One Joint With Meg Myers
Nine Inch Nails and Enya—yes, both—are frequently used to contextualize musician Meg Myers’ music, and tidily, she counts both among her top influences. She has incorporated extremes throughout her life—from growing up in a highly sheltered Jehovah’s Witness household, to then knocking out a series of major firsts at age 13, to now working regularly with a shaman—so no surprise that, like the complicated human she is, her music contains both a growling grit and the sound of new age synths. Friday marks the release of Myers’ latest album, Take Me To The Disco, her first with 300 Entertainment.
Alyssa Shapiro: What’s your relationship to substances? How do they factor into your life?
Meg Myers: I stopped doing any drugs for like seven years. I’m dabbling in mushrooms because it’s been connecting me a lot to myself. I’ve been wanting to heal, so I’ve been doing it to connect to my emotions. You have a lot of spiritual epiphanies. I like to go deep every now and then, and just sit and cry, have realizations about life and myself, and connecting to everything. A couple times I had the whole, we are all one realization while going to sleep. Like, holy shit! I’m him, he’s me… So when I’m mad at anything, I’m mad at myself. It’s all a projection.
[Meg lights the joint and takes a hit.]
That’ll do it for me. I need to see. The weed out there these days is so strong.
AS: When was the first time you got high?
MM: It’s strange, I think I want to say it was with my mom, actually. Sorry, mom! Ha. I think we were coming out of religion, and she had started smoking, dabbling in it, and I think it was with my mom and brother. I was a little freaked out, but into it too. The first time I got really stoned was also getting drunk, I think I was 13, and that was when I got my first tattoo, a stick-and-poke alien, and I had it turned into a heart. 13-ish. Tattoo. Cigarette. Drink. Weed.
AS: When you smoked with your mom, who had the weed, who brought it up?
MM: Probably her friend at the time. When my mom left my stepdad, she just took us and moved us over to our friend next door. And then we started dabbling in pot and stuff. I love pot now. I’ll go weeks without it, and then I’ll go a week straight smoking every night before bed. It helps with anxiety for sure, but I’m not a big smoker around people. I can’t smoke before I perform. Or in large groups. It’s more of a calming, get-me-out-of-my-head type of thing. Also if I’m charged, to get rid of some charge, lighten up a little bit. But yeah, one hit for me…
AS: What points in your life gave you the feeling that you were making the right move by pursuing music, that you were on the path to your own personal happiness? The proof?
MM: I definitely don’t have a clear idea. I’m actually figuring it out that there is no figuring it out, and that it’s just being in the present. It’s a constant journey, if you’re open.
The proof is in how something makes me feel. That’s all I can really go off of. Intuition and feelings. I don’t always know, though. Sometimes I feel so connected to it. There are other times when I’m tired, or off balance, when I think I need to be doing more in terms of getting out there, getting my hands dirty... I’m in the industry, I’m making music? What is that? It feels shallow sometimes. And then I have to redirect all that, sit and get back to myself, and what it is, and why I’m doing it.
As soon as I’m playing the music, as soon as I’m doing, as soon as I’m in the place that feeds my soul, I’m good. Like, oh yeah! Oh, I can breathe. And then you come out of it, and you’re like, ahhhh!
AS: It’s a high/low thing; you feel so good when you’re in it, and then it gets quiet, and you wonder where it all went. How did you learn to trust your intuition, what to follow?
MM: I’m learning. Sometimes I don’t know if it’s fear or intuition. Most of my life I’ve been living in a very protective state. Survival mode, because of stuff that happened to me as a child, because of stuff that has happened throughout my life. I had a really rough time back in the day.
Many different events caused me to grow up really fast, and also stunted my growth really bad. I’m just now getting to a place in my life where I’m realizing that I’m really strong, I’m all of these wonderful things, and smart, and holy shit, I’m a survivor, but then I’m also four years old. Trauma stops you at that age. I think that’s what happened to me. I’m just now relearning some things. Like, this is a table, it’s not going to bite me. [laughs] I’m pretty much on high alert all the time. Intuition, fear? I’m just learning it.
I do a lot of therapy. That’s why I like to do mushrooms sometimes and smoke pot sometimes, to get out of my head and get into that place where all the walls are down. Your body knows.
AS: Taking the judgement away. When you feel like you’re in a shallow industry, is there something you do to feel like you’re digging in more?
MM: Overall I'm trying to be confident that I’m doing it through creating, being connected, vulnerable and open. The dark, the light. Integrating all of that. And self love. That’s going to be number one. I’m trying to just be more focused and start with myself — man in the mirror, you know? And through that, these other avenues are going to open up.
And they already have. For instance, through my Numb video. Clara [Aranovich] came up with that concept after I told her what it means to me. She helped me make something that helps people feel less alone. Growing up, those were the kinds of artists who made me stay on earth.
AS: You were raised Jehovah’s Witness. What was that like?
MM: It was very strict. You don’t have a lot of contact with the outside world. It instilled a lot of fear in me, and it took me a lot of time to get out of that. Because you’re basically always waiting for armageddon. Any day now! Armageddon is going to come and kill everybody, and people are going to get resurrected, and I gotta follow the rules or else I might not get resurrected. It’s this fear that’s made up. It took me a long time, my 20s, to break free from that big time. My teens were just super aggro.
AS: Were you homeschooled?
MM: My mom came into school when I was in class in sixth grade, and she took me out and I never went back. I don’t know the reason fully. I had a little brother and sister too, and they never went to school. I helped raise them and that was it. It’s funny to say this, because it’s such a weird life, but I’m so grateful for it all. I had to go to such a dark place in life that I’m able to really know and have empathy for people, and that’s a beautiful thing. To have an understanding of what that’s like, so you can feel joy and feel the other side of things.
AS: Do you think you have to go through something to get to that point of empathy or gratitude?
MM: I don’t know how much you believe in past lives, but I think they have a huge impact on your life too. There’s been some stuff that’s come up for me in some journeys with psychedelics, ayahuasca, I’ve gone into those place with that. But nothing confirmed. We all have things in us that in this life we forget about and push down or whatever. I have a love for certain things. I have a thing with magic —
AS: The Craft magic, or Magic Castle magic?
MM: Like The Craft. I’m not a witch or anything, but that’s something that’s really intriguing to me. In one of my journeys recently—I have this thing that my friends call “the claw” that I do, it can also be called a mudra. I just discovered it naturally. I’ve been whipping it out onstage lately. There’s another one, I’ve been reading about it, but it’s transformative, deep detoxing… I’ve found a couple that work for me, and that motion is so helpful, I really feel energy when I get into that place and connect to myself. There are almost downloads that happen through it, healing downloads. It’s weird, I don’t want to call it magic…
AS: It’s energy, right? People also practice them in yoga.
MM: So the right hand is the solid one, and in journeys it’s the one for me that needs to flow, and if I let go, it moves on its own, takes over.
I had something really incredible happen recently, I don’t really understand it completely: I’ve had bladder problems my whole life, really really bad to where I take pills to try to numb it constantly, like AZO. I had this journey where it felt like something took over my hand, and I put it over my bladder, and moved it around a lot, it was kind of like I was moving but something was helping me. My bladder has been, I don’t want to say fully healed, but maybe 85% healed from what it was my whole life, since then. It was like it knew the exact places to touch. I’m still trying to understand it.
AS: Well we exist on all these different levels. When I’m meditating, I’m trying to connect myself to another level of consciousness. There’s all this stuff we don’t have conscious access to normally, but it’s all there.
MM: Another dimension or whatever it is. We hold ourselves back so much, we can’t tap into all that in daily life. Though that’s the goal.
AS: So this mudra came to you during a journey, and you looked it up after?
MM: You’re sitting there, under the influence of the psychedelic, and your hands want to do something. My hands reach out, I start following something with my right hand, and it can tap into things from my past, maybe things from the future, I don’t know. It’s almost like it’s unlocking stuff, it’ll get stuck and I’ll move it around and I’ll have epiphanies in that moment.
I have a shaman, and I see him also as my therapist. You sit and work through shit. It can be hard. There can be a lot of purging. Those are some of my favorite ones—even though they’re the most painful—because I release so much shit that I’ve been holding onto for so long, stored up energy in my body that has caused me a lot of discomfort. It’s enabling me to feel more grounded each time.
AS: How many times have you done ayahuasca?
MM: Probably 16 times in the last year. Yeah, it’s wild. This is the first interview where I’ve really gone into it. I didn’t think it was something that I wanted to talk about, but it’s such a huge part of my life now. It’s a tough thing to know whether you want to talk about it or not, because there’s a lot of judgement. And I’ve been the same. When you see something and you don’t understand it, attack it!
AS: Your alert goes up.
MM: So I understand.
AS: And here you are making pop music. Why pop? You write music that comes from deep emotion, often pain, so why are you so focused on making specifically pop?
MM: It must just be what I’m influenced by, what has moved me since childhood, which is pop. Pop stemming from emotion and pain — to be able to take all of that, and depth, and give it this twist, is kind of funny. It’s such extremes, and that’s really cool to me. I’m just discovering this now as I’m talking to you. I’m so extreme. I think I need to put a hold on that, get a grasp on that, level out. But there’s something beautiful about it too. That’s what really good pop music is: these two extremes coming together and being integrated.
AS: Who have been your inspirations in pop?
MM: The Police. Enya. I always go back to Enya. What is she making? It’s structured. It’s popular. She’s one of the most well-off women. She hides away in her castle. I want to go have tea with her and find out her secret. I want to hide away! I think it’s pop music. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus, some sort of bridge, and then back to the chorus. But she’s doing it on her own terms and expressing so much of her pain and heartache and love and all of it in that.
I always think: Nine Inch Nails, Enya. The extremes combined. One time I told my ex-boyfriend that I really would love to hear “Kiss From a Rose” — superpop — with a Slipknot song at the same time, and he did it for me once for my birthday. It was so crazy out-there. It was euphoric-feeling, combining those worlds. Light meets dark. Shadow. Bringing that into fairy land.
Anyway, I think that joint made me be more honest.
AS: That’s the whole point.