Every Monday we will be bringing you interviews with unsigned UK or Ireland artists for Independent Music Monday. Recently we caught up with unsigned Liverpool based singer Mersey Wylie to find out more…
Where are you from and how did you first get into music?
I'm from London originally, then spent my teenage years in Perth, Australia and have now lived in Liverpool for almost a decade! I was always surrounded by music growing up, my dad's a musician and a lot of my parents' friends were musicians, artists and working in the industry so I was lucky to be immersed in it from a very young age. I spent so many of my days in rehearsal rooms, on photo shoot sets and in recording studios that I never seriously considered doing anything else. I originally went down the classical route and studied saxophone at university before moving back to the UK where I switched my focus to singing and writing.
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
I was obsessed with Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 growing up and I still love that music along with all the other Motown and soul greats. Like everyone else my age, I also adored the Spice Girls and captained a Spice Girls club at my primary school, where we'd learn the songs and routines and I'd make my mum take photos of us and caption them. I've always had really eclectic taste in music as a result of growing up in it, studying classical music, playing in jazz bands and being around so many different types of musicians, that I get inspiration from a lot of different places. I love Laura Mvula, Tune-Yards, Esperanza Spalding, Roomful of Teeth and will forever love Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell and too many others.
How would you describe your sound?
I think of it as alternative neo-soul. It's got those obvious Lianne La Havas, Hiatus Kaiyote, Jill Scott influences but with a bit of a twist from all that other stuff I love.
What is your latest release called and what was the influence behind it?
In November I released my debut EP, The Skin I Live In. It's a collection of four songs about my relationship with my mental health and exploring that from different angles. It was a really cathartic record to make, and I'm really proud of it. Releasing it to the world was a scary process, because it was unlike other things I'd done before and was so personal, but I've really appreciated peoples' reactions to it, especially those who also struggle with their own mental health. Everyone's experiences with their mental health are so unique and individual, I'm really honoured when people say they can relate to something I've written.
What’s your local music scene like?
Liverpool is a brilliant city for music, it's one of the big reasons I moved here and have stayed! There's always something going on and so many people are involved in music in one way or another. There's always been a strong indie rock scene but it's great seeing more and more people breaking out of that mold and doing incredible things. I'm always excited by what Stealing Sheep, Xam Volo and Mic Lowry are up to, amongst so many others.
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
I've taken a little step back at the moment, to focus on writing and creating the next record. It's heading in a different direction again but I'm really excited about it and can't wait to get into the studio and share it with the world.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
So many people! I'd particularly love to collaborate with people from different disciplines which is something I've talked about for a long time and not realised yet. I also really want to make a conscious effort to work with more women in the coming year, which can be difficult in such a male dominated industry. But I fully believe we have to keep raising each other up.
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
I've got an eight piece band so we're not exactly small and have had to fit into many a too-tight space. We've always found a way to make it work though, and have performed in all sorts of bizarre arrangements. My favourite was a gig we played recently though, where we had to put our keys player in the audience, facing the rest of us and he had to fend off a rowdy group of women for most of the gig!
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about you?
Alongside singing and writing, I also direct some awesome choirs, including the Choir With No Name. It's a choir for people affected by homelessness or who are otherwise marginalised, and more than anything else has really shown me the transformational power of music and singing. If you'd like to find out more or donate, head over to https://www.choirwithnoname.org/