Megan Joy released her brand new album, Free To Fly, on January 14th of this year. The season eight American Idol finalist garnered quite the fan-following, funding her debut album in 2012. Now, the singer-songwriter is making a bigger name for herself, and finding the idea balance between being an artist and a family woman.
“Before American Idol, I wasn’t pursuing music in any way. I was a stay-at-home mom who worked full time generating fonts. I sang in the shower and wrote in my journals but that was about it,” Megan admits. “My experience on Idol basically blew my mind, opening and changing every aspect of my life entirely, especially how I work. I didn’t even realize I could pursue a career in music until I was on the AI tour.
“I spent the year after idol traveling and learning how to integrate my writing into songs and how to control my instrument in a vocal booth. I didn’t even know what working in music meant before Idol!”
In 2012, Megan put that knowledge to good use, jumping onto Kickstarter to raise funds for her debut album. “I had absolutely no knowledge of the industry,” she laughs. “The people who run American Idol continually tell the contestants that Idol is ‘Star School,’ and my 5 year crash course up to this point ain’t bad considering how clueless I was at first!
“My first album was fun because the money I raised with Kickstarter went to re-recording songs with my long-time friend and brilliant producer, Matt Winegar AND my husband. We took what I had done in Hollywood with co-writers and made it more my own. I wanted the first album to be a little more indie sounding and have a darker feeling.”
Like many artists before her, Megan is not the type to hide from her past. Instead, she embraced it, putting it to good use to create something wonderful. “[If I could go back in time,] I would tell myself to lay off the sauce. I wasn’t drinking enough for anyone to throw me in rehab, but I was definitely destroying my sensitive heart and adding layer after layer to my already muddled up clarity. I wish I would have had more awareness about how to cope with stress and pain, especially during my experience on American Idol,” Megan admits honestly. “I instead wound up drinking any chance I could to numb to pain and pass the time until I could be with my son again. I would have found my peace and purpose much much sooner without drinking to darkness BUT I am completely grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and the understanding I have gained regarding substance and personal power. I wouldn’t change a thing about the road I’ve walked. It’s been beautiful.”
It would appear that capturing the darkness in her debut album has led to Megan Joy’s desire to document the results of those lessons learned on Free To Fly. “I have my emotional indie album and my happy pop power album,” she says. “With Free To Fly, I didn’t want to re-record the songs because the original outcome was so beautiful I didn’t want to try to recapture the magic that was already there. So I spent most of my time negotiating with co-writes, which was just as much work, if not more, than re-recording the songs all together but I’m so glad I never gave up. It feels amazing to have so much to showcase.”
The album is the result of a collaboration with Goldfinger frontman & producer John Feldman (We Are The In Crowd, The Veronicas), Peter Zizzo (Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion), Bleu (Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez), and Scott Simons (Drake Bell, Chris Rene).
(Check out Megan performing her favorite song from the album, “Double Life”)
With songs that radiate optimism and lyrics that read like well-timed narrations, Free To Fly is a work of art that has been years in the making for Megan. “[After releasing the album,] I finally feel a HUGE weight off my shoulders. I can do whatever I want now, there’s so many dreams to chase!” she exclaims. “Free To Fly is upbeat, poppy, colorful, and optimistic in comparison to my first album, which was more sad. [This time,] I really wanted to focus on strength and overcoming hardship, while still having fun.” Fans have taken note of the difference in the approach Megan has taken to her sophomore release, and it’s garnering praise across the board. But the busy singer-songwriter has little time to bask in the glory of her success; alongside Free To Fly, Megan and her husband launched their own record label, Loud Meow Music.
“After Idol and writing twenty-three songs, I spent months at a time meeting with almost every major label out there. It was crazy overwhelming and I found myself struggling with how to present myself. Labels don’t want to hear that your career comes second to your family, because touring is where most of the money is made. So I either turned them off or I was turned off by the lack of control I would really have at a label,” Megan explains. “I also became very concerned with finding my own artistry; I didn’t want to be factory made and molded. I don’t care about being famous, but I do care about being an authentic; original. My husband is also a musician and has had many uncomfortable experiences with label. So we launched the label to maintain complete control of any project we’re working on. It just made sense and we are super excited about it!”
“Luckily for me, my experience on Idol gave me a VERY negative perspective of fame. I hated how my pinch of it affected my friends and family, everyone constantly watching me and disregarding my privacy, and the extra judgment that people suddenly felt entitled to. All I want is to be an artist, making a little money doing what I love and to be a super mom. I feel like I finally am just that!”