It’s no lie that our little red dot is blooming with local talent, one such being Mersie, a local singer and songwriter who is going to woo audiences with her first EP Showcase & Exhibition on the 15th of August. Being fairly new to the music scene, Mersie expressed her initial fears that came in the way of her pursuing her passion although, in retrospect, she believes that she has grown immensely as an individual and musician. STYLEGUIDE had the chance to catch up with her, a few weeks before her first EP Showcase, and she gave us an insight into her musical journey.
Wash Away is going to be your first EP Showcase & Exhibition on 15 August. How excited are you to be performing then, and can you share more about what others can expect?
This event will be the first solo event and the biggest milestone so far that combines my heart for music and art, so it is really significant for me. As an artist, I’ve prepared a collection of paintings that reveal the heart of the EP, Wash Away. Utilizing various mediums, it will feature the qualities of water and the beauty of the colour blue.
As a musician, I’ve prepared a stripped-down live version of the songs in my coming EP as well as an exclusive sneak-peak of the new originals that have yet to be released.
Appreciating old school music sensibilities, physical CDs with art lyric card sets of the EP will be available for purchase only on that night. There will also be hand-painted one-of-a-kind merchandise and other art pieces to take home.
How did you get started and what is the inspiration behind your music?
The lyrics of The Carpenters oldie my mother used to sing, “She says I began to sing long before I could talk”, is a pretty accurate description of how my love for music first started. My mother’s passion for singing was a big influence on me growing up. As a naturally emotional person, writing songs started out as a musical diary. It grew into a healthy outlet and an expression of the feelings and thoughts I could not cope with or comprehend. I also incorporated stories I collected while travelling alone with my ukulele, and still do.
Wash Away is like a chapter of that musical diary. I hope to bring the audience through that journey with me. Themes of love-hate relationships, growing pains, finding comfort in the midst of storms are very much present in my creations. I aim to show that we are not alone in these struggles and that things will get better.
What has been your biggest success so far?
I have had the honour of singing for former President Dr. Tony Tan, being selected for the Noise Music Mentorship, winning several contests and meeting my huge musical inspirations like G-Dragon and Jason Mraz in person, but despite all those successes, I think my biggest success is not giving up on this dream to do what I love. It is not giving up on my journey to keep creating and being authentic with myself and my art.
What’s been your biggest challenge as a musician so far?
I think making a living and considering the practical aspects of pursing music and art is a huge challenge for me, even now. Although many around me support me, there were some who had more concerns and asked me to reconsider my choices. I have to find that balance in finding practical ways to generate income but also not to give in to the status quos of this society and give up on my pursuit to do music and art professionally. My mentors always remind me that it takes a lot of time and effort to get to that comfortable place. I just have to keep going until I get there.
What are the stereotypes that surround a female musician and how do you break away from them?
I think the reality of the entertainment industry is that one must have a marketable visual. Especially for the female musician, looks play a major role as to whether or not someone can be famous and well-received by the public. However, I don’t fit into that mould of a tall, skinny, big-eyed pretty girl on the magazines. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be beautiful on my own accord; in my own unique way by being authentic about the messages in my songs.
You’re an artist as well as a musician, how do you balance these 2 talents so well?
It has been a long process for me to try to reconcile these two art forms. After focusing for many years on art and design, I decided to focus harder on music and was actively finding ways to better my musical talent. After finding myself in a place where I felt confident in my music, I started to incorporate my art into my music as well. This showcase exhibition will be my first time presenting myself as a singer-songwriter-artist. I am still learning how I can continue to develop this identity moving forward.
Tell us more about your handmade artworks, since when have you been creating them?
Much like singing, I have been doodling on walls and tables ever since I was a kid. I did art throughout my teenage years and digital art and design throughout my tertiary education. When I was studying in the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University, I started focusing a lot on watercolour, oil and ink painting. I realised that it was something I found a lot of meaning and enjoyment in. It was so addictive and therapeutic that I couldn’t stop painting from that moment on.
What’s the relationship between your artwork and your music?
As a multidisciplinary artist, the same motivations guide my music and art. The expressions of my inner emotions and the desire to journal memories of that particular time are the main reasons why I keep creating. When my creations are shared with an audience, a story or feeling is conveyed. Both of them come from the same place in my heart. Wash Away is my first attempt at creating a personal art-music event by creating artwork that coincides with the stories of my songs in Wash Away EP. Hopefully, the messages would be doubly impactful for those who view or hear it, resulting in a more immersive experience.
If you could choose one musician to collaborate with, who would it be and why?
It would be Standing Egg. They are a well-known Korean indie band that is a big musical inspiration to me. The leader of the group was the one who made me realise my dream to be a professional singer, so I owe a lot to him. He continues to encourage me in my journey and I really hope one day I will be able to create music with him. Thanks to God, I’ve received a scholarship from the Korean Government to pursue my masters in Painting in Seoul. Hopefully, we will be able to meet and make that dream come true soon!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, trying new things and taking opportunities that scare you but are good for you! Nobody is perfect and you can never please everyone. Be yourself and always trust in God and the process.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
My dream is to develop my brand “mersie studio” and continue to see how my art and music can come together in creative projects that serve to bring joy and comfort to those who need it. Through these projects, I would also like to raise awareness of social issues such as mental health and depression.
Who are the people in your life you’d like to thank?
I believe that my voice, my talents and these open doors are all thanks to the grace and mercy of Christ to whom I am beyond grateful to. Also, my loved ones and those who believed in me and supported for so many years give me so much strength to continue this journey. And also, last but not least, the people who I did not know personally but shared with me how my music has impacted their lives and continue to support me with such love. My heart is full of thankfulness!
Mersie's song, which is from the EP, "Before I Get Home" will be out on all major music platforms on 16th August 2019.
You can find her below on the following platforms:
Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/
All images courtesy of mersie