We are less than two weeks away from Victorious Festival, the stages are set on Southsea Common and many of us will soon start looking at the timetable so we can plan where we need to be and when to catch the best local talent performing over the weekend. One artist who is almost part of the furniture at the event is the city’s own Megan Linford. The singer-songwriter has grown as a performer since her first performance at the festival and this year she is going to be back again. I’ve been fortunate to catch up with Megan and find out more about what makes her tick.
Could you tell me about how you initially got involved with music and who influenced you most?
I loved performing from as far back as I can remember. First I was really into dance classes, I even did Flamenco dancing for 5 years, then it was acting and it was through thanks to a local theatre group that I was recommended singing lessons. I must have been around 10 or so when I had my first singing lesson and it was from there that I really fell in love with music. I don’t come from a musical family so I remember convincing my Mum to get me a guitar when I was 12 so I could start writing songs. Words and English at school came far more naturally to me than Maths or Science so the idea of writing my own songs was always a dream. Once I got my first little guitar, that was it I was hooked!
For those who are new to your music which three tracks would you encourage them to check out first and why?
The first track I’d say to listen to would probably be ‘Autumn’, this song definitely shows the dark-folk side of my songwriting, I love incorporating strong imagery and this song is all about the beautiful colours of the Autumn time hopefully it should conjure up some good imagery in your mind. The second song isn’t out on streaming sites yet but you can find a live version on my YouTube and its a Folk Ditty I wrote called Sail Away, I’ve only just recently started playing this track live even though I’ve been sat on it for a while and It’s been such a popular addition to my live shows. I feel like it shows the more light-hearted side of my writing!
And the final song would be another that you could find on my YouTube, Meditations. This was a fun song to write, I wanted to set myself the challenge of writing a song to my younger self and this song ended up being about that young, starry-eyed, hippy child that wanted to put the world to rights. It’s relatable to a lot of people I think and plus I play it on Electric too! (Hello Bob Dylan Goes Electric era)
Could you tell me a little bit about your approach to writing songs? Are you someone who is always making notes or will you lock yourself away for a period of time to focus?
I am definitely someone who is always writing notes, I usually have at least two notebooks on the go, one I keep in my bag and one on my desk at home. I tend to write down anything that is inspiring, which sometimes is just a line or sometimes a whole page of rambling thoughts. I also love messing around in open tunings on the guitar and my phone voice memos app is filled with random recordings of ideas. When I have a day to myself I will quite often give myself a topic and try to write something about that topic. One thing I’ve been pushing myself to do recently is to finish the song whether I think it’s good or not, I at least try to give it a complete structure!
How did COVID affect you personally and were there positives as we (hopefully) come out the other side with the return to normality?
I think I felt quite lucky, if that’s the right word, to have something like music to keep me occupied. The first lockdown was the first time id had the time to myself to just create since I was a teenager and I really spent every day working on music. I got more into production too which was something I’d always wanted to do. I really enjoyed creating videos of covers people would request too. I did some songs I wouldn’t have thought to do like Time after Time and it taught me a lot about video creation, production and editing. So I guess for myself I found having that time to really lean into my craft reaffirmed to me that this is absolutely, 100% what I want to be doing!
What bands and artists are you currently listening to and how are they inspiring you to explore and implement new ideas with your music?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Jordan Rakei over the last year, I absolutely love his voice and it definitely made me play more with range and dynamics when I’m performing and writing my own vocal lines. He’s got such good technique so I feel like even just singing along to all his songs has been so beneficial to my own voice. I’ve also been really enjoying the new Rae Morris album, Rachel in Fairyland, she got dropped from her major label and I think this album is the perfect depiction of what people can create when they are freed from the bounds of a board of decision makers. It’s such a unique and interesting album, with really evolved contexts and the videos are so vibrant and creative. I’ve found it really inspiring as an independent, unsigned artist!
You are no stranger to a collaboration, is there anyone around at the moment that you’d most like to collaborate with? (Feel free to have some fun with this one).
Oh I love this question, having been very into Jordan Rakei recently, I’d definitely love to collaborate on a track with him someday. I find myself singing harmonies along to all his vocal lines and daydreaming of doing that in a live room together haha. I’ve also wanted to collaborate with Laura Marling since I heard her first album back in 2008. I think she’s still one of my favourite songwriters of all time and I’d love to see what sort of song we could create together. Think the last one would be folk singer Kate Rusby, I just absolutely love her voice and I think we’d make a great vocal pairing!
Is there something in particular that you enjoy more with festivals than indoor venues?
I have to say, I think Festival season is definitely my favourite time of year! There’s just something about the energy at festivals, even the lovely small ones I play that is just so wonderfully happy and electric. I guess for most of us being in a field for a whole weekend and tapping out of reality just to listen to music is probably one of the happiest places to be on earth. And as well as that, I will often go and watch artists who I wouldn’t necessarily book gig tickets for and that same thing definitely happens at my sets. I quite often find the crowd that turn up for my sets at Festival slots can be quite diverse and people who may not attend a ‘folk’ gig that end up enjoying the show! I can’t wait for Victorious, it’s like the penultimate festival of the Summer, the homecoming one every year.
I guess for most of us being in a field for a whole weekend and tapping out of reality just to listen to music is probably one of the happiest places to be on earth.
What can those fortunate enough to have tickets expect from your live show?
Well, I’d say my live shows are definitely all about connecting with audience members and telling stories. One thing I love is talking to the crowd and sharing moments with people. I love the chats I get to have with people after I play about how they saw their own in story in one of my songs, and I love to make it as engaging and welcoming as possible so we can all feel through things together. A lot of the reason why I write music is to work through something I’m feeling and I feel like the stage is a great place to have that shared connection with other people through the power of song!
Do you get a chance to enjoy festivals as a guest when you play? If not, do you prefer to attend festivals as punters when you don’t have the pressure of playing?
You know, I haven’t actually attended a festival as a punter for a good few years and it is something I love to do. Although this will most definitely be relatable for my fellow musicians, I will usually get itchy feet and wish I was up there playing! Next year though I am really keen to get along to at least one festival just as a punter and enjoy a weekend of music. I do usually make the most of the weekend when I do play a festival though and catch as many artists as I can!
Can you tell me what 2023 might have in store for the band?
I think the last year or so has very much been an adjustment period of moving to London and settling into a new life and in that time I’ve written so many new songs. I think my music has naturally evolved as I’ve left my comfort zone in life so I am really looking forward to getting everything new I’ve written recorded in 2023. I’ll be back to recording at the end of 2022 so next year expect a whole heap of new music!
You can find Megan performing at Victorious Festival on Friday in the People’s Lounge between 15:20 to 15:50.
Photo: Tony Palmer