There something about Sweden’s Merely, although we’re not really sure what it really is. While there isn’t much said about the mysterious 26-year-old experimental pop artist besides a few mentions of Pokémon and her membership in Team Rockit, her music speaks for herself. Meshed against aggressive hardstyle sounds, Merely’s crystalline vocals dabble in everything from the trivialities of everyday life to Scandinavian folklore. Curious to learn a bit more, we wrote to the Gothenburg-based archaeology student about how she’s digging up her own mythologies with her latest record “Nirvana”. She wrote back to us about her creative process and how to really connect with yourself emotionally… in pink and purple font of course.
September 28, 2014
Words: Peter Quincy Ng
Hey Merely! Good to hear from you as always!
Right back at ya!
Well for most people who know you, you joined Team Rockit shortly after their first album “1988”. How has working with Gregorian and Ikaros that changed your creative outlook knowing that your sound was quite different that what you initially put out?
When I met Ikaros & Gregorian everything changed, so I guess that also maybe changed or created a new way to express myself, but not like it’s been anything but a natural development. Our friendship and the music we make is probably the most important thing in my life. I think the making of “Anima” made me a better producer as well and everything that has happened in the last two years has made me more confident with my sound and voice. Eric (Berglund) and (label) Sincerely Yours have been a great part in that. My manager and close friend Emilio has supported me everyday too and it really just feels like me all the way now.
Well it must have been good experience. Gregorian and Ikaros are tattooed on your shoulders for Team Rockit’s album artwork.
I didn’t really tattoo their names for the artwork though. I mean it was more like to get my shoulder bear tha truth.
About your new album it’s sonically quite a jump between the dazed-out sound of your first EP “Semblance” and your current work on “Nirvana”. I guess the first observation that comes to mind is that appears to be a much more emotionally-intense album. How has the process of making your album “Nirvana” differed from the last?
"Nirvana" emotionally took my whole life to make, because it’s about my whole life. Everything that has come near me in one way or the other has made me understand who I am and not understanding everything in life - that is okay. "Semblance" is a very important part of that process of course: the way to (album) “Nirvana”.
The process however is a bit different because it took me like three months to produce “Semblance” and three years to produce “Nirvana”. The most significant difference however is probably that I produced “Nirvana” with Ikaros and Gregorian.
You mention that you used to play your songs for your father and if he cried, then you’d know it was good. What do you think makes a good song? What should be in your mind when you listen to Merely?
Whoever cries to my songs gives me great evidence that I’ve created something important. But I mean, it must not only be tears: feelings show in very different emotions and expressions. I’d rather say whatever makes people feel something is good for me. About other songs, I never know before I hear it and there’s no red line. It always changes. It’s (those) cosmic decisions.
I think there’s a certain rawness that comes with your music. I think I’ve quoted you in the past that there are such thing as guilty pleasures and only what you like and don’t like. Do you ever get worried that you wouldn’t be taken seriously musically? What do you think today’s youth are missing out in terms of self-expression?
Trust yourself and don’t fall into that gross system where you pretend to be someone you’re not. Norms of nothingness exist alongside everything without meaning, it’s so sad. Whatever you believe in or whatever you do: you are you.
So it’s hopelessly stupid to live by rules and the system that too many insecure, frightened and lazy people came up with as a quick solution to fit in. “Fit in”, it sounds pretty stupid right? When we literally know nothing, what’s there to fit into? If we at least try some bigger perspectives without clear answers and have respect for nature, I think we can get something beautiful back.
I think it’s a hard concept to grasp, because the music industry is such an image-based one. Take Yung Lean for example, a lot of people think he’s ironic because he raps about Arizona Iced Tea and playing Pokémon cards, but the thing is that’s the reality of many teenagers in Sweden being obsessed with American culture and Japanese anime. In some ways you could say he’s just keeping it real.
We don’t need to understand everything because for God’s sake - we feel. I see people that fall down to the grey zone of humanity, and it makes me anxious when I see that people like me and my friends not being taken seriously there, both musically and as a person. But then I “come home again” and I only feel sad for them. Of course I’m indoctrinated to this weird social drama and that has taken me a long time to break free from. Some days are harder than others. This thing is a cycle, some get it and some just don’t and it’s no difference to teens today.
Although I think the kids can take a cue when you say Chikorita is your favorite Pokémon, you’re also a person of many interests. I hear you were a pretty good figure skater when you were young, but that you’ve that also studied archaeology and are into things like folklore and collecting minerals. What can you tell about us about what we’re missing out on?
I don’t know very much about Pokémon though, I only played the cards only a few times. I love cute things and Pokémons are cute, so when Vice asked me I just said one, but Gregorian & Ikaros have loved Pokémon since like forever.
You seem to know pretty much what’s up, but then I have to tell that I really love animals: all kinds of them. Right now I don’t have any pet, so but I really want a dog. That’s something I think about like all the time. I think I’m gonna get on this year: a Sheltie.
Anything else you wanna tell the world before we leave you?
Dark angels come with peace.
Check out Merely’s “Nirvana” on Spotify below: