PHOTO CREDIT: Lindsey Byrnes
MOST of us would struggle, if we lived there, to move…
PHOTO CREDIT: Lindsey Byrnes
from Australia to another part of the world. To be fair to Mereki; she moved to L.A. – and seems rather at home there! I ask the songwriter about the move and her new E.P., Beach, and which of the songs is her favourite; what it has been like putting it together; if we can see her perform anytime soon – and what it is like gigging alongside Dhani Harrison!
Mereki tells me about the albums and musicians who mean the most to her; why there is little time for relaxation before Christmas; what she would tell new songwriters as they embark on their first steps; a few albums that are especially meaningful to her – and a few new acts that are definitely worth some time and attention.
Hi, Mereki. How are you? How has your week been?
Hello! I’m great.
My week has been lovely. Just back from tour and settling back into L.A.
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
Hi. I’m Mereki. I write songs that I mean and put them to music that I like - and then I try to sing them in public spaces.
Beach is your new E.P. It is an exciting and original release. What does it feel like having it out there?
It feels like freedom.
I’ve been working on this E.P. for a long time now and I’m very happy to have a cohesive piece of work in the world - I have so much more coming!
What sort of times and themes inspired the songs? Do you have a favourite number?
Mostly hard times that forced me to become a better human being, to be honest.
My favorite track is It Will; which is all about surrendering our ‘control’ gene and allowing the universe to do its thing. I also love the drums on this track and am really proud of myself for making a song with positive messaging that actually sounds cool (I think) and not cheeeeessyyyyy.
I like French Kissing. It is a strong and compelling opener. Is that based on personal relations and experiences?
Oh yes, they all are (smiles).
Thank you! I was falling in love and, therefore, feeling the full spectrum of human emotions - from romantic, gooey heart flutters to utter fear; pain and vulnerability. Ha.
It Will, which closes the E.P., is an interesting nod to the future. Can you tell me about that song and how it came together?
I had just gotten back from a songwriting trip to Iceland that had kind of shaken me back to my core - and this was actually the first song I wrote for the E.P. with a dear friend of mine, Nate Donmoyer. As I mentioned; this song is about life and letting go. Sometimes, I realize that I write songs to remind myself of what I need to remember later...
I could do with remembering the chorus of this song every day for the rest of my life, probably – “If it’s meant to happen, then it will/If it’s meant to be mine, then it will”. It’s kind of like a mantra, I guess. We humans are so silly thinking we have control over stuff all the time - and assigning so much importance to so much sh*t that doesn’t matter. Let it go! Jump in the ocean! Hug your friend! Make a joke!
Life’s too short and precious to be spent dwelling on the things we can’t change.
Los Angeles is where you are based. What is the music scene like there? Do you feel like it is the perfect place to watch your music grow?
Definitely. It’s very fertile ground to create music in; loads of amazing people to collaborate with and lots of wonderful opportunities. We (just) need to make sure you don’t drink the Kool-Aid. Stick to your guns and don’t let others tell you what your music should sound like - you’re the only one who knows that…
PHOTO CREDIT: Work Horse Studios
You were born in Australia. What was the reason for moving to the U.S.? Is there a big difference in terms of the music scenes?
Music and (just) a much bigger pond…
I like being a little fishy. I love the Australian music scene because it’s very organic and creative: I love the U.S. because there are just endless opportunities.
Who are the artists you grew up listening to? What are your early recollections of music?
My first cassette was (by) Angelique Kidjo and I would listen to it every single night to fall asleep to. After that; I became a bit of a teenybopper listening to Aqua and the Spice Girls before moving into Jewel (bless) and, eventually, Elliott Smith, The Get Up Kids and Roxy Music in my teens. Classic Aussie rock bands like INXS and Midnight Oil were kind of the soundtrack to my upbringing (by default), though; so my taste, still, is extremely varied.
My earliest recollection of music is, probably, my dad strumming on his guitar to nothing in particular.
IN THIS PHOTO: Miya Folick/PHOTO CREDIT: Maya Fuhr
Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?
Empress of. Her record, Me, that she wrote, produced; recorded and mixed herself is very close to perfection to me.
Oh…and that Phoebe Bridgers record!
IN THIS PHOTO: Phoebe Bridger
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Oh man; that’s rough!
Either/Or OR Figure 8 by Elliot Smith
Because they’re STILL THAT GOOD.
Heaven or Las Vegas by Cocteau Twins
Because it’s so special and perfect.
All Things Must Pass by George Harrison
No explanation needed.
Can we see you perform anywhere soon? What gigs do you have lined-up?
Eek. I just finished a tour - but I’ll have some shows lined up in L.A. for February!
PHOTO CREDIT: Steve Rose
You are the opening act for Dhani Harrison. How did that come about?! What is he like?
We were introduced by his manager, David Zonshine, because he was looking for a female vocalist for his forthcoming record - which I ended up featuring on. He’s a very wise, intelligent; unique, deep and caring soul with a huge heart. I feel very blessed to have met him and his beautiful family - think I might have known them from another lifetime actually…
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Be open - but not so open that you become closed. Be strong but soft. Be kind to yourself and to others. Listen to the little voice inside your heart that always knows what to do.
Christmas is not too far away. Do you have plans already - or will you be busy working?
YES! I have my annual holiday benefit coming up this Friday for my fave women’s shelter, Alexandria House. So; I’ve been working round the clock since I got back from tour - on the decorations - and making sure everyone knows what song they're singing - and figuring out if Santa’s coming! Ha.
AND I’m releasing my first-ever original Christmas song this week...and then, next week, I’m recording the six songs I sing on Dhani’s record at a live recording of his record at Henson Studio...and THEN my family are coming and it’s all soaking in hot-tubs and drinkin’ hot chocolates from then on...or soaking in hot tubs WITH hot chocolates, if I’m lucky.
I’M WILD LIKE THAT.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Jai Paul - Jasmine
THANKS! HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
PHOTO CREDIT: Lindsey Byrnes