Merpire fashions soundscapes of macabre dream-pop that explore the fluidity of life, death, relationships and the human condition. The brainchild of singer-songwriter Rhiannon Atkinson-Howatt, Merpire’s honest and captivating refrains have piqued the interests of industry professionals aplenty.
From the scaffolds of her acoustic beginnings, Merpire has developed an established sound of eerie synths, cinematic flourishes, haunting melodies and beautifully written, chilling vocals. Merpire has recently released her debut EP Endless Chatter.
What’s your name and what do you?
I’m Merpire and I’m a musician
What kind of music do you play? What best describes your sound?
My music has been described as dream-pop. Some songs are influenced by 1960s alt-country electric guitar chords, harmonies and others by cinematic synth sounds. Either way, I like to make it super haunting and ethereal.
What would you say is your biggest influence?
My biggest influence as a “what” is the music I’ve been hearing all my life and continue to hear. My biggest influence as a “who” are the people making that music – Black Sabbath to Phantogram to Ella Fitzgerald to Bat For Lashes.
Where’s the best club/venue you’ve ever played?
The best venue for a sound that I’ve ever played was Melbourne’s Howler last year when I supported Ainslie Wills. The best aesthetically pleasing venue was probably this one in Munich I played only a few weeks ago called Gans Am Wasser. It’s a little outdoor bar vibe on a lake with food trucks, tents, fire pits and fair lights.
And the best festival?
I’m actually about to play my first festival with my band. We’re heading to Bello Winter Music in New South Wales’ Bellingen!
Where’s the most unique festival you’ve been to and what was so special?
The Great Escape in Brighton, England is still my favorite festival to date. It’s a showcasing of up and coming artists, spread across many venues in Brighton. I heard some huge bands there back in 2012 when they were just being discovered. Bands like Mac Demarco and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. That festival had a pretty big influence on my next couple of years of writing. It was a really exciting, adventurous way to get to know the town too.
What was the most difficult festival you ever went to and was it worth it?
I think maybe Glastonbury in England. It was only difficult physically trying to get into the festival. Everyone trying to walk from the drop-off into the campsite was like an army walking to the trenches. It was so hard for people to drag their trailers of alcohol and suitcases through the mud. People slipped and fell and I specifically remember hearing people say “Just go find the
best spot to set up! Leave me here! I’ll find you!” haha it was all very dramatic but so worth it. That festival is huge and multi-sensory. It’s another world.
Have you ever traveled somewhere that you feel has influenced your life and music that you play/produce?
Definitely that Great Escape Festival year and also SXSW in Texas in 2014. I started writing a lot of psych/rock after that SXSW year. They’ve just that cool rock vibe down there. It’s hard not to get swept away in it and why would you want to resist.
Where’s your hometown?
That would be Sydney, Australia
What’s your favorite local bar/restaurant/club?
Living in Melbourne now, I’m spoilt for choice with fantastic locals. I do really enjoy The Gasometer in Collingwood. They’ve always got the incredible live music going on up and down stairs and the front bar is a really comfy place to grab a drink with friends.
Where’s your favorite clubbing destination?
I’m not really the clubbing type, but I’ll say that one of my favorite clubbing destinations was on a tiny island on the Dalmatian Coast when I did Sail Croatia. There were a bar and light installations set up in amongst the trees and it was pretty otherworldly!
Is there something you can’t travel without?
What travel destination would you recommend our readers add to their bucket list?
Music related of course – England for Glastonbury Festival and The Great Escape Festival in Brighton, SXSW in Austin, Texas, any jazz festival in New Orleans, Americana Fest, Nashville.
Where was the most surprising place you discovered a big musical influence?
I wouldn’t say they were a big musical influence but rather an influence as a performing artist – watching an incredible jazz/pop band in an underground bar in Prague. In fact, all sorts of place around the world I’ve watched artists just playing in humble places really give it they’re all. It’s a great reminder to do your absolute best, no matter what the gig.
You’ve just released your debut EP Endless Chatter, what location did you record it in?
I recording ‘Holding Breath’ at Free Energy Device studio in Camperdown, Sydney and the rest of the EP at Golden Retriever studio in Marrickville, Sydney.
When should we expect a full album?
Hopefully around this time next year! Now that I’ve released ‘Endless Chatter’, I’m spending the next few months getting songs together for another release.
Where can we see you play over the next few months?
These are all band gigs and I’m really excited about it!
Bello Winter Music, Bellingen, NSW – 13-15th of July.
Waywards, Newtown, NSW for my EP launch! – 19th July
The Penny Black, Brunswick, VIC for Rare Finds – 20th July
The Gaso (upstairs), Collingwood, VIC, for my EP launch! – 2nd August
Any current travel plans for the rest of 2018 outside of touring?
At the moment that’s a no, unfortunately. I’ve been pouring all my income and time into my music this year so I don’t really have the time to take a music free holiday. In saying that, when I play away from home it kind of feels like a holiday. I couldn’t have a holiday without music anyway!
Anything else you would like to add?
I’d like to thank YOU very much for being interested in hearing more about me and my music and whoever’s reading, thank you for taking the time to read what I have to say! If you find yourself at a Merpire gig, I’d love to meet you.