Talking Vibe Galore with Megan Marshall

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Vibe Galore is one of those debut albums that are kind of debut-in-name-only. Megan Marshall is no stranger to writing, recording and performing. She has released a few “demo albums” before but this is her first official Debut full-length.

She has a firm grasp on what she wants to sound like and she has a team of local hot shots to help her realize that sound as well. This album has rockers, mellow jams, big walls of sound, and sparse openness. I had a chance to chat with her briefly about her new album.

How does this debut album feel different compared to your earlier demo albums?

The three RPMs I did, two with my Brother-In-Law (Chris Picco) and my now husband (David Picco), are really near and dear to my heart. They were my first real stab at anything to do with recording and they certainly got me wanting to do more.

My Vibe Galore album was a much more involved process of course. It took a full year, it was self-funded and the stakes were higher in terms of my commitment to it all and the commitment I expected out of everyone involved. It is a very consuming process to make art. I thought about the record constantly as it evolved. It was a lot of fun but also a lot of work.

This is a true record of this past year of my life. I like to think of it like that. It is a tangible thing that I can hold that marks the year we all spent together making it.

The album has a very loose and fun feeling to it. Your promo kit describes the recording process as keeping it Live Off the Floor. You certainly got that vibe (pardon the pun). Many musicians swear by the Live Off the Floor sound. Why do you feel it is often so important

Thanks, that’s what I was aiming for, so I am happy to hear that. We had a really great bed tracking weekend. All of my vocal takes on the album were from those first couple days, which I am really proud of. Everyone worked hard, had a laugh, and the end result was a strong frame from which we could build upon.

Dave and I were adamant on keeping that “vibe” and all the guys totally agreed and had the same feel as they played. We all clicked and I think you can hear that in the way everyone plays off one another. We certainly added to it and enriched it but overall we knew we had a strong start and it required little in the way of smoke and mirrors. That’s not my style. All the players are so good and natural and pro at what they do and we really just allowed for everyone to do their thing and have some fun.

Where did wanting to record another project start for you? Did you have a collection of songs and just knew you had to record them or was there one or two songs that just begged to be recorded?

I had some local success with my second RPM in particular. The Overcast and CBC WAM were really supportive of it and I think that gave me the confidence to want to pursue something a little more challenging. I had a good collection of songs and a new one popped up right around recording time so the material was there and it all just kind of fell into place.

One song in particular, Birthday (that seems to be reaching people) is over 10 years old. I had almost forgotten about it but Dave really pushed for it to be included and I think it turned out to be one of the strongest on the album. It was the right time do to this project and it all aligned well for me to just get on it.

Everybody writes differently. What comes first for you, the lyrics or melody? What writing technique works for you?

Melody comes first and lyrics quickly follow. I write in bursts. I won’t write anything for a long time and then suddenly I will write a few that seem to stick. I record them immediately on the voice memo on my phone. I have songs on that thing from 3 or 4 years ago. It’s fun to listen back to the original, fresh out of my head “Baby Loves Me So” compared to the one on the album.

But the truth is, the core of it is just the same. I love that about the album and how Dave produced it. We kept the heart of the songs as the main attraction. The majority of songs on Vibe Galore were written over the course of a couple of months back a few years ago. It was a crazy, uncertain, love-filled, what the hell kind of time in my life and I just went with it. I had more than enough material and songs just kept coming. Again, full circle to my earlier answer, the songs truly are a record of times, people, places and decisions.

The majority of the tunes on Vibe Galore seem to be about complex emotions and equally complex relationships. Do you find it difficult to balance such complex ideas in song?

No, not really. I don’t make it painstaking for myself to write a song. With everything just swirling around in my head it all kind of just pops out in song. I don’t use innuendos with my lyrics. If I’m trying to say that I’m in love or I’m sad or I’m trying to change, I just use those words. It is not a purposeful thing, it’s just how I write. I think that people find that relatable and can have the song then mean something for them without having to put too much thought into it.

In the daylight hours you work with the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. How do you find that reflects on your musical pursuits?

Yes, I have a fantastic and challenging day job that keeps me very busy. I am also an Executive Board Member of the Bridges to Hope (Food Bank) Board. And I have a 7 year old. Busy is where it’s at. I’m at my most productive and focused when I have a million things on the go. I thrive on that and the work I do is mainly about assisting all sorts of people in their pursuits to live productive, meaningful and fulfilled lives. Doing that gives me that fulfillment as well. These things do not in any way impede on my musical life, rather they allow to me to enjoy really tuning out that stuff when it’s time to focus on my music. I just balance both.

Many folks out there will already know David Picco from his various great music projects. But what is it like for you to take production direction from your husband?

Dave is inspiring in that he has four self-funded albums and has another one on the way. It is a huge endeavour to pour that much money and time into something and I felt that with his support I could do the same with my debut album. He knows my songs inside and out. We have been friends for almost 13 years and have been listening to each other’s music, playing together and in one another’s lives so much that it was a natural progression for him to step in as producer.  He did a wonderful job.

Together we had a clear vision of what the record was going to be and he executed it. It was a really lovely experience for us to share together as old friends and now as a married couple.

The tune Birthday is a sort of call-to-change, but not right yet. It says change is coming… tomorrow. Did it come or is it still coming?

Ha. No. I don’t know…I guess, in some ways. We all grow and change and strive to be better. It is a constant and evolving process and one that makes being human so interesting and complex. Really the idea behind that tune is that we all tend to get to things “tomorrow” and tomorrow can last years and years. But yes, to get back to the song (which was written the morning after my 25th birthday) I no longer drink tequila.

Megan Marshall and band are playing regularly in the St. John’s area. The Stellar band on Vibe Galore is:
Megan Marshall – Vocals, guitar
David Picco – Guitar, Vocals
Sean Murray – Bass, Vocals
Ryan Kennedy – Organ
Eliot Dicks – Drums, Percussion
Paddy Byrne – Bass (live)

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Jerry Stamp

Jerry Stamp is best known for being a musician and songwriter. Now he's a graphic designer. Today he is a music writer. What's he doing now? No. Jerry put that down!

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