In between her studies at the University of Southampton, Molly Meaker has begun to make a name for herself in the city’s live scene and beyond. Not long after releasing her debut single ‘Sertraline’, I had a chat with Molly about it, upcoming plans, and the joys of touring.
How would you describe your music in 5 words?
Grunge, 90’s, art, alt, rock.
So, your debut single ‘Sertraline’ has just released after a lot of touring for your. How’s the process of it finally releasing studio-recorded music been?
I first wrote the single about a year and a half ago, but I’m such a perfectionist when it comes to music that its taken me about a year before I was happy with the final music – and I took it to the studio in October.
I believe you did have music on streaming platforms previously that has since been deleted…
I released an EP when I was 16 in 2020 that I produced and recorded by myself. That is now not avaliable to stream! It’s very different to what I’m doing now, and wanted a fresh start. Also with Spotify algorithms, it doesn’t do much favours.
You’ve been playing live quite a lot recently. How’s it been to catch that energy in a studio recording?
It’s really cool because there’s a lot of ways to approach recording a song. For me, the live and studio recordings are very different, which is quite different from a lot of big pop artists. They record their song and it’s the same product when you hear it live compared to your phone. I like having some difference, so in ‘Sertraline’ there are lots of viola parts which can’t be performed live as we’re a three-piece.
How have you been able to balance being a student and a recording and live artist?
It’s been really tough, because I’ve had to afford my recording fees which are quite hefty to get good quality. I work as a bartender and I worked at a restaurant in central Southampton for about a month and then left. So balancing gigging, academic work and bills has been a bit of a struggle. I’m still trying to find a good balance and have been shoving my uni work aside when that need to be more at the forefront.
So have you been performing for long before uni?
No, not really. Well, I’m a classical violist and I’ve been performing since I was 8 on viola. From the age of 10, I went to the Royal Academy of Music Saturday school. But I only discovered songwriting when I was about 12 or 14, and then guitar alongside. Then I changed to the Centre for Young Musicians where they have a songwriting programme which was amazing. It really helped me hone my skill, and have the space to write really shitty songs and nobody cared. It was more about writing more and developing. The first time I got up and performed my own songs was July 2022, to a sold-out show at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club.
Speaking of your early life, what did you listen to growing up?
My dad has influenced a lot of my music listener, as he’s a massive Pink Floyd fan, so I’ve always grown up listening to them. There’s not a lot of similarities in my music to Pink Floyd, but they were huge for me. I’ve since then moved more to alternative rock, I loved Nirvana and have done for many years. I also discovered PJ Harvey in the last two years, who is my absolute icon.
I was watching your gig at The 1865 on YouTube, I quite liked the 50’s sounding ‘Molly’s Got the Blues’. I don’t think the 50’s style has ever really come back into style, could you be the one to change that?
No, it hasn’t! I’d love to be. The foundation of so much music is built on the 50’s and earlier, especially so many black artists in blues and jazz. I wrote the song in response to an article I read that Elvis Presley took ‘Hound Dog’ that was written by a black, female artist about how her husband was cheating on her. Then, Elvis found it funny and made a joke out of it, which I really didn’t like. So that song was kind of a retort to the 50’s mentality that only men could be rock musicians.
Although what is prominant music now that’s similar to 50’s music are the song lengths…
That’s true! I desperately wanted to write a rock opera song like Queen. I used to be into musicals, I don’t enjoy them so much now. But a lot of the songs I used to write sounded like they could be from musicals through the storytelling and chords I’d incorporate.
Do you have any musicals theatre shows?
I will always stand by Hamilton. I have two younger sisters and we would literally, after school, be cleaning up from dinner and put on the soundtrack and sing the entire musical from memory!
Thanks Molly! You can check out Molly Meaker’s debut single ‘Sertraline’ here: