Meg Osman is a musician from Troy, Ohio, whose maturity as a songwriter, guitarist, and performer far exceeds her eighteen years. I saw her perform at The Coffee Pot in Greenville earlier this spring and was quite impressed, and since she has several shows in Greenville this summer, I decided to reach out for an interview. Meg and I talked before her street concert during Main Street Greenville‘s First Friday event on June 3. She was setting up in front of Merle Norman, a cosmetics store on Broadway, and we sat down at one of their demonstration tables inside, joked about doing each other’s make-up, and had a fun conversation about her music and goals while her dad set up her sound equipment in front of the shop.
David Nilsen: How did you get started in music?
Meg Osman: My dad plays music, he plays guitar, and I thought it was really cool, so I started taking lessons. I got a guitar and I started taking lessons at Sound City, and a guy there named Matt decided he liked my music. I had started writing, and he let me start playing places.
David: How old were you when you first started?
Meg: I started playing guitar when I was nine.
David: Were your hands even big enough to play a guitar?
Meg: No, I had a tiny one. I had a First Act, and then when I was 10 my dad got me a J Junior.
David: Who are your non-musical creative inspirations?
Meg: Non-musical, hmm. I read a lot of books, so definitely John Green is very inspirational, and Nick Hornby, he’s such a good writer. I just find their work very inspirational. They inspire me to live my life well.
David: How about musical inspirations?
Meg: I obviously like the Beatles, they’re so amazing. And I like Regina Spektor, she’s amazing. Her words are so poetic and I strive to be like that. And Ed Sheeran.
David: What is your earliest musical memory? As a small child, when did music first enter your awareness?
Meg: That’s an interesting question. My mom used to sing to all her kids. She would write little lullabies. So my earliest musical memory would be my little baby song she wrote for me.
David: How old were you?
Meg: I was probably two. I don’t remember it till I was about three.
David: On your biography on your website, you say you are a writer first, so if you could no longer play music you would still be an artist in that way. What does that play in your role, the writing itself, beyond just the music?
Meg: I just write all the time. When I was a kid, the first thing I did when I learned how to write was to start writing stories and writing little things and journals. So I’m a writer first because I write all the time. I sing because that’s how I use my writing, that’s how I get my writing across.
David: Do you do any writing beyond just for your music, like poetry or fiction?
Meg: Yeah. I write ideas down, and sometimes I just write poetry, or things I’m feeling, and sometimes that turns into a song and sometimes it doesn’t. I write stories sometimes, though I was more into that when I was younger and had more time. Sometimes those emotions that I portray in my stories get turned into songs too.
David: What your songwriting process like? Do you come up with lyrics first? Do you get a melody in your head first? How does that process work?
Meg: Generally, I get a feeling I want to talk about, but every once in a while I’ll get a lick or something that I think is cool and I’ll think, Okay, let’s write a song about this, and I’ll look through my words to find something to fit. But a lot of times I’ll have a feeling and think, What chords would sound good with this feeling? and then I start writing with that.
David: Do you write a song in one sitting, or do you let it sit for a while and come back to it?
Meg: I feel that generally getting at least a chorus or a verse down first, at least, is good, but I like to have both and then you can build from there. I almost feel like if I try to finish it there, I’m forcing it, and so I finish the verse and chorus and then I let it sit and come back to it when I have more.
David: How long a period of time do you think that takes usually?
Meg: Every once in a while, it will be really quick, and the next day I’ll be like, Okay, I’m going to pop this out, but a lot of times I’ll wait a week, let it sit, and then come back to it.
David: You’re from Troy. What is the culture like there in terms of the arts and supporting musicians?
Meg: It’s very nice. I’ve met a lot of very cool musicians, and it’s definitely a very family friendly town. There’s not a lot of places to play there, but there’s the Strawberry Festival, and I’ve done that.
David: That’s this weekend, right?
Meg: Yes, it is. I won’t be there this time, just because I’m so busy, which I’m thankful for. So there’s the Strawberry Festival, and I play downtown for our First Fridays and Troy Streets Alive, so it’s a good family-friendly, musical place.
David: You’re a senior this year?
David: What are your plans after school?
Meg: I’m going to go to college in the fall. I’m going to College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. I’m majoring in music industry with a concentration in songwriting. I hope to continue being a part of the music world.
David: What are your artistic goals? What would you eventually like to accomplish?
Meg: I would like to become a great writer, which I think school will help me with. I like my songs, but I know I can do better. I would love to either be a songwriter for someone, or be songwriter for myself and be a performer or a producer.
David: Where is your favorite venue you’ve ever played and why?
Meg: That’s hard! I play a lot of great places. I think my favorite venue would be Cafe Paradiso in Urbana. They love me there, I’ve made friends with the customers and the owner is so nice. That’s really important to me, that the owner is nice to me, and he’s just a great guy and we have a good rapport.
David: You mentioned books. Do you have a few all-time favorites you can share with us?
Meg: Obviously, I love Harry Potter. Everyone my age loves Harry Potter.
David: I do too, and I’m not your age.
Meg: I know, but you know what I mean. It’s such a good series. I also love Looking for Alaska by John Green, which changed the way I looked at books. From Nick Hornby, I like A Long Way Down.
David: What’s happening for you in the next few months? What do you have coming up?
Meg: I will be at Coney Island in Cincinnati at 1:30 this Sunday (June 5), which is exciting. I’m going to be at the Columbus Arts Festival and the Ohio State Fair.
David: Is there anything else you’d like to say about your art?
Meg: I just think I’m very lucky, because I had parents who helped me, and I had a community who supported me and told me nothing was impossible.
Meg will be playing at Main Street Greenville’s Street Art Saturday event on July 9, and again in downtown Greenville as part of the First Friday Artisan Stroll on August 5. She’s got a busy summer, so check out her full list of shows here for a chance to see this talented local musician before she heads off to college!
All photos of Meg were taken by Rodney Kuschel.