Former Summit County resident Megan Wyler releases first album in 8 years
‘Upside Now’ is available for digital streaming
Musician Megan Wyler has patience. It took eight years for the California native and former Summit County resident to release her second album, “Upside Now.”
The patience likely was instilled in her at a young age from her parents’ perseverance. Since she was 5, Wyler grew up on a ranch in the Blue River valley north of Silverthorne. The ranch produced goat dairy, but it also had chickens, llamas, ducks, geese, horses and rabbits. The one thing it didn’t have was electricity.
After using oil lamps and building fires every day while waiting for the infrastructure, her parents — mainly because of her music- and film-loving mom — finally got a generator when Wyler was 12 or 13. The indie folk artist was exposed to records by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, the Carpenters, Paul Simon, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Crosby, Stills & Nash at home or in the long car rides to the old Silverthorne Elementary.
“As a parent now, they were completely crazy, or so brave, or a little of both,” Wyler said, adding that winter drives required a 3-mile snowmobile expedition on the unplowed road. “It’s a very intense way to live. … I think it kind of made me who I am. They definitely had an adventurous spirit.”
Wyler also credits her elementary school choir and drama teacher, Becky Barnes, for setting her on the creative path. Wyler said Barnes would have the entire student body, which she estimates to be 120 kids through sixth grade back then, sing, act and dance in original, student-written plays.
“It felt very natural to me,” Wyler said. “I felt very at home on the stage. She kind of lit my fire, and it was something that I was good at and something I wanted to pursue.”
Wyler graduated from Summit High School a year early and auditioned for an acting degree at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts. She deferred her admission and spent a year traveling. While in New York at age 18, she found a zither at a flea market to add to her quiver of instruments. She said they aren’t the most practical instruments since they can be a nightmare to tune, but she still regularly uses the same one she bought for $10.
She also plays the guitar, piano and bass, but Wyler considers her voice to be her main instrument. She doesn’t even regard herself as a guitar or piano player, rather she sees them simply as accompaniment and a means to an end.
“I almost use harmony as an instrument,” Wyler said. “In my music, I have to stack harmonies to make an instrument in and of itself of my own voice.”
Wyler used those talents writing, touring and recording for various bands in New York City. She also worked as a theater actor in experimental and off-Broadway productions. She moved to London in 2009 and met her husband, composer and music producer Peter Raeburn. Music became her primary focus, and her debut album “Through the Noise” released in 2013.
“It was a nice shift because it was like I was juggling two lovers, and I finally chose the right one,” Wyler said.
Shortly thereafter, however, she put her music career on pause because of her son’s health. He started having seizures when he was 2, and he’s had over 14 surgeries in eight years to treat an unknown genetic condition. Wyler spent most of that time taking care of her family and working as a session singer.
“That was a great experience, actually,” she said. “It released some of the pressure of music, of having to create, having to put it out and put your name to it.”
Work began on “Upside Now” when things were in a better place, and the album was recorded two years ago in a span of a month at her London home. Joining her on the creation are frequent collaborators like violin and viola player Emma Smith, drummer Alex Thomas and guitarist Matt Sweeney. Raeburn served as executive producer along with producer Adem Ilhan and mixer Mark Rankin. Wyler also co-wrote the anthem “Starlight” with Anoushka Shankar, daughter of sitar player Ravi Shankar.
“We would just wake up in the morning, go into the studio and work the whole day,” Wyler said. “… It was just this really deep process. I love that kind of residential creation. Everything is part of the process, even the kids coming in and interrupting and having to cook some dinner.”
The family aspect is important to Wyler, and she dedicated two songs to her children. She wrote “Sparrow” for her daughter, titling it after her middle name, and “Life is Sparkling” for her son.
Other than delaying the March 2020 release of “Upside Now,” the pandemic didn’t alter much. Wyler and her husband were still able to do session and composing work at their home studio in Los Angeles — after a nerve-wracking period when all film and commercial shoots were on hold — and she wrote the beginnings of new material in between taking care of the children.
A future tour is to be determined, but Wyler hopes she can make it out to Colorado as she still visits the ranch each year with her kids.
“Upside Now” released July 9 on Nowever Records. It can be streamed on platforms such as Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon. An upcoming vinyl release is in the works.
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