Putting the ‘Hot’ into the ‘Tang’

A sit-down with local artist Megan Buick and her group, Hot Tang, discusses the release of the band’s first full-length album.


Local group Hot Tang will show off its unique sound at Trumpet Blossom Caf é in an all-ages show for the release of its new album, Mostly Mallards.

The trio of Megan Buick on bass and vocals, Anna Kahn on keyboards, and newer addition drummer Jason Burkhardt released Mostly Mallards on May 25 both digitally and on cassette. The album, Buick said, is a collection of songs she has written since Hot Tang was born in 2015.

UI alums Buick and Kahn met at a graduation design event some years ago. Buick recalls that they met while Kahn was running around the building telling people about the fonts she created and the pies that her mother had baked.

Buick said that after she learned that Kahn played the keyboards and wanted to play in a band, they started learning songs together and formed the group.

Burkhardt moved to Iowa City from Fairfield, Iowa, last year, and he connected with Buick and Kahn through their previous drummer. When they met, Buick said, Burkhardt wanted to be in a band and write music, so they collaborated and have been friends since.

Buick’s involvement with music started during her free time with family.

“My older brother was really into piano when I was growing up,” Buick said. “We would always learn songs together, and I would sing them.”

Her musical influences growing up included the Shins, Cat Stevens, and Elliott Smith, she said.

For the band’s first full-length album, a 10-track, 35-minute release, Buick described the sound as unique “easy summer keyboard music.” When the musicians recorded the album, she said, it was the first time for her to be in a recording studio, and she had a good time getting the music to sound the way she had envisioned.

Thematically, she said, she calls the music “feel-good sad songs,” lyrically simple and in upbeat major keys but with somber subject matter. Buick said she liked reading books about anxious people unsure about life, and those themes are reflected in her songs about feeling awkward and isolated.

“In general, I’m trying to make something I like,” she said.

She also drew inspiration from her friendship with Kahn, she said, who Buick jokingly called “her muse.” One of the songs, Buick said, was about Kahn dressing up as the “Twin Peaks” character Laura Palmer for Halloween.

Friday’s show will not be Hot Tang’s first rodeo playing a live performance. Last year, the group performed at a variety of venues, both locally and across Iowa.

“It was some of the most fun I’ve had, but the planning is so intense,” Buick said. “I think I prefer local shows.”

Trumpet Blossom is one of the Iowa City staples for live shows, and it has featured local bands and a recent drag-king show. Hot Tang’s Trumpet Blossom performance is scheduled for 9 p.m. on July 27, with Diners and Kyle Anthony also set to perform.

Mostly Mallards is available to stream and purchase on Hot Tang’s bandcamp website.


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