By Zach Schepis
Photo courtesy of Joshua Sage Photography.
Paper-thin walls in an apartment can often be the breaking point for any self-conscious tenant. The many intimate sounds we emit from the otherwise contained bubbles of our lives spill over, creating unwanted sonic waves.
For those who have lived in an apartment building, the memories of rowdy neighbors–blaring loud music or engaging in overzealous after-midnight escapades–might still resound with a hint of annoyance in retrospect.
For Megan Burns, however, the crumbling walls of her downtown Santa Fe flat proved the serendipitous opportunity to jumpstart her musical career.
At the time she was 18 years old, practicing guitar and singing every day from the comfort of her bedroom and pretending the neighbors couldn’t hear everything that she was doing.
“One day I hear this voice boom through the wall, ‘Hey Meg!’” she tells BTR.
“I shouted back that I was sorry and asked him if I was being too loud. His immediate response was, ‘No!’ followed by, ‘was that you who was playing and singing?’ So I told him that it was.”
Later that week Burns found herself playing her first live performance at a local place called Warehouse 21 under the name Flamingo Pink! Her neighbor was the booking agent of the venue at the time, who continued to toss gigs her way. Meanwhile, the New Mexico music goers warmed up to her impassioned and hauntingly honest songwriting.
I’ll let you cut my rib cage open
with what you saw
I fall in love to fall in love…
The opening words to her most recent single, “Gravity,” might be evocative of an inward retribution that smolders–and sometimes sears–but the music itself is ensconced in softer melody. Ethereal synths and electronic pulsations soothe and swim around Burn’s voice as she drapes herself in the wings of layered harmonies. The result sounds like a digital lullaby you could’ve sworn you’ve heard before (in a good way).
Burns’ lyrics hover around love in its many forms, and perhaps most importantly they rejoice in what she calls “the sweetness and preciousness” of life. It’s no surprise that her songs have a lulling, almost hypnotic effect on her listeners.
Her source of inspiration is perhaps one of the most entrancing forces of all: nature.
“I’ve been around the world, and Santa Fe is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen,” says Burns. “We’re at the end of the Rocky Mountains, so we’ve got the pine trees up in the hills coupled with the beautiful desert sprawl. There are lakes and rivers too. Geographically, it’s just gorgeous.”
Her songwriting habits are as organic and natural as the very nature from which they first spring.
Burns will wander out into the wild, armed with her acoustic guitar, and find a nice place to sit. After warming up her hands, she’ll simply start running her fingers up and down the neck of the instrument and see what comes out. Small lyrical nuggets collected from walks through the park will suddenly turn into a melody; images flitting through her mind might form a chord.
The result is nothing short of a natural fluidity. It is called stream of consciousness, after all.
Santa Fe isn’t a metropolitan titan by any stretch. It’s only the fourth largest city New Mexico, with a population of roughly 70,000. For Burns, that means there is a community of support that she can actually get to know. She pulls from her experiences with “the sweetest people out there” to craft songs emblematic of her appreciation for subtle beauty.
What she enjoys writing about most is the ways she believes all humankind is the same. Burns holds that that we can all be boiled down to an essence of five hopes or dreams and five worries or fears.
“I think that we all have the hope to be able to truly express who we are,” she says.
“To create with our hands and our bodies and our voices. I think we all hope to love, fully, and I think that we hope to be loved, totally, unconditionally. I think we’re all afraid of rejection, we’re all afraid of death, I think we’re all afraid of injustice, and inequality, or being judged for something that happened in a split-second that isn’t truly who we are.”
Burns admits that she was in a transitional phase when she penned “Gravity,” feeling the weight of her life rolling in a direction she was entirely unsure of. Some doors were opening, others were closing, and the experience taught her to throw caution to the wind and roll with it. In her words, all of us get pulled into the currents. If we can learn to let go things might line up.
It looks like they have for the budding songwriter. When she’s not directing a theater production of Mary Poppins at the Santa Fe Performing Arts Center, she’s also co-directing the artist collective known as Meow Wolf and running her own clothing alteration company Tiger Deer. Burns has even sparked a new love interest, which we can only imagine will stoke the fires of her lullabies in new and revitalizing ways.
She’s also got a new album in the works slated to be released later this year. When asked what to expect, Burns shares that it’s got more sweetness for the world (of course!) and more electronic manipulation than organic instrumentation. There will be less vocal harmonies this time around–which she believes makes the lyrics easier to hear.
“It’s basically the process of falling in love, in what I feel like is a really big way this time.”
To hear the rest of the interview, tune into this week’s Discovery Corner.
Or find your own way to interpret Flamingo Pink! by clicking here.