Wed, 06 Aug 2008 10:19:56
If Meiko could withstand the big L.A. earthquake of 2008, chances are she can withstand any music industry tremors. Meiko laughs about the 5.8 Richter scale rumble this July, "I'm not going to lie. I was a little freaked out. I was sitting on the couch checking my MySpace page, and I thought that a big truck went by or something. I thought, 'That was loud.' But it kept going, and everything started shaking. I was like, 'Oh my God, I don't know what to do in an earthquake!' I just opened the door, stood in the doorway and freaked out for a little bit. Then I called everyone I know. It just felt like I was on a boat." Fault lines aside, the Georgia native loves Los Angeles. "I'm in Santa Monica right now. I love it over here. My friend is out of town for a little while, so he's letting me use his apartment. It's right by the beach. It's the greatest place in the world. It's a nice change from Hollywood. It's weird. I feel less stressed over here. I'm right by the beach, and the air is fresh."
Meiko's eponymous debut album on MySpace Records is also quite fresh. She weaves a sonic tapestry of soaring melodies, ethereal instrumental textures and jazzy vocal cadences. The album finds Meiko telling tales of relationships, growing up and much more. Most of the time she's singing with a smile, but a few tears do fall. Relaxing in Santa Monica, she stares out the window at the water and delves into her music, hilarious blog titles, Hotel Café and much more for ARTISTdirect.
The album definitely has a warm singer-songwriter vibe, but it feels like there are some jazz influences as well. Would you say that's the case?
Thank you! That's a good way of putting it! I haven't heard that before. No one's really pointed out the jazz influences, but that's definitely a big thing for me. I love Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald—all of that good stuff from back in the day.
Where do songs usually start for you?
I'm definitely a night owl, so I rarely write during the day. I don't really have a schedule either. Whenever I'm inspired or pissed off, I'll pick up my guitar and come up with something. I'll usually write about firsthand experiences, relationships or people that annoy me. Making music is a pretty organic thing for me.
Do you dig L.A.?
I hated it during the first two years that I lived here. I always tell everybody, "If you can make it through the first two years, then everything's going to be ok." It's sad, but if you can't take the earthquakes, get out of California [Laughs].
Are the lyrics all based on personal experiences?
Absolutely every single song is. It's really hard for me to write about things I haven't experienced. It's fun to step out of the box and write about different things. It's harder to look at the world from that outside perspective though. It's easier to be more introspective.
What's the story behind the album opener, "Reasons to Love You?"
It started off as a joke. Basically, the song tells my boyfriend to pay more attention to me [Laughs]. It ended up being a really sweet song. It turned into a love song even though it started out sarcastic. Now I have people writing me and asking me if they can play it at their weddings. I'm like, "Okay!" [Laughs]. The song definitely says, "Girls need attention, and boys need us." I started playing it in front of my boyfriend as I was writing it, and I was just giving him evil looks and joking around. I recorded it a few days after that.
“It's sad, but if you can't take the earthquakes, get out of California.”
"Boys with Girlfriends" has a different vibe from the other songs as well. It's really funny.
That's the most recent song on the album. I was lucky to get it on there. That song is totally true. It's about a really good friend I had. He had this girlfriend that was so jealous, and she didn't want him to hang out with me anymore. It was stupid. We were honestly just good friends, and his girlfriend made it up to be a little more than that. It was ridiculous. I'm sure people can relate to it though. It was your typical jealousy situation. It happens a lot.
The slower songs, "Said and Done" and "Walk By," are a bit darker, but they really resonate. What's happening on those tracks?
I've never really been asked about "Walk By," wow. That was about a situation that I had with my parents. I have a really great relationship with my dad and not-such-a-great relationship with my mom. It was a song that says, "You can't really repair the damage that's been done, but I'm over it at the same time." "Said and Done" was also saying, "You can't change the past, so don't dwell on it." That's a really tough one for me.
Even though the songs are more somber, they fit with the record's overall aesthetic.
There's definitely a darker side. I was really inspired by Portishead and Sade. I wanted to start off the record in a happy place, but I wanted it to have some ups and downs. I love how the record ends, and I'm really happy that I've sequenced it how I did. There's definitely a darker side though.
Does "Hawaii" hold a certain significance for you?
I was having a reoccurring dream that I was in Hawaii, and it was at night. I was wading in the water, and it was all super tense. I've had that dream like six or seven times. At that point I'd never been to Hawaii. It was one of those songs where I just picked up my guitar finally, and the song instantly came out of it. I wrote that song in about 10 minutes. I was really happy with the recording. It was better than I'd imagined it'd be.
How important has the Hotel Café been to you?
I played there once in front of like three people, and I met the owners and sound guy after the show. Everyone there naturally became like family for me. I started hanging out there all the time, and, eventually, I needed a job because I got fired from this Indian restaurant that I worked at. I called the owners, and I was like, "Hire me, I'll do anything for you!" So they hired me as a waitress there. I was there all the time because, if I wasn't working, I was playing there or just hanging out. It's my spot. It's home base.
You had the best blog title on your MySpace page: "Duck Tales and My Ass."
[Laughs] It's really funny to me because I hate reading blogs with really boring titles. People will never read them. I don't. I just write what's on the top of my head. It's a way for me to connect with the fans. I like it when people respond, and they tell me their little experiences. They're like, "Yeah, fuck that!" It's a cute way to communicate with people.
What's it been like working with MySpace records?
It's really cool! I put the record out by myself almost a year ago. Things were going really well. I was doing the whole indie thing. I thought about it, and I knew I wanted to reach more people. That's the whole idea of playing music and performing. You want to reach as many ears as you can get to. I had some deals on the table, but MySpace records just made sense. The people there were super-enthusiastic. They had really amazing marketing ideas, and it all came into place. I love the people over there so much. They're working their asses off. They love my music, and they don't want to change it. That's a big thing. They're not making me go in with a zillion writers to write that one hit. They let me flourish.