ARTIST NAME: Meghan Irving
SONG TITLE: Middle of the Road
ALBUM TITLE: The 5
Meghan Irving is a singer-songwriter based in Brooklyn, New York.
She’s performed at numerous venues around the city such as SOBs, The Bitter End, The Bowery Electric, and more.
Her EP ‘The 5’ was released in February 2018 and has allowed her to partner up with Apple for a Keynote Event and performance where she discussed making a music video to her song “Never A Bride” with an iPhone X.
She’s also been featured on The Shade Room’s ‘Music Series’ and is now working on a new EP to be released this spring.
Go on at length on what it takes to write a song from the start to the end.
For me, it usually starts with titles. I have a note in my phone full of words or phrases I like, or song concepts or ideas.
There are also instances where I have an idea and I write the song in full in 20 minutes. That was the case for my song “Never A Bride.”
As I write, the melody often takes flight on its own. Almost simultaneously as I come up with the words I come up with a melody at the same time.
Some songwriters collaborate with their writing. So they may start with an idea and then go to co-writers to flush it out.
I tend to work solo. I’ll just have the idea and continue to build on it myself as time goes on.
I think it’s also important to understand the different parts of a song. The verses, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, etc. You have to figure out what you want to say in each part and how you want the song to shift and progress. It helps to have a specific topic or point you want to get across, that way you can ensure the song tells that story.
You have to have patience because it doesn’t always all come to you at once. Sometimes you may just have to scrap an idea and start something else.
I think you also have to be patient because it can be frustrating when it’s just not coming together the way you want, but something always comes together when it’s meant to.
Elaborate on the gain and loss of being a musician.
In the beginning, at least, the biggest loss is the money you put into making your music.
When you’re starting out you won’t necessarily recoup those funds. Especially as an independent artist when you are financing it all on your own. You can also miss out on having extra free time because a lot of it is spent working on your music.
However, you gain so much by getting the music done! Creating something from nothing, taking a random idea and turning it into something people can hear and enjoy.
Also, the relationships you create with other artists and musicians are everything.
I met a singer from Tokyo and another from Stockholm at different gigs. Now when we travel to each other’s home cities, we make plans to meet up and we continue to support each other’s work and keep in touch on Instagram.
Gaining positive encouragement from people who hear your music and see you perform makes it worth it.
Tell us how you connect people with your music.
Social media is definitely a big part. I always encourage people to follow me and check out my projects on various streaming platforms.
However, I find that the best connection for me is when I perform live. Seeing real reactions from people and getting to talk to them after a performance is the best.
Those instances tend to be where I gain new followers the most. That’s when I get to talk about my music at length and they get to learn a bit more about me as an artist.
Mention your greatest song up to date.
I think one of the best songs I’ve written, and the one that has become a bit of a fan favorite is ‘Never A Bride.’ That’s the song I did a video for on an iPhone X and got to perform at an Apple Keynote. I think the subject matter is what gets people. It’s really just about being a single woman and the struggles we feel.
Whenever I perform that song women come up to me saying how much it spoke to them. Even guys have used it as an icebreaker talking about how they would happily “make me a bride someday” *smooth.*
Tell us what you hate most about the music business.
I don’t like the pigeonholing that happens. It’s tough for an artist to branch out and try new things without being met with resistance once they’ve been put in a certain box or labeled a certain way.
I also think there should be a stronger focus on an artist’s well-being mentally, physically, and even financially. Make sure artists get properly paid for all the work they put in and the content they create.
These days, one of the more annoying things is how much the industry relies on follower count on social media. More often than not, it doesn’t matter if you have great music or have talent — if you don’t have a viral video or hundreds of thousands of followers or streams, the industry won’t give you a chance.
I think great talent is getting bypassed because of this. These days, they want you to already have a fan base and a hit song instead of helping unknown artists get to that point.
Discuss how you monitor your digital distribution and streaming.
For my most recent release, I distributed my music via DistroKid.
Through there, I am able to view my ‘Spotify For Artists’ portal and monitor my streams there, and view where in the world my music is being streamed.
Apple Music recently setup Apple For Artists so we can manage and view how our music is doing across the Apple Music and iTunes platforms as well.
State the obstacles that a new artist can face as a starter.
As I mentioned before, your social media numbers can definitely be an obstacle for up-and-coming artists.
There are so much content and so many artists on the internet. It’s extremely difficult to stand out or be found amongst all that content.
Unless you have a viral song or video, getting that online following can be really tough. That and just fine-tuning exactly what you want your sound to be can be hard.
At the same time though, big-name artists that have had hit albums have said they are just figuring out their sound so I feel like that is an ongoing process.
Figuring out who you are as an artist and figuring out your ‘brand’ is probably one of the biggest obstacles when starting out.
Tell us how you will tutor a new artist in the music business.
I think figuring out how they learn best will be a big determining factor.
I for one, learn best by watching and by doing things hands-on. So I’d probably have that new artist shadow me when I’m writing or recording or making videos.
I’d collaborate with them and watch them work and give them feedback on what they are doing so they can continue to grow.
I would also recommend they read up on the business side of the industry.
It’s not just about making the music, it’s important as an artist to make yourself knowledgeable on what goes on behind the scenes.
Explain how you record songs.
Once I have the lyrics and melody in a place I like, I record a voice memo on my phone.
The memo is mainly acapella but I also include a metronome in the background so I can figure out the right BPM.
Sometimes I’ll use that memo to figure out the chord progression as well.
From there, I send it to whomever the producer is that I am working with on this particular song.
I always send them the voice memo and the BPM along with any chords I have been working with.
Sometimes I include reference tracks too (songs that already exist that have a similar vibe of what I am going for so they can have an idea on where to start).
Once they have that information they usually are able to lay a good foundation. Once the track is completed we lay vocals.
More often than not, we finish the vocals in about 2-3 hours. That consists of the lead vocal, harmonies, backgrounds, adlibs, etc. Once that is completed the producer sends that version to me so I can sit with it for a couple of days. I have to give my ears a break from hearing it over and over.
Normally after I step away for a bit and come back I hear new things I want to edit or change. If that is the case, I’ll stop by the studio again, finish those final vocal touches, and then we go into the final steps, mixing and mastering.
Discuss digital and analog recording.
I’ve personally never recorded music in analog, but I have done analog video editing.
Analog video editing is linear so you can’t just jump around from shot to shot, you have to let the entire thing play and make cuts and edits at the specific spots you want.
It is incredibly time-consuming and I am so happy it is not the norm anymore.
The video quality itself isn’t as HD. Digital is so much faster and more efficient. I imagine that recording music in analog is just as tedious.
Tell us your opinion on adding effects to vocals.
I think it depends on the song. Some songs are more electronic or have a certain theme or emotion you want to get across, adding some vocal effects could help convey that.
Effects can really add something memorable to a song. However, when it comes to songs that are more stripped down, I prefer lesser effects.
In some of the songs I’ve recorded, people have automatically put a bunch of effects on my vocals and I didn’t say anything at the time even though I didn’t like it.
I’ve made it a point now to say something; I’m getting better at speaking up. A little reverb goes a long way with vocals. The concept of adding effects to make your voice hit notes that you can’t sing live — I don’t agree with because you’re just setting yourself up for a struggle when showtime comes.
Tell us how you eradicate noise in your recording.
If you record in an actual recording studio, that’s pretty much-taken care of already just based on how the booth is built and the walls are proofed.
However, it’s different when recording at an in-home setup. I’ve done this several times and we’ve had to put our phones on airplane mode, closed all the windows and doors, and turn off any AC-units/fans in the background (this made a recording in the summer very hot).
When recording vocals, those steps need to happen so there is zero background noise interference – One time the producer I was working with had a cup of seltzer water in the room and we could actually hear the bubbling of the seltzer on the recording so he had to just chug it before we recorded again.
Describe the theme of your lyrics.
I would say a general theme is ‘honesty.’ I try to keep it fully 100 when I’m writing about a situation.
A lot of the time, the lyrics are actual words from conversations I’ve had that inspired the song. I also like to tell a story, I like the song to progress.
I like to start at the beginning and have some sort of conclusive ending.
I tend to put the most memorable or ‘quotable’ lyrics in the bridge of the song. The bridge is usually the most climactic part so I typically want the lyrics that go there to be impactful in some ways.
Tell us if you consider singing about politics or injustice rather than love stories.
All the time! Especially as a woman of color this 100% has been on my mind.
That note in my phone full of song titles I mentioned earlier…I have two song titles in there that are along these lines and halfway written – Just waiting for the right project to put them on.
Discuss the registration of your songs with your Performing Rights Organization.
I’ve been a member of ASCAP for years now. Whenever I release a song I submit it to ASCAP and list both my writer profile and publisher profile.
If I collaborate with someone (i.e. a featured artist or producer) I put their accounts on it as well and we divvy up the percentages.
Discuss how you distribute your music.
As I mentioned earlier, I distributed my latest EP via DistroKid. For my latest song called “Have Your Cake” which is dropping Friday, April 19, I am using a different platform called OneRPM.
That is likely the one I’ll use for my next EP as well. As an independent artist, platforms like these are the way to get your music to major streaming platforms.
Discuss how you cope with the crowd on the stage.
I was lucky in that I never really suffered from stage fright. I do however have intense anxiety in my day-to-day life. I get nervous leading up to a performance. The waiting around before I take the stage is where I get uneasy.
Once I am on the stage though I am totally at peace. I like to take the time to talk to a crowd. Whether it’s a small bar or an actual music venue I like to have little chats about the songs and give the crowd a chance to see my personality. I’ve found that they enjoy that part too.
Elaborate on the song.
I wrote the song “Middle Of The Road” after things with this guy I was seeing a few years ago went very south very fast.
This song is from a reflective standpoint. When it’s been a while and you’re over it, but you’re just reviewing what happened.
It’s about when you’re with someone and the good times are very good, but the bad times are very bad.
These bad moments then outweighed the good and caused it all to end.
It’s about not being able to find that happy medium or balance. The concept of ‘middle of the road’ as a song title came to me randomly one day and I wrote it down in my notes app.
When things ended with this particular guy it seemed to align perfectly with that concept. I was then able to use that as an outline and build this song around that idea and it turned out to be a pretty accurate narrative of our time together.
Elaborate on your artist name and the title of the album.
I put the name ‘Meghan Irving’ together from my middle name, Meghan, and my Dad’s middle name, Irving.
My first name is actually Jessica. I named my EP ‘The 5’ because the project consists of songs that I wrote while riding the 5 train to and from Brooklyn.
You can see the cover art (illustrated by my friend and artist Adi her IG is @__adidos__) is of a girl sitting on a New York Train on her phone.
I’ve been living in New York City for the last five years and you spend a lot of time sitting on trains. Most people read or listen to music, but I’ve found that it’s a great time to think and write.