Introducing....Megan O'Neill

Megan-O-Neill-03.jpgIrish country-folk singer-songwriter Megan O'Neill is poised to release her debut EP Coming Home on May 1st. The EP holds five tracks, Coming Home, I Wish I Could Love You More, Don't You, Now That You're Mine and Meet Me In The Middle, all of which have been co-written by Megan herself.

Whilst listening to the EP I immediately found myself drawn to I Wish I Could Love You More. The track really suits Megan's vocal and the melody merges a sense of delicacy in the verses with the strength of the chorus to create a very appealing, catchy track. The lyrics betray a sense of hurt that is not necessarily obvious from the mostly powerful production, using lines such as "what's tomorrow good for, if it means tonight is going to end" and "when the sun comes over the hill you'll be leaving town".

Don't You was another song I really enjoyed. The production of the track, particularly in the chorus, is reminiscent of something you would expect from The Lumineers or Mumford & Sons. I was able to hear the track live as part of Megan's recent Country To Country Festival appearance and to hear it with the full studio production certainly adds another dynamic to it. Whilst Megan's vocals are undoubtedly strong I would have to say the production is the real stand out part of the track and I am sure listeners will find themselves drawn along with it. The instrumentalisation ebbs and fades exactly when needed and everything comes together to form a really strong track.

Megan-O-Neill-07.jpgI could really see EP closer Meet Me In The Middle becoming a big gospel-esque number with a substantial choir behind Megan thanks to it's strong drum led production. Megan showcases her powerful vocal throughout the EP and Meet Me In The Middle is no exception however I would love for the really strong a cappella sample at just after two minutes in the track to be longer, it builds on the sense of vulnerability that floats under the surface of the track (and also shows off Megan's vocal!).

Coming Home is a very impressive EP and I can really see it being embraced by country music fans both in the UK and internationally. Megan manages to create a 'sound' throughout the EP with all of the songs being similar enough to be logical without verging on being boring. I would definitely recommend purchasing the EP and I can't wait to hear how Megan develops this debut into a full length album!

I was recently able to catch up with Megan and ask her some questions....

What first drew you to country music?
I grew up as part of a really musical family in Ireland, my mum is a musician, her dad was a musician. She was big into American country and introduced me to a lot of the old school American country artists that aren't very big in Ireland. You've got Irish country, American country doesn't really transfer over so she introduced me to a lot of the early and from there the older I got the more I researched myself. I just fell in love with the genre.
Who would you describe as your influences?
I have a lot, because I wouldn't think that my music is so specific to country. I've definitely got some pop in there, some folk in there and Irish traditional as well. So I have influences from all of those different genres. Modern influences? I love Carrie Underwood, love Kacey Musgraves...but I also lot of lot of indie folk, I love Tallest Man On Earth, it's very diverse. Old school, Emmylou Harris, Trisha Yearwood, Eva Cassidy...they're all amazing heroes of mine.
Which artist would you like to collaborate with and why?
Oh there are so many! [laughs] I actually recently was in LA over the Oscar Wilde Awards and I collaborated with Gavin James. Have you heard of Gavin James? He's touring at the moment with Kodaline and he's just been signed to Capitol Records. I got to collaborate with him in LA and he's someone I'd love to work with again.
What would you be doing if you weren't involved in country music?
Oh wow...I think probably teaching. I was a piano teacher for a good few years so maybe teaching or some kind of musical theatre drama teaching, I did a lot of that kind of stuff growing up as well. I think I'd still be in the music somehow! [laughs]
Which song do you wish you'd written and why?
Oh God that's a great question! Where do you come up with these? [laughs] Which song do I wish I'd written and long do I have to answer? [laughs] I think there are definitely a lot of songs that really touched me and that you have your headphones in and you're like 'damn it where did they find that kind of an idea?why can't I find an idea like that' I think Kacey Musgraves "Merry Go Round" and also her "Follow Your Arrow", those two songs. They're just recent ones I've been listening to and I think she's got such a smart way of saying something that's been said a million times before but she's got a really really smart way of saying it. So I think they would be two of the ones I would have liked to have written [laughs] definitely!
You're set to release your debut EP, have you written all of the songs on there?
Yes, I've co-written them between London, Dublin and Nashville so it's been a bit all over the place but yes, I've written all of the ones on there.
Do you start with the melody or lyrics when writing?
It completely depends, I think more so recently, I have been writing lyrics when I'm on the go. As an artist you're just trying to find different ways to spruce up your creativity. If you've been doing the same thing for a while it's nice to change it, I've been writing lyrics if I'm on the train somewhere or if I'm in a park. It used to be always that I would write them when I'm at the piano and that would be just the way I would always write, or when I'm at a co-writing session I would write them with the guitarist and a melody would, a lot of the time, spark an idea and the lyrics would come from that. Now it's a complete blend actually.
Which has been the hardest track to write?
Of the five on the EP? Probably the first single, "I Wish I Could Love You More" because I wrote that about a long distance relationship I was in and it was very emotional for me to write that song so I think that was the most difficult. It took me a while to be very happy for the story that was told. 
You've been streaming the EP over the past few weeks, how has the response been?
It's been amazing! It's been really touching to me because it's my first release and you never really know...people have heard the songs and we've been touring with them live around London and Ireland and people have been really responsive in a really positive way so when we put the EP out there for streaming I was excited to see what the response would be and yes, people have been incredible. They've just been emailing and calling and posting and sharing, really positive response.
You recently performed at the Country To Country Festival, how was the experience?
It was great! I was so overwhelmed, I felt like I was right back in Tennessee. I was on stage like 'did I actually leave Nashville?' [laughs] Suddenly not UK right now! It was so great and it was so great to see the influence that country music is starting to have now in the UK. I hadn't seen that before, I hadn't really experienced country in London, country music taking over. It is! It's starting to become huge here so it was really good to see that. I met all of the other artists, a lot of the other pop-up artists, those who were playing. I've actually collaborated with a lot of them since like Gary Quinn and Luke & Mel, Liv Austin, The I got to meet all of them through that experience and now I'm collaborating with all of them which is great. 
You've mentioned playing in the US, do you find the crowds in the UK are different?
Yeah, I wouldn't say one is better than the other though! [laughs] I think just the response is a bit different. I think in Nashville, which is the only place in the US I've performed, people are very in touch with the music and very tuned in because it's Music City so they've got to be tuned in because they either want to find the next best thing or they want to just collaborate with you themselves. So a lot of people are listening for those reasons whereas in the UK I find it's more fan based and people are just stumbling into gigs and kind of being like 'oh I like the sound of this' and are really appreciative. Yeah, they're really appreciate of music in London I find, they really like to just listen and observe. 
If you could only listen to one CD which would you pick?
Oh my God how could you do this to me! [laughs] Could I do a collaborative CD? My own mix tape? [laughs] I have no idea! I think if you could get an old school country music hits that might be for me. Something like 'country hits over the years' because I'm such a steady fan when it comes to country music, I just love listening to all the old school stuff. So probably a bit of that. 
Do you have any plans for a full UK tour?
We're in talks about it right now. The EP will be released in a week and a half, 1st May, then I'm going to be very busy for the month of May, a lot of writing and then I'm back in LA in June. So kind of up until July is crazy for me so we said we're going to start talking about touring after that and I think it would be good to look at something in Autumn, that's what we've been talking about right now. I want to see everywhere! There's so much of the UK I haven't actually seen so I'm like 'just set up shows everywhere so I'll have to travel up and down the country' [laughs]  

Thank you to Megan for her time! She should be very pleased with her EP! I have certainly been really enjoying listening to it and would, again, recommend everybody purchases it. Coming Home is out May 1st and tour dates can be found on Megan's website here.