For a lot of seniors, graduation means starting an internship or heading off to grad school. But for senior Megan Talay, graduation means the beginning of a seven-day tour and the recording of her EP, all in hopes of pursuing her dreams of being an artist.
The Miami Hurricane sat down with Talay to talk about her beginnings in songwriting, the differences between pop and folk writing and her upcoming tour.
Talay didn’t always believe that she would be an artist. In fact, growing up, Talay described what she did as “bedroom songwriting.”
“I would maybe work up the courage to play it to my twin sister,” Talay recalled. “But you couldn’t pay me to sing in front of people.”
This changed when Talay came to UM. She enrolled in the music business program at the Frost School, which she felt would allow her to work in the music world without having to perform.
But during her freshman year, Talay finished writing her first song, about a friend who got involved with drugs. She recalls when she finally decided to share it with someone.
“I was so scared,” she said. “I played it for my friend in the Stanford practice room and she was just really affected by it, in a real way. And other people [were]too.”
Seeing the impact that her music had on people was really what inspired Talay to pursue performing.
“I want to be an artist,” Talay said. “And I’m going to, no matter what it takes.”
Pop vS. Folk
Talay described her music as being “folk-based pop,” with certain songs leaning more to one or the other. She performs with a band comprised of a drummer, bassist and pianist, as well as performing solo, with just her guitar and harmonica.
When it comes to writing songs, she says the process differs depending on the style.
“The stuff that I have that’s more folk-y, a lot of times that sound is produced by a lyric first,” Talay explained. “…The more pop-y songs I have usually are conceived from a musical idea.”
When it comes to her own musical tastes, though, there is a striking variety.
“I listened to a lot of hip hop to start growing up,” she said. “I’m sure a lot of people would be like ‘what?’ when they hear my music, which can be very soft. But I also do have a pretty heavy rhythmic aspect to a lot of the music.”
In addition to hip hop, Talay also listens to more classic rhythm and blues artists, like Stevie Wonder, as well as traditional singer-songwriter and folk music, such as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Counting Crows, Dawes and Alanis Morissette. Her biggest songwriting inspiration comes from Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes.
Shooting for Stardom
Talay doesn’t plan to waste any time after graduation. On May 11, she is driving up the coast with her roommate from freshman year, fellow singer-songwriter Melanie Dewey for a tour. The duo plans to play seven shows over seven nights en route to Ithaca College, where Talay’s sister graduates on the eighteenth.
“I’ve never done that before,” Talay admitted. “The most I’ve played is two gigs back-to-back, night after night. This is going to be seven. It’s definitely going to be the first stepping out into real musician territory.”
After that, Talay plans to finish her EP with producer Luis Gil. She originally met Gil when he was a grad student at Frost. He produced her single, “Rather Be in Love” for his thesis.
“It’s one of those fateful decisions in my life,” said Talay of her choice to work with Gil. “He’s one of my best friends now and also an amazingly talented producer.”
Talay’s main goal for the summer is to focus on her music as much as possible. She plans to teach music lessons and apply for folk festivals while playing gigs.
“Mostly I’m just going to be playing as much as I can afford to play,” Talay said. “…Any little place that will have me, I’m going to go. And I’m going to bring my CDs and I’m going to bring my mailing list. I’m just going to get people involved if they want to be.”
Talay and Dewey will be kicking off their tour in Miami on May 8 with a show at the Luna Star Cafe at 8 p.m.