Published on May 24th, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
Meiko On Her New “Playing Favorites” Album, Why She Is Loyal To Gibson Guitars & More
Although she was performing throughout her childhood in her native Georgia before her teen years, 2007 was a breakout year for singer/songwriter Meiko. For starters, it was when she performed at the Sundance Film Festival, was featured on the KCRW staple Morning Becomes Eclectic, and hit the road with Brett Dennen and Mat Kearney. A major label deal came about the following year in 2008, and her 2012 full-length The Bright Side had a major international hit single with “Stuck On You.”
A proper follow-up to 2016’s Moving Day — which hit the #9 spot on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart — Playing Favorites is the new full-length from Meiko, as released on May 25th via Chesky Records. While Playing Favorites is a “covers album,” Meiko puts a unique spin on songs from a variety of genres, essentially reinventing a bunch of songs you were used to hearing performed a particular way. Among the artists paid tribute to by the Nashville-based artist are Rick James, Erykah Badu, Sade, Duran Duran, Portishead, Ben E. King, The Cranberries, Mazzy Star, Jennifer Paige, and Blind Melon.
I had the pleasure of doing with Q&A with Meiko, and highlights of such are below. More on Meiko can be found online at www.meikomusic.com.
Where did the idea for a covers album come from?
Meiko: I’ve always wanted to make a covers album featuring songs that influenced me along my journey as an artist. When I was given the opportunity to make a live record with Chesky Records, I jumped at the chance to make it all covers, and I’m so glad I did!
Around how many songs were on your consideration list before you started recording?
Meiko: I considered about 20, but narrowed it down to what was finally put onto the album.
How long did you actually spend recording the album?
Meiko: We spent one — very! — full day in an abandoned church in Brooklyn and recorded the whole thing!
Which of the songs was the most difficult to record?
Meiko: Probably “Come Undone” because I wasn’t sure if it sounded good. It ended up being a few people’s favorite at the end, so I figured they were hearing something that I wasn’t — so we went with it.
Might there be a second album, or an EP, of covers from you in the future?
Meiko: I had such a good time with my band making this album, so maybe!
Playing Favorites aside, what is coming up for you in your career?
Meiko: I’ve been writing a lot lately. I have a full album’s worth of brand new songs written, and I’m gonna focus on putting my fifth studio album out at some point. I’ll probably record beginning in the fall and have it ready to come out in early 2019. I’ve also got some concert dates in the midwest and west coast in the fall so those will be fun!
You are known to have very vintage Gibson guitars. When did you first acquire these guitars?
Meiko: I started this obsession on my first tour. I remember it very clearly. We were in Madison, Wisconsin and we stopped by this place called Spruce Tree Music and Repair. I fell in love with a 1942 Gibson LG-2 and the owner of the store made me promise that I would love it forever and never add a pickup to it. I’ve kept my word and kinda got addicted to old guitars from that point. I was convinced for a time that every new — old — guitar I played would help me write a new song.
What is it that draws you to vintage Gibsons? I assume you started out on more basic guitars, of course.
Meiko: Yes. My first guitar was a Vantage when I was 13. My dad wasn’t sure if I was gonna stick to playing, so he got me the best cheapest guitar he could find. I still have it, and it still sounds awesome, But I guess my love for vintage guitars started with my dad having a 1960s Gibson that he would never really let me play. Maybe it’s a weird way of rebelling now as an adult…
When not busy with your career, how do you like to spend your free time?
Meiko: I love being a mom. I love everything about it. I have a two-year old son and he makes my heart happy every day. I love playing music with him, for him, and showing him my sweet dance skills in the kitchen!
What was the last concert you attended for fun?
Meiko: I saw Now Now the other night in London and they were great. Sweet indie-pop stuff. Look them up!
Finally, Meiko, any last words for the kids?
Meiko: Wear sunscreen.