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Moving forward

Megan O’Neill told David Hennessy about her new album that she has been working on since before she left London to return to her native Kildare two years ago, having her music featured on a Netflix hit and her recent appearance on the Late Late that came years after first appearing on it with a college society.

Kildare singer-songwriter Megan O’Neill thought leaving London to return to Kildare may have had a negative impact on her career. However, the reverse seems to be more the case with her music now featuring on Netflix smash Firefly Lane.

Megan’s latest single Time in a Bottle is featured on major Netflix TV Series Firefly Lane, has charted #1 on the Irish singer/songwriter charts, #2 on the Irish charts across all genres and seen her perform on the Late Late.

This week, Megan releases her latest album Getting Comfortable with Uncertainty. This follows her 2018 debut Ghost of You which hit #1 on the iTunes singer/songwriter charts in the UK and Ireland.

The Kildare singer has been working on the new album since 2018 when she was based in London before making the move back home and Megan told us it’s a more personal record for her as it deals with the upheaval that saw her move back to Ballymore Eustace.

Megan told The Irish World: “I went through a lot of changes in my personal life within a two year period and a lot of these songs reflect that journey for me and a lot of that journey was understanding that I can’t control the outcome of anything and I just have to get comfortable in discomfort.

“All of life is uncertain and the only thing for certain is that it’s going to constantly change. The title just rang true for me because a lot of the songs are about accepting that change and accepting that uncertainty.”

Megan’s move back from London was not as well planned as it might have been as it was forced by unfortunate circumstances.

“I moved back from London in early 2019 after five years there and I loved London. I absolutely loved it and still do but I moved back sort of unexpectedly.

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“There was an illness in my family and that’s kind of why I moved home. Everything happened very quickly and there was a transition in that but a lot of other things were happening for me in my personal life as well at the same time.

“London’s the kind of place where you can get sucked in and stay there forever and there was definitely a potential in that for me. A part of me didn’t want to leave but another part of me really missed Ireland and missed the mountains. I would be a really outdoorsy person so I missed that element of living in a city that I didn’t have but the plan was always to move back to Ireland just probably not as soon as I had done it as soon as I did it.

“I’m really glad to have moved home. I think it’s allowed me to really reconnect with my community here and I have to say career-wise when I was leaving London I thought, ‘Oh no, this is going to be a challenge’.

“I had had my career in London for so many years that I just thought when I move out of here, it’s all going to go to crap and the opposite kind of happened. My career has gone from strength to strength since I moved. I think I’m more creative here than I felt like I was in London and I think for me that’s just a personal thing with my surroundings here.

“Originally, this album was supposed to come out maybe May of last year. Then Covid hit and everything went to crap so we kind of decided to wait until shows were going to come back and then shows obviously still haven’t come back.

“It’s a long time to sit on something and as an artist we’re always kind of moving and I’m always moving and growing and developing and writing new material. As a songwriter your newest song is always your favourite song so it’s been great to have this time to work on new material but I’m definitely excited to get this out because then I can be looking ahead.”

Starring Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke, Firefly Lane has become a hit on Netflix.

It is Megan’s vocals that accompany the opening scenes of the TV series which follows two women throughout their lives.

Megan told The Irish World it has been surreal to see Firefly Lane launch with her music: “It’s been amazing. It’s funny because I was approached by the creators of Firefly Lane in 2019 and it was originally supposed to come out May 2020 and then that was pushed back. So I’ve known about this for so long and been working towards it for so long, it was amazing to see it finally out there in the world and sit down and watch the show.

“It is so surreal to watch an amazing show, that did really well on Netflix, and then hear myself on episode one.

“But it’s been fantastic, that led to the Late Late Show and the song then did amazingly off the back of that performance on the Late Late Show. It charted here in Ireland in the singer-songwriter charts and the main charts and the Irish homegrown charts. The ball is still rolling so I’m just trying to ride that wave as long as I can.”

Time in a Bottle’s success saw Megan perform on the Late Late recently. This was her first time to perform as her own act but she did perform on the show in her college years as part of the UCD Choral Scholars.

In ordinary times she would have been in a green room with Dolly Parton, Eve Hewson and Pat Shortt. Did the honour of playing the show get diminished for Megan due to their being no audience or usual excitement?

“It’s still the Late Late. It was incredible. It was such an amazing experience to do it.

“When it was over, it was a little bit anti-climactic because if times had been normal you would have been having a wild night out in Dublin and celebrating but the other side of that coin is there’s a lot more people tuning into the Late Late because everyone’s home so the impact of the show was arguably even more than it would have been in normal times.

“The UCD Choral Scholars is an amazing choral society and I got so much incredible training through being a part of that group.

“It was really different to do that in college versus what I’m doing now. Going in, being your own artist and performing is much more pressure.”

Due to the delay between the album’s recording and release and given all the time lockdown has allowed for more writing, it should come as no surprise to hear Megan is nearly ready to go at a third collection.

“I go back into studio in April, next month, to work on the next record which I’ll probably be looking at putting a single out this summer from that.

“Having this album ready to go has been great through lockdown, that’s kind of been a blessing because I didn’t need to rely on getting back into the studio during a pandemic.”

Deemed a “rising star” by uDiscover and Timeout Magazine London, it was not that long ago that Megan had to combine her performing with working temp jobs in admin while in London.

“That was hard. I was always kind of working part-time jobs, some of which were okay, some of which I hated. I was kind of making ends meet and all of that money was either going into my rent in London, my living costs or into making another record.

“It’s weird because it was like there was two versions of me. There was a version of me that was sitting behind a desk working a job I didn’t particularly want to do to make ends meet but my mind was just always in five different places because I was under the desk at that job trying to answer music emails and trying to book songwriting sessions and book gigs and answer calls and trying to be always available for the musician that was me while at the same time trying to make ends meet. There was definitely kind of a pull there all the time.

“You don’t make money for years and years so those were my grafting years while I was over there and it was exhausting. I was constantly not getting enough sleep and chasing my tail all the time- which I’m still sort of doing. I guess I do it full-time now and I’m in a better place in my career that I’m very grateful for. It was exhausting.”

Megan has had the honour of performing with Gavin James at a post-Oscars party in LA.

“It was amazing. I’m a big Star Wars fan so it was pretty mind-blowing to have all the cast of Star Wars there, old and new and to meet Carrie Fisher was a huge pinch me moment.

“It was kind of surreal going out there and thinking like, ‘I’m coming from little old Ireland and I’m about to play an Oscars event, what is life?’

“It was a huge moment. It’s almost even hard to relive it sometimes. I don’t actually tend to dwell on those moments very much, maybe I should dwell on them more. But when you look back on them you just think, ‘Oh my God, that actually happened. What was that?’ And I’ve had lots of moments thankfully in my career that I’m very grateful for.”
Megan has had her song Don’t You appear in the TV series, Nashville. This is not the only time she has been in Nashville as she spent two years in the American home of country music leanring her craft.

“Don’t remind me,” she says realising she would have been back there a couple of times over the last year had circumstances been different.

“I don’t think I really knew anything before I went there. That was a huge learning curve for me and I just went as a sponge. learned everything I could from everyone I could and Nashville is like immersing yourself at the deepest level in the music industry. Everybody you meet, whether you’re filling your car up with petrol or getting a coffe, everyone is in the music industry so it’s an amazing place to jump right in and learn a lot about the creative side and the business side.

“It was full of growth, that period of time, full of growth. I’ve gone back there every year, sometimes twice a year, for writing sessions and gigs and stuff really up until all this happened.”

Although she has been incredibly productive during the pandemic, Megan is eager to get back out on the road. She’s planning on gigging towards the end of the year in Ireland, the UK, Germany and even Australia if things go to plan.

“We’ve announced gigs.

“September to Christmas is a full tour diary for me so Germany, New Zealand, Australia, England and Ireland so I’m just kind of crossing my fingers and my toes and just hoping they can go ahead.

“Fingers crossed Covid is a distant memory by then and we can all go to gigs.

“At this point rather than somebody paying me I would pay them just to let me play anywhere. Let me in. I think most musicians feel that.”

Getting Comfortable with Uncertainty is out now.

For more information, click here.

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