When you leave something, whether you’re relocating, ending a relationship, or changing careers, you inevitably leave a piece of yourself behind as well. That’s the bittersweet reality Tyler Meacham faced about a year out of college, when she decided to move back to her native Richmond after the professional path she’d started down — and the Florida-based “dream job” with Disney she’d begun within a week of graduation — proved unsatisfying, in large part because it pulled her away from her passion for music-making.
“It felt like a failure, until I kind of switched the narrative and said, ‘It’s not a failure. It’s good that you’re figuring out what you want early on so that you don’t regret it later.’”
If you’ve heard Meacham’s 2019 album Property, this theme of forging a more fulfilling future will sound familiar. The EP’s six songs capture this pivot point vividly, with inspiring lyrics that signal self-determination, and genre-fusing indie-pop arrangements that nod to the music Meacham grew up absorbing and emulating — everything from the Beatles and Tom Petty to OneRepublic and Beyoncé. It’s not the only form of inclusion she’s made manifest. She’s the founder and curator of a new bimonthly concert series held at the Camel called “Offset RVA,” which aims to shine a light on underrepresented voices in Richmond’s music scene.
We spoke over the phone recently about the first Offset show, which took place in late January, as well as the origins of her album, Property, and the swift pace she’s maintained since moving back to Richmond and forming her band.
How did the inaugural Offset RVA show go?
People showed up — it was a pretty full room for a lot of the night, and it seemed like people that maybe were just there just to see one of the bands took away the overall idea that this is something that’s bigger than just the self-promotional aspect of playing a show. There’s a cause behind it, and I got a lot of really great feedback from people saying they were excited that something like that existed, and eager for more.
If I’m playing a show, I tend not to come out and socialize until after we’ve played, but I wanted to make a point of being present for all the bands and making sure that it wasn’t just, “We’re here to listen to music. [It’s] “We’re
here to take notice of talent that doesn’t get seen as often as it should be.” People were having a great time.
Property pulls together styles so fluidly, especially in the way it incorporates pop music. Is genre something you think about often?
I end up in conversations about genre a lot. It’s something that really matters to me, not only as an artist but as a listener. I feel like people can be kind of picky in their taste based on the idea that they either like or dislike pop music. There are often times when we’ll get turned down for shows, or turned down for playlists or blog features, just because it’s acknowledged in our bio that it’s pop music.
As a self-aware songwriter, now that I actually think about writing music, I recognize it as music that has a hook in every piece of a song. It’s not just the chorus or the melody, but the guitar parts. There’s something that no matter who listens to it, there’s an earworm that they can
take away from the piece that they want to come back to. There [are] all kinds of specifics in genre, but there’s a lot more music that is pop music than people tend to acknowledge.
Did you play in bands in college?
I had a songwriter project. It wasn’t a full band, but I had a friend I was writing with, and we put an album out. We really didn’t try to promote it — it wasn’t perfect by any means — but there was a lot of music that I wrote in college. Other than that, I did college a cappella, and I was in a group that was really, really serious. Music was my life in college, but it wasn’t my major or anything like that.
When did you start working on the songs that make up Property?
I wrote the first verse and chorus of “Property” [the song] when I was living in Florida, and it was the only piece of music I wrote for a year. When I finally made the decision to leave, it [meant] having to admit that I needed to change directions. That was very difficult for me because I felt like I had charted a course through my life, like I was going to be climbing the ladder in this corporate job. It was, in a way, a dream job, I guess, on the outside. But I wasn’t making music, so that didn’t work for me. That whole year was just learning that. It was learning, “I’m suffering right now because I’ve cut out the thing that matters most.” I intentionally chose that course of life, and then had to also intentionally choose to leave it behind.
So when I came back home, and I sat down to try and write again, “Property” was finished in a single sitting. I decided, “I’m just going to write music and see what happens.” So the rest of the songs on the record came out of that over the next six or eight months.
Do you feel a sense of momentum around what you’re doing?
I think so. A lot of people are surprised by how fast the band and I have been moving since we got started. It definitely feels that way in the long run. I am so focused on whatever the next thing is that sometimes I don’t recognize that we have been moving at a crazy fast speed in terms of putting music out and touring and all of that. I do feel that sense. I do feel like we’re on to something.
We’re not taking off, we’re not about to break it big or anything like that, but we’re getting closer to something.
For more on Meacham’s music, visit tylermeacham.com and be sure to catch her performance at the Camel on March 24, as well as the next Offset RVA show, which takes place at the Camel on March 12.