How to write from the heart when the subject is heavy
Megan Katarina is a Florida-born and raised singer-songwriter. She began writing music and poetry at age 6 when she discovered Shel Silverstein and Martina McBride. She started playing guitar at age 12. Now, at just 22, Megan has performed at numerous prestigious places like The Bluebird Cafe and The House of Blues in Orlando.
In 2017, she moved to Nashville and pursued her career. She released the song Being Crazy Ain’t for the Weak, which moved to #14 on iTunes. She won an award for the song too.
Today, she shares with us her process of creating, writing, and putting out her work to the world. Megan is an artsy singer that puts her heart on her sleeve to tell a story.
What We Discuss with Megan Katarina:
- Writing songs as her filter and wanting to connect on a deeper level
- What she loves about the country music genre and her musical influences
- Placing 3rd in the NSAI songwriting competition
- Using a litmus test on people before you start sharing your story
- The different ways a song can come from
- How you can connect with people through being vulnerable
- Seeing your vulnerabilities as gifts
- The challenges of doing cross-country tours
- What is a house concert?
- Why she uses her greatest heartaches for writing
[02:30] On Writing Songs
From the time Megan could talk, she was singing. At an early age, she would already have an idea of when a bridge or a chorus of a song would come.
While technically she had an understanding of the song structure, writing is her filter that allows her to release what’s inside of her.
[06:10] On Her Music Influences
What people love and hate about the country music genre right now is how it’s so versatile you could come from any influence and make it country. Megan uses this to her advantage.
Her music and writing influences include Martina McBride, Shel Silverstein, and Avril Lavigne.
[07:17] Excelling with Her Song
Her song He’s Seen Me Naked placed 3rd out of 2,500+ submissions in the prestigious 2017 NSAI songwriting competition. The song was something she wrote on the bathroom floor about her real-life experience.
She realized that being honest with art, she won’t get through the way she’s been told to get through to people.
[10:13] A Deeper Connection
Her song, Anchor has a huge impact on the way she views her career and what she wants to do moving forward.
She loves her job and her songwriting because she hates small talks and she has social anxiety. With songwriting, she can skip those beginning steps and lay her story out. This allows her to connect with people in a deeper way.
Not everyone will get you. Sometimes, you have to do a litmus paper test in terms of who you share things with.
[13:40] Where Ideas Come From
There are two ways to write a song: technical and the “big magic” approach.
One technique would be writing the first verse and usually, that first verse is the second verse because in your head you’ve already explained the story. Eventually, those techniques have been ingrained in you that you won’t have to think about them.
Some people get their ideas from dreams. Cowriting is another way to get your ideas out although this can’t be completely personal unless you’re close with those people.
Artistry is the idea of taking something and turning it into something else. The end goal of creating something is to paint a picture of life that hasn’t been said in that way before that will resonate with somebody in their own language.
[22:00] Seeing Vulnerabilities as Gifts
See the world differently then this becomes a huge gift. Be honest about things like your mental health, relationships, and failures. These things are heard but these are the things people appreciate the most because this allows them to see themselves in you.
Not everyone has got all their stuff together. Music is a great platform to share your vulnerability.
[23:40] Improving Her Voice, Life on the Road, & House Concerts
Repetition is key. Megan sings for a living and playing 100 gigs a year. She practices constantly, strengthening and hitting notes she wouldn’t normally sing in the shower.
Being paid for living her dream. Megan drives around the country to do tours. She gets to play house concerts at people’s houses.
House concerts are an organic experience. When doing house concerts, Megan would come to your place to sing. She requires at least 25 adults attending and seated for an hour as she plays for an hour. She tells the stories of the song, sing the songs, and laughs and cries with the audience at someone’s house.
[33:15] Using Her Greatest Heartaches for Writing
Being the filter of what her song is, Megan writes about her greatest heartaches as a way to recover. She gets her hard life experiences to get her humor. Songwriting brings you to place you forgot you were.
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
Find out more about Megan on her website MeganKatarina.com