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Interview: Megan Joy on new album, post 'American Idol' career

Megan Joy released her second album, 'Free to Fly,' on January 14, 2014.
Megan Joy released her second album, 'Free to Fly,' on January 14, 2014.
press photo/ Big Picture Media

It has been five years since Megan Joy has graced the stage of the hit TV show ‘American Idol,’ but the singer’s music career is just taking off.

Since ‘Idol,’ the season 8 finalist has been balancing her music career with taking care of her family. After two years of touring and writing, Megan Joy released her self-titled, fan funded, debut album in 2012. In 2014, Megan Joy started her own label, Loud Meow Music, with her husband, Quinn Allman (The Used).

Megan Joy released her second full-length album, ‘Free to Fly,’ on January 14 via Loud Meow Music.

I had the opportunity to correspond with Megan Joy through email to discuss her music, ‘Free to Fly,’ Loud Meow Music, what she learned from ‘American Idol,’ and balancing motherhood and music.

When did you know you wanted to be a musician?

I remember being really young like 6 or 7, I was singing in the mirror and I thought "I can be a star if I want". I always believed that and considered myself a musician but my dream of being a mother outweighed the dream of pursuing music so I focused on starting a family after school. I didn't actually know that I wanted to be a working musician until I had gone through ‘American Idol,’ the show, and was on the ‘AI’ Live tour…. Once I had experienced such amazing success and had found deep insight into my capabilities I knew I HAD to do both. It’s been an incredible 4 years since.

Who/what has been your biggest musical inspiration over the years?

Gwen Stefani, Bjork and Lauryn Hill have been the most influential/inspirational artists for the longest amount of time in my life. I looooove them.

How did you find/develop your sound?

Because I hadn't been pursuing music before ‘American Idol’ I had no idea how to write songs, so I spent a year working with many amazing producers who helped me learn how to integrate my journal writing into song writing. This was also when I began learning how to master my instrument in a vocal booth. I was insanely lucky because each co-writer I worked with was amazing… and they were all inspired by me similarly enough to make the music in each song cohesive enough for an album. As far as my vocal sound I have been singing my entire life (at home to myself every day all day before ‘Idol’). I love such a wide range of vocal styles that my sound just developed naturally from all the awesome influences I’ve had.

You released your new album, ‘Free to Fly,’ in January. What was the songwriting process like for the album?

It was magical. I would usually have 2-day sessions. I would meet with the producer and have a bunch of song and lyric ideas. We would spend the first day writing a song then I would come back the next day and record the song. It was super smooth and fast, it felt so easy and meant to be.

How do you think your sound/style on ‘Free to Fly’ has changed from that of your self-titled debut?

Well I actually wrote the songs for both albums at the same time. It was one solid year of writing and recording…..I ended up with 23 original songs. Then it was 3 years of figuring out how to release them. I met with almost every major label there was but they just weren't a match for me, I'm a mom and touring all year just isn't what I want so I had to find my own path. But my own path was one without money, making everything super complicated (of course :) I decided I had to split the songs in half and work on one album at a time so I put the darker, more emotional/ indie songs together and the upbeat, positive pop songs together. To me, my two albums are really one big project I did.

Not only did you release an album, but you released it on your own label. How did that opportunity come about?

After my experiences with co-writes and a crash course in what major labels had to offer AND my husband’s experiences with being signed to a major for 9 years, we decided that if we were ever going to have complete control of our art and projects that we should simply start our own. We have a close friend who is a brilliant attorney, so we took our ideas to him and made it happen. We have endless projects to house under the label and now that my album is out we can’t wait to dive into our next beautiful creations. SO EXCITED!!

How has being on ‘American Idol’ changed the way you think about yourself as a musician?

‘American Idol’ changed everything for me. Before the show I couldn't even sing in front of people, I sang to myself and my son but that was it. ‘Idol’ gave me my voice back. I never ever would have even considered pursing music if I hadn't experienced success on the show. Before ‘Idol’ I was broken and lost…..The show helped me find myself in every single way, especially as a musician.

What was the biggest thing you learned about yourself on the show?

That I am in control of my own destiny, that truly anything I dream up is possible. I had no idea what I was capable before the show and now I know I can do anything. I am deeply grateful to ‘Idol’ for that.

How do you balance music and touring with being a mother?

I plan to play some shows here and there during the summer when my son is out of school but touring is not really my priority right now. I want to be home, taking care of my family and house. I want to write and record here in UT (we are fortunate to have a studio in our house so that makes it easy to want to stay near the mountains and create) Now that I’ve experienced ‘Idol,’ a major US tour, writing and recording two albums, and starting my own label, I feel accomplished in understanding how the Biz works, but I desperately want to dig deeper into my artistry and make/experiment with all of the many kinds of music I dream about making. As long I care for my family AND sing/write every single day I am balanced and fulfilled.

‘Free to Fly’ is available now. To find out more about Megan Joy, visit her website.

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