|ROCKWiRED iNTERViEWS MEREDiTH MEYER
A SENSE OF MYSTERYLos Angeles-based singer-songwriter MEREDITH MEYER’s love for music grew out of a strong dissatisfaction with the Oklahoma suburbs that surrounded her while growing up. Music provided an escape. After settling in the City of Angels, MEYER cut her teeth musically with a number of bands. Anxious to find her own sound, she teamed up with BRIAN KEHEW who produced her 2005 debut album ‘ITEMS YOU WON’T FIND ELSEWHERE’. Now MEYER has released ‘IT’S SPOOKY TO BE YOUNG’ – a plucky little collection of wistfully crafted odes to innocence and finding wonder in the most unexpected places. Working with producer BILL RACINE, MEYER was able to lose her self in the music in a way she hadn’t before. “I was pretty much there and fully encapsulated in recording that album.” says MEYER “That was the first time I had ever done that. It was really great. It was like going into this warehouse of creativity and being able to totally focus on the work. When I listen to it, I feel the feelings that I had when I was recording there.”
MEREDiTH MEYER TALKS TO ROCKWiRED
ABOUT HER LATEST CD iT'S SPOOKY TO BE YOUNG
WORKiNG WiTH BiLL RACiNE
AND BEiNG ENCAPSULATED iN THE MUSiC
iNTERViEWED BY BRiAN LUSH
ROCKWIRED spoke with MEREDITH MEYER over the phone. Here is how it went.
How do you feel about ‘IT’S SPOOKY TO BE YOUNG’ as a completed work?
I’m very happy with it. I was happy with it all throughout the process and I’m still happy with it. BILL RACINE – who is the producer – was really great to work with. We recorded it in Chicago in this loft located in this old factory building on the river so the space was great to work in. I would actually stay in that space at night. I was pretty much there and fully encapsulated in recording that album. That was the firs time I had ever done that. It was really great. It was like going into this warehouse of creativity and being able to totally focus on the work. When I listen to it, I feel the feelings that I had when I was recording there.
How did you become acquainted with BILL RACINE?
I recorded my first record with BRIAN KEHEW but he was busy with this book he wrote called ‘RECORDING THE BEATLES’. He was really busy with promoting and touring the book so I started looking for someone to work with. I met with several different producers and I just kind of waited to find the person that I could gel with personality-wise. I wanted to take my time in finding what I felt was the right person. I was on a search for about a year. I’m from Oklahoma so I was talking to a friend of mine there named MICHELLE MARTIN COYNE and she suggested that I call PETER SHERSHIN in New York who manages BILL. PETER listened to my first record and passed it on to all of the producers he represented. BILL called me back right away and we had lunch. I really liked his personality. I really felt like he listened and I had also heard what he had done before on MARK GARDNER’s solo record. I felt like his musical tastes would go well with mine. He was able to get the songs to a level of sounding great.
How do you think this album is different from the predecessor? What has changed?
I think the process added a lot to the end result. On the first album I was working fifty hours a week while I was recording it so it had to be done a Saturday here and an evening there. It was spread out over time but at the time, that was the only way that I could afford to do it. It had to be done that way otherwise I never would’ve been able to make the first record. This time, being able to just go in and really be in it for days and hours at a time, I think that definitely helped me to get into the zone creatively. From the time I finished my first record to the time I recorded this one, I wrote a lot more. I think I got more vulnerable with my songwriting as well.
Talk about how music began for you.
I grew up in Oklahoma City in a very nondescript, middle-class neighborhood. I started taking piano lessons when I was four from the local church organist. I studied classical piano from the time I was four to the time I was in high school and was able to beg my parents to let me quit. They finally agreed because I was so sick of going to recitals and not being the favorite student because I didn’t practice four hours a day or whatever. I also sang from the time I was little. I really enjoyed singing. I had a big back yard and I would make up little songs and dances. I really wanted to be a circus acrobat but then I began writing music. At sixteen, I bought a guitar. I joke about this but I think I really started getting into music because I was grounded a lot as a teenager.
For what? You seem so sweet.
I had very stern parents. I spent a lot of time in my room alone as a teenager and listened to CD’s and listened to the late night alternative radio programs. When I wasn’t grounded, I was going out to nightclubs to get grounded and getting exposed to different kinds of music that way. Listening to other bands opened up a whole other word for me. It affected me and affected my desire to want to write and to want to make something that was like what I enjoyed listening to.
Explain the creative process. How does songwriting happen for you?
There are some people that say that you shouldn’t write unless you are inspired to write and there are some people who say that should do it no matter what. I think I kind of strike a balance. Whenever I have the urge to write, I will pick up an instrument and follow through with it. I don’t usually start with an idea. I usually start by playing something and then I’ll hear a melody and a word or two that goes with it. I don’t have a specific rule. In sitting down and playing the guitar, I will start hearing something and feel a certain vibe that I want to try to create a song from. Sometimes I do get emotionally moved to write something but most songs come to me when I’m in the act of writing a song.
What kind of place are you coming from as a songwriter?
I think the album is reflective. The songs tend to encapsulate certain experiences that I was going through in the few years that the songs were written. Some of the songs were older songs that were just sitting in a drawer but overall the songs portray the feeling of life being a mystery and that there are no guarantees and not knowing how tings are going to go. Sometimes life is magical and sometimes it’s very painful. I guess the idea behind the record is about finding innocence and magic at the weirdest time. That’s what it’s about. It acknowledges that the innocence and that youth that we have doesn’t last forever but we have to find a way to make it last.
Any plans for a tour?
I’m currently playing short tours in different cities. I do have a day job and I’m not currently signed and am planning to do a more extended tour next year. I just played a few shows in New York and earlier this year, I did a little short tour of the west coast. I’m definitely trying to get out there and play as many shows as possible.
Who all goes on tour with you.
Who ever is available and whoever I can pay for pretty much.
And how have live audiences reacted?
Very positively. They’ve been very responsive. I just had a great time in New York a few weeks ago. I just got an overwhelmingly positive response and it felt really good. I love L.A. and I love playing there but I think it’s harder to build a fan base here. I’ve lived here a long time and the people that come out to the shows are usually people I know. I think it’s always a bit more mysterious going someplace new and you’re not in your usual, everyday kind of mode. Even if I didn’t have positive responses to it, I would still love playing live just as much. It would just be a little more surreal.
From the CD, what songs stand out for you the most and why?
For me, the song that I consider my most precious song is the final track ‘ARE YOU AWAKE?’. I wrote that song four or five years ago and I think I played it out live once after I wrote it and that was it. We recorded that song late at night by candlelight. That song is kind of like one of my best songs I’ve written. Not in a commercial sense. I just feel like it’s a special song. It almost feels like I didn’t write it. I have no idea where that came from, even when I was writing it. Another one that stands out for me is ‘VIDEO GAME GIRL’. For me, it was a little bit of a defiant song and I like performing it live too. It brings a certain energy to me when I’m singing it. It feels strong and it feels good.
What would you like someone to come away with after they’ve heard ‘IT’S SPOOKY TO BE YOUNG’?
If they were to listen to the album from start to finish – preferably in a dark room with candles – I would like for them to feel as if they were taken on an emotional journey and walk away feeling some sort of peace. I’d like for them to feel like they had a moment of excitement and that the songs transported them somewhere.