POP VOCAL SONGSTRESS MEGAN NADIN PREMIERES EMOTIONALLY HAUNTING “THE JOKER”
Video Feature & Web-Exclusive Interview
Canadian pop vocal songstress Megan Nadin’s vocal style is radio-ready to rocket up the charts. What makes her even more powerful is that she genuinely cares about the songs she writes. She wants her songs to be used for positive change: “‘The Joker’ highlighted the realities that many people deal with when it comes to mental health and bullying.”
Nadin worked with Grammy award-winning producer Keith Thomas (Amy Grant, Selena, Whitney Houston) on her seven-track debut EP This Was Then. Thomas says “Five minutes with Megan and you know she’s an authentic and approachable artist. Her gifts are multifaceted in that she has a unique vocal quality that is certainly identifiable—and she’s a gifted songwriter. Megan approaches her music with a tender heart and vulnerability—which is the thread that runs through each song.”
Although Nadin’s brassy vocal tone and bold sound displays the qualities of a seasoned performer, this Thunder Bay, Canada powerhouse first stepped into pursuing a full-time career as a recording artist in 2017. With singer-songwriter grandparents who spent time performing in choirs, Nadin was raised among a musical family that instilled in her the power of music to be used as a beacon of hope and inspiration. The catalyst that fueled her passion to pursue this harmonic journey can be anchored to a trip to Cambodia. Transformed by the spirit of the children she taught, Nadin found the strength to embrace her creative gifts. With the guidance of Thomas in this past year of uncertainty, Nadin has used her talent to share honest and impactful music with fans across the globe.
Nadin writes with honesty and insight—laced with the wisdom of years—allowing the beauty of her spirit to shine. Her genuine and introspective lyrics challenge the listener to never give up as they embrace their authentic self. She’s a bright light that helps us stay hopeful. This Was Then is one of her beautiful things.
We talked with Megan Nadin about her songs that empower listeners, her unique approach to songwriting, how her heart dictates her path as she continues to inspire others on their own journey, and how she remains hopeful.
MEGAN NADIN Interview
with M Music & Musicians magazine publisher, Merlin David
How did the idea for your song “The Joker” come to you? The song came together on its own. It was almost like a mind dump of everything I was feeling after seeing the movie, The Joker—with Joaquin Phoenix. There were so many emotions that came up while watching the film. I had to sort through it all. It shed light on many of the very real challenges people deal with when it comes to navigating mental health, mental illness, bullying and life in general. It left me heartbroken. I wrote this song for all who might feel alone, confused, unloved, unappreciated and unseen.
Did you write the song immediately after watching the movie? I came home from the movie and immediately wrote the song. The movie was over at midnight. I came home and was just fooling around on my guitar. Everything that I had seen was just trapped in my mind and it just fell out of me in about an hour. It was a way to make sense of some of the things I’d seen. I went back and worked on the song because I didn’t sit down with the intention of writing a song. I later worked with Johnny Black in Nashville, who is from New York City. He helped me with the music and he did the amazing production.
How did the EP This Was Then evolve? I’d been writing a lot and decided to choose the first handful of songs to take to production. Originally, I wanted to release them together as an album, but then flirted with the idea of releasing them as singles. The more I sat with the songs, the more I realized they belonged together as a body of work. I decided to call it This Was Then because when I listen to the songs, they take me back—to everything I was feeling when I wrote them, back to “then.” We were only going to have six songs but I wanted “The Joker” to be on this collection. So, we made it a seven-song EP.
Megan Nadin writes with honesty and insight—laced with the wisdom of years—allowing the beauty of her spirit to shine. Her genuine and introspective lyrics challenge the listener to never give up as they embrace their authentic self. She’s a bright light that helps us stay hopeful. This Was Then is one of her beautiful things.
What did you learn about yourself after you recorded these songs? My passion runs deeper than just writing the songs and melodies. I really fell for the whole process of creating the album, from beginning to end. My songs are extensions of myself. It was wonderful to watch it all unfold and come together so well.
How did Grammy award-winning producer Keith Thomas help you? Before going into song production, Keith and I had a writing session. It was in that session that I got a taste of what my writing sounded like accompanied by more of an orchestral style sound and feel. It brought a different life to the song and showed me the direction I wanted the album to take. I was so nervous when I first met him. Now, he’s an amazing friend, a mentor—I’m so comfortable with him. He’s helped me gain confidence—in who I am and in my music.
Who originally inspired you to write songs?
My grandmother Nonie (Leonna Glenn Oja) was a singer-songwriter. Growing up, my mom would sing songs to me that my grandmother wrote, sharing the stories that inspired them. Looking back, that alone definitely inspired me to write songs of my own. It’s clear that it left an impression that if you have a story to tell, or something you want to reflect on, you can write a song about it. I have a journal filled with songs. I started writing at around 6 or 7 years old.
How often do you write? I don’t write every day, but I write most days. I never wrote songs to share them with people. I was very insecure about sharing my music. A lot of friends, and even family, did not know I could sing until about 2013. I used to be a teacher and I’d taken a trip abroad—to Cambodia. I got the courage to sing to the children. I told my mom about that experience and she encouraged me to share songs that I’d written. Before writing music, it was just a way to get out some of my emotions. It’s important to be in the moment and sing how I’m feeling.
What songwriting tip would you like to offer?
Don’t sit down and write a song with the thought or intention that you want it to be liked or even understood by other people. When you do that, you limit the potential of your writing and the greater vision of the song.
What do you use to write songs?
A voice memo/recording device—I’m always using it to jot down song ideas, melodies and lyrics. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost ideas because I didn’t record them on the spot. Even in any writing or recording session, I’ll usually have it running. It can be so easy to get sucked into the moment, create something—then forget what you created. When you record it, it’s as easy as hitting rewind.
What instruments/equipment can you not live without?
I play my little black Yamaha guitar that I’ve had for a long time. I didn’t play it for years because I didn’t feel I was good enough. Then I watched a live show of Amy Winehouse and she was just plucking the bass strings and singing. After that, I started doing the same thing and started writing with a guitar. Sometimes I fool around on my Yamaha keyboard—and that too helps me write.
Which Top 5 Musicians inspired you to become a musician?
Bryan Adams, Adele, Amy Winehouse, the Beatles and Spice Girls.
What are your Top 5 favorite albums?
Jagged Little Pill (1995)—Alanis Morissette
Grease: The Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture (1978)—Various Artists
The Eminem Show (2002)—Eminem
Spice (1996)—Spice Girls
Watch the Throne (2011)—Jay-Z and Kanye West
Tell us a “pinch me” moment when you thought “Wow, this is really happening to me!” I’ll never forget when I recorded my first set of demos in New York with the help of musician Mark Rivera and producer Jon Cobert back in 2017. These two gentlemen have worked with and played for some of the most influential people in music. Mark has worked with Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Hall & Oates, Foreigner—and has played saxophone for Billy Joel over the last 30 years. Jon has worked with John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Chapin—and has done work with big companies like Budweiser and Pepsi. It felt so surreal to have the opportunity to work with and learn from them. And, they are such incredible people. It was an experience that had me feeling like I was in a dream. I’ll cherish it forever.
Best advice you’d like to give upcoming musicians—or your teenage self?
Stay true to yourself. There is only one me and only one you—and the most important thing we can do is work to be the best version of who we are. Be kind to people, even when it’s difficult. We never know what someone is going through.
What would you like your listeners to know about you after they hear your songs?
I’d like them to know that my songs are an extension of me—things I’ve felt, experienced and seen. I’m just a woman looking to heal herself through her writing and heal other people through the songs they become.
In this unique socio-political climate, how do you remain hopeful?
Through listening to music, journaling, meditation, positive self-talk—all things that allow me to pull back, be present and work to stay positive. It’s easy to get stressed out and bogged down by the really ugly things that have been happening in and around the world. When we stay present and do things that make us feel good, I think it gives us the tools we need to help us better navigate challenges. I’m also careful with what I give my attention to. I try to focus on people, charities, foundations and organizations that have the goal of adding a little more sunshine to the world as opposed to taking away from it.
What’s next? My next release is “Heartless Heartbreak,” a song I wrote with Johnny Black. It shows my fun, upbeat side. I’m very excited about these two songs that show different sides of me.