Portsmouth based 22-year-old singer-songwriter, Megan Linford, seems to have been around on the local music scene for quite some time. I first became aware of her music when she released her 2016 EP, Rhiver, although her debut EP, Withered Leaves, was released a year prior. Megan is probably not a stranger to many of our readers, her guest performance with The Southsea Alternative Choir at Victorious Festival 2018 was one of my highlights of the festival last summer.
Megan is one of the most talented and hardworking musicians on the south coast and we managed to find some time to catch up with her and find out more about what she has been up to.
Could you tell me about how you initially got involved with music and who influenced you most? I’m thinking more about within your personal life than famous influences but feel free to throw them in if you like.
I’ve always been in the arts in some way or another. I danced from the age of 2, started Drama at 9 and then started getting singing training around the age of 11. Initially, I thought growing up the dream was to be an actress but as soon as I started writing songs about 11, it was a guitar I wanted and music I wanted to pursue! I was completely hooked, I started training on the piano first but got my first acoustic at 12 and moved over from trying to write songs on my little, retro (passed down the siblings) Yamaha keyboard and spent all my free time trying to figure how to play the songs I liked on Guitar.
I didn’t grow up in a musical family, no-one was really playing instruments around me when I was younger so it really took me a few years to find the music I liked but there was definitely a lot of encouragement from my family. A combination of my Dads constant repeat of Rumours – Fleetwood Mac, Another Brick in The Wall – Pink Floyd and My Generation – The Who in the car and being given a ticket to see the Folk Singer Kate Rusby by my art teacher at the age of 14 were the biggest influences in where I’ve ended up today in music. I remember watching Kate and her band on the Kings Theatre stage in Southsea, a huge band with mandolin, banjo, double bass, cello you name it, it was on stage! It blew my mind and ever since then Folk is the music I’ve loved playing the most. Although I thank my dad for 60’s element too, that’s definitely a big part of the music I love and create today.
Can you describe how you felt whilst after you’d released your single ‘First Day of Spring’?
I think In the past when I released something I’d always feel this mix of feelings, excitement wrapped in self-doubt. Especially, when you’ve been sat on new music for a while before the release, it definitely gives you enough time to overthink and start to over analyse. I didn’t feel that so much with this release though, for me, it was a wonderful feeling to get ‘First Day of Spring‘ out into the world. It marks the next step for me musically, I’m writing music that I love and working with musicians who are incredible and inspire me every day. I couldn’t wait for the world to hear what we’ve created!
For those who are new to your music which three tracks would you encourage them to check out first and why?
‘First Day of Spring’, although I suppose that’s a given right? A track I still like to play to this day from my 2nd EP, ‘River Flow,’ it was my ‘let’s change the world together’ song, the song that came when I started practising meditation about 4 years ago and realised we really are all in this together. Finally, if you are into the more Country-esque side of Folk, ‘Beckon’ off the same EP ‘Rhiver’ a song I wrote back in 2015, whilst studying at ACM. The song was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend about the love-hate relationship you have with your home town. Growing up in Portsmouth, by the time I started studying music at Uni, I couldn’t wait to get out. As it turns out, you really quite miss your home town when you’re gone, for all its rough areas and local drunks, it has its own charm.
Over the years has your approach to performing live changed and if so how?
Definitely, I’ve been gigging for 6 nearly 7 years now and I honestly feel like I’m constantly learning and evolving. Every mistake I’ve made over the years; Forgetting cables, speeding up songs with adrenaline, strings snapping, batteries dying – you name it, its happened and I’ve learnt from it! I definitely move around the stage a whole lot more than I used too, It’s been noted that I like to dance with my knees a lot and I really couldn’t imagine standing still playing as I used too. I also put a lot more emphasis on the dynamics of my set now. I like to take people on a journey, rise and fall throughout the set and I write a lot of atmospheric songs so it’s important to me now that a live set flows smoothly throughout.
I also have a busy summer this year, you can catch the band and I at lots of Festivals including a Friday Headline slot on the Quay West Stage at Wickham Festival, Victorious Festival and I am so so excited to be headlining the Bandstand in Southsea on Saturday 29th June (a childhood dream ahhh) with the band.
How do you feel when you share your music for the first time? Do you prefer to share new music live where you can see the crowd’s reaction first hand or online perhaps?
I prefer to test out new music on a live crowd now, I will normally take a new song to a solo acoustic gig or an open mic just to gauge the audience’s reaction. I’ve learnt to grow a much thicker skin over the years too and now I’m not offended if a new song doesn’t get the reception I’d hoped, just means I need to go home and keep working on it! For me, a key part in growing musically the past year has been being able to now share new songs with my fellow musicians or friends in the industry and openly take their feedback. It’s interesting to hear each different persons take on a song and where it could go. I take it all on board and welcome a second opinion.
You run a local live Folk music night, can you tell me a little bit about it?
Yes! I do I run a night called ‘Future Folk’ which was the brainchild of myself and Johnny Sackett, the man behind ‘The Front Room’ Poetry and spoken word events. We decided to start this project last summer after chatting several times about the lack of platforms in Portsmouth for Folk/Bluegrass/Americana/Country musicians. The aim of Future Folk was to bring together all of these like-minded bands and give them a place and crowd to play too who will really receive the music. We got given a two-hour slot in the Peoples Lounge in the World Music Village at Victorious Festival last Summer to showcase our favourites in Folk, Roots and Spoken Word. We then got offered the same at Arundel Festival and both were a huge success. From there we got offered a monthly residency at Wine Vaults on Albert Road, Southsea which we have the 3rd Tuesday of every month. We showcase 2 bands and a spoken word act each night. Although, July we won’t be at the Wine Vaults and I can’t share the details just yet we have an amazing band coming over from the States (What?! Crazy!) So we’ll be taking it somewhere a little bigger. Stay tuned on that one. We’ve also been confirmed for Victorious so it’s very exciting, I’m delighted to be helping Folk and Roots musicians and bands play to a crowd of people who love the music!
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 feeding my brain with inspiration the past few months and have been listening to such an array of music where do I start. Gospel from the likes of The Staple Singers, I’ve been learning blues guitar recently too so lots of BB King, John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson but I’ve also been really enjoying some of the up and coming artists in UK at the moment. Jade Bird, Ferris and Sylvester and Sam Fender. I love what they are all doing, how raw the music is and the fact that they write it all! It’s refreshing and reassuring. I recently discovered Harry Manx too, he has been on repeat in my car! if you are into Folky/Bluesy/Indian inspired music – this guy is amazing! And totally not well known enough.
What can we expect from you over the next twelve months?
I am currently working hard on my first full album and have just recently joined forces with some truly amazing musicians in my band. We just keep getting bigger! So the next twelve months for myself are going to be busy writing, recording, rehearsing and I’ll be dropping a few more teasers of the album over the year. ‘First Day of Spring’ was the first and gives you a hint about the running theme in the album. But I won’t give all away now.
I also have a busy summer this year, you can catch the band and I at lots of Festivals including a Friday Headline slot on the Quay West Stage at Wickham Festival, Victorious Festival and I am so so excited to be headlining Live at the Bandstand in Southsea on Saturday 29th June (a childhood dream ahhh) with the band. There is new music and footage coming very soon too. I’d love to share the journey with people!
Photos by Tony Palmer