On her current single, the raging, unapologetic "Desire," Meg Myers "juggles the pretty and the ugly perfectly," as Stereogum noted, adding that with her "fierce then-vulnerable voice, you have something that is as sweet as it is unsettling." The Nashville-born, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter has consistently worked that dichotomy in her music, exploring the tension between dark and light, sweet and sour, and sex and death in her cathartic songwriting. Her richly powerful voice, which can slide on a dime from a feathery trill to an anguished howl, is the perfect instrument with which to express her brooding, fiercely raw lyrics about craving what's just out of reach. The words are bolstered by the layered guitar-synth soundscapes she creates with her collaborator and producer Dr. Rosen Rosen.
Released in April 2013, Myers' debut EP Daughter In The Choir gave listeners their first taste of such ferocious anthems as "Monster," earning her rave reviews and comparisons to female iconoclasts like Fiona Apple, Sinead O'Connor, and Alanis Morissette, though Myers cites Tracy Chapman, Joan Osborne, and Heart's Ann Wilson as inspirations, along with Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, and Trent Reznor. The Nine Inch Nails frontman's influence is evident on "Desire," which is the first single from Myers' new EP, due from Atlantic Records in January 2014. Like Reznor, Myers lets her pop instincts temper the dark quality of her songs, thanks to help from Rosen, a prominent remixer who's worked on tracks by Britney Spears, M.I.A., La Roux, and Lady Gaga among others.
"I came from this grunge, punk-rock background, but I always wanted to write catchy pop songs," Myers says. "I just didn't have the technical knowledge to make them work. But I grew up listening to well-crafted songs. I loved Sting, Led Zeppelin, Dire Straits, James Taylor and Fleetwood Mac. That's what I was drawn to. I love the simplicity of a great song, I just didn't realize how hard that was to capture in a recording. That's why working with Rosen is so great. It was like, 'Okay, I found this guy I can write songs with and who is really good at turning everything into pop, while still letting me be myself.'"
The songs on the EP express the various facets of Myers' personality, from the raucous "Go," in which the person in question is dismissed with the simple, imperious directive in the song's title, to the deeply personal acoustic guitar-driven ballad "The Morning After," to the unrestrained "Heart Heart Head," a live favorite that closes with the sound of Myers' feral screams. "It's kind of animalistic when I sing that song live," she admits. "I can really let myself feel the loneliness and pain I was experiencing when I wrote it and just let it out."
Music has always been an emotional release for Myers. Born in Nashville, she spent the first five years of her life in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains where she was raised by a truck driver father and a Jehovah's Witness mother. After her parents divorced, her mother married a fellow Witness, who moved the family to Ohio. Her mother and stepfather worked for a cleaning business. "They cleaned all night and slept during the day," Myers says. When she was 12, Myers and her siblings were taken out of school when the family moved yet again, this time to Florida, where they bounced from town to town throughout her teen years. During this period, Myers began singing, writing songs on keyboard, and teaching herself to play guitar. She played bass in a band she started with her brother. "I had a huge need to express myself," Myers says. "Music was always an escape from reality, because reality was pretty shitty. I had a really tough childhood, and was forced to be an adult at a really young age. Music was the only safe place that was my own, where I could say whatever I wanted."
A few days shy of her 20th birthday, Myers made the decision to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music. She lived in a studio apartment with her then-boyfriend and got a job waitressing at a coffee shop in Hollywood and played whenever she could get a gig. Things didn't work out with the guy, but she did end up meeting Rosen, who signed her to his production company. The two began writing songs, including those that appear on Daughter In The Choir and her new EP. A full-length album will follow in 2014. Her goal for her music, she says, is simple: "I want it to make people not afraid to feel."