In Conversation With…ALICE MERTON

Alice Merton creates intelligent music which makes an impression on the charts too. Her latest single ‘No Roots’ – a song which says that belonging can be created by the value of our experiences rather than any physical location – achieved over 14 million views on YouTube and reached the top five in multiple European countries.

But it isn’t just a case of statistics – Merton is a savvy and extensively involved musician. She has her own label, Paper Plane Records, on which she makes her releases and although Canadian-raised, has lived in both Germany and England too.

Her music is moulded by the rhythms and range of movement – meaning that it is catchy but also uncompromised – combining elements of enchanting pop, with charming folk and heartfelt acoustics. She holds a kind of creative freedom which feeds into tracks such as ‘Hit The Ground Running’, the next single due to be released towards the end of the year. 

With a London headline show, Radio Tour and more from August onwards, she’s a musician to watch as well as listen to…

Your single ‘No Roots’ has been high in the charts in multiple countries – do you think the concept of having ‘no roots’ and instead celebrating the variety of life’s experiences resonated with people? Why do you think this is?

Alice Merton: “I do think this topic has resonated unexpectedly with a lot of people, especially since It’s a topic that I’ve learned many people can relate to. We live in a time where we are becoming more mobile. We are restless and want to experience as much as we can, in a short amount of time. It has become easier to pack up our things and travel to different places, whereas in the olden days, I feel people were more attached  and rooted to their home. Nowadays however, the concept of a home has changed dramatically with all that’s going on in the world.”

Do you think music has the power to cross borders and connect people – or is it still a case of competition, i.e. some people say that certain countries are ‘harder to crack’ than others? 

AM: “I do think music has the power to cross borders and connect people. At the end of the day, we’re all human, we all feel a beat, we all can recognise if something speaks to us or not, regardless of where we come from and what language we speak. That’s one of the greatest parts about music is that it doesn’t have boundaries.”

Why did you choose to embark on the DIY route, in terms of a record label, and what would you say to other artists thinking about it?

AM: “We chose this route because we wanted to keep our creative freedom. We had had various meetings with major labels, some of them saying they liked the music but thought it would be best if we changed the arrangement. Some labels thought the songs weren’t good enough or they couldn’t really see the “musical direction” I was aiming for. Other labels told me to get rid of my band if I really wanted a chance of making it in the music industry…

“I feel like a lot of record labels aren’t giving artists the creative rights they deserve. They are acting like tastemakers who decide what works and what doesn’t. I didn’t want anyone who wasn’t in charge of the music production telling us what can sell and what can’t sell…what sounds good and what doesn’t sound good. That is for the artist and producer to decide in my opinion.”

How have you managed to keep your creative freedom and energy whilst moving around so many places?

AM: “I think I’ve been able to keep my creative energy and freedom because of all the moving around and changes I’ve experienced.

“Those who know me well, know that I don’t like too much change…at least not in the beginning. I like having continuity, stability…something that stays. But with moving around and now touring a lot…it’s a topic that doesn’t seem to rest. It’s always floating around in my head which forces me to be creative all the time and analyse how i feel. I’m lucky however that I can keep the team I have had for the past 4 years and that we get to experience all these new things together.”

What can we expect from your new material and how does it differ from ‘No Roots’, would you say?

AM: “You can expect to have a lot of different flavours and feelings, mixed together with rhythms and beats that make you want to move.

“I see No Roots as being the first layer of the cake. It has introduced me as an artist and musically summarised what I like to put into music, but it is only the first chapter. For those people out there who want to experience the rest of the cake (not just the no roots flavour) I would advise to try the rest of what is still to come.”

Have you got some live shows coming up? In an age of ‘No Roots’ and people increasingly moving around, is a live music element still important? 

AM: “We’ve got a few live shows coming up. Lots of festivals mainly in Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and France. We are starting to work with a US and UK booking agency, so I’m also looking forward to playing more shows there as well!

“A live music element will always be important in my opinion. It’s every musicians dream to be able to perform his craft live in front of an audience, so I think it will always remain important.”

The debut EP from Alice Merton is released now via Paper Plane Records. Purchase on iTunes here.

Find Alice Merton on Facebook and Twitter.

Emily Oldfield
Lover of music, poetry and Manchester.

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