At the Metro, February 2015
|Birth name||Megan Alexanda Washington|
|Born||7 January 1988|
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
|Origin||Brisbane, Queensland, Australia|
|Associated acts||Japanese Wallpaper|
Megan Alexanda Washington (born 7 January, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea) is an Australian-based musician and songwriter, who works mononymously as Washington. Originally performing jazz music, her style shifted to indie pop and alternative rock.
Megan sings, plays keyboards, piano and guitar and in December 2009 Washington won the inaugural Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition for "How to Tame Lions". She released her debut album, I Believe You Liar (July 2010), which peaked at number three on the ARIA Albums Chart and by end of 2011 received a platinum certificate from ARIA for shipment of 70,000 copies. At the ARIA Music Awards of 2010 she won the Best Female Artist and Breakthrough Artist – Release for I Believe You Liar. Washington's second album, There There, was released in September 2014, which reached number five.
A new single Saint Lo was released in 2016 and received high rotation on Triple J and she has just released her latest single Dirty Churches in May 2019, her music has been described by I-D as sexy synth-laden pop
- 1 Early life
- 2 2006–09: Early career and EPs
- 3 2010–12: I Believe You Liar to Insomnia
- 4 2013–15: The Boy Castaways to There There
- 5 2016–present: Singles / touring
- 6 Personal life
- 7 Awards and nominations
- 8 Discography
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Megan Alexanda Washington, was born on 7 January 1986 in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. She grew up with her father, Rick Washington, a part-time DJ for "weddings, parties and balls"; her mother, Karen Amos, and an older sibling. The artist started primary school in Port Moresby and, in 1996, the family moved to Brisbane, where she completed her secondary education at Moreton Bay College.
Washington developed a stutter just before primary school and explained, "The way that I speak is idiosyncratic because it's based on 20 years of 'loopholing', of avoiding words that trip me up. The only thing I still (she pauses briefly) have trouble with is sustained syllables – like s's and ts and fs together." Later she attended Sheldon College and its Australian School of the Arts, where she continued her interest in music. She studied for a Bachelor of Music degree at the Queensland University of Technology and then jazz voice at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.
2006–09: Early career and EPs
Washington with jazz instrumentalist, Sean Foran, recorded her eight-track debut extended play, Nightlight, in April 2006 for the Newmarket Music record label. She supplied lead vocals, with Foran on piano, John Parker on drums, Chris Pickering on guitar and Sam Vincent on double bass; Pickering recorded and mixed the tracks. It was re-released in June 2009 and appeared on the ARIA Albums Chart at No. 53, in October of that year. The EP won the 2008 Australian Jazz Bell Award for 'Best Australian Jazz Vocal Album'.
She followed with a second EP, Bennetts Lane, a collaboration with pianist Paul Grabowsky, which appeared in 2007. In January of that year Washington had relocated to Melbourne and worked in a bagel shop; and recalled, "It was not a good or glamorous time. And the irony is, across from the shop counter there was a huge plasma TV playing Australian film clips – so I'd see all my friend's clips all day and I'd be going, 'Would you like more cream cheese on your f---ing bagel?'"
Washington's music style moved from jazz when she backed blues and roots musician, Old Man River, as keyboardist and harmony vocalist from 2006, including touring internationally in support of his debut album, Good Morning (March 2007). She also worked as keyboardist and backing vocalist for indie pop artist, Ben Lee. In early 2008 she sang an acoustic cover version of Ross Wilson's "Bed of Nails" (1989), which was used as the theme song for three seasons of the ABC1 TV drama, Bed of Roses (2008, 2010–2011). After Washington's commercial success, in early 2011, the track was released as a single, by Ruby Entertainment.
In late 2008 the artist launched her mononymous band, Washington, with backing members, Lance Ferguson (the Bamboos), John Castle, Des White, Ross Irwin and Ryan Monro (the Cat Empire, Jackson Jackson) on bass guitar. The band released her third EP, the four-track effort, Clementine, in January of the following year. In November they were announced as Triple J's Unearthed winners and performed at the Melbourne leg of the Big Day Out.
Washington followed with a five-track, fourth EP, How to Tame Lions, in September 2009; its title track and the lead track, "Cement", received high rotation on youth radio, Triple J. She provided vocals, piano, glockenspiel, synthesiser and guitar and was joined by Castle on guitar, bass guitar, drums, loops, tambo and autoharp. Castle engineered and mixed the work, and co-produced it with the singer. Following appearances on Spicks and Specks, in October and November of that year, Washington attracted the attention of a wider audience. She observed, "You might think that most people get their information from the charts or something like that but I had so much great feedback after being on those shows." The EP reached the ARIA Charts top 100.
In December 2009 Washington won the inaugural Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition for the title track, "How to Tame Lions"; it is sponsored by the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) and the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS). In that month she backed Sia Furler on guitar at the Palace Theatre and a few days later performed a duet with Keith Urban during his Rod Laver Arena concert in Melbourne. "Cement" was listed on the Triple J Hottest 100, 2009.
2010–12: I Believe You Liar to Insomnia
On 30 July 2010, Washington released her debut album, I Believe You Liar, on Universal Music Australia, which peaked at number three on the ARIA Albums Chart and, by the end of 2011, received platinum certification by ARIA for shipment of 70,000 copies. Three of its singles, "Rich Kids" (May 2010, also title track of an EP), "Sunday Best" (August) and "The Hardest Part" (October), were described by Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, "Although not chart hits, [they] were insistent and infectious, and when combined with her flamboyant, quirky stage presentation, heralded a major performer." All three tracks were listed on the Triple J Hottest 100, 2010.
In October 2010 Washington performed live during YouTube Play, curated in partnership by YouTube and the Guggenheim Museum. At the ARIA Music Awards of 2010 she won the Best Female Artist and Breakthrough Artist – Release for I Believe You Liar. She received further nominations for Album of the Year, Best Adult Alternative Album and Engineer of the Year (John Castle) for I Believe You Liar and the Single of the Year award for "How to Tame Lions".
Washington released an eight-track EP, Insomnia, on Mercury in October 2011, which peaked at No. 24 on the ARIA Albums Chart. Emma Green of Beat Magazine found the EP, "marks a change of pace from upbeat pop-oriented tracks to slow and enchanting melodies that could be pulled from the soundtrack to her deepest, darkest dreams... If the singer's insomnia did inspire this album then she should stay on the caffeine, because whatever she's doing is definitely working." VSounds reviewer, Corey Tonkin, noticed, "[it] includes some of [her] most accomplished songs yet. From 'Skeleton Key' onwards, her songs are hauntingly beautiful, with an atmosphere that you didn’t quite get from I Believe You, Liar... Accompanied with her lyrics about difficult personal experiences, it creates this raw emotion which is quite powerful. [It] may only hold eight tracks but it's as rewarding as a full length album."
In January of the following year, she presented the EP at the Sydney Opera House; Tanya Ali of the AU Review observed, "Seeing [her] perform these songs made you understand how emotionally draining they could be to sing. The heart and soul with which [she] told her stories melodically was astounding and heartbreaking to watch." Washington was a mentor for the inaugural season of Australia's version of TV talent show, The Voice, for members of Keith Urban's team. The show aired from April to June in 2012.
2013–15: The Boy Castaways to There There
During January 2013 Washington and fellow musician, Tim Rogers (of You Am I), had the lead roles in a musical-thriller film, The Boy Castaways. The shooting schedule was for three weeks and it premiered at the Adelaide Film Festival in October of that year. Both singers were recorded on the associated soundtrack album, The Boy Castaways: Music from the Motion Picture, which was arranged, produced and mixed by Peter Farnan (of Boom Crash Opera). The film was directed by Michael Kantor; her role was, "Sarina, a woman in a parallel universe where five men have abandoned their normal lives to seek eternal youth."
Garry Maddox of The Sydney Morning Herald, observed, "[it] is a subconscious journey into a man's inner desires, with the theatre as a place where these desires can be expressed and examined... Kantor's lack of experience with the camera and directing actors for the screen gives the film an awkward staginess... Even the lovely Washington is filmed – sin of sins – in ways that make her seem unattractive instead of the siren she needs to be."
Following commitments of early 2013 Washington travelled to London from June of that year to work with Samuel Dixon, an Adelaide-born English-based musician and producer, to record her second album, There There (September 2014). The two met when she was touring in support of Sia and Dixon was in that artist's backing band. Washington wanted to incorporate a "late-60s, early-70s, gold lame Shirley Bassey sound with trumpets and James Bond-y melodies" for her album. Writing was completed in late 2012. She felt it was recorded in a "spirit of honesty". Dixon described his experience of working with the singer:
It was a pretty intense period and she'd [Washington] had such a rough 18 months leading up to it ... But Meg [Washington] could also laugh through the tears, and writing about it also helped her deal with things she'd swept under the carpet.
Washington provided a duet, "Ghosts", with Kate Miller-Heidke, on that artist's fourth studio album, O Vertigo! (March 2014). She had performed with Miller-Heidke at the Darwin Festival in 2012. Washington delivered a talk at the TEDx Sydney event in May of that year: she explained how her stutters hampers communication during conversation or speeches, but disappears when she sings. At the event she performed a new track, "To or not Let Go".
Upon release of There There, she described how the bold truthfulness that defined that talk was transferred across to the writing process for the album. Also in May 2014, she announced her involvement in an art book by Iranian-New Zealander artist, Nabil Sabio Azadi, For You the Maker. On Twitter she detailed how other contributors, Rick Owens and Limi Yamamoto, would also appear. Her second full-length album, was released through Universal Music, under her full name, which peaked at number five.
Australian Rolling Stone's reviewer, Darren Levin, rated it at four out-of five stars and explained, "'Do you want it back?' she asks the man she was supposed to marry, before devoting an entire verse to the awkward practicalities of an engagement gone sour. This man is not metaphorical, and neither is the marriage. Each song, says Washington, is connected to a real-life event – from the frank confession of infidelity on the raw ballad 'Begin Again' to 'Get Happy', where she falls in love over Eighties New Wave textures... On [this album], she's both fearless and direct."
It provided singles, "Who Are You" (February 2014), "Limitless" (May) and "My Heart Is a Wheel" (September); a music video was created for the latter. She explained that "My Heart Is a Wheel" was inspired by Kanye West's "Runaway". Co-producer Dixon told the media that the album is her, "saying ... 'This happened and it's my fault.' She's putting her hand up and saying 'I stuffed up'" — he also praised the songwriter's courage. The singer-musician performed free "pop-up" shows in state capitals, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, in support of There There during the week of release. A national tour, in February 2015, followed.
2016–present: Singles / touring
Washington premiered a new single, "Claws", in November 2018. Pilerats' Hayden Davis observed, "[it] is a delicate, yet tall-standing return from [the singer] who, in all the years since her last work, has clearly not lost her stride... the single unites [her] catchy vocal pulse with a restrained production that glistens with its chiming melodies, something that she glides over the top of with ease." Her next single, "American Spirit", appeared in January 2019..
Washington was involved in a brief relationship with Tim Rogers (of You Am I). However, "[it] ended before they made The Boy Castaways." She described how, "He's a great performer and I guess whatever history we share I've never been able to see him work, so it was amazing to see how good he is." She also reflected on her acting aspirations, "I had always acted through high school and at uni, and there was a time when I thought that was what I wanted to do, but then I got bitten by the jazz bug and here we are."
After the release of her debut album, Washington relocated to Brooklyn, New York City, in August 2011, which fulfilled a long-held goal. However, she recounted in 2014 that she was "dreadfully unhappy there", as she was unable to find any "meaning" in the constant "partying and drinking" that she engaged in and conceded "I would have been dreadfully unhappy" regardless of her location at that time. She explained that she no longer sought therapy through her music, due to a relationship with a "good therapist": "My art doesn't have to play that role any more and probably my next record will be a disco record about trying to find a car park."
In 2017 Washington announced her marriage to Nick Waterman, and the couple have a child.
Awards and nominations
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
|2011||I Believe You Liar (Megan Washington)||Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year||Won|
In 2009 APRA and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS) inaugurated the Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition: Washington won with "How to Tame Lions". The prize included a cash grant of $50,000.
ARIA Music Awards
|2010||Album of the Year||I Believe You Liar||Nominated|||
|Best Female Artist||Won|
|Best Adult Alternative Album||Nominated|
|Breakthrough Artist – Release||Won|
|Engineer of the Year||I Believe You Liar – John Castle||Nominated|
|Single of the Year||"How to Tame Lions"||Nominated|
|2011||Best Female Artist||"Holy Moses"||Nominated|||
|Best Pop Release||Nominated|
|2012||Best Female Artist||Insomnia||Nominated|||
|2015||Best Female Artist||There There||Nominated|||
|Best Adult Contemporary Album||Nominated|
- 2008 Australian Jazz Bell Awards – Best Australian Jazz Vocal Album: Night Light
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