"Sometimes it’s easier to hold onto something than let it go, because at least then you still have a part of it" We chat with Megan O'Neill
Singer-songwriter Megan O'Neill released her debut album in 2018, the well-received Ghosts Of You straddled the pop-country line and has seen the likeable Irishwoman appear at a number of festivals across the UK and Europe, and tour constantly for the last few months. In some downtime from making her new album, Megan answered a bunch of questions about both her debut, and its follow up.
Hey Megan, hope you’re having a cracking day. Where are you right now?
I’m currently sitting on a train from Leeds to London (and then on to High Wycombe). I’ve spent the past few days recording my new album with The Dunwells and am now on my way to play Ramblin’ Roots Festival tonight.
And what have you been up to today?
I spent the morning in studio with Joe and Dave (Dunwell) tracking vocals for one of my new songs ‘Break Hearts’ - written with the super talented Kaity Rae. Can’t wait to release that one!
Introduce yourself to our lovely readers, in case they don’t know you.
Well... My name is Megan and I’m a massive fan of wine, coffee, hiking in nature and hanging out with my dogs. I also sing and write songs!
Tell us a bit about you, what’s your first memory of playing music?
I started playing music at a really young age. I come from a musical family so my mam got me started at piano and violin lessons when I was five or so. I didn’t keep up the violin (unfortunately). I feel like it’s kind of in my blood to be musical though - being Irish. I just always remember being around music.
Your debut album, Ghost Of You, was out last year, how did it get on compared to how you thought it might?
Yep Ghost of You was released in June 2018. I had no expectations when I put out that record. It was my first full-length solo album and I just wanted to get it out in the world, as a stepping stone for future projects. The fan reception was INCREDIBLE though. The album got to number one in the iTunes singer/songwriter charts and really boosted my career on so many levels. I’m so grateful for all of that and I absolutely love that record for so many reasons.
What’s the song you’re most proud of on the record?
To be honest, all of them! I can’t choose. I’m really proud of that record as a whole and everyone who had a part to play in making it come to life.
There are some lovely songs on there, like ‘Don’t Say It’s Over’ and the title track, what was the inspiration for those songs?
‘Ghost of You’ comes from a place of knowing you need to let go of something (or someone) but you don’t want to let it go. Sometimes it’s easier to hold onto something than let it go, because at least then you still have a part of it. ‘Don’t Say It's Over’ is inspired by very similar experiences.
Your new album has broken its goal on PledgeMusic, how come you chose to use crowdfunding?
Making an album as an independent artist is a real struggle. Coming up with the budget just to record is very daunting and sometimes impossible - and then on top of that there is PR, marketing, radio, printing of the physical album, etc. It’s all money! I chose to use Pledge so that I could actually make this next record - but obviously now that Pledge has gone down things have gone back to that same struggle!
What impact has the PledgeMusic situation had on your ability to deliver the pledges?
The PledgeMusic situation is definitely affecting the making of this album. It has been quite stressful to have no answers from Pledge about what is going to happen with the funds owed to artists. Either way I am powering through and I will definitely be trying to fulfil as many pledge orders as I can. This situation has just meant that everything is delayed unfortunately.
Which song on the new record do you really want people to hear? And why?
Oh man, I’m so excited about this new record. I obviously want people to hear all the songs. We’re going to be releasing five or six singles before we release the full album, so there will be plenty of build up. The first single ‘Rootless’, is a personal favourite of mine. The second single is going to be ‘Ireland’ - another one of my favourites and pretty close to my heart (as you can imagine!). The songs on this next record have mostly been written over the past two to three years. One of the songs is actually seven years old! So I came into studio with a LOT of songs and then together with Joe and Dave (Dunwell) we chose our favourite 15.
I was sat behind you at C2C on the Sunday this year, do you get to see many gigs as a fan, rather than “working”? Who are the best acts you’ve seen recently?
Not really. I try and get out to my friends’ gigs as often as I can to show support but it is really tough. Working in this industry requires very long days almost all the time so it can be hard to get out to gigs. Recently though my favourite gigs have included Chris Stapleton (at C2C - incredible) and The War on Drugs who I saw last year at All Points East festival in London. So good!
Obviously there’s a lot of talk about equality in general at the moment, what’s your experience of being treated differently as a woman in your industry?
There is a lot of talk about equality which I think is great and we still have a long way to go with all of that. Personally though, I’ve experienced very little inequality in my career to date. There have been moments for sure, but they’ve been minimal in comparison to other stories I’ve heard. I grew up in a very equal household (with three brothers) and have never viewed the fact that I’m a woman as something that could hold me back in life so I tend to avoid people or work situations that make me feel otherwise.
Who inspires you?
So many people! In terms of musical influences: Brandi Carlile, Kacey Musgraves, Joni Mitchell, Mary Black, The War on Drugs, Fleetwood Mac, Ruston Kelly and so many more. But I’m equally as inspired by the people in my daily life. I’m so inspired by my parents, my siblings, my friends who work so hard for their goals and dreams, by Joe and Dave (Dunwell) who are so immensely talented and all the musicians out there who are grafting and working harder than their fans realise.
If you could recommend one artist to hear this week, who would it be?
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
What’s your favourite thing to do on your days off... Well I guess you’ll just have to wonder now!
Damn, that is a question I usually ask! Finally, how do you take your coffee?
Oat milk latte!
Main photo credit to Chris Dalton.