Posted On 17 Apr 2019
A comet darting from one city and project to another, singer-songwriter Megg Farrell’s vibrant energy is the driving force behind her releases. From Paris to New York to most towns in between, Megg has always kept Americana close. A suture between various worlds, times, and cultures, Megg moves between countries and genres, but never once gives up one for another.
Her most recent record, Megg Farrell & Friends, released on April 5th, is no exception. Primarily informed by glowing Americana refrains, Megg also brings an intimate knowledge of jazz to her new album. The result is an intricate record equally seeped in both fingerpicking roots and smoky café blues.
Learn more about Megg Farrell in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you?
Right now I’m in Nashville. I drove down yesterday. I had an amazing week in New York City. We played a release party at Union Pool which was a dream. It was the first time in years I’d played a set of all original music to a crowd of listening people. I had gigs all week in country and jazz and hosted a big Billie Holiday Birthday Party at my local bar where I sang and lots of amazing singers did as well. Its been an amazing New York week and now I’m back down in Nashville to enjoy this city. RIght now I’m sort of living in both cities. Who knows why.
Now that we are well into the 4th month of the new year, how has 2019 been treating you so far? What are some goals that you have for this year? How are those New Years Resolutions going?
Its been an insane year. I sort of pull all the roots out of my old life recently and started over. In January I moved out of my apartment in New York and into my van. Toured for January with my jazz group, then went to France and played gigs around there, then in March I moved into an apartment in Nashville and I’ve been going back and forth every two weeks. Every day has been an adventure. My goals are very clear even if my life is messy. I want to finish my second album. This first one was a first go with a band that had just begun. Throughout the year and half since we recorded it we have grown immensely as a band and I have as a person. The songs that we are creating for this next album I’m more excited about than I ever have been before. I want to get this next record out to the public as soon as possible. The second goal is to just figure out where and how I want to live. I think I’ll never be able to leave New York behind but I think I’ll never be able to live there full time so I’m trying to see if I can make dual citizenship work for me. So far its Nashville/New York. I may consider somewhere in the Carolinas next or even New Orleans.
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be a musician? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
Music has always been constantly in my life. I can’t relax without it. Since I was a child I’ve always had to have music playing for me to do anything. If I’m working, cleaning, hanging out, writing, driving, existing I need music. When my brain doesn’t have music it moves to fast so I just have never been able to live without it. When I began writing and singing it was like taking a thing that was already part of me and bringing it into existence. Now I have a physical outlet for this pulse that has always been beating inside. I always wanted to play music because I knew once I began I could never not play music. I never thought I would go professional though and do it full time. That took many years. I remember specifically when I was working for a production company on a show for PBS and at night almost every night I was singing jazz gigs. I started making more money singing jazz than I was in my 9-5 job. I realized then that it just made sense for me to quit and become a musician. No matter how much I tried to fight it, everything in my life continually pointed to this being the only job I was meant to do.
Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else? If you weren’t a musician today, what could you see yourself doing?
Most of my life. I always thought I would be anything else because I thought I was never good enough to make it in music. I thought that it would never be a viable career for me. I studied history in college and I dreamed of being a history professor. I worked in research at that production company and loved it. I wanted to do either historical research, teach history, or work in foreign affairs. I even considered law school. Earlier on I was also a white water raft guide and I loved doing that. I wanted to pursue a career in that but then I thought I should finish college first and one thing lead to another and I left it behind. That was probably my favorite job of them all.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
Probably being a full-time jazz singer. Most of my life I was a singer songwriter and thats what I wanted to do. Thats also why I assumed I would never do it as a career. I studied jazz in Paris to be a better song writer not to become a jazz musician. Then when I moved back to New York I fell in with a crowd of jazz musicians and sort of fell first into this rabbit hole. Now I’m consumed by it and its been my main source of income for about 5 years. It was the jazz that eventually lead to the country music too. I was doing jazz gigs and touring and spent more and more time in the south. I started bring in Patsy Cline tunes and doing more western swing. One thing lead to another, I found Emmylou and Loretta and then similarly to jazz fell head first into classic country. I fell in love.
How do you think you and your music have been influenced by your hometown and where you live now?
Ha, hard to say. I was born in Manhattan but I was bread in New Jersey across the river. My actually hometown, Cliffside Park plays little to no part in my existence other than my parents live there and I love them and they supported, inspired and taught me so much. So in that way Cliffside Park influenced me because my artsy parents made me who I am, other than that I hold no ties to that place. As soon as I was able to start seeing music and going out I was out in New York City. I went to shows and DIY venues and did little folk gigs downtown. I think that influenced me because I was constantly surrounded by opportunity and amazing musicians. It also kept me down though. I think growing up in such a big pond I always felt I was too small of a fish to ever be somebody.
Let’s talk about your brand new album, “Megg Farrell & Friends.” What was it like making this collection? Did anything surprise you about the process?
That the album came out good at all is what surprised me. I put together this new project and I wanted to record something quick and dirty for booking gigs. We were only about a month into the project. We recorded the entire album in a loft in 2 days. When I got this mix I was pretty surprised at how much I liked it. Thats when I decided to actually do a release and put it out to the public. Since the recording I’ve fallen in love with my new band. I love working with them and I love creating new songs with their support. I’m so excited about album two which we start recording down here in Nashville next week.
What are some of your favorite songs on this forthcoming collection that you are excited to share with the world? How did they get to be on this album?
My two favorite songs on the album are actually the two songs I thought I might have to cut. I was so worried they weren’t going to sound good. Lovesick Harmony and When I learned to Sing. One I wrote about a love I was in at the time and how perfect it all seemed. The second was about the frustration I felt as a female band leader and as a singer in general. Its about how I felt invisible to people but once I learned to have a pretty voice and dress sexy the world could see me but I was still the same Megg and those things are exterior to me. I guess its about when people objectify and romanticize performers and leave behind the actually human thats behind it. Both songs we worked on a lot with the band and I love the way the builds worked out. On When I learned to sing the drummer had forgotten I think it was to to turn on the snare when he came in and it gave it that sort of celtic vibe. I ended up loving it and keeping that take.
What has it been like keeping up with your social media accounts and all of the different platforms? Is it hard to stay up to date on it all? What would you say is your favorite way to connect with your fans now?
Its so hard!!!! I love instagram cause its fun and easy. I have someone help me keep calendars up today and my facebook events up to date as well. Between booking, writing, managing, and doing social media I have barely any time to breath. Having help with the more mindless posts has left me more time to do more original posting on instagram. I like that outlet cause I feel more comfortable really posting from my heart and saying what I really feel.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
Emmylou Harris is a goddess angel who inspires me all the time, as is Stevie Nicks. I also adore Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, so many strong goddesses. Oh and KATE BUSH. I love here she brings out the goddess witch warrior woman in me. I’ve really enjoyed Margo Price’s work as well and Courtney Marie Andrews. I think they are both great songwriters.
Where can fans see you perform next?
Skinny Dennis and The Wayland are our regular spots. We also play at ACME feed & seed down in Nashville and I’m hoping to start playing more regularly down in Nashville. I’m working on a tour for the end of the summer so follow me on instagram and facebook and I’ll keep things up to date.
If you had an unlimited budget and your schedule was free, what would your dream music video look like?
Hmmmmm. Thats an interesting question. There would be lots of dancers and really colorful costumes. One of my favorite videos ever is Beirut’s Elephant Gun video. The dancing is gorgeous. I work with these ballet dancers in Brooklyn and I’ve always wanted to do a video with a team of them and also be choreographed into it myself. I also adore Kate Bush videos haha I guess I don’t really need a huge budget. Just great angles, great cameras, a costume designer, and a team of dancers.
If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island, what musical item would you take with you and why?
My gibson tenor acoustic guitar. So I could play!
If your music was going to be featured on any TV show that is currently on right now, which would you love it to be on? Or if you prefer, what is a movie that you love that you wish your music was featured in?
Hmmmm again thats hard. I don’t watch much TV but I LOVE GLOW. So maybe Glow? I don’t really know if my music would fit for that show haha but Glow is seriously my favorite show. I love the characters, I love watching bad ass woman kicking ass and taking names and I LOVE The costumes.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
That its honest, that its me, thats its heartfelt and all I want is to send out love and positive energy into this world. I don’t want to be a source of negative energy, only positive. There is so much negative energy in this world I just want to add to the good juju.
Would you like to share anything else with our readers about your music?
That they are beautiful and lets all be kind to each other!