All photos used with permission of Megan Hamilton
I had the honor of sitting down with the wildly talented Megan Hamilton at Same Same But Different Festival 2021. LA traffic almost prevented us from meeting, but luckily we were able to reschedule and I’m so, so thankful we were able to meet. As soon as I met Megan, she immediately was warm, kind, down to earth and cool — very cool. Any nervousness I had melted away instantly. Meeting her felt like meeting a friend I just hadn’t met yet.
Her set was so much damned fun– the crowd was going wild and the energy was palpable. Her energy fueled the crowd who reflected it back to her, making her set one of my favorites from the weekend. Not only can she throw down hard, she’s a wealth of knowledge. She spoke with such fervor and passion, whether it be about the BLM Movement and other social injustices, the history of singers/songwriters, especially women, food or crickets in her mackerel. It’s refreshing to know the person behind the decks is a good and wonderful person.
Interviewing Megan was fun and effortless; she was easy to talk to and didn’t give cookie cutter answers. We dove deep into all kinds of topics, which makes for a longer interview but it is worth it to finish it — I promise.
Festival Squad: Thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with me, Megan. I really appreciate it. This is your second time at Same Same But Different; you played back in 2019 and a little birdie told me that you threw down so hard that a lot of people thought you were the headliner. They also mentioned that you brought out a violinist to perform with you. Assuming we can expect the same headline or energy this weekend, can we also maybe expect any surprises this weekend?
Megan Hamilton: Last year I brought a sax onstage, not a violin. It was Alex Kish, who lives in LA now but he used to live in Minneapolis and he used to play in a project that I started called Megan Hamilton and the Bermudas. Kish, myself and another member, Pat Olson, had a live element during our shows all the time, which was cool. Well, when I started flying a lot that became less sustainable. We want to reintegrate it, but it just isn’t the right time. But Kish lives here in Cali now. So it was exciting to bring him on stage last year and to get to play a few songs with him because we hadn’t done it in a while. And so this year Will [Magin] of Balkan Bump hit me up because we have our song, “Big Loco” together. So he came and sat in with me on trumpet last night for the encore, which was such a cool experience too! Will lives in Oakland now, in the Bay Area. I have a special connection in the Bay Area. A friend in San Fran has a family home that allows us to stay when we want. It’s like on the 14th floor of the Comstock building, on the top of Nob Hill overlooking the Bay Bridge. I’ll open the whole wall [of windows] at 6am and watch the sun come up –I’m an early riser. And I’ll just produce until I’m literally getting sunburned from the sun. Wow. Yeah.
Festival Squad: Wow, what an incredible space that must be!
Megan Hamilton: Shout out to Bo for that– he’s such a generous person. And I brought Maddy O’Neal out there before for us to produce stuff together. And that’s where we derived the new project that we’re going to release soon called Housewives.
Festival Squad: Oh, that’s cool! Please tell me more about that project.
Megan: So Maddy and I will be starting a new project this year called Housewives. It’s basically a Tech-House/Deep House duo with lots of funky influences, as that’s our nature. And we’re really excited to announce that project officially. We officially announced it at Sonic Bloom of ‘19, but then you know the shit hit the fan. It’s still happening and [at the condo] is where we derived the idea for Housewives.
Another time Will and I were there we made “Big Loco “in a matter of an hour or two. I
Festival Squad: You put that whole track together in a couple of hours?
Megan: Yeah! At the beginning there’s the stomp clap with the vocal sample. And I actually made that originally for me and Maddy to work on because I wanted a very Gwen Stefani vibe like, [sings exactly like Gwen] “Uh huh, this my shit / All the girls stomp they feet like this.” I wanted a cheerleader- like-marching band kind of vibe in a song. And then me and Maddy didn’t end up being able to work on it. So I had this whip when I went to San Francisco with Will and I was like, “What do you think of this?” And he just was like, [imitates trumpet trills from “Big Loco”] and I was like, “that’s so sick!” And then we just hammered it out.
Festival Squad: So you’re about a month into tour. I’d imagine it was pretty rough not being able to do what you love for over a year, but I’m sure it feels pretty damn good to be back. Aside from obvious precautions, are you approaching shows any differently now as an artist? Anything you’ve discovered during quarantine that you’re taking with you on the road?
Megan Hamilton: Oh my gosh, quarantine was a much needed break for every touring artist in the world, in my opinion.
Festival Squad: Really?
Megan Hamilton: Oh my god. Yes, we all needed this. I think I’m going to go a little tangential here, but it is so expected of all of us as artists to bust our asses till we are literally are on the verge of physical and mental exhaustion– it’s mentally and physically abusive. Sometimes the amount of stuff that we are that we have to do in a weekend is absolutely overwhelming. It’s very pushed on us by management, by agencies, by the stigma of the industry that if you are not sleeping, working your ass off, and you’re never not working that you’re a hustler and that’s “cool.” I hate this mentality that working yourself to death is a good thing. And I think that’s a stigma of this industry that really needs to change for the betterment of the health of artists who are especially incredible, because they feel extended pressure to continue to be that incredible. I’m not comparing myself to people like this, but you can look at people who have had this intense pressure on them forever, like Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston. These talented artists were pressured and pressured and they felt literally guilty for not giving that talent to the world or not fulfilling the expectations that were created for them by their crew. They feared all of the letdown that they would create by canceling shows. If Amy [Winehosue] was to cancel a tour, you’ve got four lighting directors, a visual artist, stage techs and, at that level, a crew of at least 80 people that are out of work for your entire tour and you’re supposed to be paying them. So it’s a lot of things that add to the pressure of having to keep going. And it’s really fucked up. It is draining the energy of the people that bring all the entertainment to this industry. And it’s frustrating to watch that mentality of a hustler be glorified when it is killing us.
Festival Squad: I don’t pretend to understand the musical portion of it, but I imagine it’s similar to other areas of life, like climbing the corporate ladder. I think glorifying overworking is a generational concept and I also intensely dislike how toxic and unhealthy this mindset is.
Megan: Exactly. When COVID happened, I had this revelation, “well it was a great break, right?” And then all of a sudden [management] said, “Okay Megan, you have 18 dates. Now, jump back in and GO!” And that level of exhaustion of having seven or eight festivals in the last two months after having none was a tough adjustment. To then have a whole other source of sustainable income that you’ve created over COVID to supplement not being able to tour, and then balancing that other source without having to drop it cold turkey when you’re expected to start touring all of a sudden again was really jarring and exhausting. And going through that really made me realize how much is expected of us in terms of just working ourselves to death, like I said, and so I think that was an epiphany that I’ve had where I feel more confident telling management, “I understand that you think it’s a good idea that I play three shows in a weekend so that we can get a good look. But when I’m getting six hours of sleep it’s not worth it to me anymore. And I’d rather have the slow burn, I guess, over time and remain healthy mentally and physically then be busting my ass so hard to get to the top.” And I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve pulled from COVID is you don’t have to do what everyone expects of you. A lot of people were making music that wasn’t what was expected of them, including me, because why? It was my time to do what I wanted. And people who want to hear what I do will listen to it anyway. So it was a good period for deviation and to kind of find out what we care about instead of following trends. I think a lot of people found themselves during this time.
Festival Squad: Since being on tour again, have you felt the power to set boundaries and say, “I’m not doing three shows this weekend”?
Megan: Yeah, I have already done that once. As you tour you become obviously smarter about what your boundaries and limitations really are. You know, everyone would like to push themselves to the limit so that they can network, network, network and meet all their fans and just grind. You have to set those boundaries for yourself if you want [your career] to be sustainable.
Festival Squad: I know you’ve been an advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement. I also noticed that you’ve participated in several Twitch streams where proceeds were donated to organizations like Reclaim The Block, The Minnesota Freedom Fund and the Black Lives Matter movement. Thank you for using your platform. Would you mind sharing a little bit of what living in Minneapolis was like during these last during the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd?
Megan: [big sigh] Oh, that is all so still fresh for us having been there. I think everyone gets a little emotional when they think about all of that. We were boots on the ground as much as we could, because that’s the, that’s the work. And it was mentally taxing, but we have to remember that’s what black people go through every day of their lives. And it is not my time to complain.
We were at the protest where the semi truck drove onto 35W and ran into us. We were there. I have videos from the frontlines of all that– it was so scary that the bridge just emptied. And there were bicycles everywhere. My partner grabbed two bikes each and just rode them off the bridge to try to just save somebody’s stuff. People were helping us throw stuff over and while [the police were] shooting gas and pepper spray and all this shit at us while we were just trying to get the fuck out of there was very traumatizing– the whole thing was traumatizing. But on a positive note, we got both bikes back to their owners.
Festival Squad: Wait, how?
Megan: I posted on Facebook in lost bikes groups and we got them back with serial number confirmations and receipts within like three days of that protest.
Festival Squad: That’s wonderful! I bet the owners didn’t think they were going to see their bikes again.
Megan: Probably not. And that was really a positive side of that particular incident. But going back to George Floyd square, which is still there and is a very emotional experience. There’s just so much more work to be done with our families, the way that we talk to people and the way that we allow people to speak.
I think that Minneapolis is the best place I could have ended up, coming from Montana where I was raised to be racist and sexist…and I wouldn’t say not a good person, but a person with bad or false values and ill-informed and uneducated. People are afraid of what they don’t know. Moving to Minneapolis was great for me in a lot of ways and helped to make me much more progressive. I don’t think I would have come out as bisexual had I not moved to Minneapolis. It’s done a lot of amazing things for me.
Being there for that time–I’ll remember that for the rest of my life. And it was very tough. But I will continue to forever push advocacy for what needs to be done with my platform until I die. Because my platform is a gift that was given to me and to not use it for something besides myself is fucked up. And I refuse to do that. And the opportunity is so easy for everyone. Every single artist at this festival could be having shows that are supporting things that they care about….but the bottom line with agencies and management is money, and I just don’t want to be one of those people.
Festival Squad: Well it’s amazing that you are using your platform when a lot of people don’t feel that they have the freedom to do that. Thank you for being vocal and for supporting for the BLM Movement.
Megan: Yeah, I think they do have the freedom to but people are afraid to take initiative. They’re afraid to alienate people who shouldn’t be their fans anyway. I don’t really give a shit–if you don’t want to like me because I support civil rights, women’s rights and I support equality for every person on this planet — then you can go fuck yourself and don’t come to my show and I don’t give a shit.
Festival Squad: Amen. Given the events that have occurred over the recent years, people have grown more and more adamant about demanding change when it comes to diversity. Have you noticed any improvements in the music industry in regards to underrepresented groups, i.e., members of the LGBTQ+ community, women and people of color? What are some changes you would like to see that happen?
Megan: To be honest, I don’t think I’ve experienced any bias based on my [sexual] orientation. But the industry was made by men, for men. I am friends with a couple of women who were the initial big deal dubstep act of Minneapolis and in the country. They were assigned to play under me, signed by Play Me Records and best friends with Reid Speed, who is one of the most :OG women in the whole entire industry. They had to request a drum riser for their sets so that they could be tall enough to DJ on the tables so people could see them above the LED walls. So there’s one example where this industry is made for men. It’s made for people that are not 5’-0”, 5’-2”, 5’-3” like some of my friends. I’m 5’-6.5”; when I play in front of a huge LED wall like that, lucky for you, you can see 2/3 of my face. On some stages you can barely see me at all. It’s just how it is.
Another example is one that really irks me: when you tour there’s no consideration for the fact that as a woman, you’re not able to get ready like a man is. I cannot count the amount of times I put my makeup on in a public restroom to get ready for a show. I’ve changed my clothes in a public restroom because the only bathroom in the green room has had five men take a shit in it. And after you’re driving in a van for eight or nine hours, all you want to do is freshen up and be able to brush and straighten your hair, put your makeup on, you know, things that men don’t consider. In the last year when I was on tour with seven men, we never one time stopped at the hotel prior to the show. Every single show I did my makeup looking at a foundation mirror–the tiniest mirror on the planet–so that I could feel like I looked good enough to go on stage. That really irks me–not being able to freshen up before shows.
Festival Squad: Have you started to request on your rider for both a space for you to freshen up and enough time to do so?
Megan: I don’t think that I have because I’ve just started to realize this huge disparity that’s happening, and how unfair it is. And I think I learned to just accept it for a long time because that’s the way it was, but that’s not okay. And the more and more women that come into this, the more and more we’ll start hearing about these sorts of issues, I hope, and those kinds of things will be changed. But one of the first steps that I do need to make is to talk about it more and to make specifications on my rider to make sure that those things aren’t happening to me anymore.
Festival Squad: Yes, requests for a full length mirror and a space to decompress and to get ready in. A request for your own bathroom/a clean space–those aren’t big asks and they don’t make you a diva.
Megan: No, they’re not. If our fans and patrons get a women’s bathroom, why don’t I? And at some venues, I do get my own room and I do get my own shower and so this is not a general complaint. But when you’re on tour in a Sprinter van you don’t have time to go get ready. You’re showing up right on time for soundcheck and there’s no consideration for needing extra time as a woman. A dude could throw a hat on and a new t-shirt and they’re done. Yeah, I cannot do that. And that really weighs on my reputation because I’m a woman. Because of the way I’m expected to look all the time, the way that I’m expected to act, the way that I’m expected to talk and the way that I’m expected to present myself in front of everyone is very much gender ruled….and it gets really old.
I’m expected to look good on stage and expected to look good after I’m done playing on stage, when people want to take photos with me and my hair is absolutely covered in sweat and my makeup is running and I look horrible. It’s just not a thing that men have to deal with that much. The gender role expectation…I feel the weight of it. I feel pressured to look good all the time. And not only that, I also know that it does impact the way people see me and the way they react to me and the way that they perceive my entire set and everything that I do. So not being able to look my best all the time, it kind of sucks. You even have to get all ready if you want to do a reel on Instagram!
That’s what it’s like being a woman in the industry: you don’t get time to get ready. You don’t get consideration for the time you need to meet the expectations of the crowd, per my gender role.
Festival Squad: Yes, those expectations set on us [women] by society as a whole.
Megan: It’s the way it is. Every revolutionary woman in history has dealt with “the way it is, the status quo.” Every minority in history has spent time thinking that the way to get past something is by causing the least amount of trouble, but that’s clearly not what changes things…George Floyd speaks to that one million percent.
Festival Squad: I really love what you spoke about women, but what about other groups within LGBTQ+ community, such as the gay or bi members? From a fan’s perspective I have noticed in the last few years, more and more artists felt empowered to come out as gay or bi.
Megan: I think it’s awesome we’re able to be present with that. I think we’re ahead of some other sectors of the music industry that have not been able to do that. However, I do often have the conversation with people about how about 90% of the women that I meet on tour gay, specifically those who have their own solo act – why is that? When you look at the ratio it seems to be very common. And I wonder if it’s because masculinity is so prominent in this industry that women who exhibit more masculinity than they do femininity are more accepted into this community.
Festival Squad: Wow, that’s fascinating and interesting. I never would have drawn that conclusion on my own, but I can see how that makes sense.
Making a hard left turn here. But your disco take on Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” is absolutely amazing. You worked with some pretty incredible names on it as well. Can you walk me through the process of creating it? From the moment you found out “Jolene” was written at 114 BPM to calling in all these great artists, like Jason Hann and Brian Powers, I imagine it was quite the journey.
Megan: Once I realized that “Jolene” was at House tempo, essentially, I was like, “this could be a disco song.” So initially I wrote a drum beat at 125 bpm (beats per minute). The first person I sent it to after I had laid down some guitar and basic keys to get the progressions down was a bassist. And he accidentally recorded it at 120 bpm, but it was way better. So I slowed it all down and then sent it out to the guitarist, Pat Olson from The Bermudas, and he laid down on that. And then I sent that out to Todd Stoops (keys), Jessica Board from Spectacle (violin), Jimmy Geisinger (keys) and Jason Hann (bongos), the percussionist from String Cheese Incident. We also worked with Brian Powers, who is the mixing and mastering artist for Victor Wooten and has done stuff with the Doobie Brothers, Prince and lots of other people. And they were all super, super stoked on this and I just wanted to really do it justice. And like I kind of said to you earlier, I just knew I couldn’t do that by myself just using samples and this and that. So I really wanted to provide some authenticity and something that was really real. It was an amazing experience. It would never have happened had COVID not happened and we did it all remotely–none of it was done in person. So that was kind of the process.
And then it was super serendipitous: just sort of shortly after I finished the track, (we hadn’t released it yet) I had made a comment that I would love to design some beer cans because I’m a graphic designer by trade. I got a commission and the first one they’re like, “Since it’s International Women’s Month we want to do a beer can with Dolly Parton on it, and it’s called ‘Working Nine to Pie’ and it’s a guava, lime, Marshmallow, graham crackers sour.” So I got to design the beer label for a can in Minneapolis that was called, “Working Nine to Pie” and do this whole Dolly artwork for it (shown below).
I also got to do one for Listermann Brewing out of Cincinnati, Ohio. For International Women’s Month I featured four of my favorite women and pioneers in the music industry. It featured Mary Clayton, who did all of the vocals for The Crystals (everything you hear is her and not The Crystals). On the Rolling Stones track, “Just a Shot Away,” [The Stones] called her in the studio at four in the morning and they said, “we need you here right now. That whole song is a ‘one take Drake’ by Mary Clayton.
I also did a beer label for Linda Ronstadt and was such an OG. She sings the song “Different Drum.” It turns out, Linda Ronstadt is actually half Mexican. So she didn’t grow up speaking a ton of Spanish, but she did over time. She became one of the most famous female artists during the pre Americana rock era of women becoming popular. She was really good friends with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. She told her label, she wanted to an all Spanish speaking album, and just like Selena wanting to do an English album, they told her to “fuck off.” That album is the number one selling Latin album of all time to this day.
Then I designed one for Carol Kaye, who was the bassist for “The Beat Goes On” and “These Boots Were Made for Walking” and so many other songs. If you look up her on Wikipedia, the amount of things that she contributed to was absolutely unbelievable. She did the bassline for “La Bamba” by Los Lobos.
There were so many absolutely incredible women that people didn’t even know were part of famous bands. She was part of The Wrecking Crew, [as well as the only female member.] Editor’s Note: The Wrecking Crew were a collective of musicians/singers in Los Angeles in the 60’s and 70’s who contributed to many of the famous songs and movie soundtracks. Their contributions went completely uncredited in order to maintain the illusion that most of these famous musicians played their own instruments or sang their own songs. They could be counted on to produce a wide variety of musical styles quickly and at the drop of a hat.
And so the last beer label I did was of Dolly Parton. So [the commission I did] featured all four of those women. I got to do two Dolly cans in a month, and that was really cool.
Festival Squad: That’s really special because you had just worked on “Jolene.”
Megan: Yeah, it was so serendipitous and made me feel like I was doing the right thing.
Festival Squad: What a great way to pay homage to these incredible artists and women, which is so important. I didn’t know most of what you just shared with me, that all of these women were propping up these all male groups. You don’t hear about that part and it’s tragic that they’re not the ones who are getting credit for anything.
Megan: To give another example of women propping men up in the music industry, did you know Mary Clayton was one of the original Raelettes? The Raelettes were the backup singers for Ray Charles. She spent a lifetime of working behind and working for [men]. She would sing ghost vocals for people that weren’t doing it themselves. Phil Spector, who was a highly abusive producer and is now looked back on as a total piece of shit, has a lot of successful albums, records and artists under his wing. He finally told Mary Clayton, “okay, let’s do a solo track for you.” And they did. She heard it one day when she was in a coffee shop or something, and the radio station said, “and here is such and such song by The Crystals!” They fuckin fucked her over and she never released anything original. She is on this really incredible documentary called 20 Feet From Stardom, and it’s all about backup singers. And you know, she never wanted to be a solo artist. And you’ll hear interviews with Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston saying the same thing. So many of those artists didn’t ever want those positions. They were just thrust into them because of their talent and because their family wanted the money and because they knew they had so much pressure on them to pay all these people. She has this really iconic line, in my opinion, ”to be a solo artist, you need a certain amount of ego which I don’t have.” And that’s true.
Festival Squad: How honest of her to admit that.
Megan: It is. She didn’t want it. You’ll find that with a lot of people who play bass or drums or guitar in bands — they don’t want to be in the spotlight. They don’t have that ego. They want to be a part of something great — but they don’t want to be in the spotlight.
Festival Squad: Very interesting. Thank you for sharing all of that. Looping back to our last question, have you sent your disco banger version of “Jolene” to Dolly Parton?
Megan: Haha,I would love to. We tried. I tweeted at her but she never responded.
Festival Squad: I mean, I think she would love it. So adding to an already impressive resume, you also teach at Slam Academy. There’s no doubt that your students are in good hands. But I’m curious to know if there’s anything that the teacher might have learned from the students?
Megan: I learned that everyone’s on different levels. That was a hard class to teach when I taught a lot of people at once. We’ve since turned it into private lessons. But it was so hard to teach so many people that are on just different wavelengths, different levels of where they’re at musically. Just learning to meet people where they were at was a good thing for me. Some people have released stuff, some people never have, some people have songs ready for release. Some people have been putting stuff out forever and they don’t know where to go from here. So yeah, it’s hard to talk to all of them at once.
It’s a 12 week program and we just need to refine who comes to that, to make sure that they’re getting the most out of it. Here’s a link to Megan’s classes: https://slamacademy.com/instructors/megan-hamilton/
Festival Squad: Speaking of your resume, I may or may not have just scrolled through the entire Feed of Your foodie account. That “Damned Good Gouda Burger” from Stanley’s looked insane. I’m sure tour life introduces you to great food from all over the place. Is there a city that you get a little extra excited about playing shows in due to the food scene?
Megan: I love going to Señor Bear in Denver. And they also just also opened Mr. Oso, which is another way to say Señor Bear. It’s one of my favorite little Mexican joints, sort of Americana Mexican–boughie Mexican– it’s not super authentic.I love going to Austin and eating at El Alma or any food truck. Honestly Austin has a great food scene. I love going to Seattle because I can go eat at Japonessa, which has the best happy hour. If you want sushi I love going to San Diego and eating at The High Dive. It’s right on the ocean and is sort of a dive, but it isn’t. They’ve got some really cool what I call, “gourmet junk food” items. San Francisco is a favorite of mine; Hang Ah Tea Room on Nob Hill is the first dim sum restaurant in the United States. “Dim sum” is a Vietnamese for, “for the soul.” I love Asian culture so much. Mymy is an amazing place to get brunch when you’re there. I could kind of go on and on. I have a list in my phone of my favorite spots to hit per town. It’s absolutely ridiculous. We can catch your reaction here [she pulls up a note in her phone to show me and begins scrolling. There are probably 8-20 restaurants listed PER CITY]:
Okay: New York, the Bay Area, Sacramento, San Diego, Denver, Chicago, Las Vegas, Tucson, Austin, Toronto, Calgary, Santa Fe, Miami, ATL, Portland, Seattle, St. Louis, Cancun, Tulum, Playa, Indianapolis and Philly. If you ever want to eat anywhere, let me know!
Festival Squad: [eyes wide, mouth agape] Wow, I was not prepared for that extensive of a list! Amazing! Yes I will always check with you, haha.
Okay, what is the best dish and weirdest dish that you’ve come across while on the road?
Megan: I mean, that’s relative, I guess to other people. I eat a lot of octopus. Whenever there’s octopus, I’ll eat it. It’s awesome. And I guess that’s probably one of the weirdest things to other people. I’m not crazy adventurous But okay, there was a king mackerel ceviche at Colita in Minneapolis that had some fresh cut of raw, king mackerel that was shrouded in a lot of citrus vinaigrette, and then covered in basil, mint, coriander, cilantro and then roasted crickets. And it was one of the best things I’ve ever had. And at first, I was like, “Babe, I think I just ate a bug.” And she was like, “yeah, those are bugs.” And we were like, “Well, it was good!” And then we just ate every bite we had and asked, “Where’s that bug? We need the crunch!” It was delicious.
Festival Squad: So you didn’t know when you ordered the dish that there would be crickets in it? Oh, interesting. It was great you guys were okay with it!
Megan: No, we didn’t, haha.
Festival Squad: I don’t know thatI would have been okay with that…but maybe if I was tricked into eating it like that maybe I would be?
Megan: I think the same is true for me and Sugar Taco in LA. It’s a vegan taco spot where I ate everything up before they were like, “Hey, we have an extra thing of cashew cheese if you wanted some nacho cheese for your stuff” and I was like, “you’re…this…This is vegan, isn’t it?????” And I’ve eaten fish taco and everything at this point. Didn’t know it.
Festival Squad: Yeah, that’s awesome. What’s the weirdest dish?
Megan: Probably the king mackerel. With the crickets.
Festival Squad: So it was weirdest and most delicious? Yeah,
Megan: Yeah. Weird. But wow, something I normally wouldn’t have picked, probably.
Festival Squad: I want to circle back to Twitch for a second. There was something euphoric about watching all of these live streaming sets from the comfort of my bed with a stocked fridge and a nice, clean bathroom just steps away. But was the similar cozy vibe, for lack of better term for a performer, can you give us some pros and cons to live stream performances versus in real life?
Megan: There’s no reciprocity of energy. you can watch the chat but then you’re not doing your job either. The reciprocity of energy is so important. And I’ve said this to people, “you know, I’ve seen people lean on my stage with their elbow.They put their head in their hand before and watch me. As a performer that kind of bothers you a bit because you’re like, “alright, I’m trying to vibe off you and you’re kind of messing up my vibe.” But then I can always find someone in the crowd who’s getting down and I can lock eyes with them and think, “you and me –we’re doing this” and I just will connect with that person. I remember saying that one time though, to Manic Focus, J Mac. He was like, “dude, how many times have you been watching something you thought was awesome. But you weren’t dancing?” And I said “a lot….” And he was like, “okay, so why is that the metric you measure for someone who’s enjoying your music? They’re watching you with intent. Just because they’re not dancing doesn’t mean they’re not into it.” And that really changed my perspective on it. Sometimes I think, “I still wish I didn’t have to watch you not moving, but I am glad you’re there. Because obviously you wouldn’t be if you didn’t want to be.”
Festival Squad: I imagine you might take a little personally though, that they’re not celebrating in a way that you’d prefer?
Megan: I’ve realized it’s just a projection of my desire for them to give me energy.
Festival Squad: Well, you seem to really, really feed off the crowd. I’m so glad that we’re doing this interview after I got to see you perform because you were magnanimous and electric and you can tell that this is your passion and that you love every moment.
Megan: Thank you so much.
Festival Squad: I think you might have been more happy to be here than a bunch of fans in the crowd, and it shows! My boyfriend made the same comment during your set last night. He said, “wow, she’s so happy. You can tell that this is what she loves to do.” And I said, “you’re so right.” Your ponytail was swinging from side to side and you were jumping constantly. And I loved your response to when your USB popped out of your laptop [about 15 mins in the music cut off for about a minute] And you got on the mic, laughing, and said, “Wait a second, guys–wait a second! The bass was so loud and so intense that it popped out my USB! Damn you guys know how to get down!!!” It was just such a pure and honest moment. You recovered beautifully and didn’t miss a beat. It endeared you to us as being human, but also having a sense of humor.
Megan: [laughs] Thank you. I think a lot of people can get caught up in moments like those and say, “Fuck Fuck Fuck” but that’s so stupid. Shit happens. And to make a big deal out of it– the crowd is gonna reflect your energy. And if you’re gonna have a bad time, all of a sudden, because of something that was out of your control then the crowd is gonna pick up on that, and they’re gonna feel a little weird. And that is just silly. You can’t beat yourself up or something like that. The show must go on. Say, “I’m a human, now let’s fucking get back to it.”
I think it does take everybody a while to get over that [fear] because you can have such anxiety about those things happening. It’s such a waste of energy to get so worked up about things that are totally out of your control. The more you can just own it and move on, the more people are going to do the same.
Festival Squad: Those are all of my questions. Thank you so much Megan for your time and for allowing me to interview you. I so, so appreciate you taking the time to reschedule our interview for today.
Megan: Me too! Thank you so much!
If you haven’t seen Megan Hamilton live yet, GO SEE HER. Check out her socials (she’s super funny and very entertaining to follow) and tour schedule here.