RGM Introducing – Merrym’n

What made you decide to become a soloist?

I’d been in a band that kind of fizzled out after our bassist moved away and, like I always had, I kept on writing songs. I was going to open mic nights and playing them, enjoying it and decided to get myself together and start releasing music on my own.

Introduce us all to the members and your musical history?

Well, Merrym’n is just me. I like the idea of the folk-troubadour (although I do miss being in a band), and everything you hear on my records is me too. I like the freedom that comes with going it alone – I can create whatever music I fancy and play whatever shows I want.

Merrym’n is the first solo project I’ve done; starting in a 2-piece punk band in my teens, into Brit-pop in my early 20s and then an indie outfit in my late 20s. I’ve now settled into a indie/folk groove that I’m comfortable with and I guess it’s the most successful thing I’ve done.

It’s been a bit of a wild last year, how have you managed to pass time and stay sane during lockdown?

The album I’m about to release has been the key. In March of 2020, I started writing from scratch and by March of 2021, I had a completed double-album and a single to release. The music has been massive in allowing me to escape from the intense reality we’ve all faced.

How positive are you feeling now we are in 2021?

I’m not sure. I’ve learned to assume the worst and then enjoy anything that doesn’t turn out that way. I’m bored of the monotony and I’m bored of the soapboxes – but the sun is starting to shine a little bit more, so here’s hoping. 

How has 2020 affected your mental health?

I know I’ve been lucky. I have a good family and a roof over my head. I can’t complain. Yes, I miss my friends and I miss the pub, gigs, football… but I’ve been lucky. I’m not complaining.

How are you feeling now the road map has been announced and live gig can return?

I’m excited to feel live music again. Performing or watching, I don’t care which. The vibration of the bass, the bustle of people. I miss the local music community too. I’m cautiously excited to have this piece of me back.

What advise would you give other artists starting out?

Ignore the numbers. How many plays on Spotify, how many likes on a post… it’s really hard, because it’s so available – it’s such an easy way to judge how it’s going… but it means no where near what building relationships with people who genuinely believe in what you’re doing means. Put your energy into doing what you want to do – sod what’s trending: folk will respect that.

What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?

I get asked why I write songs about Stoke-on-Trent as if I’ve lost my mind. If I lived in London, Manchester, New York; I wouldn’t be asked that. Ultimately though, people write about their life, their experience, their surroundings – I’m doing nothing different. People write off my city – that’s the truth. I like to talk about Stoke-on-Trent, but I shouldn’t have to justify it inspiring me.

What support is out there for new artists in Stoke?

There are a lot of energetic people, good people, who put their soul into musicians, artists, poets and other creatives in this city. They know who they are. We have some brilliant venues and a rich history – support the scene and it’ll support you. 

What was the most fun you have had on stage?

In the 00s I was in a band called The Wind-Up Merchants. We played a gig in Lancaster at a place called The Gregson Centre with other bands who we were great friends with; it was a great scene we had going at the time. It was a packed house and the place was bouncing. There was a noise limiter in the room which kept cutting the power when the choruses kicked in – it made for a great party.

What was the worst experience on stage?

I dunno, I’ve had lots of bum gigs. Playing on your own is tough when you’ve been booked for a room of people who aren’t really there for original music. I’ve turned a few down for that reason too. I certainly don’t expect folk out on the weekend to stop chatting and listen to me, and often I enjoy the challenge of winning them over, but sometimes being background music doesn’t work for me.

Tell us something about yourself that you think people would be surprised about? 

I’m very ordinary. I am married with two kids, live in a semi-detached house on an estate and go to work Monday to Friday. Some folk seem to be surprised by that sometimes, like I’m a travelling storyteller. But actually, the ordinary life is where I draw most of my inspiration from and I quite like it.

What’s your biggest achievement as an artist?

I’ve had lots of little successes as Merrym’n. I’ve been part of campaigns for the city, provided theme tunes for podcasts, been played on national radio, opened for John Bramwell… all of these little things are great… but I think it was the first time I heard an audience sing along to one of my songs with me. That was just magic.

Tell us about a time when you had a proper reyt laugh while you were all together?

There was a moment on stage, around the release of my second album, that I was introducing a song about a garden festival, having just sang a song about personified carpet showroom advertising, that I realised how ridiculous some of the subject matter was. I just started laughing at the situation, as did the audience. A really sweet moment, but I really did laugh at my own existence at that moment.

What’s your favourite song to play live and why?

I have a song called ‘Forever Valiant’ about a Port Vale fan’s struggle to balance his love of football with his romantic life. The lyrics are very, very niche and there’s a refrain towards the end of the song that turns the lyrical style into long melodic notes; it feels wonderful to play. I’m very fond of lots of my songs, but that one stands out. I wrote it with my good friend Mikey B, who helped me with the niche Vale references.

I hear you have a new single brewing, what can you tell us about it?

Statue of Josiah will be the second single to help bring my new album into the world. It’s the opening number on the album and was written with the 60s jangle of The Everly Brothers and The Hollies in mind. 

The song is about mixture of things. I always struggle to name roads, but I can describe where things are through monuments. I was thinking about how family members become almost monuments themselves, especially once they have passed on and their final abode becomes like a personal monument. This was also written around the time of the crowds pulling down the statues of slave traders in Bristol, and I thought about how Josiah Wedgewood’s legacy in Stoke-on-Trent is one to be proud of.

How was the recording process given the various restrictions the UK has been under of late?

I made the album entirely at home. It took me a year to write, record, mix and master. I then did the artwork and music videos myself too. The project kept me busy during the locked down evenings and the final product is something which I hope people find to be a warm, fuzzy, DIY labour of love.

What are your plans for the year ahead 

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

I want to go to places, see gigs and hang out with my mates again. Otherwise I’ll be sharing my new songs and my new album in any way that I can.

The album can be pre-ordered as a download or on CD here: https://theemerrymn.bandcamp.com/album/more-from-merrymn

Alternatively, it’ll be on all the streaming services on the 21st of May. You can pretty-save here: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/merrymn/more-from-merrymn