Hand Habits’ Meg Duffy offers an earthy soundtrack for the homebound

Meg Duffy of Hand Habits in their home studio. Credit: Meg Duffy.

Private Playlist is a listening session with Southern California’s most notable musical figures in their private creative environments. Hand Habits is the solo project of Meg Duffy, a multi-instrumentalist who has performed and recorded with acts including Kevin Morby, The War on Drugs, and William Tyler. Their most recent release is placeholder (Saddle Creek Records). Duffy spoke with KCRW about house-hunting in L.A., the perfect walking soundtrack, and embracing uncertainty:

I was recently on a solo tour in Australia and New Zealand from mid-January to March 5. So, ever since coming back, things have been pretty different. I was supposed to be on tour this whole year. I joined the touring band for Perfume Genius, but everything's indefinite right now and schedules are getting pushed back. And I originally thought that I wasn’t going to make another record this year, but now that I have six months of no travel and few obligations, I've been writing again. So I'm just focusing on demoing those songs and trying to get out of my own writing habits.


I go through periods of not listening to much music at all, especially if I'm playing shows, because I need a lot of quiet time and reflecting time. But I was really into this Roberta Flack record, First Take. That song, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", is just so beautiful.

I'm a Flack fan, but I had never heard that record, and there's some really nice classical-style nylon-string guitar on it. And it's so stupid, but when I was looking for a house, a friend of a friend was referred to me for a housemate. She shared that song in her Instagram story, and I was like, "Holy heck, this is great."


I'm not somebody who sits down and listens to music on speakers every day. Being in motion and listening to music is my favorite way to listen, mostly while walking. I think for me it's about escapism. Often I'll be singing while walking down the street, and people are like, "What the hell is that person doing?"

My friends Josiah Steinbrick and Sam Gendel made a record called MOUTHFEEL. It's an instrumental record using electronics, saxophone, and maybe some samples, I don't know. It feels really textural; some of it's really woody, and some of it's really watery. It's definitely good to walk to.


A lot of friends have released records, or have records coming out over the next couple of months. One record that I've been enjoying is Waxahatchee's new record, Saint Cloud.

Waxahatchee and Hand Habits both played at Woodsist Fest last summer. She played these new songs and I was just blown away. They were so … I don't mean this as an insult, but simple, not overproduced. There's a song called "Hell,” and I think it's lyrically smart, fun, and upbeat. 


I haven't been a deep John Prine head, but I think when everybody was covering his songs and posting about him, it inspired me to dive back in. I like that song, "Quiet Man.” It's funny that somebody can sing the words "oodles of light” and it still hits for me. 

I think it's a good time for listening right now, because people are at home and everybody's routine is altered a little bit. And I thrive in uncertainty; I think that’s something I'm realizing right now, and embracing that everything is always subject to change. If I can hold onto that sentiment, I think I'll be okay. But most of my life, I've leaned into the temporary nature of everything.

Check out KCRW’s other Private Playlists:

Inara George shares tips for raising music-literate kids during quarantine
Chris Cohen shares Algerian synth funk, avant jazz, and more far-out sounds





  • Meg Duffy - multi-instrumentalist from Hand Habits