Mega. That’s the name. That’s the journey.
A soulful riser from North London, she blends R&B with gospel, all fused in a pop direction. Hitting London’s Omeara venue last week, this magical riser toasted the release of her second EP ‘Colour Your World’.
An artist of real depth and promise, Mega uses her soulful songwriting to discuss identity, and her emotional landscapes – in fact, her uni dissertation was actually on The Unspoken Burden of Black British Women.
In this new essay penned for Clash, Mega explores how her London surroundings influenced her work, and unpicks the city’s relationship with soul.
Hey, my name is Mega. I’m a singer from North London. My music journey pretty much began here too. At the tender age of nine I attended an opera choir in Islington. I’d travel there every Saturday morning; often waking earlier than necessary as I couldn’t quite believe that I was going to be able to sing and perform – just like the artists that I’d always wanted to be like.
This was the first time that I experienced performing to a crowd of people; I remember feeling liberated and in awe to be able to perform at beautiful venues such as The Royal Albert Hall. A few years later, I then joined a gospel choir at St. Mary’s music youth where I explored more solo opportunities, such as performing in various venues like Hackney Empire (which was awesome). St. Mary’s was a great and supportive place to create music, frequently putting on shows to showcase the talent that it produced, such as gifted musicians like the incredible Little Simz and Inflo who also attended. It has been so inspiring to see how they have carved careers for themselves, and have managed to keep true to their art; an important but difficult thing to do sometimes. My art and my music is a reflection of who I am, and I hope to be able to continue to stay true to that.
I find everyone’s unique music journey very interesting. Mine has been somewhat interesting to say the least. Shortly after finishing sixth-form, I had vocal issues which meant I physically couldn’t sing for three years. I graduated in that time with a Psychology degree, which was a slight detour from the route that I expected to take, but nonetheless educational and character building. The recovery journey is a story within a story, but upon getting my voice back it was great to receive support from MOBO Unsung to get me back on my feet again, as well as support from BRITs Spotlight Artist to give my first project a platform.
It has been amazing so far to have opened for such incredible artists and to play at many festivals and venues. But I have to say it is extremely special to be able to play in venues in my hometown such as; the Jazz Cafe, Islington Assembly Hall, KoKo, Clapham Grand, OMEARA and The Grace. Cross The Tracks was definitely a memorable festival for me that showcases many established artists within the same scene, and quite a few underground artists from the capital too including London’s African Gospel choir.
I find as human beings we are often used to categories and labels, and musically there is the pressure to feel the need to do that. I personally have been inspired by all kinds of music, soul in particular yes, but I prefer not to use genre to describe my music. Someone once described my music as taking themes of: self-growth, self-love and self-esteem – and turning them into emotive songs with enchanting/catchy melodies – I thought that was pretty accurate and interesting, and have now stolen that description for myself. Some of my music also incorporates some musical influences from my Uganda heritage, such as my ‘Colour Your World’ EP that has just been released.
It’s inspiring to see someone of Ugandan heritage too such as Michael Kiwanuka who is a native North Londoner produce such beautiful and authentic music – I love his sound. Other powerful artists from London that I admire include Lianne La Havas, Cleo Sol and George the Poet. George is a native Londoner with Uganda heritage, and someone I have previously worked with quite a bit. To be able to see him create a completely new avenue for himself, and to express his true authentic self has not only been inspiring but very encouraging.
I’m very excited about my new EP ‘Colour Your World’, which is a product of my journey so far. It is an honest and raw exploration of my journey through self-acceptance, growth and healing; and my realisation of the power that lies within me. The process of creating this project has been empowering and I hope that when people listen to it that they will feel empowered too.