When Meg Myers is singing onstage and her eyes roll back in her head, when she jerks spastically, it's her own version of Method acting, an attempt to channel the "dark, sexual" emotions that come from deep within.
"I gotta get raw," Myers says. Speaking over lunch not far from her home in Pasadena, the 27-year-old explains that she prefers to express her feelings through "sound and physicality" rather than simply via her lyrics.
You might expect Myers' music - she's released a pair of EPs, the first of which gained a giant underground following and won her a deal with Atlantic Records - to be cathartic. After all, she grew up in a broken family of Southern Jehovah's Witnesses, bounced around the Eastern United States over the course of her childhood, and basically received no formal schooling after age 13.
Although drawing upon these experiences has helped her become one of the most powerful young singer-songwriters in the city, it's not always good for her, she says. "Sometimes it's therapeutic, but sometimes it feels unhealthy."
She declines to get into details about an abusive stepfather. "Childhood was tough, but I forgive," she says, adding, of her occasional therapy sessions: "My counselor gives me tasks to not be crazy, because I could easily fall off into crazy."
You get the feeling she prefers to be teetering on the edge of a dark abyss. Though she's a former model with stunning good looks - a sort of pre - Tom Cruise version of Katie Holmes, with giant brown eyes and long, thick, brown hair - she has no interest in output that doesn't express her moody vision. "Hearing happy music all the time? That's the kind of thing that makes me want to kill myself."
Myers' video for "Desire," off of her latest EP Make a Shadow, was filmed in the wood-paneled living room of a Huntington Beach man. His parents had long ago died, but rather than replace their 1960s-era television, plastic-covered chair and fold-out couch, he never changed a thing. In the video, Myers is stripped of her clothes by an invisible presence, who then hoists her slumped body, clad only in a tank top and underwear, into the air. "Baby I wanna fuck you/I wanna feel you in my bones/Boy I'm gonna love you/I'm gonna tear into your soul," she sings.
Her brand of hard-edged indie synth-rock is given its Gothic sheen by her close collaborator, Doctor Rosen Rosen, and though it's often compelling, it remains to be seen whether Atlantic will be able to market it. Myers may share a vocal coach with Pink, but she's committed to dark, personal truths that don't necessarily move units. "In the end, I think that's the most important thing - when an artist really believes what they're saying," she says.
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As for Myers, it's easy to believe she's fully invested in her dark musical world. She's certainly not doing it for her health.