Before next Wednesday’s release of Supreme Parallel, we swapped email Q’s and A’s with Bad Braids’ Megan Biscieglia, the 25-year-old songstress behind the group who started writing and recording on her own music back when Talkboys were still topical. This Saturday, she’s celebrating the coming of her second full-length album (and her European tour) with a release show at the fantastical Rigby Mansion in Germantown. We got a preview of Parallel last September, when Biscieglia performed an intimate bathtub version of “White Mane” at Rigby for Out of Town Films. Fingers crossed, Saturday’s event will turn just as magical.
The Key: What is your connection with the musicians you chose to collaborate with on Supreme Parallel?
Megan Biscieglia: All the musicians who played on SP are very dear friends of mine. I’m lucky enough to have a close knit group of friends who are all incredibly talented. Paul Christian recorded most of the album and can pretty much play anything/ do anything/ fix anything/ is a wizard/ not human. Paul, April Heliotis, Cameron Vance, and I sometimes play in another band fronted by Mike Bruno, the Black Magic Family Band. We were all already accustomed to playing music together, so it made sense to ask them to play on my record. I knew their vibe and I knew whatever they did would be special. I met Jesse Sparhawk at a show we played together at the now defunct Emoda Gallery. I love everything he makes and feel honored he is on my record.
The Key: You’re leaving to head to Europe for a month and a half shortly after your release show this Saturday. Do you have any advice on booking a tour of that magnitude?
MB: If you decide you want to embark on a journey such as the one I am about to go on, you need to be 1,000% into it. Be ready to spend all of your time, energy, and money. As far as the actual booking of the tour goes, if you take yourself seriously, other people will too. Know that you will be ignored by many, but at the same time many others will be more generous and supportive than you could ever hope for. Get in touch with people who have toured before to book your show, they’ll know how to treat you right. Once you’re gone, be open minded and get weird.
The Key: Have you visited some of the places you’re touring in the past?
MB: Only London.
The Key: Your music has vibrant “folk” aspects to it, but you don’t seem to play many shows with other acoustic and/or folk artists. Your shows tend to lean on the side of dark rock/punk/psych stuff. and metal. Is that a conscious performance decision or is it personal style/taste?
MB: doesn’t happen so much anymore. When I first moved to Philly, I didn’t know many people. The people I did know played in heavier bands. When i decided I wanted to start playing music, they helped me and booked me in whatever show was already happening. Nowadays, I play with all kinds of bands. I like going to shows that have versatility and I’m happy when I get to be apart of them.
The Key: What do you read that inspires your lyrics, and if you don’t look towards books, how do you come up with them?
MB: I’m not really sure where my lyrics come from, they just kind of happen. I do read a lot of fantasy, and though I can’t really say whether or not one book in particular has affected what I write, I can definitely say I have a fondness for and interest in made up places, not of this time and maybe not of this planet. I love getting lost in a book or movie, then looking up and being surprised I’m sitting in my living room. I wanted to create another world for the listener with Supreme Parallel. Maybe a dreamier and hazier world where everything is a little bit foggy and warm and everyone is floating around, a place you can forget your troubles for a second and zone out.
The Key: Aside from singing, you play everything from the lap harp to guitar to sets of wine glasses. When did you start playing music and which instruments did you start with?
MB: I started writing music when I was 6. My best friend at the time and I wrote and recorded songs together on his karaoke machine and on my talk boy. We both played the piano in the recordings and I would occasionally play the bongo. I started playing guitar when I was 15. But didn’t really get into it until I was 20..
The Key: You grew up in South Jersey and went to school in Brooklyn, NY. Now, you’re building a career in Philly, where you’ve resided for the past two years. How did you start performing live, and which city did you start performing in?
MB: I was living in Brooklyn and was in a pretty dark place. My best friend had moved out of the country, my other best friend and I were in the midst of a tragic break up, and I was very very lonely. I didn’t really know what to do with my time and didn’t really have anyone to spend it with. I had written songs since I was a kid, but never really thought anyone would want to hear them. I thought maybe I’d try to play out and in the process I’d meet new friends or maybe a band I could play in. I think that’s what I wanted to do, play in someone else’s band. I had friends in Philly and they booked me at some house shows. I started playing in Brooklyn first though, my first show was at coco66 in Brooklyn and then 2 weeks later is was at the Manton house in Philly opening for Gods and Queens. I went on tour kind of right away, and fell in love with that.
The Key: What made you decide to further your career in Philly as opposed Brooklyn?
MB: New York is too money driven. I was finding it difficult to focus on creative things because I had to hustle so much just to feed myself. All of my priorities were off too, I just wasn’t happy. I started taking music a little more seriously and found happiness in that, but could never really find the time. Philadelphia made sense because I already knew a lot of people here who were doing things I wanted to be a part of. There is a rich artistic community here and it is a relatively cheap place to live.
The Key: BONUS QUESTION: Did you grow up listening to N*SYNC and the Backstreet Boys like I did, and if so, how would you rate them as musicians?
MB: No, but I was a Hanson freak. I can tell you that my moms ringtone was once “Sexy Back” by Justin Timberlake. No one can deny, not even my mom, that song is dope.
Bad Braids’ shares the “release” part this Saturday with local harpist Mary Lattimore (whose “The Withdrawing Room” will be distributed on 300 limited edition black vinyl) and the “tour kick-off” thing with her good friend (and co-conspirator) Mike Bruno, who’s accompanying her to Europe. Go here for more information about the show. Go here