Like many artists during the lockdown, Australian singer-songwriter Washington used moments of solitude to expand and refine her craft. You can hear the fruits of her labour in the 2020 record Batflowers, a body of work that explores vulnerability and survival.
Washington also challenged herself by taking full control of the creative process. We’re talking songwriting, art direction, photography, frame-by-frame hand animating, engineering, A&R and music video directing. Now that gigs are kicking off again, she’s applying this same hands-on ambition to her live music experience.
You’ll get to see the artist flex her newfound skills at Twilight At Taronga next year. Accompanied by co-headliner Odette, Washington will be gracing the iconic amphitheatre on 10 February and promises to play a healthy mix of new and old tunes.
As well as tracks from Batflowers, this setlist will also include some new gems from her forthcoming album. We’re yet to hear it, but Washington hints it’s an ethereal, disco-pop hybrid that was made for the stage.
Music Feeds caught up with Washington to chat Twilight at Taronga, her new work and taking creative control.
Music Feeds: Twilight At Taronga shows are always so special. What are you looking forward to the most about it?
Megan Washington: Well, I’m going to be performing solo. I haven’t really done that in a long time. It’s a lot to prepare for but I love to play solo because there’s just so much space and room to play and change my mind.
MF: It sounds like a lot of work but really fun and rewarding to have that freedom, especially after months of lockdown.
MW: It feels surreal. I’m sure all artists are saying the same thing. It just feels sort of surreal to even think about yet, but it’s gonna be amazing. I can definitely already feel in the community and in the zeitgeist that everyone just seems really keen to get back at it. So I think the vibe at all these summer shows is going to be pretty supreme.
MF: You recorded Batflowers during the pandemic and took ownership of the process end-to-end. Are you taking a similar approach to the Twilight At Taronga show?
MW: Oh, yeah, totally. I developed an agency and a sort of intimacy with the work during Batflowers that I don’t think I would ever relinquish. I found that it’s so much more scary, but also so much more satisfying when almost every decision is your own. I’m planning the aesthetic of the shows. I’m planning the look of the visuals. The whole thing.
MF: How exciting. Can you give us a little bit of a hint of what we can expect from some of the visuals?
MW: I can give you a bit of a hint of the whole new vibe of everything. I’ll be playing a few new songs off the new thing that I’m making. It’s pretty different to Batflowers. I’ve been really exploring space and layers of harmony and stuff. It sounds a bit like disco Enya. (laughs).
MF: Um, that sounds incredible! As well as the new tunes, are there any tracks from Batflowers that you’re excited to finally play live?
MW: I love to sing ‘Catherine Wheel’ live and I love to do all those songs live. One of the things that I really paid attention to when making Batflowers was how playable all the songs were because I’ve made that mistake on other records. I realised on a lot of my other records, the main instrument that carries the song along after the melody is usually the drums. It’s really hard to play a song that relies on the drums without the drums and without actually dramatically changing the song. So I tried to make sure that everything was playable.
I think there’ll be a lot of that record but there might be some of your mouldy old favourites as well (laughs). Definitely a couple of songs from this new project that I’ve been making. There’ll be a good spread. A real smorgasbord (laughs).
MF: Sounds delish! I’m excited. When can we expect the new project to come out?
MW: They’ll be ready any day now! It’s all sort of on its way. It has been a busy time, but it has been very creatively fruitful.
MF: Oh, that’s so great. It’ll be amazing because, unlike Batflowers, you’ll be able to see the fans’ reactions in real-time at the shows.
MW: Yeah, I feel like in 2020 and 2021, all of the art that was made was for the artists that made them. I didn’t make Batflowers thinking about touring the world. I just made it because it was all I could offer during a time of uncertainty. Now I want to tour the world (laughs). Just go full Enya Crystal Castles. Here we come!
Twilight At Taronga’s 2022 summer concert series will kick off on Friday, 28th January. The programme includes a total of ten events, stretching out until late February. Washington & Odette perform on February 1oth. More details here.