Interview by Bary Egan
‘I walk upon the river like it’s easier than land,’ sings much-touted Kildare chanteuse Megan O’Neill. ‘Evil’s in my pocket and your will is in my hand/And I’ll throw it in the current that I stand upon so still/Love is all, from what I’ve heard, but my heart’s learned to kill.’
The cherubic looking twentysomething is singing Love Is All by The Tallest Man On Earth to cover for The Windmill Lane Sessions on Independent.ie today because “that song in particular has a really important meaning to me, which is — when I first started seeing the man I’m with now, he introduced me to that album” — she says referring to The Wild Hunt, the second album by super-Swede Kristian Matsson— “and to that song.”
“So it is very close to my relationship and how I feel about him. I think the way The Tallest Man On Earth as an artist writes is very twisted. So that song is about love but maybe not the best parts of it.”
A complex young woman with old school country music singing voice, Megan is based in London. She appears to divide her time between Los Angeles (there is talk of a song for a Disney movie) and Nashville (her song Don’t You was selected for ABC TV show Nashville in 2014).
She says it was “lonely” in Nashville, before adding that we live in a world where everything looks very glamorous when you’re on Facebook and when you’re online “and take these beautiful photographs. Nashville was a beautiful experience. I learned so much but I definitely had a lot of lonely moments over there.”
Perversely, Megan got songs out of her pain in Texas.
“I did. I did!” she exclaims. “I was in a long distance relationship while I was there. I was also away from my family and everybody I know and love from here,” she says meaning Ireland. “I wrote a lot about that — about that distance and about feeling lost in what I was doing.”
I say to her that she used the past tense in terms of the relationship. So, did you have your heart broken?
“Not by that one. I am still with that one. But I have definitely had my heart broken before. That’s never easy for anybody.” Megan wrote a song about it, the aforesaid Don’t You from her EP called Coming Home.
Does he know Don’t You is about him? “Probably. I would say so. But I think love is great that way because everyone gets knocked down and everyone gets hit hard sometimes,” she explains, “but it is such inspiration.”
Vulnerability is an essential tool for being a songwriter, though, isn’t it?
“Definitely. That’s what Adele said. She wrote a great album because her boyfriend broke her heart. So maybe I need that for my next one!” she laughs.
Megan credits her mother as being one of her biggest influences as a singer. “Music has been in our family for generations. My mother played to me and sang to me when I was a child”.
Her mother also played her a lot of traditional Irish music like Mary Black, The Corrs, and American country music, like Trisha Yearwood, Dolly Parton — “and all the old classics.”
“I just grew up loving those songs — songs that told a story.”
For people that don’t know her, the story of Megan O’Neill is, she explains, of a young girl who “left Ireland quite a while ago. I guess I feel proud to be from here but also quite separated from here.”
“I just left to do what I love, to learn how to song-write, to go to Nashville...”
You can now also watch Independent.ie Windmill Lane Sessions on TG4.
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