While touring with musical theater company Starkid and singer Charlene Kaye, singer-songwriter Megan Cox worked on her debut album, “W.” Thanks to the Internet, Cox’s music was met with excitement by fans around the world instead of just her local New York crowd.
“W,” which dropped Jan. 8, has a warm sound and is a welcome change from overplayed Top 40 music. Cox not only sings on the album, but also composed the lyrics, arrangements and played instruments.
The Miami Hurricane got a chance to talk to Cox about the meaning of “W,” touring with Starkid and the support from her fanbase.
The Miami Hurricane: How long have you been writing the album?
Megan Cox: Thought of recording it in October of 2011, but I’ve been writing the tunes for a long time. Some of the songs date back four or five years.
TMH: Why did you name the album “W”?
MC: W is a lyric in the song “Atlas.” It’s physical symbol of the shape your body makes when you’re holding someone. I thought it was very fitting because the whole album is very personal and I didn’t want to hold back anything of myself.
TMH: What musicians are you influenced by?
MC: My main inspirations have been Bon Iver and Sufjan Stevens because of their layering. Stevens does a ton of instrumental layering. It’s not always perfect, almost amateur sounding in the playing. I think that that texture is really beautiful.
TMH: How do you write your music?
MC: Generally I start with an idea. Normally there’s something that’s kind of nagging me, a feeling, experience. Something kind of has to bottle up for a while before I feel like I have enough to write about it. I do a lot of free writing in my journal. Then a key word or phrase or something really poetic, something will hop out of that. It starts verbally before it goes into the music a lot of times. But it goes hand in hand with a lot of the musical content, and from there I just kind of take bits and pieces and get the frame work.
TMH: How did you meet Charlene Kaye, and what was it like touring with her and Starkid?
MC: I met Charlene through a mutual friend who was playing keyboard for her at the time. Touring with the whole crew is pretty amazing. They’re extremely extremely warm people and I never felt like an outsider, which says a lot. I met them the day before the Ann Arbor Space Tour. I thought ‘I’m about to get on a bus with 20 people I don’t know.’ But they were so welcoming and so warm and so ready to just make me a part of their family. And they’ve been huge supporters of my music. Touring with them has been so much fun. They’re extremely high energy. I almost feel like the energy they have on stage is nothing compared to everything else.
TMH: How has touring with Starkid affected your career?
MC: It has been extremely helpful in terms of exposure for my music. I know that I would have had a lot of people excited and willing to listen just from meeting people in the New York scene. But I got a tweet from some girl in Australia because it was the 8th there first saying that she had bought the album. That certainly would never have happened without Starkid. They’re such a passionate fanbase. It’s so amazing to me that they’re so young and yet so supportive. Like, my friends don’t even buy my record. It’s just kind of mind blowing that that exists, that we’re actually able to make somewhat of a living being creative because of the fanbase. It’s really incredible. I definitely wouldn’t be able to do that with other people.
I think there’s also a sense of ownership in the fandom that’s incredible. It makes you feel so much more connected to people too. It’s a lot of fun to be a part of and to see that community helping each other and supporting each other. We couldn’t exist, Starkid couldn’t exist without the fandom. It’s a great symbiotic relationship. The industry is not built for self-starters. If we had lived 20 years ago, nobody would know who we were no matter what. I love the empowerment of the current state of technology or music. You don’t need to get discovered. It doesn’t have to do with one person’s opinion. If people like it they’ll listen and tell their friends about it. It’s more of a musical democracy.
TMH: What was the best show you’ve ever played?
MC: The Space Tour show in Atlanta Georgia really sticks out in my head for being one of my favorite shows. The audience was so present. It was a great venue — the venue was shaped so you could see everyone. It was just people everywhere. They were just so present and happy to be there. There was something that was just so magical about it. It was just so pure.
TMH: Any stories that stick out?
MC: There was just this one guy in the front row at the Philly Show for apocalytour that was singing and acting out everything so passionately that we all just stared at him the whole time. I was trying so hard not to giggle the whole show. Everytime we went off stage, we’d all say “you saw that guy right?”. It was the sort of private singing along that you’d never do in public. Like being in your room with a fake microphone. He was totally by himself too. He was just going to town.
TMH: Besides the five week tour coming up with Charlene Kaye, do you have any other plans for this year?
MC: There may be another tour in the works for the summer and I’m going to try to do a music video for “Knee Deep.” It’s certainly not the single of the album by any means but I just have this really strong vision of a music video for this song in the really harrowing, blistering cold of Michigan winters. Because that’s what the whole song is about, the cold, and the way it drives you to feel so lonely and nostalgic. My roommate is an assistant director by trade but he does some music videos and they’re very cinematic. I want it to be less about me and more about a really. That whole song is like a soundscape. I think I’m gonna add a string section at the end to make it long and more magical
For more information, visit megancoxmusic.com.