Stepping into the spotlight at Perth Concert Hall on Friday, October 27, Megan Washington will be live in performance accompanied by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) in an extraordinary showcase of the raw material from her upcoming fourth studio album Sugardoom. SARAH DAY had a chat with Washington to uncover all the details about her new music and the National Orchestra Tour.
In three consecutive sold out concerts Washington has already managed to bring tears to the to the eyes of those fortunate enough to snatch a ticket and witness her Sydney Opera House shows in September. Previewing a peak into her highly anticipated album which is set for release early next year, the 90-minute performance will exhibit an exclusively unique experience of her evolving sound.
The singer-songwriter broke into the Australian music scene back in 2010 with her first studio album I Believe You Liar winning her both acclaim and an audience as it went to number 3 on the ARIA album chart. She has since collaborated with the likes of Sia and Adele in the writing of her critically praised third album There There and continues to push the envelope in terms of producing an inspired and creatively distinctive sound.
This tour involves you performing your latest music with national symphony orchestras across the country; was this something that you took into consideration when first writing the tracks for Sugardoom?
No not at all, it was actually kind of amazing, I only decided at the beginning of the year what these shows were really going to be — I just kind of made the call. I had to ask myself what excites me the most, and what excited me the most was the idea of performing new repertoire. That sort of gave me this little bit of excitement so I just did that. When I made that decision the album was miles away from being finished so it’s been really interesting seeing the songs grow into these separate directions at the same time.
You’ve said before that love songs really influenced the music for your upcoming album; were there any stand out songs or artists that inspired you?
I wouldn’t say specifically, I was more interested in exploring love in non-traditional ways like love songs that aren’t particularly happy. I guess someone who I kept coming back to a lot was Roy Orbison. His love songs are so brutal and heart wrenching — but also have this nostalgia to them that almost make you feel like you were there, even though that’s not possible, you weren’t born in the 60s. I guess he was the most important musical touchstone for me.
What has the creative process been like in creating your fourth studio album?
Well the album itself isn’t finished yet, it’s written, but I haven’t finished recording it yet. This is the first record that I did that thing a bit where like you go to LA and you do writing sessions with people. I’d say about half of the songs came out of that process which was interesting. I write all the time but usually I’m writing for other people but yeah I was really happy to just play around and I guess I was a bit more open to other people’s vibes this time around so there’s a lot more diversity maybe in the songs. It was a very relaxed process writing everything, it all happened very easily.
Has performing the new music in this way influenced your approach to recording the songs that will be on the album?
Well I think that’s why I now think it’s not finished, you know, now that I’ve heard it in this way it’s really changed what I thought was possible.
Will the live show on Friday feature much of your older music?
I’ve only got 90 minutes so there will be songs that people know in the show but again for me I was way more excited by the idea of singing new work. There’s a bit of it but the majority of the stuff I’ll be performing is new.
The new track American Spirit that you’ll be performing on the night you’ve previously dubbed as “a love song to Donald Trump’s America,” can you tell me a bit about what motivated you to write this song?
When I was in LA they were in the middle of this election hot mess and I was just overwhelmed by how seduced America is by this kind of idea of willing victimisation, like all of Lana Del Rey’s song’s are just about you know — “I just wanna get high and be with you even though I know that you’re bad for me I love you let’s, you know die together” — I kind of felt like in a way that’s America’s song at the moment, it’s like “It’s okay baby, you can ruin the planet. I don’t care baby, let just be together” — it seemed like a really fitting metaphor for the time.
Do you think artists with a public platform have a responsibility to comment on and address the bigger issues that are occurring in the world?
Whether it’s through your music or through the platform that music provides you I do think that it’s important, I mean otherwise the only people who are talking is fucking Tony Abbott. You know what I mean? For me I’m not politically outspoken because it’s an active decision that I’ve made, I’m politically outspoken because I have a really strong opinion. It wouldn’t matter if I had nine twitter followers or 40,000 I would still say what I think. For me it’s a case of can’t help it, but I do think that there is a kind of obligation for us to really engage.