MEG LEE CHIN has always been a byword for cutting edge, uncompromising and incendiary new music. From her early days with the ‘arnarcho-industrial’ Pigface to her more recent work with BBC Radio 4 and spoken word poets, Meg has never failed to awe and inspire. This is Industrial music with a poignant new depth and keen sense of humanity along with Meg’s trademark twisted humour.
Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Meg spent part of her childhood living an unusual existence. Her father was a US Air Force electronics engineer. Her mother is Taiwanese. ‘The Air Force placed us in the middle of a shanty town of bamboo huts until they could find us more permanent accommodation. Our house was this big, white monstrosity floating in a sea of poverty. It was shaped like a wedding cake with each floor getting smaller towards the top. There was a high fence with an alarm system. The tiny top floor was my playroom. I felt like a princess in a tower. From the balcony, I could see the whole village. The locals stared up at me with a mixture of curiosity and envy. It was confusing and frightening. I felt isolated and guilty for having such luxuries as running water and electricity. I saw kids my own age who had to work all day just to eat. The experience had a profound influence on me and is the nagging voice behind my music today’
Returning to America did little to lessen the sense of dislocation. It was the Vietnam era. ‘With my slanty eyes, everyone thought I was the enemy. I got bullied and had to learn how to look after myself. Anybody that tried to pick on me soon got the shock of their life! I hung out with all the tough kids at school and started getting into trouble.’
Meg headed for London where she spent six months busking in the subway before forming Crunch, an all-girl rock band. ‘The inhabitants of a parallel Universe have CRUNCH instead of The Spice Girls and it’s a muuuuch better place to live!’ Though CRUNCH had the distinction of becoming the first Western rock band to play in the Ukraine after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the group made little impression at home. ‘Our manager had a plan that we would not play live until he was able to get us a mega-monster big record deal. We were just holed up in the recording studio the entire time - The good thing was that I learned a lot about production during that period.’
Soon after CRUNCH disintegrated, she found herself being flown to Wisconsin, having been invited to audition for Butch Vig’s new band GARBAGE. This was a year before they found Shirley. Though Meg got on well with Vig and his buddies, things didn’t really click. The songs were already written and there wasn’t any scope for collaboration. ‘They wanted every inflection and syllable to match up with their guide vocals and it became quite obvious there was no room for someone like me!’
Meg soon found an outlet in PIGFACE, the anarchic industrial project led by drummer Martin Atkins (PIL, KILLING JOKE, MINISTRY). She found herself as the only female in a mostly male dominated genre. But interestingly, the sexism worked to her advantage. ‘A couple of guys on tour would gang up and try to make it hard for me. Being outnumbered, I fought back the only way I knew - I got out on stage and kicked ass! The more I got picked on, the harder I kicked. I just walked out and took over.
PIECE AND LOVE was recorded on a home-built pc in her tiny bedroom in Soho, London. ‘Martin Atkins didn’t take me seriously at first when I told him I was recording my own stuff. But when I played him a track called NUTOPIA, he sat up and took notice. He offered me a record deal. NUTOPIA would be on the next PIGFACE album conditional upon him receiving co-writers credit. He was also going to produce my album in Chicago.’ The offer would mean getting the album done sooner. However, the Chicago sessions never materialized and so Meg continued working alone for another two years. 'By the time Martin got around to working on my tracks, I had almost finished the entire album. In the end he mixed and edited what I had recorded’. Meg left the label to begin rebuilding her studio and recording a new album.
I come from a family of willful Taiwanese women, having 3 sisters but no brothers. My Irish/American Dad had 7 older sisters! He was the first male feminist I knew. I guess I’m lucky. My dad nurtured and encouraged my curiosity about technology. I hung around his lab a lot playing with oscilloscopes and stuff. But out in the real world, I would get underestimated. I built my first radio when I was ten.The boys in my high school electronics class laughed at me, yet they still copied my papers. A lot of the guys on an audio engineering course were condescending, but the professor’s favorite mix of the year had my name on it. Atkins was credited for producing my album, yet it sounded very different from his previous work. The Garbage guys wanted the image of an androgynous modern woman but not the reality. I developed and created my own website, work freelance as a video editor, build computers, maintain a server, run a pro audio forum and produce music. But I still gotta fight, even today. I would love to say I’m motivated by benevolent feelings and a love for humanity, but I’d be lying! I’m driven by a sense of defiance and a seething frustration. I saw some of the horrors of this world at an early age and the images will not go away. The truth is… I want to change the world.’
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Engineering & Production credits include:
Ten Benson: 3 singles - "Transport Overseas", "Celebrities" and "City Hoppers" - Single of the Week NME, featured by John Peel.
Ali Zapatak: 1 album track - "Angel Station"
Pigface: 1 album track - "Nutopia" - off the albums "A New High in Low"and "Below the Belt"
Invisible Compilation - 2 album tracks - "Nutopia" and "Swallowing You"
Faith No More: demo, winner of "The Demo Tape Show" KUSF radio, San Francisco
Crunch: album, "Bootleg", released in the former USSR
Rising Magazine: backing tracks: various UK poets, rappers.
Meg Lee Chin: album track, "Swallowing You" Dr. Speedlove- Mix Mix Bang Bang
Invisible Records: "Wish You Were Queer" Ministry cover album- "Scarecrow"
Invisible Compilation- Dead Kennedys cover album, "Dread Kennedys": Nazi Punks Fuck Off
Meg Lee Chin: album, Piece and Love
Tim Wells - Office - Rising Compilation
Sarah Kobrinsky - Dirty American Dreams - Rising Compilation
Salena Saliva - Hastings
Marcus Downe - Def - Radio 4 Sessions