More than a dozen years into her unique career — which includes a chart-topping hit in Japan; a fan base stretching from Los Angeles to Tokyo; and countless solo concerts featuring little more than her acoustic guitar and breathily expressive voice — Meiko gets back to the basics with her brand new album, In Your Dreams, out now. Take a listen here: smarturl.it/inyourdreams
When it came time to write and record her fifth studio album, this time with plans to independently release the album, Meiko returned back to the basic roots of her songwriting and pared down the use of electronics.
“I wanted to simplify my sound and go back to the bare-boned mindset I had when I made that first record,” Meiko shares. “In the past, I was pressured by record label executives who wanted the album to be done at a certain time, or to sound a certain way. Since I knew I was doing this album independently, I had some breathing room and wanted to enjoy that freedom, that space.”
The record was written and recorded in Meiko’s former home of Nashville, TN alongside producer (and former drummer for The Lone Bellow) Justin Glasco before relocating to Germany. Self-funded and independently released, the two performed all instruments on the album themselves, working outside the usual demands of a record company. For Meiko, who’d partnered with labels like MySpace Records and Concord Music Group during the first decade of her career, it felt freeing to create music on her own schedule. She took her time, writing new material over a period of two years — years that also found her adapting to life as a Nashville resident and a new mother.
With its light instrumentation and melodic hooks, In Your Dreams is reminiscent to Meiko’s self-titled debut, whose minimalist songs helped kick start her career in 2007. Back then, she was a cash-strapped cocktail waitress in Los Angeles, struggling to fund her album’s recording sessions with the tips she earned working at the Hotel Cafe. The songs that found their way onto that debut record were sparsely arranged out of necessity; Meiko simply couldn’t afford to dish out the money for a full band.
“I was paying people in whiskey, asking them to come to the studio and lay down some tracks in exchange for a few Jack-and-Cokes,” she remembers. “It was really simple, but there’s something beautiful about having all the time in the world and no money. With In Your Dreams, I wanted to simplify my sound and go back to the bare-boned mindset I had when I made that first record.”
When MySpace Records reissued her indie debut in 2008, she found herself with a genuine hit on her hands, watching as her quirky pop gem “Boys With Girlfriends” climbed into the Top 15 at Triple A radio. 2012’s The Bright Side spawned another hit — “Stuck On You,” which topped three different charts in Japan — while 2014’s Dear You found her drawing more and more heavily on longtime influences like Portishead, adding a larger dose of electronics to her music.
Following the independent release of 2016’s Moving Day and 2018’s collection of cover songs, Playing Favorites (Chesky Records), Meiko brings herself full-circle with In Your Dreams, an album that nods to her past while also pushing forward toward bigger, bright horizons.
“It’s sort of like a farewell to Nashville and America and my old self,” she says, “but also a gentle reminder that even though life has changed, I can’t forget about my dreams of making music”.