Singer-Songwriter Merykid Predicted the Present on ‘Exit Music’

Merykid’s sound isn’t easy to pinpoint. The singer, songwriter, and producer born Nick Mery is completely independent – everything released is self-produced – and, in realizing his artistic freedom, blends electronic and alternative elements with hip-hop.

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Further breaking assumptions, he has toured and performed with jam bands and folk acts yet has also been an opener for such artists as Blue October, Logic, the Deftones, and Doja Cat. 

In 2009, his award-winning “Clean Freak! Ghost!” got critics’ attention, and in subsequent years, he followed that up with a full-length album The Raccoon in 2010 and an EP titled Gentleman Streets in 2013. Beyond traditional albums and short releases, he has put together soundtracks for short films and contributed original songs to television programs on CBS.

Merykid’s musical background goes back to his upbringing in a Lebanese community in San Antonio, Texas, where he sang Arabic hymns with his church choir. That early interest led to trying out and teaching himself how to play different instruments and, eventually, completely self-producing his music. 

April 2020, he dropped album Exit Music, considered his most personal to date and one that became strangely prescient.

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Self-quarantining after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder in early 2019 and dealing with multiple drug side effects, including anxiety and panic, Merykid started creating new music, writing about his figurative end – in terms of his health, career, and world as a whole. 

In the process of promoting his latest release, Merykid had a chance to speak with us about Exit Music and his career thus far.

For your music, you draw from several elements and influences. How would you describe your sound?

Electronic with Experimental elements. I also made sure to include the electric guitar in every song on my album, so I think that qualifies as Rock. 

How did you start making music?

Growing up in a Lebanese community, I grew up singing Arabic hymns at my church. When I got older, I bought my first acoustic guitar with money from my 16th birthday. That’s where I started writing my first songs.

You also self-produced. How did you end up self-producing?

For a few years, I was the host of my own college radio show. I started experimenting with the songs and playlists with different transitions and themes (sort of a modern play on making mixtapes) – soon after, I started writing music for my friend’s different film projects. All of this led to me eventually learning how to produce my own songs.

How did the album “Exit Music” come about? 

I wrote Exit Music during a time of illness, dealing with an autoimmune disorder (and the medicine that comes along with it). Writing the album is what helped me balance out all of my anxiety and fear, and helped keep me centered. 

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The release says you had to self-quarantine. How did this affect your writing and recording process?

Being quarantined was what gave me the chance to actually focus on writing the album, as well as giving me the inspiration on what to write about. Exit Music was written as a way to counter the anxiety I was feeling from being sick and watching the world seemingly move on without me. 

You’ve been releasing music for over the past 10 years. How has your sound changed over this time?

The music I was writing 10 years ago was primarily based in folk/acoustic sounds, and trying to find a way to slip in some electronic/beat-driven ideas. Nowadays, I’m writing primarily electronic music while trying to slip in subtle hints of live instrumentation.

You’ve also written soundtracks for films and TV. How does your process for these works differ from the albums and songs you write?

The music I write for soundtracks usually tends to be centered around the action on screen, more of an organic relationship between the two elements (visual and sonic). Writing albums is entirely driven by the music, with visual elements following afterward.

Since Exit Music came out in 2020, have you started thinking about a follow-up or recording any new music?

No plans yet. It took 6 years to release Exit Music, so I feel comfortable waiting a little while longer before attempting another album.

You’ve opened for a handful of mainstream artists, including Doja Cat and the Deftones. What was it like opening for them?

Doja Cat and I performed at the same music festival a few years back. At the time, she was one of the first acts of the day, an undercard name who was out there with just her and a DJ.

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I remember watching her entire set and wondering what her place in music would be – only to watch her blow up over the next year until now. It just reminded me how quickly things can change, how one idea or one song can push you from a low-card status artist to being a household name. Meanwhile, the Deftones – one of the highlights of my life.

I can recall being 15, and owning one CD – Deftones’ Around The Fur. I played every second of the CD countless times, and have continued to love them for decades. They were a band that was lumped in the “rap-rock” genre but were clearly more creative, talented, and unique than that genre could handle.

Performing with them in San Antonio, and watching them on stage, was just a reminder of how great it is to see a professional band do what they do best – play music. 

As well, you’ve also toured with jam bands and folk groups. Considering this variety of settings, what’s your favorite place or environment to play live?

I will always feel at home in a small coffee shop. The environment is intimate, vulnerable, and as conducive to experience between artist and audience as one can get before it becomes too “preachy.”

There’s a time and place to sit and look up at a stage – this kind of altar – and cheer for a band. But being on the same level as a group of people and communicating and creating your ideas with them – that’s where I like to be. 

All photos by BLXNCO