Phoebe Metcalfe joined new solo artist Megan Core for a cuppa and a chat about how being in Newcastle in her twenties influenced her new music.
Ex-University of Newcastle student, Megan Core, released her second ever single today – ‘Lost in Mayfield’. But, no. She didn’t actually live in Mayfield.
Megan’s ‘heart on her sleeve’ approach to song-writing depicts a very realistic and raw image of what it’s like being in your early twenties in Newcastle navigating relationships, friendships, female empowerment, mental health and caffeine addiction.
I have absolutely wound down my car windows and blasted her first single ‘Twenty Something’ (and even my cheeky preview of ‘Lost in Mayfield’) while driving around Jesmond. You can’t get a more relatable artist than someone singing your inner-most feelings.
Megan’s authentic Australian indie-pop/rock sound is reminiscent of other well-known Aussies such as Courtney Barnett, Missy Higgins, Alex Lahey, and Ruby Fields.
While she leans towards folk/pop-rock, ‘Lost in Mayfield’ showcases Megan’s grung-ier, and rock-ier side of her storytelling, covering the heart-wrenching epiphanies that surround long-distant relationships and feelings of belonging.
While I was sipping my cup of tea, Megan joined me over Zoom with her cup coffee and we delved into the making of her latest single, the metaphorical ‘Mayfield’, and what we can expect to see from her later this year.
Listen to ‘Lost in Mayfield’ here:
How are you?
I’m good, how are you going?
Yeah, good thank you. Um, I’m sitting here with my green-, green tea and honey.
Oh good, ‘cause I made a coffee and I didn’t know if I should drink it or not on the screen, so…
Oh, excellent! Go for it.
Now I feel like we’re actually having a cuppa [laughs].
No, you’re fine [laughs]. Um, so ‘Lost in Mayfield’ is coming out next week, or by the time that this interview comes out, it’ll be the same day. How’re you feeling about that?
Yes, awesome! Um, I’m pretty excited, yeah. It’s only the second song that I’ve ever “released”, like, put out into the world…And it’s been a bit of a long time coming ‘cause I’ve been writing songs for ages, and then recorded this little bunch of songs last December, so 2019, when the world was still pretty normal.
Yeah, wow. So the-, the song that you released first was ‘Twenty Something’, wasn’t it?
Yeah, so that was from the same batch of songs that we recorded down at, ah, Novatone down in Newcastle, um, and we, ah-, I decided to go with ‘Twenty Something’ first. It’s quite boppy, pop-rock, pretty approachable and relatable, quite happy. So, um, that had a really really good response, that was in June.
Yeah, well as a 23-year-old Newcastle uni student, I get it! [laughs]
[laughs] Yeah, you would!
And even listening to ‘Lost in Mayfield’ it’s-, it’s-, it feels a little bit more grungy…
Yeah, it is.
…and I kinda get that now, especially with everything going on with 2020, it feels so much more appropriate to be the second release.
Yeah, I think-, I think it’ll work out well. Um, It’s definitely a bit more emotional and a bit more rock-y. Um, yeah, grungy, that’s a good word for it. Um, not as sort of pop-y and upbeat as ‘Twenty Something’. Um, but I think that’s because it’s-, it’s got a bit more of a personal theme to it, [it’s] a bit more emotional [laughs].
Yeah…do you feel like you’re in the same place that you were when you wrote it, now? Because there’s been so much happening between when you wrote it, recorded it, and now finally releasing it.
I know! Yeah, no, it feels that-, it feels like ages ago to be honest, like, it’s gone really quickly. But I probably wrote it last October, um, 2019. And I was playing with a band at the time, in Newcastle, we were playing lots of gigs around town…I just took it to the boys, Jake and Matt, straight away and they really liked it so we started playing it live. And I think because it has that, um, you know-, the chorus is “lost in Mayfield” it’s really, um-, people can feel a connection to it if they’re from Newcastle, or if they’ve lived in Mayfield, or, um, yeah. Mayfield’s, like, sort of familiar to people from Newcastle, so it was fun to play to a crowd in Newcastle venues. Um, and a lot of my friends were like ‘We love this one, like, this is our favourite one yet!’ And I was like ‘Huh, that’s surprising’ but, um, really good feedback on a new song, so that’s why we decided to record that as well.
So, what was it about Mayfield that moved you to write about it?
Oh, yeah, like you said I’m so-, I’m sort of so in-between places. Like, I grew up in my little country town Glenn Innes, um, did university down at Newcastle, um, for-, and lived there for the five years, which was really, really fun and that’s really where I started doing a lot of my music. So Newcastle’s sort of, like, my hometown for the music scene side of things, ‘cause there’s just, like, so many opportunities and a really good, young, crowd. And, um, yeah! Mayfield though, it’s a funny one because I didn’t live in Mayfield [laughs]…
Oh, okay! [laughs]
…and I’ve had some interviews and stuff that sort of assumed that I lived there. And, so, now, I have to feel-, I feel like I need to say a disclaimer. Yeah, I didn’t live in Mayfield, but I just started writing the song, ah, when I was driving-, literally driving around there. I just started as a silly song, like, singing in my head sort of thing, um, ‘cause I, you know, had – as everyone did – have a bit to do with that suburb, you know, always driving through or friend there, and um, music venues there and stuff. So, I started writing it when I was there, in quite a literal sense, and then I went home and finished off writing it and it turned into, sort of, more of a, um, metaphorical/emotional sense. So, yeah, it’s sort of like an eye-catching title if people are from Newcastle, or from Mayfield, um, but I actually lived in Cooks Hill when I wrote it [laughs]…
…Mayfield is such, like-, such an interesting suburb, like, I think everyone in Newcastle knows that it’s such, like, a mesh of different cultures and just, like, on the edge of town, a real mesh of different, um, sort of, sub-populations and stuff, sort of, coming together. So, yeah, I mean, it was a good place to, um, kick off the song…It’s less about the literal sense of being in Mayfield and more about the sense of, like, where-, where you’re living and, like, what’s home to you. Um, it’s really about, like, the connection that you have with the place, or with the people. And I was in a time of my life when that was really important, ‘cause I was about to move. So I was, sort of, questioning what makes me feel attached to Newcastle and attached to this community, and the music community, and all the friendships I had there, and stuff. So, yeah, it’s more about, like, you know, ‘it’s the people that make the place’, that type of idea.
Yeah, yeah, you sort of-, ‘you take your home with you’ kind of thing.
Yeah, definitely. And I don’t think I realized that until I finished actually writing it. Um, I usually write songs to, like, work out what I’m trying to say. And then at the end you’re like ‘Oh, that’s what I was trying to say!’ [laughs].
‘I get it now!’ [laughs] You have such a raw, authentic, like, Australian sound because you’re so honest about everything, but you also have that, like, Courtney Barnette/Missy Higgins style sound that I, yeah, I think it’s amazing!
Ah cool, yeah they’re pretty big influences of mine, like, I grew up on, um, Missy Higgins, and, like, the Waves, and Paul Kelly, like really Australian sounding natural people. And I come from a country town so, naturally, I’m going to have quite an Aussie voice [laughs]…But when I was singing, like, I would od a lot of cover gigs and you can, sort of, adjust your voice to suit a song. And then I realized all the originals that I was writing were writ-, were just using my voice. At first, I didn’t really like it, I was like ‘ugh, it sounds so, like, bogan’ [laughs]. But yeah, then I just realized that’s my voice and um, I [laughs] embraced it.
Yeah, well, there’s a lot more mainstream sounds like that happening now. We’re, sort of, embracing it more instead of trying to cover it with an accent. So, that would’ve been really encouraging.
Yeah, that’s true, and, like, a lot of the-, my favourite bands at the moment and, like, sort of, younger Australian, like, indie-rock bands and punk bands and that sort of thing definitely embrace that, um, Australian voice. So there’s no point sounding like something that you’re not. So it’s very raw for me.
Why is it that ‘Lost in Mayfield’ was-, it’s one of your favourite songs to play live, isn’t it? Why is that?
Yeah, yeah! Um, I think especially last year-, because we were playing, um, a lot of Newcastle shows. Like, we had a few months there, like, October to December, where, like, every second weekend we had a band gig or I had a solo original gig, um, and I was including it in all the sets. Um, I think because people really responded to it, like, afterwards would say, like, ‘I love that Mayfield one!’ and it’s, you know, easy to remember, um, and also because it is a bit rock-ier playing it with the band live. Like, I know Jake, who played bass for me, and Matt, who played drums, both said it was, like, their favourite song that I’ve written. Um, it’s just really fun to play! I don’t know. And it has that emotional, like, raw energy behind it because I was feeling all of those emotions at that time in my life, like, just before I moved. So, probably every time I sang it, maybe that transferred across to the audience that it was really real and I really was in the moment of it.
So how do you think that will compare to when you can go out and play live again?
[sighs] Oh I don’t know, who knows when that will be, like…I’m hoping to maybe do some shows towards the end of this year, if things can calm down a bit. And, um, I’m lucky that I can do, like, solo, really chill stuff or I can do seated venues maybe? I’m thinking about doing that, um, like I did that for the ‘Twenty Something’ single launch at [The Oriental Hotel]. It was, like, when pubs had just opened so everyone had to be seated, but it was really nice, and just, like, low-key.
And, um, you said that there was, like, a series of songs that you were writing towar-, like, in October last year, so we’ve got ‘Twenty Something’ [and] ‘Lost in Mayfield’, have we got more that I should be keeping an eye out for?
Um, definitely this month. So, ‘Lost in Mayfield’ Friday 21st [August], and then a week later, the 28th [August], I’m going to release another one from that batch of songs, um, called ‘Caffeine Fix’. So, that’s another single, and, um, yeah, [laughs] you can tell I have a bit-, most of my songs talk about coffee [laughs]…
…I have a bit of an addiction.
Don’t we all though? [laughs]
Yeah, I think so. But, that song is actually about, um, sort of, mental health and looking after your friends and your family. Um, talking openly about mental health, and that’s probably my favourite one [ laughs] I have all these different favourites! But that’s probably my favourite one that we recorded in that session. It’s rock-ier, again, than ‘Lost in Mayfield’, um, it has some lead guitar in it as well from a musician called Emily Smith, who actually lives in Mayfield. And, yeah, it’s a lot rockier, a bit heavier. So, that’ll come out a week after ‘Lost in Mayfield’, so two this month. I just thought I’d get, like, two more out at once, almost, for people to be able to listen to. And then later in the year, maybe in a couple of months, uh, maybe looking at another single.
So where will you be releasing ‘Lost in Mayfield’?
Ah, so, on all the streaming services, like, Spotify is obviously the big one, Apple Music, um, if people use that. I’ll probably pop it up on my Bandcamp, Triple J Unearthed as well. Um, but yeah, everywhere-, anywhere that people get their streaming music, it’ll be there.
Watch the interview with extras here:
Feature Image: Single Artwork courtesy of Big Pigeon Publicity