Up-and-coming singer-songwriter Megan Steinke bares her soul in her new music, an impressive feat for someone as young as she is. I got the chance to talk to the California girl about what inspired her love for music, who she’s influenced by musically, the inspiration behind her single “Everywhere You Go” and so much more! Keep reading to see what she had to say!
Tell me a little bit about how you first got into making and performing music.
I first realized I liked songwriting around my senior year of high school at age 17. It all started when my sister and I wanted to make a thoughtful gift for my mom for Christmas — a home-recorded CD of us singing classic Christmas songs. My dad bought us a snowball microphone and Garageband, and from that I learned a little bit about recording. I wanted to try and write a song of my own for the end of the cover CD, so I sat at a piano and wrote some lyrics. After that, I came out with my first full original song, and it felt so natural and easy. I haven’t stopped doing it since. As for performing, open mics in the Bay Area have been my growing place and my home.
Was there a specific moment or person that made you realize that music is what you wanted to pursue professionally?
My life has always been full of music (mom plays harp, dad plays guitar, sister sings, brother plays trombone). I grew up listening to a lot of jazz classics and was always involved with my school band, so my life has always been a bit musical. After I started songwriting, there hasn’t been a specific moment that shouted at me ‘this is God’s path for me,’ but the more I record and perform the more I feel that it is. So many people have helped and encouraged me along the way too, so I’ve always been pushed in that direction (in the best way).
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. So how would you describe your sound without using genre names? What kind of music do you produce?
Ooh it’s really hard for me to describe my own music. I feel like my vocal sound is soft, but also can be strong, and my production style nowadays is very textured and colorful. With genre names, I’d call it jazz/soul-influenced pop.
Going off of that, who are some of your musical influences?
I’ve listened to so much Corinne Bailey Rae, and I love the way her style is so unique yet commercial. I also grew up listening to a bit of Norah Jones, so that soft jazz really speaks to me. And also the pop of Taylor Swift and other artists has influenced me growing up. Lastly, contemporary worship music has definitely shaped my style a little because that’s what I grew up to and still connect with.
Let’s talk about your single, “Everywhere You Go.” What’s the story behind the song?
I wanted this song to be about enjoying where you are in life right now, because I think that artists (including myself) can get stuck in the vision of tomorrow. I need to realize that God has me right now where I’m supposed to be, and that “making it big” is all relative. I’m so thankful where I’ve come so far, which I tried to convey in this song.
I always love hearing about the songwriting process so I was wondering if you could give me a glimpse into that, especially for this song. Did you write this by yourself or did you collaborate with others on this song?
I wrote this song individually, and later recorded some friends on it (trumpet, sax, drums, bass). I like to just throw my produced songs at my talented friends and see what they can invent on top of it with their skills, so in that way it was a collaboration. This song was definitely musically inspired by Corinne Bailey Rae. I was listening to her CD in the car, and I really loved the light and fun feel of the chorus on her “Butterfly.” So I took that feeling and put my own lyrics and melody to it. Sometimes the words or melody come first though, or sometimes I come up with a guitar part and piece together lyrics slowly with it. It’s hilarious because sometimes I come up with a melody first, and I just sing gibberish to it until I speak truth to it.
What was the recording process like for this song? Were there any major changes made to the song once you got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
I actually record all my vocals in my room studio with an NT1 Rode mic (which I LOVE), and also record guitar in my room. I generally record guitar first, and then record vocals on top until I’m happy with them. I like being my own sound engineer for vocals because I can re-do them at pretty much any time, and I can come back later and add a wave of background vocals when I have time. For background vocals and vocal decoration I definitely just play around with it once I’m behind the mic.
What’s the response been like to the single so far?
I won’t forget the moment that my uncle told me he loved the song, the moment that my mom loved it (also because she’s mentioned in the song haha), or the moment my roommate got super excited when the saxophone started playing. Online streams are always exciting, but it’s really been so lovely seeing people respond to it especially at performances.
I know you’re aiming to get a new album out sometime early this year. Is it finalized enough yet where you know how many songs are on it and what people can expect from it?
It’s official: I’ve got the album coming out February 1! It’s so so close, and I’m excited to show the 11 songs I’ve been working so hard on. People can expect a jazzy feel with fresh vocals, fresh collaborations with underground people, and a very soft but soulful sound. I’m pumped.
You’re still relatively new to the music game. What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach in the next couple of years?
Well I had the very small goal of getting over a thousand streams on a song on Spotify (just because it’s sad seeing that >1000 [laughs]), but I can’t believe I’m already on the up and up past that. General goals would be to grow my audience and to perform a lot more. I want to go outside of my comfort zone with performing in different places, and I want to record a lot more music.
Lastly, we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?
I mean I’m always nerding about music, but other than that I really love fonts and website design. I’ve actually been studying Graphic Communication (graduating in June!), so I’ve learned to love visual design and even how that pertains to music.