Paul Kalis A&E Editor
The Pioneer recently spoke with Nick Mery about his new album, “Gentlemen Streets,” which will be released on April 26. Mery wrote, recorded and performed every song on this album, which features 10 new tracks. As an independent artist, Mery released seven albums, two through iTunes and five available for free download, licensed six songs to CBS and charted in the Top 25 Acoustic Artists on Garageband.com. In addition, he was nominated twice for “Best Original Song” in the Feel Good Film Festival.
In addition to “Gentlemen Streets,” Mery will also debut a free EP for download simultaneously entitled, “The Blue Dog EP.” Both records will be released via Mery’s label Plaidcore Records. “Gentlemen Streets” will be available exclusively on iTunes, and “The Blue Dog EP” will be available through his BandCamp page on April 26. You can follow Mery on Twitter @MeryKid.
The Pioneer (TP): “Gentlemen Streets” will be released on April 26. How did you choose the album title?
Nick Mery (NM): The album title was chosen to reflect my state of mind, being 27 and trying to embrace growing up. I think a lot of people in entertainment have begun using their careers to stay forever young, as if being older and more mature is somehow a bad thing. “Gentlemen Streets” is my proc- lamation that growing up isn’t such a bad thing! Fittingly, April 26 is my birthday, so it’s just another step towards finding myself within the madness of this beautiful planet.
TP: You completely wrote, recorded and performed every song on the album. What was it like taking such a big behind the scenes role?
NM: Being completely in control of a project is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, if it all goes right, you get all of the glory! And on the other hand, if (and when) something inevitably goes wrong, that comes down completely on your shoulders as well. I’ve always been a control freak when it comes to my music, mostly because there’s so little money involved in being an independent artist that the real payoff comes from seeing your vision come to life. I take my albums very seriously. Once the process of the writing is finished, however, I place a lot of pressure on a very select group of friends/fans/collaborators almost like a focus group to tell me every good and bad thing they think about it, before put- ting my final stamp of approval on it. Finding the right balance of criticism for your project is a healthy, and necessary, step towards releas- ing a quality product.
TP: Which of the new 10 tracks is your favorite and why?
NM: This is a hard question. It’s like asking which of my ten fingers is my favorite finger. I like all of my fingers! From the perspective of an album, each song is necessary for the ebb-and-flow of the experience, so without any song I don’t think it would be the same. However, with that being said, I believe “True” is my favorite song to have written. From a production standpoint, it’s the song that I feel pushed my abilities the furthest. It’s my super-saiyan track.
TP: The electronic-pop album showcases your best in the hip-hop and R&B genres. How did you find a balance between this variety?
NM: One of my favorite quotes from the show “Scrubs” was, “It’s a hip-hop world,” spoken from the mouth of a very old, wrinkly doctor. This is something I couldn’t agree with more. Hip-hop has positioned itself as the most influential genre in pop culture, partnering with the ever-expanding technol- ogy of audio recording equipment, sound manipulation and social networking. At this point in my career, I’ve released folk records, psychedelic albums, concept records about space and a punk record. This was a frontier I had yet to experience, and found it extremely fulfilling. My foray into R&B is just a choice to focus on singing (since I couldn’t rap myself out of a paper bag) over electronic soundscapes. Artists like Frank Ocean and The Weeknd have recently given new life to the genre of R&B, making it exciting again.
TP: As an independent artist, you have released seven albums [two through iTunes, five available for free download]. How has this business model worked for you?
NM: It depends on the perspective of success. I’ve had people from all over the world contact me, write about my music, especially from earlier YouTube videos I released. I once wrote a blog post about a vin- tage keyboard that I used to record on one of my albums, and people still to this day offer to buy it from me. So I feel like my music has connected me to a lot of humans that would not, in any other circumstance, be reaching out to me. Monetarily, it’s not an overwhelmingly successful venture! There are instances from time to time where something pays off substantially, but the music industry still relies very heavily upon familiarity, when it comes to investment. You either need to know someone in charge, or you need to sound like someone who knows someone in charge.
TP: Where do you find your inspiration?
NM: A lot of my inspiration comes from technology. At a certain point, when I’ve got a movie playing on a big TV, music playing, instruments buzzing, and lights flickering around me, I feel like I’m plugged in to the experience of electricity. I was struck by lightning once, so maybe a little bit of the energy was transferred to me.
TP: What advice do you have for college students who want to get ahead or break into the business?
NM: In all honesty, I would tell them don’t jump into it expecting the money to come first. If you’re looking for an immedi- ate payout, then you will have to shamelessly copy of-the-moment trends, which means your payout will end as soon as “the moment” is finished. Anybody can make YouTube videos of Top 40 songs and hope to be the next Justin Bieber, but creating something that’s meaning- ful, with substance, is what most people forget about art. Art is a being itself, one that needs contribution of the artist’s soul to exist.
TP: Tell us about one of your YOLO (you only live once) moments.
NM: I was born in the great year of 1985. Luckily, my moment is still happening.
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