Interview: Meg Myers talks about her influences, her intense live show and her upcoming album

Brad Keefe, Columbus Alive

When I first heard Meg Myers' "Desire," I had a "whoa, who is this?" moment. Her heart-on-her-sleeve confessional style hearkened back to the most earnest of '90s alt-rock. And she's gotten an expected love it/hate it reaction as a result.

I saw Myers perform live in three very different venues - an brief acoustic set at CD 102.5's Big Room, a club show and her midday performance at Lollapalooza - and was blown away by the intensity of her performance in each venue. If you don't know her name now, I'm willing to bet you'll be hearing it a lot in the future. That's why I sat down to chat with her in the green room at CD 102.5 recently, because she's probably gonna be huge in, like, a year. So here's Meg in her own words.

On her background:

"I was born in Nashville, Tennessee. I lived in the Smoky Mountains until I was like five, and then I moved to Toledo, Ohio. I was there for eight years. I went to elementary and middle school there, and then I got taken out of school when I was in the sixth grade. We moved down to Florida until I was 19 or 20, and I was, like, I really want to pursue music, and this is just not the place for it, so I packed my bags and I moved alone to L.A. I've been there for about eight years now. I'm 27 now.

I waitressed for 10 years, just played a lot of acoustic shows and stuff. I tried to find bands, just tried to find people to play with, but I always wanted to do my own thing. And then I met (producer) Doctor Rosen Rosen (Andy Rosen) when I was 24. We started working together and I was, like, yeah, this is what I want to do, so I started devoting 100 percent of my time to it. And I got record deal with Atlantic two years ago. And I quit my job."

On the day she quit waitressing:

"It was weird, because I was always like, oh, when I quit, it's gonna be like 'woo-hoo!', and I quit, and it felt normal. I think over that year I had a few moments where I actually missed it a little bit. Obviously, I love doing (music), the payoff and inspiring people is so amazing, but there were definitely times early on where I was so hard, and I was like, you know what? I miss waitressing right now. It's my job now, but more than that, it's every second of my life. There's no break … so good thing I like to do it."

On her creative partnership with Doctor Rosen Rosen:

"We've worked with a couple of other writers, and some of it went well, and some of it went not so well. It's really hard for me to work with anyone when it comes to music. They've never been able to fully understand. It took us some time to get where we're at, but we just clicked musically. We come from different music backgrounds, but what we bring when we write together … there's just something really magical. He let me do my thing … and made it like this pop thing, but kept it raw? That's what I always wanted to do. Be very raw, but in a pop music way, which isn't out there that much. He just got it. We click. He's like my older brother, sort of dad in a way? He's just my best friend."

On the influence of '90s music:

"I grew up on a lot of classic rock, like a ton of Police and Led Zeppelin and Heart. And a lot of folk too - Joan Osbourne, Tracy Chapman, Neil Young - but when I was like 13, we stopped being Jehovah's Witnesses. (My brother and I) had already been discovering, like, Goo Goo Dolls and then started listening to Nirvana … closer and closer to the punk and grunge world. And then when we stopped, me and my brother just dove in: Alice in Chains, when I was like 13 or 14, it was Pearl Jam … so much Nirvana. For years, that was my favorite. Kurt Cobain had already died. We were just late on a lot of stuff."

On moving from clubs to festival dates:

"It's a little weird. I mean, it's fucking awesome, and I'm so grateful. But I will say I enjoy a club a little more. It's nighttime, your fans are all there. It's a little bit of a transition, when you're selling out these clubs and everyone's there for you and so close up. You're just feeding off their energy. At a festival, they're out here, you're way up here, it's light out. Especially with my music, it's kind of strange to play when it's light outside."

On the duality of heronstage persona and her sense of humor:

"The way that I feel is if somebody is really funny, they probably have a real intense, sad, dark side. I think everybody has that in a way, but maybe I'm just a little extreme with it? I have a really intense, depressed dark side, and I'm also pretty funny. I don't know. I'm really extreme. It's also hard sometimes. I have this very wholesome, sweet, like, I want a family someday and a normal life. It's hard to have balance. But I'm finding it … I'm having to, in order to keep doing this and stay sane."

On her songs as therapy:

"It's been a little bit of a struggle, because the live shows are so intense. I don't want to go out and just play. I want to feel so much when I'm playing. I want to give. Otherwise why am I out there? But it's a little hard sometimes. When I write the songs, it feels so good to get it out and say what I want to say. But then to go out and perform it, night after night, it's kind of hard sometimes. It's like, oh, fuck, I have to go to that place right now, and that's not where I want to go. 'I had a good day. I had ice cream. And now I have to go take a shot and try to get in that place.'"

On her relationship with fans:

"It's so intense. I know how much they feel it, and I love it, and also it can be a little scary sometimes. I definitely have some really intense people following me. The intensity sometimes after shows, there are moments where people tell me how much it means to them, and I've gotten teary-eyed. That means so much that my stuff means that much to them. Because I felt that when I wrote it."

"But one way that I am handling it is just being loving. When there are people who are like shaking before they meet me, why would I not be nice to them? I know there are artists out there who have rules and certain distances between them and the fans. I don't know, I'm like, 'C'mere! Get in my arms, and let's take a picture.'"

On her actual influences vs. her perceived influences:

"A lot of people compare me to, like, Fiona Apple, Sinead O' Connor, Alanis Morrisette is a huge one that I get, Tori Amos a little bit, PJ Harvey. Just like that female '90s thing. The thing is I didn't grow up listening to those people really. I listened to Heart and Joan Osbourne and Tracy Chapman and Jewel - that was like a huge one for me, she's such an influence, even if you can't hear it in my stuff really. I listened to all these guy rock bands. I liked males a lot more growing up. It wasn't actually until the last few years that I started listening more to females. The Police have always been a big influence. The bass was my first instrument."

"At the same time, all those women that I get compared to, it's a huge compliment, and I'll listen to their stuff now, like, that's what I want to be. But I don't want to be put in any sort of box, like I'm rock or I'm pop or whatever. I'm just Meg."

On her forthcoming album:

We've written so many songs, but we're trying to shoot for like five to ten more before we go into production. Half of the album will be probably from the two EPs, but the other six or seven songs will be new. I'm so excited about it, I can't even describe it. It's still me, but it's definitely different. It's me expressing myself in new ways, discovering new ways of using my voice. I don't know what it's going to sound like. But it will be emotional. Of course.