Singer-songwriter Meiko moved to Los Angeles from a small Georgia town outside Macon in 2001. Her career has since taken off; she signed a major label deal with Universal imprint Concord Records, licensed a bazillion of her songs to TV and film, and got big in Japan (seriously, she's on the radio there — her one-quarter Japanese heritage may help). You can see her perform at Hotel Cafe tomorrow.
What's the secret to her success? To hear her tell it, it's because her old boyfriend cheated on her with a Hooters' girl. We'll let her tell you the story, a version of which originally appeared on her site.
I went to Trader Joe's recently to pick up some string cheese and wine. I asked the older dude who worked there (because I assume that older people know more than younger people) what the best, cheapest wine was. He recommended a Merlot-Malbec blend that was $2.99.
Got home, poured a glass and it was excellent. Opened a string cheese. Tearing off layers of addictive little strands with my teeth, I browsed Facebook and decided to look up an old boyfriend. He wasn't there, thank God.
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I started thinking, “Where the hell would I be now if he wouldn't have cheated on me with that fucking Hooter's girl?”
Backing up… He was my first “love.” I met him at a Ruby Tuesday's in Macon, Georgia. It was my first job. I was a hostess and he was a waiter. We made eyes at the all you can eat salad bar and I thought this was IT. We became a pair.
Later that year, he got a job as a fry cook at Hooters, and even though I was a little scared of what could happen, I still had faith, as you do when you're 16. Cut to two years later and I was still madly in love, thinking about kids, different islands to move to, etc. Turns out he was thinking less about us and more about tits and chicken wings, however.
In any case, after graduating high school and deciding that college wasn't my bag, I moved to L.A. with my sister, clothing designer Kelly Nishimoto.
Shortly after we moved to L.A. I convinced my boyfriend to come out West and live with me. We had a place together. It lasted about a year and with a beautiful twist of fate, it was over. He went home for Thanksgiving and, since I couldn't afford a plane ticket, I stayed behind. He came back with his friend two weeks later and, on a drunken night, his friend confessed to me that, at home, my boyfriend slept with one of the Hooters' girls that he used to work with.
Yes, I knew her. She was a “butterface.” I kept the news to myself for a few days and made a plan. I was hurt but wanted to make sure I was completely ready to leave him before I actually did. I mentally prepared myself and then BAM! packed my stuff up and I was out. Best feeling ever!
Heartbroken nonetheless, I moved in with my sister in Echo Park and turned her breakfast nook into my very small “Japanese pod hotel” bedroom.
Bored as shit and jobless, I finally found work at a local soul food restaurant. It was the best of times and the worst of times. I found a few waitress friends and started learning about open mics around town.
Breaking up with someone really lights a fire under your ass. I started thinking about my dreams and what I really wanted to do in life. I don't know how I became so lost and stagnant with him, but I did. And now that I was alone, I felt very empowered, inspired and motivated to do something big. I always played guitar and sang behind closed doors but had some serious stage fright issues.
Scared to death of performing in public, I decided to take the bus every Wednesday night to a place called the Highland Grounds. I signed up at 7pm and finally played my one song around 11. I invited NO ONE. I was terrified. Slowly but surely I got more comfortable and started playing real shows.
After playing the Hotel Cafe for the first time, I knew that I needed to work there. I begged the owners to let me scrub the toilets for minimum wage. It worked, and I ended up serving. I was a shitty waitress, but I learned a lot about performing live. Seeing Sia for the first time — having no idea who she was — changed me forever. How could a voice and words dig into my soul and pull tears from my eyes? I wanted that. I wanted to be that. So I started writing more.
A few months later, I was making a record with a couple of the venue's sound guys, Will Golden and Al Sgro. We made an awesome album. One of the songs, “Reasons to Love You,” was put in the show, Grey's Anatomy. At that moment, I realized how one song on one TV program can alter everything in a huge way. I quit waiting tables and went on tour. Since 2007, I have been making music, touring, and not waiting tables.
There are so many people I could thank right now. But the main people that come to mind are that fucking Hooters girl and my high school boyfriend. Thank you guys so much for screwing, and thank you to my ex-boyfriend's best friend, for telling me everything.
The moral of the story? When life gives you lemons, make lemonade and hope that one day your no-good cheating ex-boyfriend will walk into a 7-Eleven and see your lemonade on sale with your face on it and it freaks him out so much that he has nonstop diarrhea and nightmares forever! Or something like that.