The moody pop singer-songwriter sets the stage for a major breakthrough.
There's an unsettling eeriness to Joseph of Mercury's deep baritone. "Tell me everything you're feeling," he probes, spinning a detailed Bowie-bent vocal--rich and soul-shaking and demanding enough to lure your darkest desires to your skin's sensitive surface. "Want to know why you're always running," he later reflects on the second verse of his seductive new single "Find You Inside," premiering exclusively today. Masked in acute mystery, the singer-songwriter riddles together the shadowy sides of the moon and the stars, as a way to express the unnerving firestorm brewing just behind his eyes. "I have been in this often oscillating, pursuit of muses for some time," he tells Popdust. "They become the images I see and the words that I write. I have never before been so inspired and content...creatively. Though, in truth, at times, it makes it hard to be present with anyone else."
He adds, "You just want to be around that feeling, that sensation of precarious intensity whenever and however you can be. What else could compare to that? So, you are willingly and unwillingly captivated by it. Trapped in a room, that every so often, contains everything you've ever wanted. And every so often, nothing at all..."
His poetic heft is not just an act. The deeply affecting speech is rooted in his very being, filtered through the greats he so dearly admires. While "Find You Inside" touches upon Bowie's slinky allure, Joseph's other recent release, the swirling "Without Words," harkens to the spirit of Elvis Presley. "That's a very kind comparison. They were and remain gods in the world of what I do. Their quality of sound is laced into the minds of millions, myself included. I would say, however, that my approach has always been to wander while I write, simply to follow a song where it wants to go," he says. "Sometimes, that's the 50's and sometimes that's the 60's, 70's, 80's, what have you. We know that certain artists really owned those decades, that they achieved a true height of greatness in those eras. So, if you wander into their houses, you're probably going to find yourself in similar rooms."
"However, I think if you focus too hard, your target, it becomes very hard to hit. I guess, I've always just had better luck throwing darts with my eyes closed," he surmises.
With this release, Joseph of Mercury is keeping his options open for what comes next. "The landscape of music as an industry is currently one of ever shifting sand. So, it's foolish to build anything too rigid. We have an EP; we have an album--we'll just have to wait and see how it appears when it makes it out into the world," he teases. But the music itself is entrenched in observations "of myself and others, in the desperate throws of wanting all the things we can and can't have, what that drives us do and become," he notes.
Take a listen to "Find You Inside" below:
Do you have a music video planned for "Find You Inside"?
A lot of the songs I write contain a fair bit of exposition, the who, what, where, that kind of thing. It really evokes a rather particular image I think, and you can be held hostage by it, you can fight against it...or you can get out of the way, tease at a world, and let the song tell it's story as it's meant to.
When listening to both "Without Words" and "Find You Inside," your music centers on mood creating and capturing the magnetics of music's golden age. Is that your deliberate intent behind the work?
Thank you sincerely for listening. I really appreciate it. I mean, you can only ever hope to find yourself in the comparative company of the "GOLDEN AGE." But the only goal we had in our minds was, and continues be, to simply write and create work that is musical and rhythmic and beautiful and to not really over think it too much beyond that.
Previously, you had released a song in early 2015 called "Lips," which is more driving in the percussion and the melody. How did your musical ambitions shift over the past few years?
Towards the end of 2014, I was actually drawn away from music by some personal crises that I won't get into. Suffice to say I was unable to continue with music in the same way that I had been. "Lips" was released during that time. It was strange because I couldn't really back it up; It was this last gasp of a time before. When life throws up an obstacle, it's not always a matter of effort, sometimes just a completely different approach. So, that's what I did. I became a different type of musician.
During that time, how did you change, personally?
I spent my time the last few years, trying to be as productive as I could be, and now on the other side, I have all this music. I've gone through eras and phases and changes as an artist all in private. So now, it's about delivering that arc, that body of work to the outside world. I'm very excited to find out what it all means to people, beyond the confines of my inner circle.
When you set about reintroducing yourself to the world, why did these first two releases ("Without Words," "Find You Inside") make sense?
The music to come explores a lot of different times and places. If I have a "sound," no one song really exists at the centre. However, we thought that this first collection of music should establish a starting point from which we could freely move in any direction.
How much songwriting have you been doing, and who have you been working with the most?
I try to write at least a few songs every couple days, though lately I'm not always afforded that time. For my own work I have always been the primary songwriter. My process being a rather solitary one. However, I really enjoy any opportunity to collaborate with talented people. Of late, I've worked with ilangelo, Majid Jordan, a very last minute evening session with Dev Hynes and Nelly Furtado, my long time collaborator Patrick Greenaway from the "The Weeknd" and most often ALP of MSTRKRFT.
How has your songwriting changed the past few years?
I would actually say it's become more musical. I'm pretty well all self-taught, on keys/drums/guitar. But I've had the chance to work and be around some incredibly talented musicians these last few years. I really just try to soak it all in. Then, I just go off, sit down and try to make it happen myself. In the process, it's inspired new ideas and grooves and feelings in my writing. I just have more to work with.
Are there new things you've discovered about yourself through the artistic endeavors?
That much of who I am as a person is so tied up in what I do, and for better or worse, that's just so innate now that there's no turning back. I will do this everyday, until I can't, whether I am solid or broken, physically or emotionally, it's just what I am entirely compelled to do.
How have you been developing your live show around this new music?
During the recording phase, I never like to think, "how will I do this live?" I just want to make the best and clearest and most compelling song possible. I feel like there is always a way. So, we are rehearsing, and we are building, and we are finding a way.
Do you anticipate touring any this year? Or will your focus be solely on the music?
We're ready to go if the right thing comes along. You don't entirely need an audience to play a show, but I would certainly prefer it. So, for now, we will focus on the music and introducing the project to all those that would care to know. When enough people come together and ask me to show up in person, I will.
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