After seeing Megan Hamilton one day at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, I knew she was the kind of person I wanted to meet. Her flow was impeccable, I couldn’t stop dancing, and by just watching her on stage, she seemed very chill.
She had recently released a song, “Patience” with another one of my favorite producers, Cofresi, which I still haven’t stopped listening to. And I felt super lucky to sit down and talk with her on Zoom, even whilst fumbling awkwardly and being the only one on video for a hot second.
Arielle Lana, Electric Hawk: Hey Megan! Thanks for taking the time out of your day on such quick notice to talk to me!
Megan Hamilton: Yeah, no problem!
AL: Congrats on your new song “Patience,” I can’t stop bumping it! I read that it’s about not feeling good enough in a relationship, which is something I’m sure we can all relate too. Can you tell me a little bit about the background story to the lyrics?
MH: Umm, yeah! I was just going through a lot of life transitions at the time and learning to be patient with myself and learning to realize other people need to be patient with me. I guess I just kind of wrote it about the people that keep us grounded in our lives and how we should acknowledge them.
AL: So the people who kept you grounded… Who were they? Friends and family?
MH: Yeah my girlfriend definitely is like one of the most supportive people on the planet and has been for like 3 years now. And my parents are also extremely supportive, but they don’t live anywhere near me so they don’t really get to show as much support as I feel like they’d like to. But they’ve always been supportive of my decision to go this direction. I also just have so many bad ass friends. And also just peers in the music industry that are also working their asses off to do this. It’s just very encouraging to be able to have that comradery with everyone.
AL: So your parents, are they back in Minneapolis?
MH: They’re in Montana, I’m in Minneapolis. So they’re about 1,000 miles from me.
AL: Okay, gotcha. Not too far. So, I saw you for the first time at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, opening for Maddy O’Neal, and you incorporated a lot of different genres like house and funk. How would you yourself describe your sound and genre?
MH: I really like to stick in anything that’s like mid-tempo aside from house obviously because it does just have that innate funk whether you’re using actual funky guitar samples or something. Just being at that BPM you can sort of produce anything and it still has that funky swing and that funky vibe so I really dig that. I’ve been doing a lot of four on the floor midtempo stuff lately because I feel like the mid-tempo house is just super hot right now. I don’t know, I like to play happy, sexy music! I don’t know, don’t quote that. That’s a terrible description of it.
AL: *Laughs* I can just say happy music and you just want to make people dance.
MH: I don’t know, I don’t feel like I’m the kind of artist where people trip their nuts off and have some kind of crazy epiphany. You know, I feel like it’s kind of where they forget about everything for a bit and just dance.
AL: That’s interesting because you told Turntable Talks that you were also thinking of being a mid-tempo producer, which that’s how you describe your sound now with the BPMs. When people usually think of midtempo, they’re usually thinking about Rezz and 1788-L. Were you ever thinking of going into that darker sound?
MH: I actually produced a few tracks that sort of fall into that phase and I play one of them live, but it’s not released yet. But yeah, no I love what Rezz does, it’s a little bit dark for me, but I love that she’s brought techno down to 100.
AL: I’ve noticed a lot of funk artists started by producing hip hop. I’ve interviewed a few of them and they always say they have hip-hop roots. Since you said hip-hop is one of your first loves, can you tell me who you think are the most underrated hip-hops producers right now?
MH: Uuuuh, woof. I define people like Jurassic 5 and People Under The Stairs. They actually turned me on to like the whole vane of positive hip-hop, which is what I was really into when I started to produce hip-hop but it definitely fueled when I got to Minneapolis, when I was like 19 because Rhymesayers is from here, Atmosphere, a whole squad full of people. I was a lot more encouraged to start to produce and since what I was listening to at the time was all of that west coast hip hop.
It definitely just was an easy slide into learning how to produce and having a community here was really supportive of that. And I felt like I reached a point where I felt the hip-hop crowd was too docile. Especially when you’re doing more hip-hop and not rap music and not party music. That’s one of the things that really attracted me to producing electronic music is that everybody wants to dance. It’s just kind of an innate thing that comes with being in electronic dance music. Whereas hip-hop doesn’t really garner as much dancing as people just looking at you and nodding their head.
AL: Yeah I noticed that too actually because hip-hop is probably my favorite genre but i like live music and whenever people go to a show they say people don’t sing and don’t really dance and I’m just like I think it’s so weird because hip-hop is very danceable, it’s just what the crowd likes I guess?
MH: Yeah they also feel like maybe there’s a stigma of something that it isn’t okay to express yourself that way. It’s not expected of you or whatever. So people don’t feel as comfortable doing it. Manic Focus said to me a long time ago, when I was talking about this with him, “Just because someone is not dancing to your music doesn’t mean they’re not digging it.” You know, have you ever been in a crowd where you’re just not feeling like moving around but you’re digging what the person’s doing? You’re just like watching them intently and listening intently. I’ve probably totally given the impression that if someone just looked at me, that I wasn’t into it at all. Like if you put yourself in that position, you know that that isn’t the case.
So I’ve learned to place a little less value on how many people are making every single person want to dance. Just because one person might not be, doesn’t mean they don’t like it, it means they’re in a different headspace.
AL: I’m sure you get this a lot as a woman in this industry, and I hate the question, what does it feel like to be a woman in the industry? But you did answer that in a way in another interview, that one of the problems is jealousy in electronic music. I’m sure that’s across the board in any industry—very competitive. But it must be hard to not compare yourself to others who are touring more and producing music. How do you manage to stay happy and uplift other female producers who achieve success?
MH: It can be really easy to fall into that trap of comparing yourself to other people and drowning yourself in social media and looking at your feed too much and seeing other people having successful tours and recap videos of huge crowds and their fam photos or whatever. I try not to let that dwarf the really really cool things that I’ve been able to do and all the supportive crowds I’ve had come out to my shows.
It can be easy to kind of forget about that for a moment when you’re sitting at home on your couch and you’re not on tour, but I’ve had some humbling experiences where I was literally sitting there looking at a photo of somebody playing some huge festival and thinking, “Oh my god, I wish I was there right now. I wish I was doing that!” And later that day I got booked for one of the biggest festivals of my life. So it was kind of funny that I was just like, “Megan, you need to chill out and not put like so much weight on things like that!” Because it’s silly and things will come if I work hard.
AL: That’s so true, sometimes I just feel like my life is over and all of these good things happen and I’m like, ‘Why am I complaining about something that’s like not that important?’ Things will come in due time.
MH: Yeah, exactly.
AL: That also brings me to my next point, not many people would wear merch with their own face on it, but I’ve seen you do it on a few occasions. Even though you talk about sometimes being on your couch and down on yourself and even posting on social media, you’re very open that sometimes you do feel alone and alienated on tour, how do you stay confident in a male-dominated industry?
MH: Having good self-care habits is a huge part of keeping a good attitude on tour- not eating like shit, not comparing yourself to the other acts you’re on tour with, and there’s that comradery of you going and having to put on a good show with everybody that night so you have other people to be your support system sort of in that way because you’re all in the same boat.
Having good self-care is super imperative, like taking some time to read every day, making sure you get a nap in if you haven’t had much sleep, trying not to drink enough to just not be tired anymore because you’ll regret that when you have to sit in a van for 8 hours. It took a lot of tour experience for me to learn what works for me. I think it’s different for everyone, but you have to find out what works for you, keeps you productive, and things like that.
AL: You did mention your peers keep you grounded and that the comradery when you’re on tour. I noticed that you have a lot of friends in the industry who are men. I see you get tagged in posts with a lot of electro-soul/funk producers like Manic Focus, Marvel Years, and The Funk Hunters. Can you tell me more about that and how you build- what it looks like- strong friendships in the genre. It seems like a close-knit community!
MH: It really is just like years and years of getting put on shows together, playing the same festivals and all those people are very humble people. It’s really refreshing to hang out with them because none of them act like they deserve to be there. There are some artists you can hang out with and they make you feel less than them, and they don’t do that.
AL: I noticed a lot of the artist felt like people I choose aren’t in the genre and I’m always surprised about how down to earth they are because I hear horror stories from other people in my publication, like ‘Oh, they weren’t that nice’ and I’m just like dang, I feel like I got lucky.
MH: Yeah, it’s a huge letdown to meet someone you really admire and you find out they’re a total dickhead. That’ll happen.
AL: Yeah, hopefully not anytime soon, I’m just starting to interview people. It’s scary!
MH: I only find a couple of bad eggs here and there, but they come and they go because you can only be an asshole to people for so long before they stop helping you.
AL: Yeah and before it comes out on Twitter probably.
MH: That too!
AL: In June of last year, you said you were a graphic designer by trade. Is that something you still like to do?
MH: Yep, I’m doing it literally right now.
AL: Is that something you think you’d be doing full time now if you weren’t in music? Or what was your dream job as a kid? Did you ever think you were gonna be here?
MH: I think as a kid I wanted to be a graphic designer for GQ or like ESPN magazine, I love the graphic design styled magazines. I did get a full-time job as a graphic designer before I decided to quit my job entirely and become a musician full time. It was very boring.
AL: So now you just do it like freelance?
MH: Yeah, I’ll do freelance for friends in the industry, for my management and my agency, then I do all my own graphics generally speaking.
AL: That’s cool! That’s not something I’ve heard of before!
AL: You do so much! You even once said you’re a Mario Kart 64 savant. If you had to pick one character you relate to most in the game, who would you choose and why?
MH: Yoshi. Because Yoshi is the fastest and most tactile. Toad and Peach are probably the fastest but they’re not very tactile. And they don’t have very good acceleration I feel like. Yeah, Yoshi’s definitely the bomb, he’s the best drifter.
AL: Is that who you choose every time you play?
MH: Unless someone else is being a bitch about it, yeah. But then that’s more fun because I’m like fine have whoever you want, I’m gonna whoop your ass! I mean I’ve been beaten in my day but it’s not super often or anything. Like I said I’m a savant for Mario Kart so I’m really bad at any other video game. Like every single other one.
AL: Scrolling through your Instagram, you’re always wearing all sorts of hats. How big is your hat collection and did people start sending you hats just to put them on your Instagram?
MH: *Laughs* My hat collection… I probably have upwards of 50 snapbacks and I only have like 3 full brims right now. But yeah, probably about 50. I don’t really have people just send me hats like out of the blue necessarily, but I’ve had companies that I’ll see hats that I do really like like hats Findley has for example, or Luicid Life or Grassroots and I’ll just hit them up and be like, “This is bomb. What’s up, though?”
AL: So like if a fan wanted to really wow you and they’re going to your show, would you want them to give you a hat or are you pretty picky about what kind of hats you wear?
MH: I mean I’m pretty picky, to be honest with you. I feel bad for the amount of hats I have that don’t get worn anymore. But I always appreciate you know whatever’s given to me so it’ll probably get rocked at one point but like I said I already have like 50 of them so…
AL: That’s true, I remember I was trying to find my ex a hat, he only wears flat brims but Manic Focus is his favorite artist and I found one from Grassroots and I was like should I get this? And he pretty much responded like, “It’s not a flat brim, throw that away.”
MH: Was it the black one with the colorful MF all over it?
AL: No, it was like brown, I think it was a snapback. It was really nice and it said Manic Focus in script.
MH: Yeah, huh, I have the dad hat version of it, which is a snapback too, but I have the dad hat that’s black with the colorful MF all over it with his logo on the front in white.
AL: Dad hats are cute!
MH: You know, you should tell your little boy he should try a dad hat because I used to wear only flat brims and then I realized that I can wear any hat I want!
AL: You’re like, “I look good no matter what hat! Flat or not.”
MH: I wear many hats, in many ways.
AL: That’s very true… Which brings me to my next question. You write, you sing, you produce. What’s your favorite part?
MH: Hmm, I don’t know, they all have their times, every part has it’s time of day. It’s nice being able to do multiple things though because once you get really sick of one you just go do the other one.
AL: Would you say that you get bored with things easily?
MH: I think kind of all artists do, I’m lucky I have graphic design because if I’m bored of making music I’ll just go design something then by the time I’m sick of that I’m not sick of making music anymore. So I kind of juggle them.
AL: Everyone loves food, but I’ve noticed you’re kind of a big foodie. Whether it’s carrying 10 boxes of pizza or showing what cereal you’re eating and I’ve even seen you wear jackets with burgers on them! What’s your favorite food and if someone were to go to Minneapolis, what would you say they have to eat here right now?
ML: Oh my god, that’s a good question. I really like eggs benedict, I really like a weird benedict. I’ve tried so many kinds, a good poached egg and some ???, so flame. If you’re gonna come to Minneapolis I would probably go to Chimborazo, which is an Ecuadorian restaurant in the Northeast that has bomb mimosas and all their food is amazing. They have these things called, “muchín de yuca”, that are like potato pancakes stuffed with mozzarella cheese, they’re insane.
AL: Sounds delicious!
MH: Yeah and here’s a funny thing about that burger jacket- it was given to me by Homemade Spaceship. He gave it to me because I saw it on the wall at his studio. I was like “Oh my god, is that your burger jacket? That’s so cool.” He was like, “I fucking hate that jacket! Everytime I wear it somebody fucking makes fun of me.” I was like “Are you serious? It’s so sick!” and he’s like “HAVE IT, I don’t want it, I hate that jacket.” I wore it like a week later and I got a compliment on it every 10 steps I took. I was like, “Damn Rob, I guess you just don’t have the confidence to wear the burger jacket.”
AL: Yeah, tell him to get his swag up!
MH: Yeah, he needs to!
AL: And I can’t end the interview (Editors Note: And I didn’t end the interview there) without asking what you’re most excited about for the rest of the year? And what we can expect next from Megan Hamilton?
MH: I have a release coming later this month with K+Lab, it’s really exciting. Next month I have another track coming out as well on 4/20, so I guess I’ll announce that here. I got a ton of festival announcements in the works still and I’m really excited for this year. We’re doing a lot of bookings and I got a lot of music coming out! At least one song a month. And that’s really exciting because last year I felt pretty dry in regards to both. Because I was working really really hard on all this new music, so it’s nice to see it all finally come to fruition. It can make you feel stagnant when you don’t see the immediate gratification of putting music out… Even though you’ve been working so hard on it. It’s just kind of a year of gratification I guess.
AL: Speaking of festivals, what’s your favorite festival to play?
MH: It’s hard to pick a favorite, I really love Sonic Bloom, I always feel at home there. Last year was super fun and I’ll be back again this year, so I’m really excited for that.
AL: I wanted to go to that so badly but it’s only a few days before Forest.
MH: Yeah, I feel you. Shit’s expensive.
AL: Well thank you for taking time out of your day to talk to me!
MH: Yeah, no problem, thanks for having me!
While we ended things on a high note about what to look forward to, it’s a perfect time to remind everyone to stay indoors and stay safe until the festivals come back.
Megan and so many other artists are streaming right now—and it’s a great way to give back. She streams live on Facebook so make sure to follow her to see when she goes live next! Like we mentioned before, she does wear many hats, and even taught a Music Industry class with Slam Academy!
Want to get the inside scoop on artists you love and the people behind the scenes who make it all happen? We’re always meeting new people! Check out Electric Hawk Spotlight, coming live to you every Thursday.