What I’ve always loved most about music is that you can create something that feels so personal, and have it end up becoming personal to somebody else, too. Megan Davies has a feel for music like that.

I’m not really sure where it comes from, but I think maybe it’s related to her experience in covers, which is where she found her first big audience.

I’ve always been captivated by good cover performances, because the best ones are delivered with striking emotion. Watch a good cover video, and you can feel the honesty it takes to sing someone else’s words with so much conviction, like they’re a personal story.

“Doesn’t Matter”, Megan’s newest single, is a song that connects in that way. It’ll have you reliving your own memories pretty quickly, even if Megan’s singing about hers.

Because it’s about painfully familiar feelings: the fear of rejection, the ache of not belonging, the insecurity of growing up. But it’s about hope, too: that the things that feel so heavy when you’re in them won’t stay on your shoulders forever.

So, yeah – if you’ve lived through high school, this is your song.

Sonically, it’s a pretty cool direction for Megan – a lot of her covers are acoustic, centered on guitars and vocals. This song keeps that center, but grows from there, too, with layers of strings, synths, and electric effects tastefully added until things are practically cinematic.

It’s a big sound. Which is fitting, because memories are big in your head. This song does justice to that, and so does the video, which will get you in your feelings and then make you want to dance.

So do yourself a favor and go listen, and I’m willing to bet you’ll find your story in the song. Then come back to get Megan’s story, and find out how she writes music that feels like your own.

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You can check out Megan’s website here. You can buy “Doesn’t Matter” here (Amazon).

How did you get into music and songwriting?

Megan: I started when I was about 12. And I didn’t have any musicians, really, in my family growing up. Music was just this huge mystery. I loved it. I found this guitar in my grandparents’ basement, and my grandparents let me take it home and I took lessons. I started learning chords, and pretty soon after that I was writing songs and learning other people’s songs.

You’ve got a huge following on YouTube for your covers and mashups. How did that stuff first happen?

It’s always fun to play songs that you love. I’ve never been one to do those gigs downtown where they’re like three hours of covers. I never really thought of myself as much of a cover artist, but I was just a lover of music and songs, and if I loved a song enough I’d learn it just because I was curious about it.

And YouTube was something I stumbled on. I did a mashup with my little sister and got a lot of love online. It was something different – I’d never really gotten that attention for anything I’d done before, and it made me want to do another one.

So I kind of stumbled into it. Obviously, I do quite a few covers now, but I never really considered myself like a cover artist, I guess.

So songwriting was always a big part of music for you?

I was a songwriting major, actually. I loved it. I went to college in Nashville, at Belmont.

It was just an excuse to write a lot of songs. Songwriting is like one of those 10,000 hour things – the more time you spend doing it, the better you get at it. I don’t know if a degree in songwriting makes you any more adept at songwriting than anyone else, but it was helpful to have that space and time, and then also to be surrounded by other people who were doing the same thing. It was just encouraging.

So yeah, it was a good experience. But the mashup covers and the YouTube stuff started after I graduated.

Was becoming a songwriting major the point where you decided to really pursue music?

Yeah, actually when I started at Belmont I was a guitar major. And I thought that would be my career path – just playing guitar for people in studios. Because that was something I was pretty naturally inclined to. I picked up things really quickly. My junior year at Belmont, I actually injured my elbow and I had to have surgery, and I actually couldn’t play for a period of time. And I’d been taking all the songwriting courses as electives, so I ended up changing my major just to finish on time.

It was a really easy transition, but yeah – the songwriting decision, I don’t think I considered it as a career path for myself. Even now, I write songs, but I’m definitely not like a full-time staff writer or anything like that.

It is a large part of what I do, but there are a lot of other components as well.

Why do you write songs?

I think, for me – I used to be really shy when I was younger, and I’m still pretty introverted. And I love the communication that happens when you listen to a song with another person, or you play a song for another person, or a person’s playing a song for you. There’s this really cool effect when two people are feeling the same emotion in the same room. And I think it was that connection that sort of drew me to songwriting. Being able to write a story and talk to people and be honest with people – I think that’s still in my mind when I write songs now. It’s about connecting with people and having a conversation, in a way.

Do you remember any of the earliest examples of that connection happening for you?

When I used to play little coffee shop gigs – I was a kid, and I’d have friends come. Like I said, I was super shy. I was not the person that you’d point out in class to go up on stage. But I felt like onstage, it felt so natural. And I felt like I was able to talk there.

I would write really depressing songs then. I felt like I was just able to be super honest in my words. Even back then, it was just such a form of communication for me.

What do you think makes a song good?

That ability to connect is a huge part of it. I think that’s why it can be so subjective. I think there are songwriters out there that people love or hate. If you can command a room full of thousands of people who are all intently feeling what you’re doing, I think that’s a great song.

I think as far as commercial songwriting and things like that go, it’s the combination of the music moving you and the words also matching that. I think it’s possible to have great music and skimp on the lyrics or something. It’s a cool feeling when they go together.

For me, I always listen to music first, when I hear a song. And it’s always then kind of magical when the lyrics match that exactly – like, they rise and fall with the dynamics of the song.

So I think there’s a lot that contributes to a great song. But of course it’s all subjective.

So, when you’re writing, do you usually start with the music before the lyrics?

Yeah, I’m definitely more of a music person. I write music really quickly, too. I’m always coming up with little guitar licks, or chords that I think sound interesting and paint a picture. Sometimes there’ll just be some chords, and then instantly I’ll envision what I want to talk about, or an emotion, and then I go from there.

There’s times where I feel like I’m not writing about myself and then it turns out to be about myself. Which I think is funny – like, your subconscious is really controlling the writing in a way.

How do you track those musical ideas? Do you have a place that you store things?

I use voice memos incessantly on my iPhone. I think at this point, I probably have like two thousand voice memos. And they’re not even named – it’s pretty bad, because I’m constantly doing it. I actually have little emojis or things that I’ll use to mark them. Like, if it’s a really great idea, I’ll put like the thumbs up next to it.

But, yeah, that’s the main way. And there are notes on my iPhone – everything’s through my phone. I was actually thinking the other day, “Oh, if I lost my phone I’d lose so much!” It’s just the quickest and easiest way to jot it down and store things for me.

Is writing usually ad hoc to you? As opposed to regularly scheduling time to sit down and write?

Yeah, for me it really just kind of happens randomly. Honestly, I find it happens when I’m the busiest and I don’t have time to write. I have a project to be doing or something, or I’m working on a cover, and then I’ll be sitting there playing guitar and trying to record guitar parts – and then I’m like, “Oh, this’ll be a great song!” And then I’m like, “No, I’m distracting myself!”

It’s funny how those moments happen when you’re the busiest. But yeah, I’ve never really set time aside to sit down and write, which I know is opposite for a lot of people. I have friends who will try to sit down everyday, starting at a certain time.

Do you do any commercial songwriting?

Not really. I do write quite a bit, and then I do co-write around town. It’s very much like a Nashville thing – getting in the room with other songwriters and collaborating with them. It’s something I wasn’t too keen on while I was in college. I was like, “Oh, I like writing by myself.” But I’ve really grown to love it.

I do more of it now than I think I ever have, actually. But at the same time, they’re all songs for me.

And I guess when I say I’m not a commercial songwriter, I mean that I’m not like a staff writer. I’m not like, “Okay, so-and-so needs this song, I should write a song like this.” It’s a little bit more free form.

What do you like about co-writing?

It’s kind of this collaboration thing. I think I started liking it more once I was out of college. It’s a great way to meet people creatively. It speeds up my writing a little bit. If I was by myself I might get stuck on a word, when you’re writing with someone, they can be like, “Oh, this!” And then you can move on.

It’s that dialogue. And when you get a person that you’re really in tune with, and you have similar tastes and instincts, it’s exhilarating. Once you experience a great co-write, it’s kind of what you chase, I think. Not all co-writes are great, by any means, but when you do have a great one it’s like, “Oh, I want to write like that all the time.”

How do you balance honesty with collaboration?

I do try to be honest, for sure. But I don’t let it hold me back from telling a story. And like I said, a lot of times when I feel like I’m talking about someone else’s situation, it ends up being my situation.

Everything that I write is from my perspective, in a way. Even if it seems like I’m writing about a scenario that I’m not involved in or something, I always try to go there mentally and feel that emotion. I try not to stress too much about whether I’m being completely true to myself, because I feel like as an artist you can create these imaginary needs or boundaries for yourself. But it’s like, “No – we’re writing music.”

So I try to simplify it and not be too concerned about things like that. But in my experience I’ve found that honesty just comes naturally. And if I did write a song where I felt like it wasn’t me, than I wouldn’t sing it. It would just be another song.

What emotions or feelings do you find it natural to write toward?

I’m definitely a darker person, I feel like. Those depressing, sad things are somewhat natural to me. Especially when I was younger, I used to write that. I had this song when I was like 13 called something like, “Jack and Jill Never Made It Up the Hill.” They fell with the rest of the world.

But I find it kind of ironic – when I’m in my darkest places, or when something’s going on in my life, sometimes I write the best. It’s really interesting.

Do you have a certain feeling or emotion that you generally want to leave with your audience?

I hope that people are listening and paying attention to what I’m trying to say. But I always love when you can listen to a song and it becomes the soundtrack to your life. It almost becomes words that you would say. You know, when you’re driving you play this song, and it’s like it fits the moment perfectly.

I love the idea of potentially being that for somebody else, and having them relate on that human level.

Does it come more naturally to you to write songs that are more questions or more answers?

That’s hard to say. I feel like it’s a combo of the two. Because you don’t want to be too answer-y – like, you don’t want to be preachy about anything. But at the same time, it’s good not to ask questions the whole song.

I think it’s a combination of the two for me.

What’s your best advice for other songwriters?

Don’t forget about the input-output ratio. Listen to as much music, watch as many movies, read as many books as you can. Experience art, and let that inspire your own. I find when I have difficulty writing, it’s typically because my input-output ratio is off. I’m not reading, I’m not being a fan of music first. Sometimes I have to make time in my life to do that, and not be afraid that I’m not writing a million songs a day.

I think it’s important to focus on being a fan of music at the same time you’re trying to be a writer.

Do you think it’s better to take in a broad selection of things? Or do you have artists and books that you go back to repeatedly?

I just try to experience a lot. I mean, definitely with music, if I have a favorite song, I’ll listen to it over and over again. But with movies and TV shows and stuff, I’ll just plow through things. I just love entertainment.

Let’s dig into “Doesn’t Matter” a little bit. What was the first part of that song to be written?

Let’s see. It was actually written about a year and a half ago, and I wrote it with two songwriters in town, actually -Karen Kazowski and Bonnie Baker, who are both songwriters here.

I think I had the chords, and I brought that in. And I remember we wrote,

It matters, it matters, it matters

Until it doesn’t matter

That was what we were writing around – the actual hook of the song.

Where’d that idea come from?

For me, it was based on my history and my path. I had depression when I was a kid, and social anxiety, and I would put so much emphasis on small things in high school. Like, I just wasn’t super happy. And it’s almost like talking to my younger self, in a way. It’s what I’ve realized over the years – there are a lot of small things that feel huge sometimes, but at the end of the day, as time goes on, it doesn’t mean as much.

Yeah, that’s super relatable. How did co-writing shape that idea? And the song in general?

I think it was a longer write than normal, for a lot of reasons. We sat around and just talked about our youth and experiences we’d had. And I remember just finding a lot of common areas. Just talking about how high school and just be so terrible at times, and how growing up is hard.

But yeah, I remember there were just a lot of stories being told in those conversations.

What kind of audience did you have in mind when you were writing?

It was very personal. I think I was, in a lot of ways, writing it for myself. We wrote it a while ago, and it didn’t go on my last EP or anything. So for a long time I actually just toured with it. I’d play it acoustically at shows and stuff. I toured quite a bit this past fall and winter, and the amount of times someone would come up to me and be like, “Oh my god, that song is like my story,” or like, “I cried during that” – I started just making mental notes, and just noticed that the song was getting really powerful reactions.

And I realized that it was reaching a lot more people than I’d probably even intended it to.

Did the recording and production process shape the nature of the song? I imaging it’s different acoustically?

Yeah, the acoustic version is really different. The produced version was made by my friend Mark Siegel. It’s a huge track – I mean, there are a ton of instruments, drums – it’s really built to this sort of emotional epic feeling. And the acoustic version is a lot more raw. We ended up doing that as well, and that’ll be coming out a little later, but it’s just like me and strings, basically.

So they’re two different versions. But I always like doing that. Because I feel like they’ll evoke different things for different moments.

And when you’re working with a producer, you’re collaborating in a lot of ways. And I think Mark brought his own emotion to the production, which was really cool. It ended up bigger than I’d even imagined. And in the music video, when we shot that, there’s a whole story line in that, that’s even separate from the lyrics. That came from the director, and it’s based on some of his experiences growing up.

I really think seeing that epic track set to a visual story line was really cool and powerful.

What’s your favorite thing about the song?

Personally, the hook I think is my favorite part.

It matters, it matters, it matters

Until it doesn’t matter

I think the way that the words rush together – that’s how it kind of feels when something is intense. And then there’s that release.

And it’s like how I was talking about before, how the melody matches the lyrics a little bit. It matters, and it’s rushing, until it just doesn’t matter, and that’s the end. I think that’s my favorite part of the song.

How did you know when the song was finished?

There have been songs that I’ve written where I’ve continued to refine words and chords and parts. That song I don’t think changed at all from the time that we wrote it.

I didn’t record it for a long time – I played it out live before I recorded a version of it.

Did you have a voice memo recording?

I had a voice memo of it. Maybe a little demo, but not a polished one at all.

Which I think helped.

How so?

Like, if I had recorded it right after I’d written it, it probably would’ve sounded a little different. I think it grew over time, with the performances of it. Some of the words came to mean different things, and my experiences in meeting people who would tell me their stories – I was able to think of those things while I was doing the finished recording of it.

So it had a nice growth period.

What are your upcoming music plans?

I’ve been touring the past fall and winter, so now I’m in one place for a little while. So now the goal is to get a bunch of new songs out, and “Doesn’t Matter” is one of those. And there are like three other singles in the works here soon.

So yeah, I’m excited to put those out into the world and just to keep sharing more music with people.