Megan Washington's new album 'Batflowers' will be released 28 August, 2020.
Update - 25 August, 2020: After selling out the first two shows, Washington has added a third performance at The Tivoli (Brisbane Festival) on 15 September.
At the beginning of 2020, when the world was burning but not yet locked down, Megan Washington jetted from LA to Berlin and then to Adelaide with a slowly evolving new track, ‘Batflowers’, stowed in her overhead luggage.
It was a song born in a world that no longer exists, where international and even state borders meant less, and where the emerging pandemic could still be avoided.
When the final touches were laid by Megan and South Australian producer Mario Späte, upon the foundations set by the Brisbane songstress and LA’s Rabitt (Jason Wu), COVID reality could no longer be escaped.
“If I have to look at another bookshelf or pot plant, I think I might spew.” - Washington
Megan had a new beginning though, the opening and title track to an album; with the world shut down, the only thing left to do, as an artist, was to get to work. “All the artists I knew became these demented spiders weaving and making stuff,” Megan explains.
“Everyone I know was like ‘f..., we need to make some actual shows, or we need to make music, or we need to figure out a way to keep working because we need to make stuff for the people because the people’s brains are going to need somewhere to go'.
“Nietzsche said that we have art not to die of the truth. That’s what he said. Historically when the world is shi.t, art becomes demented because it has to balance the craziness of reality with even more craziness.”
While many musos gravitated towards the webcam, this was never an option for Megan. “If I have to look at another bookshelf or pot plant, I think I might spew.
“I don’t want to see anybody’s living room anymore! I want to see the moon and stars and planets and joy and stupid stuff. I don’t need to see any more terry towelling, you know, and I think other people want to see too.
“A lot of people who were coming to it from a more entertainer energy, those people solved it by performing on webcams or performing on live-streaming events, and were making the audio-visual compromises.
“But I refused to compromise because surely I would have to lean the other way, which I did, with the album which was more like sound design. Moments in between songs like the one minute of rain between ‘Switches’, or the bit after ‘Lazarus Drug’ that has an audio hallucination thing because it works more like a musical. I call it audio cinema, right.
“It’s got motifs that appear and repeat. That’s why Achilles heart is a lyric in ‘Paradise Lost’. I want the whole thing to be a little movie and I want it to have its own universe because I hate this universe that we’re in because it has coronavirus and the world is on fire and everyone is really tired, you know?”
For a lesser artist, creating a 12-track cinematic extravaganza would be sufficient distraction during a pandemic lockdown.
Megan, though, used the time away from touring and, you know, being able to go anywhere apart from the supermarket, to unite her long-held passion for visual arts with her professional music career.
“I used to draw a lot when I was young and I am a visual artist, but I never connected it to my music artistry because I never felt that I had the permission to do it.
“I feel like I don’t need that permission because it’s coronavirus and it’s lockdown, and what are we going to do?
“So I’ve always wanted to animate, I already draw, so why don’t I draw on my iPad and what am I going to draw? How about my lyrics video [for 'Dark Parts’]? It was a combination of lockdown and exhaustion and panic, and a desire to give people some fun stuff to have.”
During this creative burst, Megan assumed ‘Batflowers’ would simply be released into the digital ether; a traditional album launch seemed impossible.
However, with two live dates in September at The Tivoli as part of Brisbane Festival, Megan is pulling out all the tricks.
“Oh my God! Totally, it’s like some, weird miracle. I never imagined that I’d be able to play any shows at all and for me I think that making this record, because I made it all in Brisbane, it’s really nice to be able to play anything at all here.
“I’m super excited and planning all this amazing sh.t that I probably can’t afford. I don’t want to roll out of bed and play in my pyjamas to other people in their pyjamas.
“I don’t want to see anymore pyjamas! I want to see ruffles and frills and hats and stupid things. I want people to think about what they’re going to wear and come to a black and white fancy dress party, because why not?”
Posing the question 'why not?' has led to a new and spectacular chapter in Megan Washington’s already illustrious career.
When the world is on fire, what else is there to do but search for beauty within the ashes.
'Batflowers' is released on 28 August. Washington plays The Tivoli as part of Brisbane Festival on 12-13 September. Update: both shows have sold out. Washington has added a third show at the same venue on 15 September.