New York has a pretentious-musicians problem and Brian Merrill is here to fix it with his down-to-earth and honest music.
BTRtoday is premiering “Forgiveness” from Merrill’s upcoming EP Bliss Bunnies—a pensive song about the difficulties of being understanding. Over a guitar that strums up and down like waves, Merrill sings ever so smoothly, “it’s the hardest part about making love to you … forgiveness.”
It’s a song from the heart and a sentiment we’ve all heard during relationship struggles. After all, forgiving can be difficult, no matter what kind of relationship you’re in.
“I don’t think at this point there’s a reason to play music unless you really have something to say or are onto something that feels new to you,” Merrill tells BTRtoday. “The only thing I know for sure is that there is a particular feeling of being free and a release that comes with writing songs—I’m not really able to access that place from anything else.”
Merrill will be playing his EP release show at Our Wicked Lady on February 17 . It’s sure to be an emotional set that’ll resonate with you days after.
Emotionally prepare yourself by listening to “Forgiveness” and reading the rest of the interview with Merrill below.
BTRtoday (BTR): Who’s been some of your biggest musical influences?
Brian Merrill (BM): I want to open for Princess Nokia. I think she might love Yogananda and I grew up in a family of people reading his books. She [Princess Nokia] has this amazing voice that speaks to all kinds of people and she’s not limited to any one artistic pursuit or social norm. She’s unique, and explicit and yet still so real and unpredictable. I can’t really think of many artists where with everything I see from them—with her for instance—it’s just, “oh, wow, yeah, I love that.” Every fucking time.
BTR: What’s writing music do for you?
BM: I don’t think at this point there’s a reason to play music unless you really have something to say or are onto something that feels new to you. I think that’s what we should listen for in artists as listeners too. Like, who is actually reaching out and touching that electric creative energy and speaking back from that place. Those are the people that aren’t egotistical, those are the real creative people—the people that don’t go, “I am this thing.” They’re the ones who are forever chasing, forever learning, forever discovering these answers to all their questions.
Through writing these songs I’m solving the problems I’m facing in my own life. That’s the point of being a poet guess—so whether my music is just to inspire other artists or whether it’s for the public, I have no idea.
BTR: Tell me about this new EP Bliss Bunnies?
BM: Well, so the only thing I know for sure is that there is a particular feeling of being free and a release that comes with writing songs. I’m not really able to access that place from anything else. So working with other people like Jamie Walters, who produced and engineered and played throughout this EP, was an amazing experience because he really re-immersed himself into the stories of these songs with me.
When I used to just write poems and stories in college, it was pretty isolating. But music gets people going, and for me it brings my friends together. I’m always excited by the ability to collaborate and find new tones and sounds—and think beyond “making something pretty.” (Because 2017 was mostly not pretty.) I don’t want my voice to sound pretty on something recorded in 2017. It seems like for Jamie and me this record was all about making something truthful and honest, because life is messy. I feel like, thanks to him that all came through. We got a lot of help and support from Andrew Sarlo too (producer on Big Thief and Nick Hakim’s records) and bless him, he mastered the Bliss Bunnies tracks.
BTR: What should we keep an eye out for in your music?
BM: Right now I’m obsessed with finding the myriad ways this can be played live. Like how DIIV could be heavy all sped up live, but smooth on recordings. Having all the variations. I want to play shows with artists from across different genres and really stretch myself to be inventive on the new record I’m making too.