Thursday, January 21, 2021

In Convo With Misao McGregor: Kid In The Corner

Misao McGregor’s new debut album ‘Kid in the Corner’ is an album very much built upon the word ‘reclamation’. An autobiographical look at her 24 years on Earth so far, this album is deeply personal and raw, giving the impression that it was as much a personal journey as it was a musical endeavour. This LA-based artist spent two years crafting her album, learning the tricks of the trade and all the facets of creating an album as she went along.


So before getting to listen to the album I had the chance to ask McGregor some questions about ‘Kid in the Corner’ and they were kind enough to give us a little insight into what it took to make this album. So without further ado, let’s dive right in shall we?


Describe Kid in a Corner in three words.


Reclaiming my life. 


I think there’s one thing I can say with all certainty: This album is McGregor’s.

The lyrics are deeply personal which you can see for instance especially well in the closing song ‘B Major’ which speaks candidly about their relationship with loving themselves and coming to grips with their perceived flaws. There is a delicate sound to this song, as is to be expected when speaking of something so painful. This is also true of songs such as ‘Weather the Weather’ and ‘Babyface’. Many of the issues McGregor speaks of are part and parcel with the pain of growing up but they add their own personal perspective to it.


As a follow-up, what is the album all about?


This album is an autobiographical look into my previous 24 years of life. Throughout, I sing about different experiences with empowerment, joy, abuse, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and all in an attempt to uncover the various traumas I’ve dealt with to find some form of healing. It’s a really personal lens based on memory and nostalgia and only seeks to represent how I’ve felt throughout the various little pockets of my life. 


What was the first song you wrote on the album? 


I think the first song I wrote was “Runaway” back in 2015. At that point, I had no intention of making an album, but it fit well into the making of “Kid in the Corner.” Each song on the album was written at a different point in my life during the last five years and it’s been interesting to take a look back and see  what songs came out of what time period for me. 


When did you first think about making an album? 


About two years ago. At the beginning of 2019, I had an entirely different album planned out in my head. But at that point, I didn’t have any recording gear or know how to produce my own stuff. I also didn’t have the funds to buy studio time so the last two years I’ve spent teaching myself how to do all of that. And because this project is so personal, it made it all the more rewarding to gain those skills during the process to be able to tell my story. 


Which song are you especially excited for people to hear?


Honest, the whole thing! It’s a concept album that is best listened to from beginning to end as it ties all together as a story. But if I had to choose one, I’d probably pick “Blue Boi.” On my 23rd birthday in 2019, I released the first draft of “Blue Boi” on Soundcloud as my return to making music publicly since I’d been in school and was focused on other things at the time. And it was the first song I tried producing on my own. Listening to the album version of “Blue Boi,” I’m really proud of how far I’ve come even though I know I still have a long ways to go. 


Who were your influences in creating this album?


This is going to sound awful, but nobody. I grew up listening to so many different artists from all genres that I think when it comes to my music, I just want to make something that I haven’t heard before from anyone else. If anything, I’ve taken influence from Jack Antonoff’s work when trying to focus on the production by incorporating home videos into the album, but other than him, I’m just trying to make my own sound that doesn’t emulate anyone but uniquely represents who I am as an artist and human being. 


Any advice for anyone considering making a debut album?


Make your own path! A huge hurdle for me during this album was worrying that I wasn’t doing anything “right” based on comparing myself to other artists who are starting out right now. I had an extremely formative conversation with a friend who’s been doing home recordings for years and he instilled in me that if I want to be the one to produce, mix, and master this piece because I want to develop those skillsets, then that’s great! But if I just want to focus on the songwriting and nothing else, invest in studio time and a producer and mixing engineer, that’s also great! I ended up going the route of doing everything myself and I’m really proud of what I’ve made. And I don’t think it was a bad decision for me to do that. So for anyone else doing anything artistic, just do what feels right in your gut and don’t pay attention to anybody else. 


‘Runaway’ has a delicate beginning for instance, the synths that help build it remind me a bit of Anna of the North but only slightly and I enjoy the use of percussion to accent the lyrics. McGregor’s attempt at creating an individual sound means that cross-genre techniques are hers to play with, especially noticeable for instance in songs such as ‘Eight’ and ‘She Was Worlds Above Me’. I enjoy the personal touches she includes in songs such as ‘Stay in the Desert’ and ‘Blue Boi’, both of these songs being precluded by a section of old audio from what I presume are home-videos superimposed onto music. I would agree with McGregor in advising paying special attention to ‘Blue Boi’, I think this is the standout of the album to me, starting with piano reminiscent almost of Marc Cohen and displaying good vocal control, and a nice use of layered vocals with a catchy riff.


When you’re in the mood for introspection and connection this may be the album for you. 

- Chloe Boehm



Image: Instagram @misao_mcgregor


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