After putting her life on the line for her career as a musician, and playing in multiple bands for the last several years, she finally took it upon herself to go for it on her own.
Today, aside from recording multiple EPs and in the process of releasing five more songs, Wright has also teamed up with several other independent female recording artists and started her own network of musicians.
I met up with Wright at Verb Café, located at 218 Bedford Ave. in Williamsburg, and discussed her road to becoming a solo musician and the hard work and dedication it takes to take on New York City.
Is there a myth that New York City is an easy place to make it big as a musician?
Well, I’ve been pretty jaded since I was younger so I didn’t really feel that way, but I did know that if I wanted to do something I had to go to more of a mecca. I didn’t think I would walk off the plane and become a famous rock star or anything like that. In fact, the opportunities that I have had have probably been more than most other musicians, and I don’t take that for granted at all. I worked really hard for everything I’ve gotten so far.
So losing that band didn’t make you give it up?
There were plenty of times I was like, “screw this, I hate this.” There have been those times when I was thought about just moving back to Hawaii and becoming a bartender and go to the beach every day. But then something would eventually happen to remind me that this is my dream and this is where my passion is.
Also, to me, I want to be an inspiration to my little brother and my sister because while we were growing up, we weren’t encouraged to seek art as our careers. We were always really encouraged to do art no matter what it was, but our parents were always worried about us starving to death. They had always instilled such a huge love and passion for music that we couldn’t deny it.
What was like growing up in Hawaii and finding music there?
There were a lot of shows. People did come from the west coast, a lot of ska and punk bands in the 90s. We actually had a lot of huge raves back then, too. Everyone who loved music did all the music. You could go to the local DIY shows and every kind of band would be there. The hardcore bands would play, then the ska bands would play then the throwback punk rock bands would play. Everyone had their own influences, but it was always just based on what they liked.
What first got you into playing music?
My mom had us all playing instruments. First she tried to get me to play piano when I was like 5, and I have terrible attention deficit disorder. I was climbing all over the piano, and I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t focus.
So, then a couple years later, my mom got me a violin for Christmas, but my teacher was super mean. I mean, I loved violin but I couldn’t get into it. When I was in 7th grade, we first had our marching band thing, and I played sax, so my parents got me this really cool sax. It was the first day and the teachers were like, “ Okay, it’s totally normal if you can’t make any noise the first time you use this,” but the second I did it, it was just natural. That was the first time I was really excited about playing an instrument.
I played that for like 10 years all through high school and in college. I played jazz and ska. But to me just playing sax was very natural, like singing even though I never really sang. I think that in turn set the stage for me to be able to start singing. After that, when I was playing guitar and bass in bands, I would help arrange songs but I would never sing as the front person in a band until I started doing the solo thing I’m doing now.
What made you decide to do the solo thing?
I just had to. Like I was just telling you about the whole girl band thing. I was tending a bar at the time and I just focused on that. I met a few other friends that were into songwriting and I found out about a couple of songwriting contests. I met up with this one girl – Jess Park – and we just started writing on our own. Then we found that it worked out. It was just more me that wanted to do it, and then I just started writing at home by myself and I had never really done that before.
I had some friends that told me I should play shows, and I didn’t know if I could do that because I had never done that before. But I just did it because people were really supportive and that really built up my confidence more.
What is the City and the Heart?
I was just meeting all of these really talented young women, and I would always ask them where to find their music, and they would all be like, “ Oh I don’t really have any recordings.” But I was just like come on over to my place and I’ll record you.
Then I got it in my head that I would do this old school DIY compilation, like on Revelation Records or Victory Records, where there would just be a song from every band on their roster. I just thought I would do it with all these cool indie chicks and it would be fun. Then the place where I work, Premier Studios, the woman who used to be the business manager there – now I have her job – she offered to record some of the girls for free. So that whole compilation – The City and the Heart - will be out in May.
But there are about 40 women. I really build that to make a stronger community for independent female singer songwriters. Say someone’s looking for a guitar player we have it. It has just become a network now. I hope to do a record release show, so I was thinking in May or June, hopefully at the Bowery Electric (327 Bowery in Manhattan).
What are you working on now as a solo musician?
Yeah, right now it’s three songs. We are probably going to record two more songs with my friend Anthony Gallo who opened Virtue and Vice Productions here in Brooklyn. He used to be at the Cutting Room, he used to be their head engineer there, and he is really good.
Basically we did three songs with Tim Gilles over at Big Blue Meenie in New Jersey, and those three songs are, “Can’t Carry Water,” which I just released and will be available on iTunes on April 29; the second song is a song of mine called “Cocaine,” and that is going to be next month with a video in tandem. The following month we are releasing the third song we did called “I Left My Heart in Brooklyn.”
What is the idea behind releasing songs over a long a period of time?
It’s more strategic. Nowadays everything is based on content and impressions – how many times they’ve heard your name or your song – so they may not pay attention to the first one, two or five times, but after the 11th maybe they’ll decide to listen to your music. It’s just the more content you have and the more you put yourself out there, the more likely someone is going to pay attention.
Check out Meghann Wright at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1, located at 196 Allen St. in Manhattan, on Thursday, May 22, at 8 p.m.