PacSun Feature | Music is Her Safe Space
by Christine Kim·
Singer-songwriter and actress Megan Lee details her music career and her personal stories navigating through the industry.
A singer, songwriter, actress, Youtuber and content creator, Megan Lee is one of many young creatives juggling multiple professional titles. With all our lives existing behind a screen, immersed in the virtual universe, you can now find Megan streaming on Twitch. Megan is a woman in her prime, yet she has already amassed an extensive – and not forget impressive – resume. Inspired by original Youtube artists like David Choi and Rafael, she started her own channel at 14 years old. Since posting her first video, she signed to Soul Shop entertainment, which is the label of legendary g.o.d's leader singer Kim Tae-Woo, participated in The Voice season 14 chosen by Alicia Keys, starred in Nickelodeon's Make It Pop as the lead character, wrote music for K-pop artists such as Exo's Baekhyun and Girl's Generation' Taeyon, and released her own singles. She spoke candidly about her experience in both South Korean and American music industry and how those experienced shaped her into the person we see today. Continue reading for the full conversation.
UPRISERS: How did you get connected with UPRISERS and Michelle K. Hanabusa?
Megan: Growing up in L.A. and being part of the whole Asian-American entertainment community, I got to be close with a lot of people from different communities like Kollaboration. I just always held the Asian-American community very dear to my heart, and I consider them as family. I'm really close friends with Tammy, who is the co-founder of Hate Is A Virus, and through that I was connected with Michelle. I want to support any organization and brand that holds an important message that can help better people's lives.
You also worked with with #HATEISAVIRUS, how important was it for you to be involved, especially with the current political climate? What part of it was most impactful for you?
Oh my gosh, my heart was so heavy, there's just so much violence going around not only to the Asian American community but also the Black community. And I've already been aware about the Black Lives Matter movement and how corrupt the police system is, but I feel like I learned even more during last year. And on top of that, with all the crime against the Asian American community because of COVID-19, there were so many emotions running and I realized that I needed to educate myself even more. And so with Hate is a Virus, I felt I had a responsibility with having a voice and a platform to spread awareness and be part of the campaign so that other people who actually hear my voice, I can influence them and encourage people to join the movement. I thought raising all the money to give back to the Asian American businesses was so powerful. It blew my mind that people stopped going to support these local businesses because of pure racism. It just felt so surreal. So all the work Hate Is A Virus is doing is something that we really needed because I feel like with Asian American communities is somewhat lacking in sticking together, but Hate Is A Virus really helped bring us together even more. We needed to, especially during a lot of last year. It was kind of like a wake up call: Hey, we need to really, really stand for each other. This is the time to really stand strong.
Your resume as a singer-songwriter and actress is extraordinary and extensive, how important is music to you and when did you discover your passion for it?
Well, I grew up in church. My mom played the piano at church, and so I have always been surrounded by music ever since I was young and I just loved how it made me feel. I felt like myself the most when singing, performing and listening to music. I don't remember when I decided that I wanted to pursue it as a career, it just sort of happened through YouTube. When I discovered YouTube and I watched other creators like David Choi and AJ Rafael and kind of started seeing other Asian Americans online doing music. I felt really inspired and encouraged to start posting videos on my own. I had no idea that I would ever even be given the chance to grow an audience and expand my career through that. I started posting videos since I was 14 years old and now here I am.
You started in the South Korean music industry at a young age and were exposed to the K-pop industry early on, did music evolve for you?
I still feel like music is a safe space for me in different ways. It's what is comfortable to me; I love it so much. It is what makes me happy. But because I've been doing it for so long and in the different experiences that I had with music, it has made me feel a little more jaded than when I first started. That's only because it is a business and what could happen when you experience the things that I have at such a young age. I dealt with law suits with my previous label in Korea and met a lot of different kinds of people in my life that shifted my feelings for the industry. But it has never really changed my feelings for music in general. I try to always hold on to that, because if I lose my passion for music, I feel like I lose my meaning and my purpose. Music is something that really makes me feel like my authentic self.
How has your vocal conditions affected you?
I'm still very involved with music, but I'm a little more behind the scenes. I'm writing more for K-pop artists these days. I have been dealing with a vocal condition which I am currently still working on, and I've been going for vocal therapy. It's a vocal condition called muscle tension dysphonia. I deal with a lot of tension in my vocal cords. And it can be very frustrating because it does limit me on my performance. My mental health as well because I can't sing and perform comfortably as I used to. So it does affect a lot, but I still keep on going with some training. It took me a while to be this vulnerable. It's been happening ever since 2019. And now I'm in therapy and just trying to recover slowly and hope that I can go back to normal. But it's hard because I am a singer-songwriter and I hold a lot of pride in my music. And so it was very hard for me mentally and physically to just accept that this is just the reality that I'm going through, you know?
How excited are you for the UPRISERS x PacSun launch?
I honestly was at a loss for words. I was so excited not only for UPRISERS, but also for PacSun, because I feel like this is such a great opportunity to spread the word and mission of UPRISERS to a broader audience. I've been at PacSun ever since I was in middle school, I still shop there. It's just going to be so exciting to see the brand new collection. Because PacSun has a very diverse audience, it's the perfect collaboration. I'm so excited.