invernessGiGs met up with musician Megan Blyth who is standing on the edge of the music scene in Inverness and beyond after a superb summer of gigging. Blyth, who has only been performing since February, has caught the eyes of many with her unassuming talent and hard work. This is her first interview and we wanted to understand more about Megan Blyth as she takes greater steps in her career and deals with the challenges of being young at heart in the difficult and new world of music.
To speak of a ‘career’ when Megan Blyth is only sixteen is perhaps a little too forthright. That’s by no means to say success in the future is unlikely but rather to point out that this is a thrillingly tense and expectant moment for a girl who has had much pinned on her at such an age. The question “what do you want to be when you’re older?” has terrified us all but Blyth has already answered this and taken a leap of faith into the musical unknown. Sat drinking coffee with the singer, there is understandable anxiousness. Blyth is thoughtful and careful in her answers and keen on not exaggerating her situation. In her world of many possibilities she clearly feels it’s about getting the balance right between encouragement and superlative.
Like many performers Blyth wants to avoid categorisation of musical style: “I guess it’s kind of indie, folk, rock…That’s my intention anyway. I want to avoid the whole ‘folk’ thing though. As soon as someone sees a female onstage with an acoustic guitar they immediately class it as folk or get compared to any other female who has ever been onstage with an acoustic guitar.”
Her earliest interests in music informed this taste for rock as she was lucky enough to see the White Stripes with her dad when only eight years old: “I saw Jack White and I thought ‘I want to be him!’. This mention of her dad, ever present at performances and key in her promotion, prompted questioning about the importance of family support in her success so far: “None of my family play music or anything but I got a guitar for my thirteenth birthday and got lessons for a couple of months”. When it’s pointed out that her thirteenth birthday wasn’t all that long ago and that she has only been playing for two years, Blyth replies “I suppose it isn’t that long…” in an endearingly matter of fact manner.
When it comes down to how Megan Blyth’s writes songs whilst being busy, full time teenager, she applies the same casual tone: “I wrote my first song when I was thirteen too and it became like a religion. I didn’t really have anything else to do, so as soon as I got home, I would play guitar.” One of the most charming qualities of Blyth’s songs is her mature, considered lyrics which often take you by surprise: “Sometimes it’s about things that have happened to me. But I work at my mum’s shop and it’s sometimes a bit tedious so watching the public walk past, I pick up their idiosyncrasies and that’s always good for lyrics. I was always interested in English at school and I think I can turn feelings into words quite well. Lyrics are very important to my songs as a whole.”
This brings up the issue of Blyth’s future plans. She has decided to leave school in order to pursue music full time and is comfortable with her choice: “I really like literature but it’s definitely music. I hated school.”
Hopes for the near future include gaining management and creating an EP. Does she not find this all a bit overwhelming? “At first, I did not want to perform, I was so nervous. I did the Coffee Shop Sessions at Bogbain Farm and my guitar kept sliding off my knee I was shaking so much! A few months later, I was doing Belladrum, which was awesome. I still get extremely nervous but if I didn’t have nerves, it wouldn’t really be worth it to be honest.”
Megan Blyth has the intelligence and level-headedness to see things as they are, which must be a benefit for this edgy moment in her career. It is a good thing that someone so sensible and naturally able has been given these chances and it is clear that she is going to take advantage of them. Things seem to be accelerating at quite a pace for Megan Blyth but with her head firmly on her shoulders and that voice to the mic, we’re sure she’ll cope. Inverness waits with bated breath.
By Megan Donald
Megan Blyth is playing at 20:00 at the Contin Gala on the 27th of August and is also supporting Karima Francis at the Ironworks on Thursday 8th September. Tickets £6 on sale now.