An Interview with Meredith Sheldon

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Meredith Sheldon | Discography | Discogs

There is something to be said about maintaining a low profile. Meredith Sheldon would probably agree. While she may have dropped out of the music scene (for now), her music still resonates with those that came to love it. She’s toured with Johnny and Nile Marr as well as Marina and the Diamonds. So, her incredible talent may be laying dormant now, but be sure to look out for her music in the future when she finally decides to resurface. In the meantime, head over to Meredith’s Bandcamp here, and check out her work. Enjoy getting to know Meredith a bit better. Dig it.

Andrew:
Meredith, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. It’s been a weird year, hasn’t it? What have you been doing to pass the time?

Meredith:
Hi Andrew, thanks for reaching out! It has been a weird year indeed, a rich, tumultuous, emotional, interesting, weird year. I have to admit (and HUGE amounts of gratitude prefacing this statement), that I have actually had a pretty great year. It has, of course, been challenging in many ways, and my heart is continually going out to the masses of people having a much different experience, but perhaps due to my already internally focused tendencies, I have found this time of forced inward spiraling to be greatly rewarding and illuminating. During the most extreme phase of lockdown here in Massachusetts, my partner was not working, and it afforded us a level of family time that we had not been able to have since the birth of my son almost 3 years ago. We got so much closer, our priorities rearranged themselves very quickly, and I feel I was able to integrate a level of self care that I’ve never before sustained even before having a child. It has been an interesting process to carry those new habits forth into the more “normal” life that has unfolded since. Aside from self care, I just had so many creative visions filtering through, incubating, coming to life inside of me, and as we go into the new year, I am starting to see those materialize before my eyes and it feels very enlivening. 

Andrew:
Tell us a bit about your backstory. How did you get into music? What was the gateway so to speak?

Meredith:
I came into music from a young age. My mother’s side of my family was and is full of artists and musicians, and there was a wide variety of music around me always. At a very young age, I would stand in front of our immense farmhouse fireplace and sing into a microphone (an old camera tripod) and play guitar for my parents. Call it whatever—I came in with it, or maybe was just acting out what I saw/felt/intuited others wanted around me, as children do, maybe both…. at any rate, I took up guitar at 9, taught by my wildly talented uncle, John Sheldon, demanded to be taught Hendrix’s “Little Wing,” and from then on got secretly better and better at guitar by practicing unplugged electric in my room for the next 10 years (god forbid anyone HEAR me). I think I started vocal training somewhere in my early teens, taking lessons from my also wildly talented aunt, Cary Sheldon, and throwing in some classical training just for fun (there is someone out there in the world who has seen me perform an Italian aria, its really true). I mostly was focused on dance and martial arts during those years though and it didn’t occur to me to play out, write, or any of that until I started touring with Ben Taylor as his guitar player/back up singer at 18. It was sort of a series of dominos after that that I don’t quite understand—at one point I found myself being advertised as the opening act for a UK Pop star before I had ever performed by myself and had only written and demoed 3 songs. It was a really hilarious (kind of) miscommunication. People were writing to me online being like, “You’re playing here in Chicago!?” And I was like “What???” I didn’t end up doing those shows but did end up opening for that person (Marina and the Diamonds) on tour a few years later, which was really fun. 

Andrew:
As an artist, who were some of your earliest and more important influences?

Meredith:
Jimi Hendrix was really it for me for a long time. Of course I was influenced by everything along the way, which was a vast array, everything from The Beatles to Billie Holiday to Puccini and all the in-betweens. Later, when I started writing and playing, I was really influenced by PJ Harvey, a lot of British Rock bands…Bjork also was and continues to be a big inspiration for me. 

Photos | Johnny Marr + Meredith Sheldon @ Cats Cradle - November 19th 2013  | Concert Addicts

Andrew:
You were the bass player for Family of the Year. Tell us about that band. How did you become involved?

Meredith:
I don’t really know why Wikipedia says I was the original bass player. I once tried to fix that and was told by whoever was editing my page at the time that I didn’t have enough proof to change that information! The internet is hilarious. Anyway, my boyfriend at the time, Farley Glavin, and I were living on Martha’s Vineyard and our childhood friends, Joe and Seb Keefe had started Family of the Year in LA and had had two members abruptly leave—they needed a female singer and a bass player, and Farley was (and is) an amazing bass/guitar player and then there was me, and we weren’t doing much of anything here, so we packed up and moved out there to be in the band. It was a great time, dysfunctional and wonderful, we lived all six of us in a one bedroom apartment (Farley and I had the master suite—the walk in closet off of the bathroom) and we drank too much and made some really cool music and were really, really close. I didn’t end up staying in the band (obviously) but those guys stuck to it and are still making great music. 

Andrew:
You had the opportunity to tour with one of my favorite guitarists, Johnny Marr. What was it like having the opportunity to open for him?
 

Meredith:
Touring with Johnny was just amazing. It was a dream gig in so many ways. As someone who never had an agent, manager or any of that, they were major tours to be on, and the gigs were just so fun. The audiences were always so pumped, they were almost always sold out houses, and Johnny, his family, band and crew were all such wonderful people, they really became like family. They were all also so much more focused on taking care of themselves than anyone else I’d worked with before, which was really great as I had stopped drinking by that time and was in school part time learning about energy healing. Johnny and I would have long talks about spirituality and all that jazz, have good giggles about doing chakra balancing exercises before shows…it was a blast. I stayed with them a bunch in England too. I learned so much. I just love those guys. 

Andrew:
You’ve also worked with Johnny’s son, Nile Marr. Tell us about your working relationship with Nile.

Meredith:
Well, you can tell from my last response that I love that whole family. Nile and I had such a good time; I feel like he is as close to a little brother as I ever had. He played guitar for me on one of those tours while also teching for his dad—he was certainly the hardest working person on that tour! We used to meet up in LA to rehearse and spend half our time dancing around the aisles of Whole Foods and exchanging pocket crystals. We were so alike in so many ways. I miss hanging out with him a lot. 

Show Scenes: Johnny Marr at Paradise Rock Club – BDCWire

Andrew:
Creatively, what’s changed for you compared to your early days? Are you a better musician now than ever?
 

Meredith:
Oh my, well I’m sure a lot has changed. The last demo I recorded was so much more mature than my earlier things, compositionally, lyrically, musically, definitely all of it had morphed and grown. I had gotten a lot better at recording myself, programming drums, etc. by that time. I don’t know how to compare though, because I feel like as with a wine or something, youth has qualities that can be wonderful in their immaturity, and maturity has qualities that can be wonderful in a different way, and it just depends on what the listener is vibing with. 

Andrew:
Let’s talk about the state of music in general a bit. In your opinion, what’s the state of the music industry these days? What are some things that need to change?

Meredith:
I am admittedly not the right person to answer this question because I have basically pulled out of the music industry entirely! In my opinion, it’s a shit show, and I’m really psyched to see what will come out of this whole COVID mess—hopefully some really creative and unexpected solutions.  

Andrew:
In the world we live in today, we are more or less dominated by the never-ending barrage of social media. How has this effected music as an artform? Is an artist’s ability to get their music out there hindered by all this, or helped?

Meredith:
We certainly are inundated with social media—it is relentless. I have actually kicked against it on and off always; most of my touring career, I did not have any social media at all, which everyone thought was crazy. I basically have none now. I know people who have done pretty well for themselves by using social media, and I know people for whom it had no effect on their success. Success came without it, or did not come despite their greatest efforts. So, I don’t know. But I do know that it is WILDLY distracting, and I think it takes a great deal of discernment now to participate authentically. And yes, for sure I think it is as hard/harder than ever to be heard, especially just starting out. 

The Lemonheads + Meredith Sheldon + Nile Marr @ Birmingham Academy 2, 10th  December 2011 - Brum Live2

Andrew:
Who are a few artists, past or present that mean a lot to you?

Meredith:
Hendrix. Aretha Franklin. Bjork. PJ Harvey. Mozart. Coltrane. Joni Mitchell. 

Andrew:
Aside from music, what else are you most passionate about and why? How do your other passions inform and inspire your music?

Meredith:
I am deeply passionate about healing. Physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, all of it.  I have always woven a tapestry with many threads—music is one—and never for a moment have I doubted their influence on one another. The creation process for music is the same for me as the creation of anything else, whether it is parenting, drawing, gardening, dancing, or navigating relationships. I follow the same arcs, waves, guidance, intuition; I muster the same courage to destroy my own creations in order to elevate them to a higher form of expression. I get tangled up in my ego and have to transform myself inside out to come back into alignment with a purer form of motivation—I heal myself in creation and I create to heal myself. 

Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? Where do you like to shop for music?

Meredith:
We are big into vinyl in my house. I happened to inherit a large and amazing collection of Classical records from my great grandfather and the record player is the anchor point of our living room. I have succumbed to the ease of Spotify for most other things, but vinyl remains the closest form to my heart. 

Andrew:
I know you’re on a bit of a musical hiatus at the moment, but what’s next for you once COVID-19 calms down? When do you think you’ll return to music? 

Meredith:
I’m not sure! I’m launching a new business this winter, one I am very excited about, that is focused on my healing work, herbalism, and support for mothers. I am aside from that mostly focused on raising my beautiful, almost 3 year old son right now as well. I know music will come back into the mix, but I will wait until it feels aligned and inspired and in balance with my life. I am happy to say that I really feel no attachment to music as a career, and so I feel tremendously free to create only what I feel inspired by.  And when and what that will look like, I don’t know! Stay tuned! 

Andrew:
Last question. In a world that’s been so confined by the constraints of big business and the alienation caused due to the internet age, how do artists find their footing these days? What advice would you have for younger artists?

Meredith:
Honestly, I don’t like advice. But I would tell my younger self this: do whatever the fuck makes you happy. You might not be rich or famous, but we don’t need more rich and famous. The world heals through joyful souls. So be one of those <3

Show Scenes: Johnny Marr at Paradise Rock Club – BDCWire

Interested in learning more about the music of Meredith Sheldon? Check out the link below:

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Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, USA, Andrew has always loved writing, music, drumming and collecting music on CD, tape and vinyl. After losing his life-long vinyl collection in 2014, Andrew began his vinyl collection from scratch again when he met his future wife Angela in 2015. Andrew’s love of music only further blossomed as his collection spanned all genres possible. After amassing over 3,000 albums in under two years, he knew it was time to finally follow his dream of being a music journalist, and thus, Vinyl Writer was born.

Andrew’s not only the go-to friend for music trivia, but his intricate knowledge of the ins and outs of the music industry allows him to develop engaging questions that really tap into each artist and individual to deliver insightful and enjoyable interviews. He’s proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict, for fellow music addicts.

Andrew lives on Long Island, NY, with his wife Angela and their four cats, Oliver, Patrick, Charlie and Kevin. Andrew’s collection of over 4,700 vinyl albums, plus several hundred tapes and CDs, tells the story of his passion for all that is music. Andrew works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer website by night. Andrew is also the admin of several Facebook groups dedicated to music.

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