Published Apr 17, 2019In March, the Juno Awards celebrated Canadian musical achievement in London, Ontario, acknowledging industry icons and, at the same time, the host of young talent set to make their mark within the country and beyond. As a first-time nominee, bülow led the pack with four total nominations, tying with Loud Luxury and coming just shy of the Weeknd's five and Shawn Mendes' six.
Born Megan Bülow, the German-Canadian artist took home the award for Breakthrough Artist of the Year, and was nominated for Pop Album of the Year, Single of the Year and the Juno Fan Choice Award. The accolades stem from the success of her two Damaged EPs (Vol. 1 and 2), anchored by single "Not a Love Song." Since its 2017 release, the track has racked up over 90 million streams across all platforms, while her entire catalogue is approaching 200 million streams globally.
Not one to rest on her laurels in the wake of her Juno awards win, she then released a new EP titled Crystalline on April 5. On the heels of Crystalline's arrival, here are four things that primed bülow to become the Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the 2019 Juno Awards.
1. Taking It to the Streets
Early performance milestones for budding musicians often come in the form of recitals or school assemblies, but bülow took a much different route in her early years by comparison. While living in England, she hit the streets with an acoustic guitar to busk at only 11 years of age, performing cover versions of songs by Ed Sheeran and the Kooks.
Reflecting on her street sessions in conversations with Noisey last year, bülow admitted that planning out the performances alongside her parents took a backseat when it came time to play.
"I told them…probably a month before that I wanted to [busk]. I remember having the conversation with them. But…it was never a plan," she told the site. "Then one day I just got on the bus with my guitar and just set up my stuff and started singing. I remember my dad texting me like, 'Where are you? I don't know where you are.'"
2. On the Move
Though she now calls Toronto home, bülow lived something of a nomadic childhood, moving countries and continents as a result of her father's career. Outside of spending summers at camp in the Muskokas, she lived in Germany for eight years, England for six, and Texas and Holland for two apiece. The common thread for the young artist through all of those moves was music.
"I think there are pros and cons to moving [a lot]. I don't think I necessarily dealt with it well," she admitted to Noisey, "but I think that a lot of the emotions — anxiety, fear, excitement, nervousness — that built up toward moving, I kind of channelled it into my music. So I felt like it also helped me a lot in expressing myself."
3. Staying in School
The release and subsequent success of "Not a Love Song" coincided with bülow's final year of high school, in which she worked to complete an International Baccalaureate program. Speaking with Vice's NBGA, she admitted that the balance between making music and making the grade was tough to maintain, still having to study for exams while her hit began to take off.
"It's important looking at the bigger picture, that's kinda what I had to do," she explained of her choice to see school through. "If you have to do things that you don't like in order to get to what you want, sometimes you just have to take everything day by day and just do it. In my case, every single day I felt like dropping out and it was the hardest thing that I've ever done but now that it's over I'm proud I did it."
4. Homegrown Influence
While bülow spent the majority of her formative years outside of Canada, one of the country's major musical exports still found a way to make a mark on her early in life. bülow has cited Avril Lavigne as a major artistic influence in multiple interviews, crediting the "badass" Ontario native as the inspiration behind taking her first crack at songwriting at age eight. Having been introduced to Lavigne by her older sister, the influence on bülow was undoubtedly a lasting one, evidenced by her impromptu German language remix of the chorus to Lavigne's "Girlfriend."
"I definitely feel like Avril has played a big role in my music and my creative side," bülow told Billboard last year. "We need more women like that, who are strong and finding their own path. She wasn't doing what everyone else was doing."
In conversation with CultMTL, she also counted P!nk, Lily Allen and Rihanna among her early inspirations.