Prism

Singer-Songwriter Duo Megatrain on Their Writing Process, Music Videos and the Possibility of an Album

30 September 19 words: Becky Timmins
photos: Fabrice Gagos

Our city’s music scene is ablaze with talent right now. One act rising through the ranks with particular pizazz is Megatrain, the project of singer songwriters Tiger and Felix M-B. Since 2018 they have been weaving a golden web of distinctive single releases, intriguing music videos and captivating live performances, with their offbeat view of the world at the project’s core. We sat down with the duo to get under the skin of their charming, slightly surreal world…

“We’re sponsored by Megabus and are legally obliged to use their name somewhere, so we thought ‘why not go strong’?” Tiger tells me when I ask about the band name. I have only been sat with Megatrain for a few minutes, but already I can discern a shared spark for storytelling. “Maybe we should mention that was a joke? But the name was inspired by Megabus,” Felix laughs, before Tiger divulges the real story – a trip to London which went awry when a train was mistaken for a bus. 

Their performative streak is perhaps not surprising; Tiger and Felix are both actors as well as musicians, meeting at Nottingham’s famous Television Workshop when they were teenagers. While Megatrain wasn’t born until 2018, the pair have been mates for years. “I sung on one of Felix’s early EPs, and we tried to do some writing together back then, but we just weren’t ready. We’ve always had a bit of a psychic connection though,” Tiger tells me, to which Felix adds, “We have been training for years to know each other’s thoughts, and now we can’t stop hearing them – it’s horrible.”

Joking aside, they clearly have a lot of faith in one another’s opinions. Discussing their writing process, Tiger explains: “I’ve got a lot of notes on my phone. Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night, thinking I’ve got something brilliant, then the next day I’ll look back on it and think ‘I can’t use that?’ But Felix will say that we can – and suddenly we have a brilliant song.”

Humour is an integral part of Tiger and Felix’s shebang and they can go about it comfortably, because their music is far from a joke. As lyricists they derive inspiration from an eclectic range of places, and as musicians, theirs is a complex and unique sound. “We bolster each other’s ideas, and there’s a certain degree of us sculpting stuff the other has written,” Felix explains. 

Tiger laughs and elaborates: “We wrote a song not long ago about stealing a child. There was a homeless man that wanted to father a son, and while yes, it is fundamentally wrong to steal a baby, it became this gentle, wholesome folk song. We like to shine light on interesting, perhaps misunderstood, characters, as opposed to going for more typical song-writing themes.” Felix agrees, saying: “We often want to turn strange stories on their heads, because life is really weird.” 

Their penchant for unusual characters becomes particularly apparent in their music videos and photo shoots, which have become an important part of their creative process. “We’ve been really lucky to work with Them Pesky Kids – they’ve produced all our videos and have done some amazing visual work with us,” Felix tells me. “Having music videos has really helped to give us an identity, too,” Tiger agrees. 

That identity comes into full force during Megatrain’s live shows. Over the past eighteen months the duo have been dishing out their synth-infused folk on numerous stages, including opening for fellow Notts rising stars Do Nothing at The Bodega, as well as an early-evening slot at Splendour in July. But the ignition came at Hockley Hustle back in 2018, when they played on the BBC Introducing stage. Tiger says: “That gig was pivotal for us and opened up a few doors.” 

“We definitely started off very conceptually, distancing ourselves from the music. But it has steadily become more personal, because life happens, and we want to write about those things.”

Megatrain signed to local label Phlexx this June, and both Tiger and Felix attribute the warmth of Nottingham’s music community to them. “The city feels like a real creative hub, and Phlexx hugely contribute to that,” Tiger tells me. Felix is certain that Nottingham’s supportive nature sets it apart from other cities too, and helps artists to grow: “We’ve taken a lot of strength from the community here. It feels like people want to be friends and work together.”

In a short amount of time, Megatrain have forged an idiosyncratic path that has hooked audiences, and an album seems the natural next step. “We’ve been recording a lot,” Felix smiles, to which Tiger teases: “We won’t say too much, but keep your eyes peeled.” There has already been a shift in their approach to writing: “We definitely started off very conceptually, distancing ourselves from the music. But it has steadily become more personal, because life happens, and we want to write about those things,” Tiger muses. “It’s nice to approach writing about personal things through this project – to find a more interesting way of saying stuff,” Felix tells me. “And there’s a richness to songwriting as you get older too,” Tiger adds. 

Wherever Tiger and Felix decide to take Megatrain, their destination is sure to be a thrilling one. “The core of this project will always be just the two of us – that’s important to us. But it is really nice to work with other people,” Felix says. They are storytellers, but there is nothing cliché about it when set against their nostalgic, bohemian folk sound. Through their wholesome yet volatile vocal harmonies, and guitar and synth work, Megatrain paint a delightfully unconventional view of the world. They are exploratory rather than experimental, balancing their musical ambitions with a genuine interest in what it means to be human. And it just so happens to be a pretty magical combo.

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