MEGAN DAVIES TALKS “GIMME”, SOCIAL MEDIA & ARTISTIC INSPIRATION 0 44

Having already earned herself a growing army of followers across social media and seen her music streamed millions upon millions of times on the likes of Spotify and, most notably, YouTube, Megan Davies has achieved a great deal in the last few years. A passionate and creative singer-songwriter, she’s currently in the UK to play four shows on her very first headline tour here, and ThisIsTheLatest caught up with her before the first show in Manchester to talk artistic inspiration, performing for the cast of The Greatest Showman and what the future holds.

TITL: As an artist and an individual, how would you sum yourself up in a few words?

Megan Davies: I would say acoustic – everything started out acoustic for me, even if it was a big pop track I was covering. Raw in the sense that I try to be as honest as possible when it comes to the things I like and what I want to say. Hopefully passionate because I just love it so much.

TITL: Personally and professionally, who are you most inspired and influenced by? How do those influences filter through to the music you make?

MD: I love John Mayer a lot – his guitar solos are really cool. He doesn’t seem to…he always seems to be pushing to be better at what he does, which I find really inspiring. I’m a huge fan of this Brit named Imogen Heap…

TITL: “Hide And Seek”.. a beautiful song.

MD: She’s someone I’ve listened to for a really long time and I think is really inspiring as a female who does as I do; record and produce my own stuff that I post on my YouTube channel, that kind of thing. I remember when I was in high school seeing an article and a picture of her at a huge mixing board at home, in her living room and I was like “That’s so cool.” I think she’s someone who is very inspiring. People like Ed Sheeran – I saw him play a stadium in Nashville where I live just a few months ago and he was just standing up there with an acoustic guitar singing to THAT many people..

TITL: He played the Ethiad Stadium on his last tour here which holds something like 80,000 people. It’s incredible to see how just one guy and a guitar can captivate so many people like he does.

MD: Literally no-one else could do what he does.

TITL: Who would you say you feel most musically connected to?

MD: That changes a lot. I feel very emotionally connected to a lot of different types of music. I’m definitely one of those people who can cry at certain music if it hits me the right way. I remember when I was twelve years old being connected to Avril Lavigne’s record; super emo, but nowadays, there’s so much. I love Radiohead, Coldplay – a lot from the UK. It’s amazing that you can listen to so much nowadays, especially with streaming, so you can make your own playlists to fit whatever you’re going through in life. It’s hard to say just one artist because I feel like I connect with a lot of them.

TITL: You mentioned that you can cry to a lot of music but what’s the one song that can and will make you cry every time you hear it? Is there one?

MD: “River” by Joni Mitchell.

TITL: Mine’s “Everybody Hurts” by REM..

MD: Yes!

TITL: The last time I recall hearing it on public, national radio was September 12, 2001. It was the last song played before the country held a two minutes’ silence.

MD: Oh my God.

TITL: And of course, it’s such a true, honest and relevant song, especially now as mental health is becoming more of a talking point and more artists are starting to speak out about it. The song has such a powerful message.

MD: Of course, yes. I think with “River”, for me, it’s kind of a song that comes on a lot around Christmas time. It’s a sad sounding song and I’m one of those people that isn’t a big holiday person – I’m not super happy over the holidays and that song, I don’t know…it hits a nerve for me. It’s a great song.

TITL: As a singer-songwriter from Nashville, often considered the music capital of the States, do you ever feel any pressure to live up to the success and legacy that the city has thanks to the many artists who have come from there and achieved so much over the decades?

MD: I don’t think so because I’m not a country musician. I think if you’re a country musician, there’s a lot more pressure. I think there’s a lot of great music that comes out of Nashville don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing bands that have come from there, with different styles of music, but I’ve always been on the fringe, I guess. When you’re not in country music, I guess that’s where you are – how can I explain it? You kind of feel like you’re a little bit more on the outside, which I love…creatively not doing what everyone is expecting from you. I personally don’t feel that because it’s SO country. Everything in Nashville is so much country music. I feel like I get to skirt along the outside a little bit.

TITL: You don’t fit into the Nashville norm, as it were…which is and can be a good thing.

MD: Absolutely yeah. I wouldn’t take it any other way for sure.

TITL: It’s like that saying “You were born an original, why die a copy?”

MD: Exactly. I like that.

TITL: You uploaded your latest video “Gimme” two weeks ago. How did you come up with the concept for the video and why did you choose that song as a release?

MD: That was a song that was written a little bit ago – early 2018, I think. I was out in LA, working with a producer who was making beats and I was writing to them. It was really fun and that was one song that came out of it. I had just watched this episode of Black Mirror – I was binge watching it, it’s so good – and we were kind of just bitching about social media. There’s that one episode that was all about social media and that was so uncomfortable to watch. It was like so scary and so…he was making this track and I was kind of just writing down these lyrics, putting my guitar to it. We wrote it and recorded it – it was kinda just a fun jam session – and towards the end of the year, I’d been looking at some of the songs I’d been writing and that one just felt so relevant, and I felt that it would be a fun one to put out.

As far as the video goes, I came up with the idea for it in the shower. *laughs* I was running through it in my head I guess and I was just trying to think about what I would do in terms of a video. I ran out of the shower and wrote it all down. I got my laptop and just wrote the entire treatment which ended up beings something like two pages. I started sending it off to all the video people I knew in Nashville asking “Can you help me make this?” We got it done, which was crazy – it’s one of the more ambitious videos I’ve done.

TITL: But it works with the song – and I think once you have a visual that fits with a song, as yours does, then its “pull” can be and is often magnified – it reaches a bigger audience. Someone can listen to a song and like it, but sometimes you need a visual to go along with it to really put the song into context and put out there exactly what you’re trying to convey through the lyrics..

MD: Totally. With this song, sometimes you can be like casually listening to the lyrics and be like “yeah this is a good pop song” or whatever, but once you actually listen to those lyrics, it’s actually very dark and very tongue in cheek. It’s not super happy, so with the video, I wanted to put a sort of scarier video to it.

TITL: Given that you launched your career on YouTube, how do you feel about the dominance social media seems to have over many industries, including music, and people’s lives in general? Is there such a thing as “too much” social media?

MD: Oh absolutely. I have very mixed feelings about it as I think most people do. I think most people have a love/hate thing with it. You wanna totally cut off but at the same time you don’t. I feel the same way. I’m grateful for the internet and everything that it’s brought to my career as I would never be able – or have been able – to do it without that platform, but I can’t lie – it causes me a lot of anxiety; a lot of social anxiety and depression. It definitely affects your mental state. I have very mixed feelings about it but the more I talk to people about it, the more it seems they feel the same way. If there’s anything that ties us together, it’s that aspect of it.

TITL: This is your first UK headline tour. Just how excited are you to be embarking on this new chapter of your life and career?

MD: I am so excited. It’s so cool to be so far away from home and to come here and first of all play music that I created back there, but also see people who’ve been listening to it and who I’ve had conversations with online. The coolest part is meeting people who are so far away, but have been connected to what I’m doing in different ways.

TITL: For those who perhaps haven’t listened to your music or who are coming to see you on this tour, what can they expect from your set?

MD: They can expect some new songs for sure. I’m a big fan of trying out new music before I release it. There’s a song, it’s brand new…just a few weeks old, that I’m going to be playing on this run, and a lot of the new stuff hasn’t been released so I’m really excited to try that stuff out. People will hear some OG Megan Davies too, but there’ll be a good variety.

TITL: You’ve been championed by the likes of Parade Magazine and Music Radar among others, but do you actually care that much about what critics and the like think, or are you more concerned about the thoughts and opinions of those who come and see you, support and follow you?

MD: I definitely care more about the people who are connecting with it, than those who are “forced” to connect with it, like it’s their job to write about it or something. I do care – I don’t want people to not like it – but I’m also the person that doesn’t want to look at it, good or bad. If it’s a great review, that’s fantastic, but I don’t read it, and if it’s a bad review…I’ve gotten this far based on my own creative tastes – I don’t want to colour that too much, you know? It’s definitely flattering when someone does like what you do, but I do like to keep it more between me and the people who are listening in the audience or wherever they may be because they feel a connection with what I do.

TITL: What’s the nicest or best thing someone has ever said or written about you and how do you deal with any criticism directed your way? Do you find it easy to shrug off or does it linger in the back of your mind?

MD: It definitely lingers – I’m a deep thinker, for sure. It’s honestly why I take breaks on and off from social media. I try not to spend so much time on it because it can kind of get to you. The nicest thing anyone’s written about me…there’s been a lot of great things. Just on the personal message type side, I’ve had some really amazing stories shared with me. I had a soldier in Afghanistan who reached out and said he was listening to my covers at night to help him sleep. I thought that was pretty cool. It’s things like that that I remember the most rather than a straight forward compliment – it’s nice to get those for sure – but I love hearing those types of stories from people, who my music has helped through a difficult time or something. I’ve definitely had my share of terrible things written about me on the internet and it kind of stings a little bit. I’ve gotten better at pushing it off, but there’s always that stuff – the good and the bad of the internet. This is the job – it’s all part of it and can be – is – one of the not so great parts.

TITL: Your career has given you many amazing opportunities, including, perhaps most notably, performing for the cast of The Greatest Showman. As someone who loves the film and saw it twice in the same night, I have to ask, what was that experience like?

MD: Twice in one night?

TITL: A friend and I saw it and loved it so much, we went to the screening straight after it..

MD: Wow. There were two components to that whole experience. The first was that I got to go and meet the cast, visit the set and film the video that I have on YouTube, and sing for them. That itself was very surreal. I hadn’t seen the movie yet – I had the song, but that was it. I didn’t really know if this was going to be a huge film or not, at the time..

TITL: It turns out the answer was yes…

MD: It was six, seven months before the movie came out, and just to meet the cast, Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, was pretty mind-blowing. Then I got to go to the premiere. That experience blew me away just because I had never experienced anything like it. Nashville’s not a movie town, it’s a music town. To see such a huge premiere with the red carpet, and see so many people and be drinking champagne, was like…it literally felt like a Cinderella moment. It’s hard for me to even explain it to people; friends and family back home – it feels like I’m describing a dream. It was so surreal. I got to watch the movie with the cast and crew around me which was super cool and everyone applauded after like every song. It was an experience I will never forget.

TITL: I still don’t know how “This Is Me” did not win the Oscar for Best Song, but the soundtrack has a Grammy now so there’s that..

MD: It was on the Billboard charts for forever…I had a feeling when I was on set that the film was going to be pretty amazing, and then when I saw it I just thought “Wow, it’s going to be huge.”

TITL: The soundtrack broke the record for the longest time an album held the number one spot here a while ago; the record that used to be held by The Beatles Sgt. Pepper record..

MD: Good for them! That’s amazing.

TITL: You’ve also collaborated with the Red Cross and American Cancer Society. How important to you is it to be able to use your platform to benefit and support such organisations and those less fortunate? Would you like to see other artists – and perhaps people in general – do the same?

MD: I don’t judge people for what they do – people support different causes for different reasons and in different ways – but those two approached me, and when you build a following online, that’s something that happens a lot. Charities, brands…they all tend to reach out, and the Red Cross and ACS…those two were no brainers for me. Of course I’ll spread the word about having a plan for your family to get out of the house if there’s a fire – things like that are important and we did little PSA’s, things like that. They’re both causes I feel super passionate about.

TITL: Aside from this tour, which after the UK you’re taking around Europe, what does the rest of the year have in store for you?

MD: At the end of this tour, it’ll be mostly focused on releasing some new music. Like I said, I try a lot of new songs out when I’m on the road. I have some YouTube videos that I need to work on and that involves me not travelling. I spent a couple of days in London before we came up here to start the tour and I really enjoyed it so I’ve been thinking about going to London…I like going to different places and writing; being creative.

TITL: Finally then, taking into account all you’ve done and achieved so far in your career, what other goals and ambitions do you still want to fulfil? What’s the ultimate goal?

MD: So much. For me, since I’ve built so much of my audience on covers, I really want to develop as a songwriter and performer. I still feel like I’m always trying to get better at what I do; I’ve a lot more to give as a creator and musician. That’s my focus more than the numbers…it’s cool when you get really big numbers or a reaction, but yeah, I think that’s more my goal at the moment. You’ve gotta explore…I could probably just do covers for a long time, but that wouldn’t be satisfying to me. I want to push myself creatively and I feel like I’m meant to do more.

Check out Megan’s latest video, “Gimme” below and keep up to date with her and her music by visiting her website, following her on Twitter, giving her page a like on Facebook and subscribing to her YouTube channel.

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BRIT AWARDS 2019 WINNERS REVEALED 0 42

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BRITs 2019 WINNERS
Tonight we celebrated the achievements of British and international artists and musicians over the last year, live on ITV from The O2 Arena, London!

Jack Whitehall was back on hosting duties for the second year to present an exceptional night of entertainment for the 12,000 arena guests and the millions watching from home. A grand total of 13 awards – designed by acclaimed architect Sir David Adjaye – were handed out during the show.

Presenters on the night included: Paloma Faith, Annie Mac, Suki Waterhouse, Khalid, Jared Leto, Liam Payne and Winnie Harlow.

Multi-award winning actor and performer Hugh Jackman kicked off proceedings with a dazzling rendition of ‘The Greatest Show’ from the global music sensation The Greatest Showman, resplendent with over 100 circus-themed dancers. Calvin Harris made his BRITs debut with a collaboration with Dua Lipa, Sam Smith and Rag’n’Bone Man, and the show also hosted performances from George Ezra, Jorja Smith, Jess Glynne with H.E.R., Little Mix with Ms Banks and The 1975. P!nk closed the show with an incredible four song medley following the presentation of her Outstanding Contribution to Music award.

Winning British Group for the second time, The 1975 also added the much coveted Mastercard British Album of the Year award to their BRIT tally, for their third No. 1 album A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships.

A true ‘Giant’ of British music, Calvin Harris bagged his first ever BRIT awards, having been nominated 16 times in the last ten years. Winning British Single, along with Dua Lipa, for their No.1 smash hit ‘One Kiss’, the multi-million selling DJ was also honoured with Best British Producer, in acknowledgment of his immense chart topping success over the past twelve months, collaborating with some of the biggest artists in the world and responsible for some of the biggest hits of the last decade.

More BRITs firsts on the night saw a win for George Ezra for British Male Solo Artist and Tom Walker in British Breakthrough Act, the latter a public vote. Rising star Jorja Smith, who won the Critics’ Choice award in 2018, came away with British Female Solo Artist.

The BRITs Global Success award, identified by global sales success of a British artist, was awarded to Ed Sheeran for a second year, continuing to celebrate the phenomenal success of his third album Divide – certified sales alone account for 10.5 million, and overall Ed has sold an estimated 150 million records to date.

Ariana Grande was announced as Best International Female and Drake won his second BRIT award for Best International Male. Best International Group went to The Carters, their first as a group – although Beyonce and Jay Z have both won BRIT awards as individuals previously.

British Artist Video of the Year was once again determined by public social vote and this year the winner was Little Mix for ‘Woman Like Me’, which the girls performed earlier in the show.

WINNERS & SPEECHES

BRITISH MALE SOLO ARTIST – GEORGE EZRA (PRESENTED BY DANIEL STURRIDGE & PALOMA FAITH)

BRITISH FEMALE SOLO ARTIST – JORJA SMITH (PRESENTED BY H.E.R. & NILE RODGERS)

BRITISH GROUP – THE 1975 (PRESENTED BY NATALIE DORMER & VICKY McCLURE)

BRITISH BREAKTHROUGH ACT – TOM WALKER (PRESENTED BY ALICE LEVINE & CLARA AMFO)

INTERNATIONAL GROUP – THE CARTERS (PRESENTED BY JACK WHITEHALL)

INTERNATIONAL MALE SOLO ARTIST – DRAKE (PRESENTED BY JACK WHITEHALL)

INTERNATIONAL FEMALE SOLO ARTIST – ARIANA GRANDE (PRESENTED BY JACK WHITEHALL)

BRITs GLOBAL SUCCESS AWARD – ED SHEERAN (PRESENTED BY ABBEY CLANCY & ROMAN KEMP)

BRITISH ARTIST VIDEO OF THE YEAR – “WOMAN LIKE ME” BY LITTLE MIX FEATURING NICKI MINAJ (PRESENTED BY BROS)

BRITISH PRODUCER OF THE YEAR – CALVIN HARRIS (PRESENTED BY ANNIE MAC & SUKI WATERHOUSE)

BRITISH SINGLE – “ONE KISS” BY CALVIN HARRIS & DUA LIPA (PRESENTED BY LIAM PAYNE & WINNIE HARLOW)

MASTERCARD BRITISH ALBUM OF THE YEAR – “A BRIEF INQUIRY INTO ONLINE RELATIONSHIPS” BY THE 1975 (PRESENTED BY JARED LETO)

OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO MUSIC – P!NK (PRESENTED BY KHALID)

TALKING NEW MUSIC, SOCIAL MEDIA & ULTIMATE AMBITIONS WITH MAYA LAVELLE 0 72

With her album Hobo due out soon, 2019 is shaping up to be a big and important year in the career of Maya Lavelle. After first coming to notable attention after her debut single featured in a hugely popular TV series (read on to find out which), Lavelle’s career has gone from strength to strength. Prior to Hobo‘s release, and having just dropped the video for latest single “House On A Rocky Road”, Lavelle spoke to ThisIsTheLatest about her admiration of Tim Burton, her tour plans and her ultimate goal.

TITL: Who is Maya Lavelle in a few words?

Maya Lavelle: Maya Lavelle is a singer-songwriter and producer that conjures phantasmagorical sounds that turn our world into an enchanted forest with quirky eccentric characters.

TITL: What would you say sets you apart from other artists?

ML: My phantasmagorical style.

TITL: Which artists might you say you’re most inspired or influenced by and how to those influences filter into the music you make?

ML: Tim Burton, aesthetically, had a big influence on my music. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman struck the idea in my head that later developed into “House on a Rocky Road”. I love the paintings of the Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch, and the sculptures and buildings of Antoni Gaudi. Park Guell in Barcelona is probably one of my favourite places to go to. How I translate these impressions into music is not easy to explain. For everything I see, I kind of immediately have a sound in my head.

TITL: Who or what is your biggest inspiration when it comes to music and song-writing? With that in mind, could you choose what you feel is the greatest song ever written?

ML: That’s a tough one. I can’t choose one song but I love “Wuthering Heights” by Kate Bush and “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles.

TITL: Your debut single “This Ain’t The End” was featured in the film The Rift but is perhaps more known for being used in an episode of hit show The Walking Dead. What impact did having the song featured have on your career/fanbase and how did the inclusion come about?

ML: Fans of the Walking Dead went crazy over it, feeling that the lyrics fit a pivotal and highly anticipated moment in the series perfectly. I denied the rumour but that didn’t stop the fan frenzy.

TITL: You held an intimate listening party for your new single “House On A Rocky Road” in London on February 3rd. How was that?

ML: That will actually happen on the 6th March – we decided to move the date.

TITL: Ah, okay. You’ve just released the video for the track, with the visuals inspired by Tim Burton and The Brothers Grimm. Can you talk me through the creative process for both the song and the video? Where did the ideas for them come from?

ML: The song was partially inspired by remarkable characters from my life which are my grandfather who was a man of style and honor, and my grandmother who is a character I really relate to. And the concept for the video was inspired by the lyrics of the song. I worked on this with director Tamara Kotevska who had so many great and creative ideas. I love Tim Burton and his dark and whimsical aesthetic. I think it fits perfectly with my music.

TITL: Your first full length album is due out soon. Without giving too much away, what can you tell me about it?

ML: Hobo is a conceptual album. The overall concept is an escape from boredom, inspired from my experiences while living in Amsterdam, Los Angeles and London. The characters I’m singing about in this album are lonely, searching for love and care, just like Hobo. They’re all coming from different dimensions to meet in the House on the Rocky Road which is in Darkwille County. Hobo is the only character who can travel through all the dimensions and he changes the light bulbs on the streets of the Universe.

TITL: Do you have a favourite track on the album and if so, which is it and why?

ML: My favourite is “Zombie Town”. This song represents a post-apocalyptic future we are heading towards by neglecting the outcome of global warming and I wrote this out of great concern from current events that are taking place.

TITL: Do you have any tour/performance plans in the works?

ML: Once my album is out in June I would like to tour in the US and Mexico.

TITL: How do you feel about social media? Do you think society and the music industry is perhaps too reliant on the likes of Twitter and Facebook, or do you believe such platforms are now vital tools, given the technology-obsessed world we live in?

ML: Big changes can bring both good and bad sides. What I like about social media is that is has opened up a two way conversation between artist and audience. The audience has a bigger part to play than ever before. Today the real value is actually in this interaction. This way I can communicate and approach each of my listeners as individuals, as a person and not only as a consumer of pop music.

TITL: Do you have any other plans or projects lined up for the coming months?

ML: We are currently editing the music video for my next single “Dancing with a Bottle”, which we shot in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Palm Springs.

TITL: Finally then, what’s the ultimate goal for you as an artist? What one ambition do you most want to achieve and, along a similar path, looking much further down the line, what one thing would you most like people to say about you/remember you for in terms of your career and artistic legacy?

ML: The goal is to take people on a peculiar journey with my music where they can indulge in, and feel free from anything that’s holding them back. I hope I can bring and leave something genuinely new to music and provide musical elements that are challenging, original and exciting. I hope to create ideas that can powerfully move people.

Check out the video for “House On A Rocky Road” below and for more information on Maya Lavelle, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter. Header photo credit: Miljana Vukovic.