As this golden girl is constantly everchanging and evolving, we catch up with the star who has always been a singer/songwriter at heart, Megan McKenna!
Whether she was performing for her grandparents or making a b-line for the karaoke machine after school, Megan’s flame-coloured burning passion for singing and writing has always coursed through her veins. Whether this was the plan or not, Megan began her journey to fame early on, making remarkable and now iconic appearances on ‘Ex On The Beach’, ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ and ‘The Only Way Is Essex’. The way Megan has done things hasn’t always been the easy way, but what matters is that she is approaching her destination which has always remained the same. After all, what matters is arriving there – not how you get there. She reflects on her past experiences, “I’ve grown up on telly, I’ve made mistakes. And I think I’ve had it pretty hard with trolling online, I’ve been criticized a lot over the past few years and I have thicker skin because of it. I feel good now, I just feel like I’ve been waiting for a break for so long and it’s finally happening to me. It feels surreal.”
Developing herself and yearning for something real, Megan abandoned scripted reality in pursuit of childhood ambition that was always truly there. Taking to the legendary Nashville stages and recording booths, she began to further her passion for country music, recording her musical trajectory, riddled with highs and lows. In 2018, a three-part series, ‘There’s Something About Megan’, allowed us to see a different side to the rising star, unearthed and brought to the surface, was a gentle yet alluring voice that brought the nation to a standstill. Immediately following the end of the series, Megan released her debut album, ‘Story of Me’, which was met with great reception, with many of her singles topping the iTunes charts and the tides beginning to shift into something extraordinary for Miss McKenna.
A year on and Megan is currently a trailblazing contestant on X-Factor: Celebrity. Living in a fantasy, the star was flown out to Los Angeles to audition with her original gutwrenching song ‘Everything but You’, which marked her as the singer-songwriter of the show, and more than a one-to-watch. From then on, Megan consistently wowed the judges with her self-penned diary-like lyricism and breathtaking performances. It’s clear a star was born.
“I do find it therapeutic to write everything down. I write it all down in my phone and it just gets everything off of my chest. It’s like I’m writing in my diary. Some words are changed to fit the melody, though. Sometimes you do get really emotional when you’re writing it down as it’s so real and from the heart. I felt myself getting emotional a lot doing it. My songs are quite deep, but that’s just how I’m inclined to express my heart.”
‘This’ is a single that is exemplary of this. Emotionally moving, Megan makes moments seem long-lasting, captivating the audience with her vocal prowess. Immediately after Megan took to the stage on the Saturday-night show, the single climbed to number two on the charts, which cemented Megan entering a new chapter of her life.
Continuing to carve out a solid identity for herself within the music industry worldwide, with hard-work, determination and grace, Megan is here to show us that dreams can come true. “I’m being taken seriously and it’s taken a long time but it’s finally happening.” It’s clear Megan has a story to tell, and we are just happy we get to be taken along on her inspiring journey.
How are you feeling? How is everything going in your world?
I’m feeling good. I’d say I’m getting more nervous as the weeks go on [during X Factor] and I thought I’d be the opposite. I thought I wouldn’t be as stressed about it. But, I think it’s because I do want it so bad and the competition is getting stronger each week. It’s just mad to think no one is safe, you just never know who is going to get the most votes. ‘Will people actually vote?’ That’s what you’re always thinking. There’s a constant feeling of worry in you. I’m just doing all that I can really.
How did the process come about with you going on X-Factor: Celebrity?
So when I heard about it, they called me in for an audition. That was back in April, and I went there and there were cameras and producers and everyone and I thought, ‘oh my god this is the real deal’. From there, you do quite a few auditions behind the scenes that don’t get aired, but they had to do that to decide what people go to L.A. So when I found out I was going to L.A I was like ‘Oh my god, this is mad that the auditions are in L.A. I’ve always wanted to go there’.
It’s so weird, at the beginning of the year my manager was on the phone and she said ‘I just have this weird feeling that you’re going to go to LA this year and I don’t know why but I have this feeling’. So, when this came about we both thought ‘this is it!’. I’m just so happy that I’ve had the chance to do this show and just show everybody how serious I am about it and how much it means to me.
“I’m just so happy that I’ve had the chance to do this show and just show everybody how serious I am about it and how much it means to me.”
What are some of your first memories of music growing up?
I always used to put on performances to my Nanny and Grandad in my living room. I was always singing and always have flashbacks of coming home from school and doing songs with my karaoke machine, I had one of those head mics and would wear that. I just was always wanting to do music. When I got to secondary school, I begged to go to full-time theatre school, but my parents just couldn’t afford it.
My Nan and Grandad helped and paid for the fees so I got to go. I was literally able to do exactly what I wanted to do. It helped a lot with my confidence. People always think I’m so confident but I do actually doubt myself a lot, I’m an overthinker so having that at school really built my confidence.
So, tell us about Nashville?
Going to Nashville for the first time, I had no idea what it would be like. I absolutely loved it – when I got there it really sparked something within me that I came back a different person, in a good way. I came home and felt really happy with myself and I obviously always wanted to do music, but something came over me in Nashville that was like ‘wow, this is everything’.
When I went back this year, I’d made friends before so it was so nice to spend time with them and to work again. It was such an amazing trip and Nashville will always have my heart. I just love it and to be able to be accepted out there with your music is so difficult. Every time I’ve been there everyone has been so welcoming to me, so it gives me good hope that I could potentially crack America, hopefully, one day.
Is cracking America that something you want to do in the near future?
Honestly, I want to perform worldwide. I don’t just want to be doing small shows, I really really want to be living on the road and touring. That tour life is for me. I went to see Ariana Grande a few weeks ago and I was obviously listening to the music, but I was just thinking ‘I am so in awe of this, of the tour life’. When I went to the toilet and you can see around the side of the stage – I’m like a nosy nan looking around thinking ‘oh my god I just want this life so much!’. It gives me butterflies to think this could be happening to me.
I’ve always said since I was younger to anyone who ever asked ‘if you make it, where do you want to live?’ I’d always reply I want a massive tour bus that I can literally live in and do my tours and shows and that’s what it’s all about for me. Hearing people sing the lyrics to my songs – I can’t even explain how it makes me feel. It’s real and actually happening. I wrote those songs, so it’s an amazing feeling.
What’s your creative process like when it comes to writing music?
The last few years spent trying to crack the industry, I’ve worked with some amazing songwriters. One lady who I worked so well with is Amy Wadge – she co-wrote ‘Thinking Out Loud’ with Ed Sheeran. She’s worked with everybody and welcomed me into her home and believed in me from day one when we met. I’m so happy I met her as she’s taught me so much.
When I go in and write, she can just get her guitar and think of loads of ideas right there and then. Before I go in I like to brainstorm as many ideas as possible in my notes every day, just to bank it for a new idea. I write best with her as I feel she’s so honest and we sit for hours and days and be so open together. When I first met her we wrote some cool songs, the more I’ve got closer to her the better the songs have gotten.
Is it hard to write these raw songs, or does it feel like a release to you?
It’s a bit of both, I do find it therapeutic to write everything down. I write it all down in my phone and it gets everything off of my chest. It’s like I’m writing in my diary, some words are changed to fit the melody though. Sometimes you do get really emotional when you’re writing it down as it’s so real and from the heart. I felt myself getting emotional a lot doing it.
Is it the same when you perform them?
The key to performing a song isn’t always about hitting the right notes, but about telling a story. Every time I go on stage, each song is about telling that story and they are emotional in their own way. So, I completely zone out and I think, the song may be current or from a few years ago, but I take myself back to that time and I just feel it gets me through the song. I don’t even think about what’s next I just let it come out.
“The key to performing a song isn’t always about hitting the right notes, but about telling a story.”
- Shirt & Trousers Natasha Zinko
Who are some of your musical heroes in life?
I have always been a massive fan of Miley Cyrus. I love her so much. She commented on a video I put up of her. It’s just so cool I couldn’t believe it was the real Miley. I also love Kacey Musgraves, I followed her for years before she blew up and it’s so amazing to see her doing so well. She’s selling out huge arenas now like overnight it’s great! Hopefully, that happens to me.
What are you looking forward to in the future?
I would love to put an album together of all the songs I put out the show so far. It’d be amazing to release the full versions, so I would love to do that in the studio. I love going to the studio and creating different harmonies so that’s a really fun part for me.
Just singing live, building my fanbase and just talking to people. I love to have a chat with people in between each song when I’m on stage, so I definitely learnt from being in Nashville – everyone tells the story behind the song when introducing it. You don’t really get that with pop artists but with me I definitely I’m more pop but the country element I have is the storytelling. I love that its blended together.
How does it feel to be in a new chapter of your career?
It’s like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. For so long people judged me and when people meet me they always say ‘oh my god you’re actually nice!’. It’s been difficult as it’s hard, but I’ve just thought for a long time now I just need to get my head down, pull away from reality and time will show people that this is something I’ve been working towards.
What’s a fact people may not know about you?
I used to be a really good tap dancer. I could probably do some good tap moves now! Another one, I’ve actually been in a Harry Potter film – I tried out for Gryffindor Quidditch and all!
What’s the best thing you’ve learned about yourself through this whole process?
To not let my mind wander (because I overthink everything) and sometimes let that ruin moments, so I’ve learnt to completely enjoy and live in that moment and take everything that comes with it. You just never know when it’s all going to end, so just take everything you can and do everything with that to the best of your abilities.