Interview: Washington discusses 'Saint Lo', writing and Britney

Friday, December 9, 2016

Megan Washington has just released her new track ‘Saint Lo’ as well as its accompanying film clip, which sparked a few questions that she graciously answered for us.  She told us about the concept behind ‘Saint Lo’, her writing process, getting naked in freezing cold water for the clip, overcoming fears and that she is loving her some Britney ATM.  Here’s what went down:

Congrats on your new track ‘Saint Lo’ and its reception! Can you please explain what/who/where ‘Saint Lo’ is? I doubt the Google result is what you had in mind.
Saint Lo is an avatar for sex and sensuality. I resonate with the idea of personifying a concept and to my mind nothing is more sacred and sacrificial than a saint. The song is a meditation on how much we sacrifice for love, and how devotion is a notion prevalent in both romantic and religious ideology - so a fusion of the two makes perfect sense to me.

It’s a very spiritual or ‘numinous’ song with a lot of religious references in there; would you say you’re spiritual or religious at all? 
I think we are all spiritual, without being necessarily religious. I find that the subjects I write about are often interrogating that line between the mundane and the magical - finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. There's nothing more heartbreaking than watching a person eat soup alone. It feels correct to write about everyday life through the lens of someone looking at a miracle.

I’ve read/heard that you wrote the track in LA during some intense writing sessions that were basically on the clock; and to be honest the track is not at all what you’d expect to come out of such a seemingly inorganic experience. Did you feel pressure to get something down or was the atmosphere conducive to getting the creative juices flowing?
Those sessions are powerful because you are so "on the clock", with no time to question yourself or second-guess your choices I often find that in those sessions I can be the most mentally unfettered of all. I've always been a huge fan of this book by Julia Cameron called The Artist's Way; and one of its major tenets is this thing called Morning Pages, in which you wake up every morning and just fill two pages with writing. It doesn't matter what you are writing, it's just a brain drain to get all your residual thoughts and feelings externalised. Somehow in doing this you are able to access truths and mental images unconsciously - I find this powerful. Those sessions function like that, for me.

The juices are still flowing for you as you complete your upcoming album and then you’ll be performing with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Do you have that in mind while you write? Does it alter your process at all?
Hell no! I never write pop songs with an ensemble in mind. To me, every song needs to pass the 'campfire test'; can it be sung on just an acoustic guitar and the melody and lyric? After that, it's free to be arranged into whatever genre-box I like, but when I'm generating songs it's all lyric, melody and harmonic flow. That other stuff comes later.

Your new video for ‘Saint Lo’ (directed by your hubby Nick Waterman) features you in some pretty revealing scenes, in particular the milky bath where it looks like you’re in the nuddy. Does that mean you were naked in front of a bunch of crew? Was that a daunting experience?
You know, it really wasn't. Nick (who was my boyfriend at the time we shot the video) had a really clear vision for the video, and I went with that. Initially there was a plan that I would wear some nude coloured underwear/swimwear but once it got wet, it changed colour (no pun intended) and didn't look nude any more so we just scrapped it. So, I was actually naked, but it didn't feel scary. It was a closed set, and quite a tight crew, and I obviously trusted the director - but I think the intention of that nudity is quite clear. It's not about sexiness, it's about skin, and touch, and being human. The most daunting part of that milk-pool is that it was freezing cold. 

I love the use of colour in there, subconsciously (or perhaps consciously) flashing red at the first mention of the devil and the instantaneous/catch-you-off-guard change of colour that accompanies/references the line “When I met you everything changed colour”. How was the concept conceived?

Totally conscious! But that's Nick, not me. We have an incredible working relationship in that we just get the fuck out of each other's way. He thinks in pictures, and I think in words and feelings; so when I sent him the song he started seeing things straight away. He would check in with me from time to time as his concepts evolved but I never said 'no'.

You seem to be the queen of overcoming fears, often fears that are shared by most of the population like the aforementioned ‘naked in front of people’, singing in front of people and one that has been particularly challenging for you, public speaking. To quote Jerry Seinfeld here: 

According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Now this means, to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Now obviously he’s taken this to the comedic extreme but you have managed to not only overcome this common phobia but also the challenge of doing so with a stutter. Do you have any secrets/tricks/advice for people that are struggling themselves to overcome a fear/challenge?

Honestly? The most recurring thought I have on a daily basis is something like: 'We'll all be dead in a minute so just do the thing." That may seem maudlin but it's a very comforting thought. I think that fear is fed by the idea that there is some attainable level of correctness that we need to strive toward, and I wholeheartedly disagree with that. You wanna get naked? Get naked. You think your body's not perfect? Maybe, sure but who actually gives a fuck? Nobody. You want to speak in public? No. Why not? Because I may: stutter, stammer, choke up, cry, get emotional, whatever. Who actually gives a fuck about that? Nobody. If anything, those things make you more appealing as a speaker because it gives your audience something (and more importantly, someone) to connect to. I spent a long time believing that there was a right and wrong way to do something, but now I know that's not true. There is only you being your most authentic, and that shouldn't affect what you do, only how you choose to do it.

What was the last physical CD or record (or cassette tape perhaps) that you listened to?
I have Glory by Britney Spears on high rotation at the moment, but that's digital. I just got a car with a CD player, so I bought a 5-pack of CDs from Vinnie's when I was there looking for dog blankets. Currently in the player is Zero-7, which is a band that Sia was in about ten years ago. So I guess I'm listening to that. Also the soundtrack to Hamilton. Ob. Sessed.

Written by Kate Carnell