train nobody is coming back for you. So there’s been some of that sort of panic in rehearsals because the orchestra can’t move, they’re reading from the page and thinking “do not fuck this up Meg!”

There’s a kind of performance that you must adopt when you’re with an orchestra, from the very foundation of your body you have to perform in a different way. So all of the tricks that I use when I’m playing a club show or with my band like crowd surfing or jumping off amp stacks, those kinds of antics I can’t do. This kind of thing is much more like a recital. There’s a preciseness and a certain amount of intent that I haven’t had to find since I was singing jazz with Paul Grabowski.

Vocally, I have to bring it in a way that I haven’t had to do in a really long time.

Is there an official release date for the Sugardoom album yet?

After the first couple of shows I’ve felt the albums not quite ready yet so I’m in the middle of a tiny summer crisis where I’m thinking of re-recording some bits. It’s been an amazing opportunity to take some of the songs out for a spin but it’s back on the slab for now because I feel like it could be better.

Megan Washington performs with the WA Symphony Orchestra at the Perth Concert Hall Friday October 27. Tickets available from tickets.waso.com.au.

Clinton Little


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