INTERVIEW: Bose Troubadour Tour: In the round with Megan Slankard

Interview by Jessica Klausing

From left to right: Jeff Campbell, Megan Slankard, Jamie Kent and Matthew Szlachetka. Photo by Jessica Klausing

From left to right: Jeff Campbell, Megan Slankard, Jamie Kent and Matthew Szlachetka. Photo by Jessica Klausing

Bose Professional presented a unique writers-in-the-round performance to audiences across the country this past year. Jeff Campbell, Megan Slankard, Jamie Kent and Matthew Szlachetka took turns sharing a song and supporting each other with their acoustic guitars and voices.

All of these talented musicians brought something special to their folk performance. This felt like being in the presence of old friends that just want to share their life lessons with you. Jamie Kent reminded us about the importance of diversity in “All American Mutt,” Matthew Szlachetka brought us to tears with a beautiful ballad of “Heart of My Hometown,” Jeff Campbell offered inspiring uncle advice in “Fill the Spaces” and Megan Slankard commanded the attention in the room with “Like Always, Alex.”

Megan’s performances had me quite intrigued that night. This young guitarist stood out to me beside the fact that she was the only female on stage. She’s got a strong pitch perfect vocal delivery that sure can blow the ceiling off a venue! Her charming personality shines within her evocative lyrics that will make you fall in love with her music.

There is something to be said about a musician in their 20’s that has sold over 35,000 copies of four independently released CDs.  Her songs have won several awards and nominations which include being a finalist for Best Female Artist in the International Acoustic Music Awards (IAMA).  With the release of her newest album, Running on Machinery, Megan Slankard proves to be an alt-rock force to be reckoned with in the indie music scene.

Megan Slankard photo by Jessica Klausing

Megan Slankard photo by Jessica Klausing

Megan took time between her busy tour to chat with me about Patreon, the Bose Troubadour tour and her experiences as an indie musician.

Megan, I know that you’re a big advocate for Patreon. Can you tell us more about the site?

Megan:  Patreon has been around for a few years now. It’s very easy access for the fans. It works like Netflix in a sense that you just put in your credit card number and have access to a wide variety. You get to pay whatever you want! It’s a great platform for indie artists. Gone are the days of record labels; Patreon was a collaboration by musicians for musicians. I love that Patreon helps fund ongoing creativity instead of just funding for a single project.

How did you discover the site?

Megan:  The first person who inspired me to want to try something like Patreon before Patreon even existed was an amazing artist from New York named Ari Hest; check him out - so good! He had a fan club on his web site that you could join called "52" if I remember correctly - this was many years ago, where he would write and record a new song every WEEK. Lofty goal, but he
did it, and he did it well.

I ended up loving the idea and wanting to apply it to my own art and career in some way. I liked the idea of releasing a new song every month to a fanclub that wanted to hear new releases. This was the perfect excuse to write a new song. I tried a few different ways over the years, but then Patreon came out. My manager, KC, who follows the music scene here in the Bay Area very closely, brought it to my attention. I signed up right away, but it took me close to a year to launch my profile because I wanted to think about the best way to utilize this new tool. Once it launched, I took it nice and slow because it was a new concept to a lot of people, but it's been steadily getting bigger and better for me, turning into one of my favorite parts of what I get to do for my job!

Are you faced with any deadlines?

Megan:  That’s the beauty of it—no deadlines! If an artist does not put out a song, then there is no charge. There is really no time to record a song on tour. I put enough pressure on myself to keep the creative juices flowing.

What is your process of getting your music out there?

Megan:  I’m a thrifty person so I ate a lot of beans and rice to fund my last album. My team consists of me and my manager. Kickstarter is a great platform to get help from your fans. However, you are put on a specific timeline to get your project done. A strict timeline does not work for me (laughs). I know I talk about Patreon a lot but I’m glad it focuses on more time to be creative and less time to make money.

How do musicians get involved with Patreon?

Megan:  Writers, painters and poets can get involved as well. It’s easy to join and become a creator for free. My friend Jen Harris is a spoken word poet. She does such beautiful work! I’m supporting her and a lot of other friends. She will put out a new piece once a month.  If you enjoy it, consider signing up. The Patreon team is super open about you coming down to the studio.

I’m going to switch gears and ask about the Bose Troubadour tour. How did that come together?

Megan:  I met Jeff Campbell years ago in San Francisco. We both have been touring together for forever (laughs). The other guys, I met through venues out on tour. We talked about it and wanted to go out on tour together. We all share a strong love for the Bose L-1 sound system; it’s easy to use and sounds great!

What was the decision to play “in the round?”

Megan:  It’s so much fun as an artist! We love playing off of each other. We are all fans of each other’s music that we play together all the time. The audience gets to hear four different artists in one show. Very exciting!

Do you follow some sort of a setlist?

Megan:  It depends. We talk about the songs that we want to play that night. Sometimes it is just spontaneous on stage. Everyone jumps in and knows when to hold back.

Will the Bose Troubadour release an album?

Megan:  Not an album but we do have some stuff recorded together. We might release something in the future. We are all good buddies! Matthew is recording a new album at the moment. He asked us to do some harmonies.

What was your inspiration to play music?

Megan:  I get these feelings inside my body. I will sometimes get an urge to pick up a guitar and start playing; even when I don’t know what to do I will just feel like writing. I’ll sit down and strum for no reason. My songwriting and musical process all happens at once. Everything is spontaneous. I have a music corner in my house. I open my laptop and write in front of my recording gear. I’ll make a demo first to just record as I go then I’ll add the harmonies in there later on.

How do you go about writing lyrics?

Megan:  Hard to nail down. My lyrics are based on personal experiences mixed with other stories. “Like Always, Alex” is about a woman escaping prison. It’s not based on anyone in particular. Everything I write is not necessarily a personal experience but I connect to the lyrics when I’m playing it. I always write for myself. I write about what makes me happy, ignoring all the rules. I try not to be like everyone else. You gotta hold on to yourself!

What are your experiences as a young, indie musician?

Megan:  It’s great living in San Francisco because it’s a big overall music community. The artists try to support each other to keep the art alive. There are so many talented musicians out there. It does not make sense for all of us to compete against each other to be mega superstars. Instead, we all try to help each other out by buying music or help book a show.   I feel like I’m making more of a difference to help support other artists. We should all go back to basics like buy music to share with friends.

Any music industry advice?

Megan: Make writing a priority! You want to make your craft your priority because it is easy to be distracted. Make something that’s true to you not because it is for fame and fortune. Don’t let anyone make you quit, even if someone thinks you suck, keep going.

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You can check out Megan Slankard’s Patreon page right HERE.

Megan will be performing a special solo show at The Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, CA on October 23rd! Anyone in town should come check her out. You will not be disappointed! Her chipper crescendo and infectious guitar riffs will have you hooked for more! You can buy the tickets HERE.

Below is a recently released music video for "Bones Live Forever," a song off of Megan's new album, Running On Machinery.