Meiko: “I keep guitars everywhere to remind me to practice and write new songs”

Meiko (Roberta, Georgia) is an American guitar player and singer-songwriter. Her name comes from her Japanese heritage, meiko meaning “bud” or “female”. In 2007, when she was 18, she moved from her tiny birth town (population: 1006) to Los Angeles (population: lots more), to seek greener pastures. She went from waitressing tables at The Hotel Café, a legendary stage for aspiring singers, to being herself the star. She’s toured the US, Europe, Australia, China and Japan, and her songs have appeared on several TV shows of the like of Grey’s Anatomy.

After three successful albums, she’s decided to ride solo again, ditched her label,  and launched a PledgeMusic campaign. There you can pre-order her latest album called Moving Day, or wait until June 24th when it will be available on stores.

Question: How did you get started in music? Have you ever taken formal lessons? I mean, to learn harmony, music theory, written music, etc…

Answer: I’ve never taken any formal lessons – I got started because my dad is a musician, and he taught me to play guitar when I was about 12 because I was showing an  interest.

Q: Do you have a specific practice routine for the guitar or your voice?

A: Not really. I go over my songs before I play a show, and I do vocal warmups sometimes in the shower if my voice is feeling froggy.

Q: I read you like to listen to a lot of jazz. What kind of players do you like most?

R: I like old jazz. Miles Davis’s Kind Of Blue is my favorite record of all time.

Q: I read somewhere one of your favourite CDs ever is Entre Dos Aguas, by our own Paco de Lucía! How did you get to know him and his music? Do you enjoy flamenco?

R: I LOVE Flamenco!! I was introduced to Paco’s music the first time I visited Spain. Now I go back every couple of years (to Malaga) and I always make sure to see some live flamenco in the city. My favorite guitar is a flamenco guitar that I bought from the small store that makes Paco De Lucia’s guitars called Hermanos Conde in Madrid. (Attaching a picture of the day I bought it 🙂 Glad the date is behind me. Guess it was in 2007!

Q: How does your creative process look like? From inspiration to beating on the craft. I read you carry a notebook you don’t use, and keep a guitar in every room in your apartment.

A: I keep guitars everywhere to remind me to practice and write new songs. I usually write at night. I like to sit in the middle of the living room and have paper and different guitars scattered around me. 

Q: Do you ever get writer’s block? And how do you un-block?

A: I had writer’s block for a while, before I fell in love. Once I was in love, I was writing like crazy! It’s funny how a new person in your life can inspire such music.

Q: When writing, do you review your lyrics a lot? When do you know a song can be considered finished?

A: I review every lyric. I need it to make sense and be very true to myself.

Q: Do you do ear-training exercises? Do you think developing the ear is important?

A: Developing the ear is extremely important. I think singing, or learning how to sing at a young age does just that. I don’t actively continue to develop my ear, but I think recording and singing live keeps everything in tune. If you don’t use it, you lose it. I’m a big believer in that saying.

Meiko trying out a Flamenco guitar at Hermanos Conde (Madrid, 2007)

Q: Do you have perfect pitch? Or relative like the rest of us mere mortals?

A: Ha! I don’t have perfect pitch, but I’d like to think I am close!

Q: To finish, what advice would you give to anyone who’s starting to write songs?

A: Write from your heart and what you believe to be true, not what you think other people want to hear. I started off writing lots of poetry and once I learned guitar, I learned how to turn my poetry into melodies and songs.

To find out more about Meiko and her new album Moving Day visit her official website, and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube.