Megan Nicole: Freedom, Fashion and Funk-Pop Fusion
by David Crone
Photo Credit: Greg DeStefano
It’s safe to say that Megan Nicole has truly made it. The metrics do all the talking: with 4.1M YouTube subscribers and over 500,000 followers on both Instagram and Twitter, Megan has come quite a way from her early-YouTube roots. Having burst onto the video-sharing platform back in 2009, Megan’s cover of the emblematic ‘Use Somebody’ gave her a first shot at the spotlight. After a series of similar acoustic covers (ranging from Justin Bieber to Cee Lo Green), the onset of 2011 saw her reach her first milestone of success: 100,000 subscribers. This milestone was celebrated not by champagne or luxury purchases, but by a charming bedroom vlog, a distinct sign of the personal connection with her audience that has characterized much of Megan’s success.
From there, Megan’s career skyrocketed. Not 8 months later, that seemingly-monumental 100,000 subscriber total had multiplied five-fold, reaching 500,000. Another 9 months, and that 500K had doubled, reaching a phenomenal 1,000,000. Whilst many careers fade as quickly as they began, Megan’s consistent quality assured her of a dedicated fanbase, allowing her channel to continue to grow throughout the mid-2010s.
While Megan enjoyed her time as part of Bad Boy Records alongside artists such as Janelle Monáe and French Montana, it was not a lasting partnership. In 2014 she made the bold decision to split from the label and pursue a solo career, releasing her debut EP later that year and embarking on another successful US tour. Flash forward to today and it’s clear that she made the right decision: her musical career is flourishing, her subscriber count has surpassed 4 million and she’s even co-created a clothing line. 2018 is set to be another successful year for Megan Nicole.
I spoke to the enigmatic singer-songwriter recently about her latest ‘Mini-Album’, My Kind of Party, her break from Bad Boy Records, and her ventures into a variety of new industries:
I think it’s only fitting that we start with My Kind Of Party. What kind of sound and emotions were you aiming to capture over the project?
This EP was all about being fun. A lot of the songs aren’t too serious, but I like that about them. Sometimes, it’s nice to listen to a song that just makes you feel good and takes you into its own little world. There are some 90’s influences sprinkled in there (like Cardigan vibes) and 90’s R&B and of course, a little funk because I just love funk music. I grew up listening to Stevie Wonder, and Earth, Wind, and Fire with my Dad in the car so it really had an impact on me. It’s cool to see a sound like that making its way back into today’s music.
More specifically, I’d like to talk to about Take Me Back. While you’ve embraced your love of funk and RnB here, you’ve also incorporated elements of funk-revival and pop. Do you feel like your music bridges this gap between the old and new?
Bridging a gap between the old and new is definitely something that I aim to do. I think some of my older songs were almost straight up funk songs, but I’ve been trying to find ways to bring those pop elements into it. I think through some of the melody choices, and including just cool weird samples like you hear in “Take Me Back,” really freshen it up. It was such a great era of music, that made you want to dance, and I want to bring a little bit of that to this generation.
Referring specifically to the new, I wanted to ask you about your more recent influences. Who are you listening to now?
The music I listen to, stylistically, can be all over the place. Some of my favorites to currently listen to are KYLE, Hiatus Kaiyote, The Kooks, PRETTYMUCH, Weezer, and Charlie Puth.
Back in 2014, you made a bold move by breaking off from Bad Boy Records to pursue an independent future career. What effect do you think this has had on both you and your career? Do you feel liberated without the pressure of a label backing?
It can be a little scary going from having a big label name behind you to becoming independent. There is definitely still some weight and credibility that goes along with being signed that make it easier to get your foot into the door places. That’s been one of the hardest hurdles at times with being independent, as well as everything is paid for out of your own pocket. I still wouldn’t change a thing about the decision I made though. I came to a crossroads where Bad Boy was no longer in a relationship with Interscope and I could stay and wait until they found another partnership, but I felt it was time to start a new journey. I don’t harbor any ill feelings towards Bad Boy and I learned a lot through that experience. I got back into discovering myself as a person and an artist and released my first EP “Escape” later that year.
Tell me about the MLK Anniversary Campaign. How was it to feature in ‘Dream Still Lives’, especially alongside such a variety of talented figures?
I remember when I first got the email about being involved I did not think it was real! The email was basically like “Hey Stevie Wonder wants you to be a part of this video” and I thought, “uhh sure.” So glad I had my manager explore it more because it did turn out to be very legitamate and an amazing thing to be a part of. It’s pretty surreal to have your name on a list of people like that and to have one of your musical heroes be heading the whole initiative. I was very honored to be a small part in sharing my dream of others knowing their self worth.
While you’ve been releasing music since 2009, it’s only recently that you’ve taken steps into the fashion industry. How does it feel to be moving into multimedia?
It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I love creating in so many different ways so I always have a lot of eggs in different baskets. To be able to collaborate on a line with Julie Mollo, a great friend of mine, has been so fun. “Confetti Heart Collection” was born, just a year ago! It’s always challenging launching something new. There’s a lot to figure out, as far as fabrics, how many products will you make, and how to be cost effective, yet still create something really cool. I’ve learned a lot and can’t wait to see what we do next with “Confetti Heart Collection”.
Final question - if you had to give me your ultimate ‘guilty pleasure’ song, what would it be? And why?
That would be “Escape” aka the Piña Colada song by Rupert Holmes. It feels like Summer and the song a drunk Dad would karaoke. I shamelessly know every word.
Megan’s latest ‘Mini-Album’, My Kind of Party, is out now.