Mega Bog is the decade-old musical project of Erin Birgy, a songwriter who grew up in Spokane but left in 2004. Now based in New Mexico, Birgy tours constantly with a fluctuating roster of bandmates.
With seabird-cry samples and sounds that mimic nature, Mega Bog songs are pleasantly trippy, like feeling edibles kick in as you sip rosehip tea. The band's breathy vocals, free-form song structure (more jazz than jam band) and unhurried saxophone create an unapologetically soft sound.
But don't let cheeky song titles like "Boob Desert" and "Fwee" fool you into thinking Mega Bog is pure twee: The song "Diznee" includes violent imagery — "There's a man with a gun in his hand / Says he hates my laugh / And wants me gone" — and "Worst Way" vulnerably addresses sexual assault. Mega Bog is gentle and tough.
I met Birgy seven years ago at an all-ages DIY venue in Seattle. This month I caught up with her by email; the following interview has been edited for length.
INLANDER: With songs like "Earth" and "Wet Moss," it's clear that the natural world shapes your music. What's your relationship to the outdoors, and what places in Washington state inspire you?
BIRGY: Something I especially love about ... Washington state is how much you can still see what "was there." ... Instead of nature and city existing oppositely, the ecosystem is transparent. My mom would always pack us up for day trips and we'd explore different parts of Eastern Washington in a pretty awesome way. Once we went to Metaline Falls and there was about an hour of the drive you couldn't see outside the car because of how thick the air was with monarch butterflies. That style is still so ingrained in me.
Mega Bog has always toured heavily, mainly playing DIY and all-ages venues. What about these spaces attracts you?
I was introduced to people making things work without the means and encouragement to do so via The Finger, an alternative paper started in Spokane. I started working and writing for The Finger when I was 14. Just by witnessing the style of flipped-out, intentional and compassionate community, many doors and parts of the world began opening up. This is still how I look at music and what kinds of spaces I want to provide for my bandmates and those who interact with the music.
When is the last time you encountered sexism in the music industry, and what strategies have you developed to deal with it?
I don't feel like it's a "last time" type of situation — because it happens perpetually — but my walls become sharper and brighter. So many folks associated [with] the music industry have a hard time trusting women to play the game that was already created. The institutional sexism frustrates me way more than boys f—-ing around in a disrespectful way at a show, because in those situations it's easy to be direct.
Not only are you a band leader, but you also engineer and mix much of your music. Did certain recording experiences push you to take the reins in new ways?
Yeah, I think a lot of it starts with necessity ... because you want this project to exist, and early on everyone was so young and we learned together. There wasn't someone I could call ... and ask to do specialized tasks for a single project. ... When something like an album is completed, you've all taken part in bringing a fantasy into a shared reality. It's so beautiful, in a sense that's still pretty punk. ♦
Mega Bog with Ripe Mangos, Misty Mountain Pony Club and Pit • Sat, Nov. 17 at 9:30 pm • $5 • 21+ • Baby Bar • 827 W. First • 847-1234