/ FACES Magazine March 2017
29 year old Meghan Patrick, born in Bowmanville, Ontario, is a unique and fast moving Canadian country singer- songwriter, who released her debut album, Grace & Grit, on April 29, 2016. Prior to setting out as a solo artist, Meghan was the lead singer for The Stone Sparrows, a newgrass/bluegrass band. Since signing to Warner Music Canada, and signing a publishing deal with Ole Nashville, she has quickly made a name for herself and her music, that are all inspired from personal experiences in her life.
FACES Magazine recently caught up with Meghan to talk about
her journey thus far as a rising country artist within the music industry.
Who were some of your favourite country artists to listen to as a kid?
You know what, I actually didn’t grow up listening to a lot of country music, not really mainstream stuff anyways. I grew up listening to a variety of music. I was more Americana, bluegrass, and rootsy old kind of stuff. My mom listened to a lot of southern rock like The Allman Brothers, The Eagles, Neil Young, Motown… and my dad listened mostly to classic rock and blues. He introduced me to Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Robert Johnson, etc. So as far as mainstream country music, it was more of something I got into on my own—later on in life. I must say… I fell in love with bluegrass first. I used to play in a bluegrass band and that lead me to check out more mainstream country music. I really like the old stuff like Willie Nelson, Hank Williams and so on… but I never really listened to anything newer than that until probably the last seven or eight years.
Before setting out as a solo country artist, you were the lead singer of a popular roots act called The Stone Sparrows?
Yes, that was an amazing experience. Of all the different bands in progress that I was involved with, I think I grew the most within that band and I learned the most about who I was as an artist and what I wanted to do. It was really the first time I ever got to do any touring with a band. One summer we did a tour across the East Coast. I just remember having that moment—after being on stage night after night—that this is 100% what I want to do for the rest of my life. I always loved it and I always wanted to do it, but it was scary. It was intimidating because the music industry is tough and there are no guarantees—no matter how talented you are. It’s really scary to ask yourself, “Ok, am I really going to do this?” Because you have to go all in. But that summer solidified in my brain that yes, there is nothing else for me and I knew I would have so many regrets if I didn’t give my all. So in that sense it was a great experience for me. Before, I was self-taught on the guitar—I wasn’t very good—but the guys that I played with in The Stone Sparrows and the other singer, Sam, taught me so much about music, guitar playing, songwriting, and stuff like that. We played together for about 4 years and I can’t even explain how much I learned and grew from them. I’m really appreciative that I was able to have that experience.
How did it feel to play in your hometown of Bowmanville during the Boots & Hearts Festival in 2013?
It was really cool. I mean… that was kind of my first experience at a country festival and was also around the same time that I was getting into the newer mainstream country, so it was really great. I think that being a part of that atmosphere and seeing what country fans were like helped me to know that that’s where I belong. Overall, I think it was great to see how the country audience was like and being able to connect with them. The first year we were a part of the emerging artists contest, and we were playing much earlier in the day so we didn’t get that huge of a turn out. I think the following year was even better—we opened up the kick off party the first night of the festival with Tim Hicks and Emerson Drive. We had a great crowd and everyone was there. That was another one of those moments where I knew that this was what I wanted to do forever.
How did you feel when you first signed to Warner Music Canada?
Honestly, it was a decision I look back on and I’m so grateful for. It’s pretty intimidating coming into this industry—trying to navigate it while hoping that you’re always making the right choice—because you never know how certain things are going to pan out… but I think out of all the decisions I’ve made coming into this industry, signing with Warner was probably the best one I’ve ever made. The people there are just so wonderful. They work so hard for me and most importantly they’re really good people—they really understand who I am as an artist. They believe in me and they are honestly like family. I may not have had that kind of connection and treatment at another label, so I’m very grateful for the decision I made to sign with them. I cannot say enough good things about them.
If you could give aspiring country music singers one piece of advice, what would it be?
Aside from the obvious… I’d say work harder than everyone else, always. Never get lazy in your passion. Always work harder than you think you need to because it will take you a long way. Make sure to be kind to everyone you come across—to be respectful and gracious even on days when you’re feeling like crap or in a bad mood—because it truly goes a long way to be the bigger person and to have respect for everyone…because you never know who you are going to meet. Especially in this industry, you want to be the person that everyone wants to be around. I believe the most important thing is to not get caught up with what other people in your field are doing. Don’t see it as a competition—just focus on being your best self and the best artist that you can be. Focus on who you are as an artist, knowing what your sound is, and what your strengths are. Always be true to yourself…because that’s how you’re going to get the best product—when you go with that approach.
Shortly after that, you signed a publishing deal with Ole Nashville and released your debut album, Grace and Grit. What was it like to produce your very first album? What’s the one song from that album that has a special significance to you personally? Tell us a little bit about the process you go through when creating lyrics. Where do you usually draw motivation?
Ole was another big decision that I’m just so grateful to have made. To have them as my teammates is amazing. They are very supportive. Song writing has been something that I’ve been very focused on— especially in the last couple of years—and they’ve given me lots of great opportunities to work with incredible writers. They are super supportive of me. It’s been amazing. In terms of doing my first album—that was something that was equally as intimidating as it was exciting—because although I’ve put out albums in the past with different bands, this one was mine. It was my songs, and it was just me. So it was exciting but scary! The songs on that album were very vulnerable and very personal to me. Anything I write is coming from a real life experience. My favourite song on the album is probably “Be Country With Me”, because I got to record that with Vince Gill,
which was amazing. That was a bucket list experience for me and I was just so happy with the way it turned out. I love playing that song. It’s very simple, but I think it turned out very well. Another one that’s really important to me was “I Won’t Drink”—that one was actually one of the very first songs I ever wrote on my first trip to Nashville. I think that song was one of the most raw and vulnerable songs I’ve written yet. I was in a hard place at the time I wrote it, and I felt that needed to write the song for myself—even though it may have ended up meaning anything to anyone else—I needed to write it. And then it turned out to mean a lot to a lot of people… and that was the song that really got Warner to notice me. I played that song when I went into the office for the first time, and you could say that song is what got me a record deal! (laughs) So it was definitely important to me. The essence of country music to me is the rawness and the honesty about everyday life—emotions, work, partying—songs about everything. “I Won’t Drink” is a very real and relatable song to the average person. And I know country fans love that kind of music, and so do I.
What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
I’m pretty open—I’m a friendly person and I try to be open and honest with my fans because I want to be approachable for them. I want them to feel like they can come up to me and talk to me and not feel intimidated or feel like I put myself on a pedestal. I feel like I’m pretty open about who I am and what I do, I’m sure there’s something else, I just can’t think of anything right now! (Laughs)
When it comes to performing in front of an audience, how do you keep yourself calm and collected during the show? Have you always been comfortable with it?
In some capacity I’ve been performing almost my whole life—I used to dance competitively, and I was a competitive snowboarder, so I’ve always been focused on something that’s demanded a performance from me. I think the biggest thing for me is that I love performing—I get so much pleasure out of being on stage and I feel very confident in what I’m doing. I don’t have any issues with nerves—I mean I’ll get anxious before a show because I’m excited to get out there—but there’s only been a handful of times where I let my nerves get the best of me before a show. During those times, I remember being so mad at myself for getting so worked up and being nervous, but it’s really a mind over matter situation, and I know I don’t need to be nervous about it because it isn’t a competition. I’m not being judged, and I’m there to perform because I love to…I’m there for my fans who enjoy my music and are there to have a good time.
Are you excited for your upcoming tour with Tom Cochrane? You’ll be performing here in Ottawa on March 26th at the National Arts Centre. What are some of the things you enjoy most about Ottawa, both on and off the stage?
I’ve always loved coming to Ottawa, and I’m going to be honest…one of the main reasons is because you guys have a lot of great places to eat. Like I love food!(Laughs) So that’s one of the biggest reasons I get excited. I think it’s a very beautiful city. I love the radio stations and all the DJ’s and programmers that I have met over the last year or so doing radio promos for really great people. They have all been so supportive of me. Without even realizing it, I’ve gained this really great following in Ottawa. So people really know me there, which is awesome. I always get a lot of love from the Ottawa audience. The last time I performed in Ottawa it was at Bluesfest…and it was so so hot! I actually had a migraine before going out on stage, and I was just praying for it to go away. When I went out on stage, the crowd gave me the adrenaline I needed to push through and it ended up being a great set. I went out after to sign autographs and take pictures, I remember the great energy and how friendly everyone was—how happy they were to see me play—it made it all ok for me. That was the only time that I ever had such a bad migraine before performing, and I was very appreciative of all the love they gave me because I really needed it that day to get through.