Megan Alexandra Washington (born 7 January 1986) is an Australian musician and songwriter also known mononymously as Washington. Originally performing jazz music, her style evolved to indie pop and alternative rock where she sings and plays piano and guitar. On 30 July 2010, she released her debut album, I Believe You Liar, on Universal Music, which peaked at number three on the ARIA Albums Chart and, by end of 2011, received a platinum certificate from ARIA for shipment of 70,000 copies.
In December 2009 Washington won the inaugural Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition for her track "How to Tame Lions". At the ARIA Music Awards of 2010 she won the Best Female Artist and Breakthrough Artist awards and received five further nominations for work associated with I Believe You Liar and "How to Tame Lions".
Washington's second album, There There, was released on 12 September 2014 through Universal Music.
Washington was born in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. She grew up with her father, Rick, her mother, Karen, and an older sister. She attended primary school in Port Moresby and, in 1996, the family moved to Brisbane, where Washington spent her teenage years and attended Moreton Bay College. She developed a stutter early in her life and continues to struggle with her speech. Later she attended Sheldon College and its Australian School of the Arts, where she continued her interest in music. She studied for a Bachelor of Music degree at the Queensland University of Technology and then jazz voice at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.
2007-2009: Career beginnings and EPs:
In 2007, Washington and Sean Foran, a jazz pianist, released Night Light, an extended play. The EP won the 2008 Australian Jazz Bell Award for 'Best Australian Jazz Vocal Album'. She followed with another EP, Bennetts Lane, with pianist Paul Grabowsky, which appeared in 2007. In January of that year Washington relocated to Melbourne and worked in a bagel shop for six months.
Washington's music style moved away from jazz when she began backing a blues and roots musician, Old Man River, as the keyboardist and backing vocalist. She also worked as keyboardist and backing vocalist for indie pop artist Ben Lee. In early 2008 she sang an acoustic cover version of Ross Wilson's "Bed of Nails" which was used as the theme song of the ABC1 TV drama series Bed of Roses (2008, 2010-2011) starring Kerry Armstrong. Following Washington's later commercial success, the song was released as a single by Ruby Entertainment in early 2011.
In late 2008 Washington launched her mononymous band, Washington, with Lance Ferguson (the Bamboos), John Castle, Des White, Ross Irwin and Ryan Monro (the Cat Empire, Jackson Jackson) on bass guitar. The band released their debut EP, Clementine, that year. In November they were announced as Triple J's Unearthed winners and performed at the Melbourne Big Day Out. This was followed by the release of a second EP, How to Tame Lions, in September 2009. Following appearances on Spicks and Specks, Washington attracted the attention of a wider audience. She observed, "You might think that most people get their information from the charts or something like that but I had so much great feedback after being on those shows."
In December 2009, Washington won the inaugural Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition for her song "How to Tame Lions". The competition was conducted by the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) and the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS) and was open to songwriters across Australia, with entry fees going to Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia. In the same month, Washington backed Sia Furler on guitar at the Palace Theatre and a few days later performed a duet with Keith Urban during his Rod Laver Arena concert in Melbourne.
2010-2012: I Believe You Liar, Insomnia EP:
On 30 July 2010, Washington released her debut album, I Believe You Liar, on Universal Music, which peaked at number three on the ARIA Albums Chart and, by the end of 2011, received a platinum certificate by ARIA for shipment of 70,000 copies.
In October 2010 Washington performed live during YouTube Play, an event produced in partnership between YouTube and the Guggenheim Museum.
At the ARIA Music Awards of 2010 Washington won two categories, Best Female Artist and Breakthrough Artist, and received further nominations for Album of the Year, Best Adult Alternative Album and Best Engineer (John Castle) for I Believe You Liar and the Single of the Year award for "How to Tame Lions".
2013-present: TEDx, There There:
In January 2013, Washington and Australian musician and actor Tim Rogers acted in the musical thriller film, The Boy Castaways. Filmed in Adelaide, Australia, the film was directed by Michael Kantour, who also directed Rogers in the 2009 theatre production Woyzeck. The filming schedule was three weeks in duration and the premiere was scheduled to occur at the Adelaide Film Festival in October 2013. Washington also mentored on the television talent show, The Voice, during the same period.
Following the acting and television commitments of early 2013, Washington worked with Samuel Dixon in London, UK, to record her second album. The two had previously met while touring with Australian musician Sia. Her vision for the album was to incorporate a "late-60s, early-70s, gold lame Shirley Bassey sound with trumpets and James Bond-y melodies". On the release date of the album, Dixon shared his experience of working with Washington in the media:
It was a pretty intense period and she'd Washington had such a rough 18 months leading up to it ... But Meg Washington could also laugh through the tears, and writing about it also helped her deal with things she'd swept under the carpet.
Washington said later that the album was recorded in a "spirit of honesty".
On 12 July 2013, Washington posted the following message on her Facebook fan page: "Update: Album 2 is written. Finished. 3 days until tracking. How do you spell 'impatient'? Oh yes, M - E - G.... x"; however, as of 7 November 2013, a release date remains unannounced. Writing for the album was completed around late 2012.
On 30 October 2013, it was revealed via Facebook and PledgeMusic that Washington would appear on a duet titled "Ghosts", a song on Kate Miller-Heidke's fourth studio album O Vertigo!. She previously performed with Miller-Heidke at the Darwin Festival in Australia in 2012. The next month, Washington announced that her second studio album would be titled "There There".
Washington delivered a talk at the TEDxSydney event in May 2014 on the stutter that she has struggled with since childhood. Washington explained that it hampers her ability to communicate during conversations, but disappears when she sings. She also performed a new song called "To Or Not Let Go". Washington said on the release date of her second album that the bold truthfulness that defined the talk was transferred across to the writing process for the album.
Also in May 2014, Washington announced her involvement in a new art book by Iranian-New Zealander artist Nabil Sabio Azadi, entitled For You The Maker. Washington said on Twitter that she would appear alongside other contributors, such as fashion designers Rick Owens and Limi Yamamoto.
Washington's second full-length album, There There, was released through Universal Music on 12 September 2014 under her full name.There There debuted in the top five positions of the ARIA Albums Charts.
The singles "My Heart Is A Wheel" and "Who Are You" were released, including a music video for the former. Washington revealed that "My Heart Is A Wheel" was inspired by the Kanye West song, "Runaway". Co-producer Dixon told the media that the album is Washington "saying ... 'This happened and it's my fault.' She's putting her hand up and saying 'I stuffed up'"--Dixon also praised the songwriter's courage.
Washington performed free "pop-up" shows in the Australian cities of Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney in support of There There during the week of release. A national tour, scheduled to occur in February 2015, was announced shortly afterward.
In 2009 Washington was based in Sydney, Australia, and this was followed by a relocation to Melbourne, Victoria. By August 2010, Washington's then-boyfriend Michael Tomlinson--of now-defunct band Yves Klein Blue--moved from Brisbane to Melbourne to live with her.
Following the dissolution of her relationship with Tomlinson, Washington was involved in a brief relationship with Rogers. Tomlinson subsequently relocated to London, UK, and formed a new musical act called MT.
After the release of her debut album, Washington relocated to Brooklyn, New York, U.S., in August 2011, which fulfilled a long-held goal. However, Washington recounted in 2014 that she was "dreadfully unhappy there", as she was unable to find any "meaning" in the constant "partying and drinking" that she engaged in. Of her time in New York City, Washington also conceded that she "would have been dreadfully unhappy" regardless of her location at that time of her life.
Washington said in September 2014 that she no longer sought therapy through her music, due to a relationship with a "good therapist": "My art doesn't have to play that role any more and probably my next record will be a disco record about trying to find a car park."
Awards and nominations:
The APRA Awards are presented annually from 1982 by the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), "honouring composers and songwriters".
Recipient / Nominated work
I Believe You Liar (Megan Washington)
Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year
2008 Australian Jazz Bell Awards - Best Australian Jazz Vocal Album: Night Light,
2009 APRA|AMCOS - Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition:"How to Tame Lions",
2010 ARIA Music Awards, Best Female Artist, and Breakthrough Artist
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