At 18 Meiko had trailed behind her sister to Los Angeles and landed a waitressing gig at Hollywood’s Hotel Cafe. Later, she emerged as one of the venue’s biggest success stories, alongside Rachael Yamagata and Ingrid Michaelson. Her first, self-titled effort — her moniker, by the way, a nod to her one-fourth Japanese heritage — debuted at No. 1 on iTunes’ Singer/Songwriter chart, before Meiko even signed to the now-defunct MySpace Records/DGC.
And in May, Meiko reemerged with her first album in four years — cheerier and bolder sophomore effort The Bright Side, off Concord Music Group offshoot Fantasy. As she finished a bowl of vegetarian ramen in San Francisco, we talked Meiko about other ways she’s changed since her mostly acoustic Hotel Cafe days, thanks to a new label, newfound collaborators and a new boyfriend.