- Megan johns - the county line -
1. Did you grow up on the island? (If no, when did you make the island your home?
Yes :) I was born and raised here in Victoria.
2. What influenced you to start writing and creating music?
When I reflect on this, I think it was listening to the Canadian power house females of the late 90’s in their various genres (think Sarah McLachlan, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, etc..) that got me inspired to sing, and who mainly gave me the drive to perform. I was always hopeful that I would get into songwriting as well. However, I have always focused on my voice and training for that, and therefore have never picked up an instrument (which has made ideas for songs incredibly difficult to put onto paper). Songwriting was always a dream of mine, but an action plan to get there was pretty vague. That changed when we formed The County Line. After building a fan base by playing country covers, Hayden took the reigns and pushed us both to create our own music and our own sound. He is the main songwriter for us in regards to initial ideas and melody lines. But he has pushed and encouraged me to have us work together to shape the songs lyrically and musically at every step of their creative process. He’s the guy who gets the spark of the idea, and we tend to think of myself as the ‘editor’ in a way. I continuously get pushed out of my comfort zone with our songwriting process, and it is incredibly uncomfortable at times as it comes with intense vulnerability, but I am also incredibly grateful for it. We have found a process that works and one that produces music that we are both so proud of.
3. What is your favourite part about performing?
1. Selfishly, the best part about performing, is the feeling you get when you let go of any doubts, any pieces of the 'business side’ of your music project that are on your mind, any self confidence issues, and you float into a mental and physical space of being 100% present. This where you are truly settled into the moment, and have zero fear to express yourself authentically and without any inhibitions. If and when this happens, it feels like your soul and your true essence is what is being projected out into the world in front of you. There is nothing I have experienced in life that is quite like it.
2. When the above happens (because I will be honest, this does not happen at every show), the way that multiple fans will come up to you to explain what they just felt. There is a difference in someone’s eyes when this has genuinely impacted them. It is a beautiful gift to see.
4. What goals do you have for the immediate and distant future?
New music! We are busy working on some new material and are excited to release a follow up single to our debut EP later this year.
5. Have you ever found being a female artist can be challenging? Have there been times that you weren't taken seriously because of your gender?
In regards to furthering the bands projection with business dealings with venues, and industry professionals, I consider myself lucky that I have not experienced this. However, I do realize that my situation is different to many other females in the industry, as The County Line is a male/female duo with a strong 3 piece working band that backs us. We have learned to rely on each other for each member’s personal strengths to move the band forward in various ways, and we truly work as a team. In regards to goal setting and decision making within our own group, I am lucky to have incredible respect from our band. I am also grateful that there is a strong business partnership between Hayden and I that matches the creative aspect to the project. But I WILL say, that when goal setting and decision making for the band are on the table, that I do sometimes run into challenges with the process due to my gender. I am the only female in our project, and while I have the respect and admiration from our band members, it is impossible to deny that (often) females and males have a very different process in terms of decision making. This can certainly be an internal challenge. I attended a panel at Canadian Country Music Week, which was titled ‘Women in Country Music’. It included panelists that were high profile performers, songwriters, managers, music programmers etc. One of the women on the panel put it best. She mentioned that on her team, she has men that just want to get things done. And then she has herself, who also wants to get things done but who is cautious about quick decisions because as a woman, she is already thinking 10 steps ahead at the various repercussions that those decisions would have.
6. Do you remember the first gig/show you've played? Where/when?
The County Line’s first show was done under a different name, as an acoustic duo show at the Bengal Lounge. It was a fundraiser. We played for free and I believe it was about 5 years ago. As a full band, I believe our first show was at Darcy’s on Canada Day about 4 years ago. The better story though, would be about the first time I ever sang in public. The year end talent show was coming up, and because I was in grade 7, it was going to be the last chance for me to enter before high school started the next year. I knew I had to push myself to do it. So despite my fears, I entered it, but told noone. I worked with my music teacher to learn the song, but never practiced it at home as I was too nervous someone would hear. I did not want to deal with the excitement that they would have knowing I was going to do something like this. And when I think back to that time period, it was because I didn’t want their excitement to turn into more pressure on myself. My family all showed up for the end of year talent show, their jaws dropped, and that is how they all found out that I had a voice. So dramatic lol! But I have not stopped singing/performing since.
7. What advice would you give to young girls wanting to start out a music career?
I wish I could say this to absolutely everyone.
When I was young, in my gut, I knew I had talent. Despite this, I doubted that I had something special enough to make a career out of it. However looking back, that feeling was SOLELY because I was too scared to really put myself out there. My advice to young girls, is to get out there as soon as you have that thing in your gut that says that you KNOW you should be doing it, and not to doubt your talent. It’s also important to be humble, and know that you need and WILL get better, but not to doubt yourself. It’s an absolute waste of time and potential to do that.
8. As a photographer involved in the music scene, I love the idea of shining light on the other female artists in the Victoria music scene. What are your thoughts about the idea of this project?
I think it is an absolutely amazing project, mainly because of the question above. There is incredible coverage on famous singers that I experienced growing up, but you rarely see it done with local acts. I remember being a child, and then teenager, and seeing local women perform around town (most of whom are still doing it) and I would have LOVED to learn more about them as people. I find what goes on behind the scenes and in their careers fascinating! It makes the entire dream feel a little bit more attainable.