Washington post: Megan Washington

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Megan Washington could sing ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ to you verbatim, and if life was an MGM musical, she would undoubtedly be the Judy Garland of what she calls “awkward indie pop”. Born in Papua New Guinea, Washington moved to Brisbane at age 11 and pursued jazz and vocal composition at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, a genre she felt wasn’t entirely her cup of tea.

“I feel that, as a singer, the reason you get into music is because you like telling stories,” says Megan. “Stories in the jazz repertoire had nothing to do with me; they were all about Mississippi and the 1940s. Also I felt that, stylistically, being a jazz singer is more about imitation than innovation, having that sound that I just didn’t have. I sounded like a weird Irish Catholic librarian with a head cold.”

Once her fervour to pursue music professionally kicked in, Washington relocated to Melbourne, after exhausting almost every live music venue in Queensland from Boondall to Woolloongabba.
“Brisbane is a great and fertile town, it’s good for spawning, you know, but the minute you get arms and legs it becomes difficult because there’s nowhere to fucking play.” So she toured for 18 months with folk rock outfit, Old Man River, and learned the ins and outs of musicianship and how not to suck at touring.

“The trick is to be floaty and really malleable, you almost need to be like Dori from the film ‘Finding Nemo’. To just go with the flow. And you have to get irrationally excited about the small things, like finding double yolk egg for breakfast, because otherwise there is no joy. Touring is one of the most extreme things I have ever done; it’s either amazing or fucked.”

Washington’s debut album ‘I Believe You Liar’ is an eccentric, emotive and engaging affair, and details personal stories that revolve around her tumultuous encounters with love, heartbreak, trust, loss, lust, guilt and joy. She refers to her striking songs as ‘sonic Polaroids’ because “a lot of them are musical documents. I don’t have any politically-challenging songs about the war in Iraq; I don’t have songs about the lockout curfew in Brisbane, even though I probably should.”

Opening tracks ‘1997’, ‘Navy Blues’ and ‘Cement’ are gutsy upbeat songs with strong, catchy melodies, but it’s track four ‘Underground’ that gives way to the first wave of thought provocation, the song detailing Washington’s will.

“I’m not trying to get young people to write wills; it’s more about interrogating your own mortality. As a young person we always think we aren’t going to die; it’s that whole invincible thing.”

The album’s closing song ‘I Believe You Liar’ follows a similar path. It is the most poignant track on the LP and not only represents a personal rekindling for Washington should have listeners feeling an instant connection due to its cunning lyrics, smooth strings and sensitive and vulnerable vocals. For Washington, it is “a relinquishing of the little vile of venom and [saying] – for whatever it’s going to be – that I’m going to do this again. People have to change, people do change,” she affirms.

‘I Believe You Liar’ is out through Universal Music.
Washington performs at Parklife from September 25 to October 4.
More information at www.parklife.com.au