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May 7, 2019 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

Interview with Mermaiden

Enigmatic, commanding, and present, Wellington three-piece Mermaidens are in their seventh year of leaving audiences lost for words and begging for more. The band consists of Abe Hollingsworth (Drums), Lily West (Bass/Vocals), and Gussie Larkin (Guitar/Vocals), who all met during high school. As a young Aucklander, my idea of a music scene was going to see a shitty band from Western Springs College who would inevitably break up, because someone ‘dogged the boys’. Wellington, however, had an unparalleled music micro-climate that bred talented musicians ^and captivating performers. Mermaidens are the manifestation of both of those factors; their music will spellbind the staunchest critic and command the stubborn observer.


I had met Gussie a handful of times prior to this interview. We crossed paths at Radioactive a day prior to her European tour with her other band, Earth Tongue. Now back in Wellington, I was fortunate enough to sit down with her to discuss the band, the coming-of-age process they have undertaken, and the year ahead.


Hunter: Hey Gussie, thanks so much for having a chat with me. So the band has had a long history in Wellington, when did Mermaidens first start rolling?


Gussie: Ah, what’s the year? I think it’s…mmm.. I think it’s about the seventh year.


H: I see, obviously it’s inevitable that a band will change over the course of that time. Have you found that Mermaidens has developed their sound or taken a different direction?


G: I guess we’re becoming more confrontational, all of the music that we’re going to release this year is going to be very direct. It’s about being powerful, not aggressive but yeah, confronting.


H: In your latest single release “You Maintain The Stain”, there is a sense of hopelessness as the listener, almost as if the vocalist is really commanding and controlling the mind—I felt like whoever inspired these lyrics would definitely feel very small.


G: It’s actually Lily that sings this song, which often gets confused, but yeah she said a lot of our older songs had a lot of metaphors to do with nature and soft language. So there’s definitely a conscious shift to a different style.


I think we’re just being braver with our lyrics and the production, as well. We’ve had so much more time in the studio so we could really hone in on guitar tones and drum sounds. We had like, 20 mics on the drums, and the amount of detail was crazy.


H: Was there a change in approach to making this new single of yours? Obviously one thing for a lot of bands is to record demos and create music within different flats, or friends’ houses, etc… Was there a slightly more defined studio-esque approach for this upcoming project?


G: Yeah, which was kinda due to budget. We were really lucky to get a NZ on Air grant for the whole project. So we kinda didn’t have to worry about spending another day or taking heaps of time.


H: Obviously being a three-piece is quite an intimate band environment where everyone has their role or piece to play. Do you find that playing with people you already know has helped the band take leaps forward?


G: I think that working with your friends is the best—and kinda the only way—that everybody can make cool shit. Which we still totally do—I’ve been making a video for Earth Tongue with just one other friend and completely no budget. But we both have ideas, and you just have to be invested in it, truly invested in it. I’m pretty lucky because I’m from Wellington so I have those connections; people who move here may not necessarily have the same contacts. Three-pieces are just the best. It’s a power trio anyway, just killing it. But two-pieces are great, too.


H: Definitely the best way! Thank you so much for having a chat with me, Gussie, and best of luck for Mermaidens’ continued domination this year. Just one rumour to clarify—I heard that the band actually met while swimming under the ocean with dolphins. Is that true, and is the high school story a cover-up?


G: Haha, yes. That’s completely true, and completely embarrassing.


You Maintain the Stain” was originally released as a 7” single for Record Store Day, however music and other goodies can be found on their Bandcamp. Keep an eye out across their various social media channels to keep up with their movements, including a 2019 European tour!


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