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Megan Henwood - Interview

  by Spencer Robertshaw

published: 28 / 8 / 2011

Megan Henwood - Interview


Spencer Robertshaw speaks to BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award winner Megan Henwood about her influences and 'Making Waves', her just released debut album

Well, don't I get all the good jobs? I spoke for Pennyblackmusic with the award winning singer-songwriter Megan Henwood, or should I say the delightful and attractive, bright and talented young voice of folk? 22 year old Megan has recently released her debut album, ‘Making Waves’, and was the winner with her brother Joe of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards in 2009. We chatted about her life, her influences and favourite things. Megan is vibrant and honest. and shows in this interview that she has a big heart as well as a sharp intellect. She is clearly going to go far, and if anyone deserves to then it is definitely her. PB: Hi, Megan. How are you doing? MH: I am doing well. I am a little bit tired as I was at the Wilderness Festival this weekend, so it has been a busy weekend work wise. PB: Are you resting this week or do have you a lot on? MH: Yes, I have got a bit on. I am doing some music therapy, and seeing my granny and some property. PB: Are you moving? MH: Well, no. I have found a plot. I have bought a caravan that I am renovating with my dad and which I’m going to be living in. My dad is a wooden boat builder. I have moved out before, but last year my dad was ill so I moved back in. He is fine now so I’m moving into the caravan, but it is not like I am moving into a house so I have to be more selective. I did a lot of research and just fell in love with this 1972 Airstream caravan, and I have been sort of living in it and travelling around in it ever since. It just ticks all the boxes for me when I travel in it to festivals and things like that. I get people coming up who are interested in the caravan, and then they become interesting people. It’s a really nice way of life. We are slowly renovating it. It is absolutely fine, but we are just slowly replacing the plastic with wood. I would also love to put a wood burning stove in there. PB: Are you going to be a permanent resident on a caravan park? MH: Well, I have found two places that I want to rotate between and ideally I need to find one other. They are really lovely places. I am excited. It is not the first time that I lived in a caravan. When I was eighteen, I went travelling with my boyfriend of the time and we had a camper van which we shipped off over to Greece. I did a lot of travelling then and really enjoyed it, and went to India, Singapore and Malaysia. PB: ‘Making Years’ is very grown up stuff despite your relatively young years. What started you off in music? MH: I played piano for some time which I didn’t like so much. I started writing with my friend when I was about nine, and the first song I ever wrote was called ‘Do You Love Me?’, because at that time I knew a lot about love of course (Laughs). I really enjoyed song writing, but it wasn’t working out on the piano so I picked up a guitar when I was about fourteen or fifteen and never looked back really. It seemed like the guitar was the most natural instrument for me, and it all went from there. Writing has become something I do, so if I have a good experience and if I write it into a song then I can relive it each time I sing it. Or if something bad happens I can overcome my emotions by writing about it. I just let it all flow. It is very much a therapeutic, cathartic process, and one which I mostly do in solitude. I am writing more with other people though now and getting used to doing that now. PB: What is the musical therapy work that you do? MH: I work for a company which brings live music to adults with learning difficulties. I go out with a drummer and we drive to different homes, and go and play for them and have a bit of a party. It is both fun and rewarding. It can be beneficial for the carers as well because it can give them a bit of break. It is a great thing. I have been really lucky to be involved in that. PB: Who are your main influences? MH: Well, Bill Withers for the kind of vocal melody that he does. He is also an amazing songwriter, and Anais Mitchell. She is an American folk/country singer who I have had the honour of supporting. Elliot Smith is another big one, and also Joni Mitchell, Joan Armatrading, Bob Dylan, and Leonard Cohen. There is loads that I listen to, and a lot of varied stuff, acoustic, dub, reggae, all sorts. PB: If I put you on a desert island what book would you take with you? What else would you take with you as well? MH: That is a tough one. I would probably take ‘The Prophet’ or one of my other favourite ones, ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’, which which was written by a Frenchman, Jean Dominique Bauby. It is a true story. He had a stroke and he wanted to write a book. He was completely paralysed. All he could do was move his right eyelid because he had a condition called locked in syndrome so he lay with his nurse, and she went through the alphabet letter by letter and when she got to the right letter he would blink his eye. That is the way he wrote the book letter by letter. He was the editor of ‘Elle’ in Paris and had an amazing life. It is really beautifully written, and especially when you found out how he wrote it. I would also take my guitar, a load of paper and a pen. PB: What film or two films would you take with you? MH: ‘Mary Poppins’ or ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’, but I think that ‘Mary Poppins’ would be my ultimate film. PB: If you could have six people to dinner who could be dead or alive and from history who would they be? MH: I would have Stephen Fry, Jeff Buckley, Bill Bailey, my Dad of course and I would probably want Joni Mitchell or Elliot Smith and Bill Hicks. I am going a bit over the allowance now, but why not? I would also want my mum and my brother. PB: Is there anything today that you wish that you could change if you could? MH: I would change the mentality of the generation that I have born into, especially after the last few days (This interview took place directly after the UK riots-SR). I just think there’s no thought behind it. It is pure greed and completely pointless. There is nothing political behind it. It is just ridiculous. It is hard to be coherent when we are so raw and angered by it because it is just so horrible. Since it happened, I have been constantly writing. It involves so many emotions that it is hard to put it all into a song without sounding all patronising or preaching, but it is also hard to write about a big event that has not directly involved you because you have to capture the emotions. PB: Thank you.

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Megan Henwood - Interview

Megan Henwood - Interview

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Making Waves (2011)
Outstanding and boundary-breaking debut album from 22 year old BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards winner, Megan Henwood

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