IT has been wonderful speaking with Steve…
of Mercy Flight about the new track, Entropy. The band’s singer discusses its story and what tales and ideas go into their album, Humanizer. I learn how the band got together and whether there are any gigs booked in the diary – whether the Canadian group will also come over to the U.K.
Steve tells me about his start in music and influences; a new name we need to seek out; why technology, and the way we interact, is a key source of inspiration; how he spends time away from music – he provides advice to songwriters coming through right now.
Hi, Steve. How are you? How has your week been?
Great, thanks! The record release party was a huge success last night: a packed house at the Piston and the band was on fire! So excited to be releasing the new album this week! So amazing!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I am the lead singer and songwriter of Mercy Flight. We are a dream-inspired Indie-Folk band from Toronto.
How did Mercy Flight come together? How did you find the musicians you play with?
Tony Rabalao (A.K.A. Lehlo) and I started running an open mic, Freefall Sundays (and making records), together about ten years ago which has been a galvanizing force in the evolution of the band. Tony’s close friend and bandmate from Joydrop, Thomas McKay (also played in Moe and the Nightcrawlers), ended up producing and playing on the last three Mercy Flight records.
He brought in Ricky Tillo (Lady Gaga) and Dan Miller (Valerie Dour) on the last two records and Katey Morley (Gypsy Soul) joined the band a few years ago and sings B.Vs on our new record, Humanizer.
Entropy is the new single. What is the story behind it?
Entropy explores the importance of human connection in a disintegrating world; technologies designed to bring us together are tearing us apart and destroying our physical realities. Entropy is a reminder to connect in the moment.
Humanizer is your album. Are there overriding themes and ideas that define the record?
Humanizer explores the relationship between humanity and technology. The modern world is fraught with dehumanizing technologies. For example, one song is about breaking this cycle and getting outside “while the sun shines”. Another song is about an angel that wants to become human because he’s tired of immortality: “He wants to feel love”.
It seems technology and the way we connect is important to you. Are we becoming more detached as a population?
Yes. I believe that modern technology is actually isolating us from each other. We can communicate with people from across the globe but we are not connecting well with the people right beside us, the people in our lives, as well as we could.
Tell me about your influences and what sort of music you grew up around…
My father was into Classical and Jazz. My mother sang me to sleep at night. I played the piano from a young age; violin and trombone as a pre-teen and later got into singing and playing Blues harp as a teen. I played in bars around town and eventually starting writing and singing my own songs. That was the beginning of what has been a lifelong pursuit of expressing myself through music.
I have had such a variety of influences. For example, Gustav Mahler and Erik Satie; The Psychedelic Furs and Tears for Fears; the Broken Bells and Tame Impala; David Bowie and Neil Young. My most recent influences are some of the emerging artists that I witness each week at my open mic. Lots of talent!
Where are you heading on tour? Where can we catch you?
We are definitely heading to Montreal and New York. No plans to go much further afield just yet. Although, that’s definitely something I’d like to do!
Have you performed in the U.K. at all? Might we see you here?
I haven’t, personally. I know other members of my band have. In fact, a few of them tour Europe and the U.K. with other bands. Lucky!
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
More of the same, really: keep writing music and playing live; maybe make a video.
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
So many great moments at the open mic every week; spontaneous collaborations etc. and great shared energy and community-building with musicians from all over the world. It’s hard to pick one memory! I’ll have to think about that one.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I’m not sure what you mean. You mean be a patron of the arts and support someone else’s career in music? There would be quite a few candidates! I wish someone would do that for me! (Laughs).
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Keep playing. It’s hard when life gets in the way, but stick to it! Music is its own reward.
IN THIS PHOTO: Rose Cousins
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
For me, music is a way to unwind. I also like to get out into nature.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I’ve really been enjoying Tame Impala these days. Anything from the album, Lonerism - or the Broken Bells’ After the Disco.
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