Why Everyone’s Talkin’ About Megan Washington

Listening to a Megan Washington album is like turning over the last page of a captivating novel; you’re emotionally satisfied, inspired by raw talent and itching to repeat the process. At just 24, the Melbourne-based singer-songwriter, pianist and guitarist (who fronts the band Washington) has risen to the highest ranks of the Australian independent music industry with songs that elicit a smile from even the most serious of critics. Fusing a vocal beauty akin to Natalie Merchant, Rosie Thomas, Corinne Bailey Rae and Regina Spektor with a writing style similar to that of Bright Eyes, Charlotte Gainsbourg or Sia, Washington creates an unforgettable audio experience with every tune.

In just four short years, Washington has carved out a CV that would rival those of musicians twice her age. In 2008, less than a year after forming the band Washington with fellow musicians Lance Ferguson, John Castle, Des White, Ross Irwin and Ryan Monro, they were invited to play Australia’s most respected summer festival, Big Day Out. In December 2009, after the band won a string of industry awards and a coveted spot on the nation’s most recognized playlist –The JJJ Hottest 100 – Washington took home the Vanda & Young songwriting prize for “How to Tame Lions” and was invited to share a stage with Keith Urban for his Melbourne concert. In addition to Urban, she has also performed alongside Woody Allen’s band in New York, The Bamboos, Tim Finn and Grizzly Bear.

Yet, bright lights and big arenas were never part of the allure for Washington, who began her love affair with creativity and sound in a remote area of Papua New Guinea. “I was born in PNG in 1986. My father had been living there since the late 1960s and my mother since the 1970s.  I grew up in a house on a hill with our haus meri Julie, haus boi Graham and about a million animals. It was quite isolated, so we got to create our own zeitgeist. My sister and I would watch old movie musicals and draw and play piano. PNG gave me a real love of the arts, which has definitely carried through to my current life. I’m quite nostalgic about those years, which I think comes through in some of my songwriting.”

A move to Queensland, Australia, at 11 forced Washington to face the harsh realities of city life. She says, “It was the first time I had ever encountered group culture. I struggled to fit in and eventually just gave up.” Yet rather than wallowing in self pity, Washington transformed her experience into creative fuel, penning songs and gaining entry into the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. “When I finished university I had a whole bunch of songs, but I had studied jazz, and these weren’t jazz tunes. I felt stuck and confused and had a small freak-out, so [I] moved to Melbourne to get some distance.” The move paid off, as Washington was invited to tour with Old Man River’s band as well as play keyboard and backing vocals for fellow Aussie musician Ben Lee. The experiences cemented Washington’s innate desire to form her own band, play her own songs and funnel the world from her head on a shared platform.

While industry acclaim saturates her existence at the moment, Washington remains incredibly down-to-earth and grounded in her approach to her craft. “Someone once told me, ‘Be as you as you can possibly be. Don’t watch what anybody else is doing. You’re not them: you’ll suck if you try to be anyone else.’ It was pretty helpful and I would share that advice with anybody, not just in music… it’s relevant to every part of life.”  Megan Washington will be playing shows throughout the U.S. during May/June 2010.

– Fiona Killackey

For more info visit: www.myspace.com/meganwashington

THE SPRING ISSUE


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