Mesmershade excited us with their debut EP, for many reasons. For one, this is a project with a duo that exceeds expectations with the cinematic dark pop they make. The sound is a confluence of cultures, of different sounds and barrier-breaking expression. With Echoes of Elegy, they cement their place in experimental dark pop with a dramatic turn only the biggest music fans can enjoy.
For your debut album, you have chosen some themes to explore while putting out your signature sound. How did you arrive on these themes?
M. Munigant: I tend to lean towards darker, depressed sounding tones with a bit of discordance thrown in for good measure. I’m sure it affects the topics that Juniper chooses for her lyrics.
Juniper Jow: Along those lines, I think our overall theme of lost love came about sort of organically. I guess you could say that part of the reason why I was drawn to Munigant’s songs in the first place is that these were the themes of this season of my life and so the lyrics I wrote became a natural reflection of the emotions I was experiencing in real life.
Mesmershade invite you to the fore
The EP’s name itself is quite a sombre one. Mesmershade bring their stylish tone to the synth infused globes that you’re subjected to. Moth is the opening single, a whirlpool of melodies and interesting rhythms. Typical, bands take the linear route with dark pop and let the background become a somewhat stale diffusion of the root melody. This band goes several steps ahead. Even in the lyrics of Moth, you can hear the poetic lyrics swirling around the theme.
The kind of layering which involves many frequencies might be difficult to execute. Especially songs like The Best That I Could Invent. Which track did you find toughest to execute?
M: Of the songs on this EP, I’d probably say “Moth” was the most difficult to put together. It layers four different synths over each other to give it depth, but there is a careful balancing act going on in the track that’s necessary to keep it from becoming a wall of noise. It also has a sneaky time switch in for the chorus, which adds an extra layer of complexity to it.
Drawing from the drama
We Don’t Have to Wait has a bespoke, Victorian era sound in the kind of scale used. The vocals run in line with the lead, adding emphasis to the kind of sound they would want. It makes the sound darker, a mystique that is metastasized with the melodic push in vocals. Short but extremely strong in the kind of effect it wants to capitalize on, Mesmershade is pushing the envelope actively in their sound. It is heard best in the next single, The Best That I Could Invent.
The lead grows on you as the vocals aid the same part. No harmonies, but the punch of the same lead has a profound effect on the listener. An aggressive, pulsating beat is at the helm, and it is the genesis of the tidal waves that carry this track further. You would never expect a sound like this from a dark pop duo, if it was only dark pop. Mesmershade is more, and far deeper than the kind of sound you asked for.
Sorrow and its tales
The elements in Vicissitude have an industrial fusion in the synth. Is there a genre that particularly inspires Mesmershade?
M: The synth in Vicissitude is actually an Oberheim OB-8. It’s my favorite synth to work with. I use it on almost every track. Strangely, a lot of my influences are noisy, mid-90’s screamo and hardcore music mixed with the synth-heavy soundtracks of John Carpenter’s and David Cronenberg’s movies.
J: I’d say that for the lyrics and vocals, my singing is influenced by stage musicals, popular music and jazz from the 20th century.
The dissolving sounds in Vicissitude echo around the EP now. Though the percussion is far simpler, the tones and lyrics are a capsule of what the word might mean. It means fluctuation, and that’s what the character of the background suggests as well. With We Sleep, you’re in the pawn game of the phasing vocals and simple synth canvas.
Some of the best lyrics come together in this track, strong imagery and metaphors drawing out the sound. The EP closes with Death’s Lover. It is the kind of music you would want to close your collection out with. Not only does it cypher on what Mesmershade define as their sound, but writes lyrics that poetically take them to the very top of indie dark pop.
Mesmershade is new dark pop
As far as inspirations go, which is one artist or project who you idolize, but might be unexpected given your resultant sound?
M: Considering how everything sounds, you probably wouldn’t be able to pick out the huge influence that mid-90’s gritty hip-hop production, like something you’d hear from the RZA, has on the songs I write. Possibly you can pick it out of the drums in places, but since we are a totally different genre of music, I don’t think that influence is readily apparent.
J: I guess Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton might be one example of something I love that is an unexpected influence. You might be able to hear that influence just a bit in my rhyming patterns, but that’s probably the only noticeable way that it shows up in these songs.
What can we expect next from Mesmershade? Will there be a mushrooming into other sounds or fortifying this established one?
J: I know we have a few songs coming up that center around a theme of nostalgia. I’d also say that our lyrics are going to continue to use romantic relationships as a metaphor to explore other ideas.
M: If you can expect anything, it will be more experimentation, more playing with song structure, and more variety of songs. I don’t think we’ll ever lose the unique sound we have together, but I definitely see it growing and evolving into something greater as we continue to create more songs.
It is this ambition of the band that will take them to great heights. This EP would be perfect for Gone Girl (2014). The darker themes, lyrics and instrumental infusions would be great in Fincher’s superb work. Listen to the EP here and follow the group for more to come!