- Words Notion Staff
Rising north London vocalist Mega talks new single “Let You Down,” overcoming vocal issues and the greatness of Lauryn Hill.
Mega is the rising vocalist mixing with the world’s biggest stars. Landing support slots for Hozier and Self Esteem this year, the north London-raised artist has nurtured a natural stage presence that will propel her to similar heights as the aforementioned musicians. Next month, she’ll embark on a nine-date UK and EU tour, showing off her performance prowess and a wealth of new material coming out later this year.
“Let You Down” is our latest taste from Mega’s highly anticipated new project, ‘Honour and Glory’. The singer-songwriter’s uplifting vocal tones glide across graceful beats and a tender melody, empowering its listeners with unguarded lyricism. Easing those moments of isolation, the track encourages us to have faith in our own voice and feel compassion for the world around us.
Raised in London as part of a family with Ugandan heritage, Mega is inherently inspired by African music. It’s the euphoria-effectuating properties that influence her the most, as she looks to free fans from their own worries. Before all this, the future star first found her voice in choir groups, meeting producers and life-long collaborators who helped cultivate her early sound.
As Mega gears up for her ‘Honour and Glory’ project and tour, here, she talks all things “Let You Down,” overcoming vocal problems and the greatness of Lauryn Hill.
Hey, Mega! Congrats on “Let You Down”. Could you talk us through how that track came about, and the meaning behind it?
Thank you. I wrote it with the very talented Alex Davies and the incredibly talented musician and producer Ed Riches. Myself and Ed produced it too. Life can feel quite isolating at times, particularly during those moments, it can be difficult to have faith in our abilities and to hear the voice within. This song is a reminder that a voice never leaves us. Hopefully it encourages people to keep going.
How do you think the track marks an evolution from some of your past releases, especially your debut single, “Chariot”?
I think the essence of all my songs is the same in terms of message and sound, but it also grows with me. A Fun fact about “Let You Down” is that the bird song and rain in the intro were recorded in the garden of a flat I was living in at the time. It was purely serendipitous that the bird was in the same key as the song.
You’re about to set off on your ‘Honour and Glory’ tour, kicking off in Berlin and ending at Leeds. What are you most excited for when the 13th rolls around?
I haven’t been to Berlin before, so I’m looking forward to that. But I am most excited about being among real human beings. Social media is good for many things but it doesn’t beat real life – I can’t wait to meet people and to sing many of my new songs live for the first time!
Following a handful of huge, high-profile support slots from Hozier to Self Esteem, are there any other acts you’d love to perform beside or collaborate with going forward?
Both are artists I hugely respect so it was lovely to be able to open for them. I always find this difficult as there are too many to mention and I always forget someone, I take these questions very seriously because you really never know! I’d love to collaborate with or perform beside Michael Kiwanuka, who is also of Ugandan heritage, Afrigo band, Leon Bridges and Billie Eilish. I love how she is always unapologetically herself.
You credit some monumental names as inspiration, including Amy Winehouse, Aretha Franklin, and Lauryn Hill. How do you think these artists inspired you growing up and, later, throughout your career?
They gave me permission to be vulnerable and sing from the heart. They were their true authentic selves and I loved that about them.
Taking a step back, could you talk us through how you first got into music? Are there any stand-out early musical memories?
I first got into music when I joined an opera choir aged eight and shortly after I joined a gospel choir. It was during my time as part of the choir that I met producers who became friends and I wrote quite a few songs with. They really encouraged the idea of me becoming a solo artist.
I read that you suffered vocal problems, leaving you unable to sing for several years – which, in turn, prompted you to turn towards studying. Could you talk us through what was going on in your head at that time, and what that experience taught you?
Growing up I’d always been interested in Psychology. I Studied Psychology, Biology, Sociology and Philosophy in sixth form. Music was always a deep-rooted passion of mine though and I loved it. It was where I saw my future. After studying at sixth form I leapt into music but God had other plans for me. At the time it was very difficult to come to terms with the fact that the life I had mapped out for myself had become impossible. I hid behind music and couldn’t separate myself from Mega the person and Mega the musician. So I had to figure out who I was without the music. It was a dark time but I learned so much about myself, and I believe that what is right for you will not miss you.
How did you find your way back into music?
I had a few sessions with a voice therapist and slowly began learning to use my voice again.
Raised in London as part of a family with Ugandan heritage, how do you think these elements of your identity have shaped your sound?
Definitely, I love Ugandan music and I am inspired by lots of other music from various countries in Africa. I find the music very happy and joy-inducing: from high-life guitar sounds, warm basslines, rhythm and feel to the use of call and response. l hadn’t realised how growing up listening to Ugandan music shaped me until I began writing songs. You can hear elements of this in my last project, ‘Colour Your World’. And you’ll definitely hear elements of this in the next project, ‘Honour and Glory’, which will be out this year.
What do you hope that listeners take away from your music? Is there a particular message or feeling you try to get across with your output?
For me it’s really about connecting us all, as life can feel very isolating, especially in times of hardship.
What would it look like if Mega ran the world for a day?
I’d need pages and pages of space to answer this question as there are so many things I would love to do. I’d definitely need more than a day but I would relocate resources and money to people who need it the most.
Final question, what’s up next for you? Is there anything you’re hoping to tick off this year, or are you taking it one step at a time for the rest of 2023?
Something I learnt to do when I lost my voice, is to be able to live in the moment and and try to be as present as possible. So for now I’m excited to be going on my ‘Honour and Glory’ tour to share more music with you. But most importantly I’m excited to have ‘Let You Down’ out in the world and I hope that you all connect with it.