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INTERVIEW: Merrily James

Hi Merrily, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Thanks for speaking with me. I’ve been great! It’s a very exciting time right now to be sharing music for my upcoming EP Opia.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Sticky Fingers”?

This song started with the lyrics. The line “I lick my sticky fingers” was the perfect way for me to express my feelings for someone at the time. My emotions were so consuming, the image of being covered in honey came to mind – and that’s how the hook developed.

I wanted to create a sound landscape that was lush and sensuous. We wove vintage synths and arpeggiators through the song to create a luscious texture. I love the outcome!

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

It’s a song of unrequited love. About having electric feelings for someone that you have to be remain quiet about. The melody was really important to me in this song – I needed a way to express what couldn’t put into words.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Yes! We will be filming an official video with director Dani Brandwein (Parlour Tricks / Turkuaz) in June. We have an exciting concept and I can’t wait to share it.

The single comes off your new EP Opia – what’s the story behind the title?

Opia refers to the intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable. The entire album is based on the vulnerability of being human and the courage it takes to keep an open heart.

How was the recording and writing process?

When writing, the song itself is always the most important to me. I don’t start production until I have a really strong lyrics and melody. The production went through several phases of metamorphosis until we found the right balance of organic and electronic sounds. The end product was something I felt perfectly represented the feeling behind the song.

What was it like to work with Tommy Eichmann and Sanford Livingston? How did those relationships develop? **Tommy Eichmann didn’t contribute to this song

Sanford Livingston produced this track with contributions from Matt Rodd. I met them both through friends in other bands and loved collaborating with them. They both have a great approach to creating sound landscapes that listeners can get lost in.

How much did they get to influence the album?

I came with the songs finished, but the production experience was very collaborative. I had a clear idea of where I wanted to go with the sound, and we spent time in the studio experimenting with different approaches. We decided to use a mix of live instruments and electronic layering effects.

Does Brooklyn play a role in this album?

All the lyrics of the songs are directly about experiences I had in Brooklyn. The last several years have been full of so many highs and lows – love, heartbreak, loss, and joy.

I can’t fully reflect on an experience until I’ve put it into a song. These songs are an extension of my life story and the most vulnerable part of myself. It is a gift to be able to share these stories.

What did you learn in your time at Berklee that you are putting in action now?

At Berklee, I really dove into the craft of songwriting with teachers like Pat Pattison. I learned early on that a song needs to be able to stand on its own with just a piano. Lyrics are so important to me, and I base the production around the story of the song.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

The songs are all based on my personal experiences since moving to New York. The human condition and vulnerability. The fact that we all yearn to be open, to love and be loved – and the challenge to keep the heart open.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes! We cannot wait to do a full-band East Coast tour this summer. Stay tuned for all dates on my website www.merrilyjames.com

What else is happening next in Merrily James’ world?

I’m having a blast playing these songs live with the band. I’m also looking towards the next release and writing new material, I have so many stories to tell!

Listen here





About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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