This month, a lifelong dream came true for Meg Duffy, the musical artist otherwise known as Hand Habits.
After five years of songwriting, Duffy released her debut full length - Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void) on Woodsist Records. The album is a strikingly intimate glance into Duffy’s past, tracing a move from the Catskills of New York to the bustle of Los Angeles and detailing the lessons she uncovered in music and in life along the way.
During a childhood in which she moved around a lot, Duffy sought an escape in music. Holed up in her bedroom, her guitar provided a constant source of comfort.
“Guitar was my excuse to be alone and to work on something,” she said. “It was an escape and while playing I could emote all the feelings that I had.”
She returned to her childhood escape repeatedly, even after graduating college, when she began picking up side jobs playing for other songwriters.
Taking the stage with acts including Mega Bog and Kevin Morby, she was taken aback by their peformance, and saw firsthand how rewarding it was for artists to sing and write original material. The performances filled her with a sense of insecurity, leaving Duffy unable to envision her own future in songwriting.
But then, things in her life started to change and the stage she shared with others became a source of inspiration for material.
“I first started writing songs about five years ago,” she said. “I was feeling all these emotions and I needed time for myself. I started writing the songs for Wildly Idle before I had ever thought about making a record.”
The record began taking shape in the Catskills, where a bulk of the material was written before its completion following her move to California.
During the recording and production of the album she would leave often to go on tour. At first, she feared the frenetic schedule of touring would disrupt her “groove,” but the months she spent away from recording provided much needed perspective.
“I would sit on these songs for a month and then go away and come back, and a lot of times I’d come up with a new idea” she said. “I learned a lot every time I went to do something on this record. I was making changes as I went along and kept very loose arrangements.”
Mixing much of the album in the Los-Angeles “thin-walled” home she shared with three other roommates, Duffy immersed herself fully, drowning out the world around her. Some moments on the recording provide a glimpse into her world, and you can hear the sounds of her roommates through the walls - the clink of dishes in the sink and padding of footsteps in the hall, all mixing with Duffy’s beautiful, and purposefully simple arrangements.
After a lengthy period of being “immersed in other projects,” Duffy is empowered that her debut record is out and in the hands and lives of others. She's also overwhelmed with gratitude, acknowledging that this childhood dream come true is now a reality that every listener is contributing to.
“It’s like having an anonymous source of comfort that others can develop their own feelings to this record,” she said. “In a way it’s a preserving of my own emotions and now others can have their emotions to it and we’re creating this beautiful microcosm.”