Mercy’s Cartel is Raw and Honest on New Single ‘HORIZON’

Introducing R&B sensation Mercy Cartel, whose latest single ‘HORIZON‘ will have you hooked. With unforgettable vocals on a backdrop of powerful drums and rich bass lines, Mercy draws from personal experiences. The track delves into themes of love and escapism, with Mercy’s versatility as an artist is evident in her seamless blend of R&B, hip-hop, and gospel, earning her acclaim and support from industry heavyweights. Despite her recent emergence, she has already secured notable achievements, including the Abbey Road Studio’s scholarship, and Mercy has already graced stages at festivals like Glastonbury, captivating audiences with her electrifying presence. With ‘HORIZON,’ Mercy Cartel cements her status as a rising star in the music scene and sound that is familiar yet fresh. We caught up with her to find out more!

Can you take us through the creative process behind your latest single, ‘HORIZON’? What inspired the song’s powerful drums, rich bass lines, and the captivating vocal arrangement?

I was inspired by 80s power ballads and rom coms. Literally, like the scene out of Freaky Friday, when Chad Michael Murray is singing outside Lindsay Lohan’s window. I know he’s singing Britney Spears but, that was how I was singing, like imagining it. I was trying to get this message to this guy. Just waving my figurative boombox in his face, screaming my declarations of love to him.

I’m a theatrical person so the production had to reflect that and that’s why the drums are so 80s inspired and splashy like the reverbs and snares and everything. The bass line is pretty simple because it’s just I want it to be sound-scapey and not distract from the vocal arrangement.

In terms of  vocal arrangement,  I’m saying, “Are you ready for a real one?…” And then, I use the backing vocals as my support. The backing vocals support me and just tell the listener “you play this song next time that you’re faded” and yeah, the whole concept is then getting this message and then being able to play it when they’re getting high.

It’s kind of dark actually because I don’t want him to get high and die. But if he does get high, I want him to play this song and remember me.

The lyrics of ‘HORIZON’ tell a compelling story of forlorn love and self-destruction. Can you share more about the personal experiences or emotions that influenced the narrative?

This has just been my experience dating men in Bristol or London. I have so many struggles with men having sexual attraction and then not wanting to have an emotional connection as well.

They literally wouldn’t want me to know anything about them like too deeply and that’s kind of what I wanted to foster our connection on. I thought that was normal. I thought it was normal to meet people and be vulnerable with them. Turns out I’m actually autistic and I have ADHD, so that’s kind of influenced the way that I’ve been dating and approaching emotions in general, with humans my entire life. HORIZON kind of shows one instance where someone came into my life and told me about his history and he was an orphan. He’d been adopted and been addicted to drugs. He was older than me working in the music industry, but doing well himself. I had no idea or of who he was as a person because when you first go on the first date, that’s just their first impression that puts their best face forward. So I met his best face and then he disappeared.

Some people might be able to just get all that information about someone and have silence and not feel the need to do a wellness check or check in but for me, it went beyond dating. Because at this point if somebody tells me about their history, I want to know if they’re actually genuinely okay. As a person, it’s not even friendship. This is a human to human level. Are you okay? It was like a safeguarding sort of thing.

I couldn’t find him once and I had to find his adoptive parents and I thought I was being dramatic. But when he “ghosted” me he was in a crack house doing class As very intensively and it was like, the darkest time of his life. So yeah, I was right to be worried. And I wasn’t being full on. This was a troubled person.

We’re fine now. He’s teetotal. He’s married and he’s got a baby girl in Bristol and he’s doing well.

As a writer, producer, and engineer, you create a genre-bending atmosphere of R&B, hip-hop, and gospel. How do you approach blending these different genres, and what role do your unique experiences with mental health, relationships, and womanhood play in shaping your music?

These genres inspire dance for me, but it depends on the dance you’re trying to do and the mood you’re trying to convey. I honestly do not approach any genre with a formula in mind. I think I just pull for influences.

Like R&B, it is about me being emotionally and romantically honest. My singing style in parts of this song is influenced by hip-hop. There’s certain bits in the drums where it gets a bit more rhythmic to evoke that bounce. 

Gospel is just how I envision my soundscape when I create music. I see it in my head and I see it as an ensemble and then when I’m creating all these like different layers and everything is creating another like ecosystem within a song.

I tend to let men underestimate me but I’m getting better at finding my own voice. Finding out that I’m autistic and have ADHD explains so much as I do have a bit of an uphill battle for a lot of tasks that I delve into. I feel things a lot more intensely and it probably comes out in my music. And it’s weird because even with this song coming out, it’s based on the time of when I would have maybe been in a manic phase when I met this person. Now I’m three years older, I’ve not been dating yet it’s still relevant to me now. I’ve liked a lot more perspective on my life that I didn’t have before when I even initially wrote the song. 

So it’s crazy. I wrote the song for myself. I wrote this song back then, but it still applies to my life right now. And I still relate to the lyrics now and I can still be like, oh shit. I’m still in the same pattern. I’m still the same because this song was about that one person but it could be applied to this guy and that guy and that woman and that person.

Being one of the recipients of Abbey Road Studio’s scholarship in Music Production and Audio Engineering is a significant achievement. How has this scholarship impacted your work?

Being at the Institute was great because I was able to fall in love with the craft of creating a record. And I love telling technological advances that we’ve made in music and how it’s so accessible but  the knowledge that you get at Abbey Road is incomparable.

My taste is different. What I want is different. I take more time with things and I’m happy to take more time because I know why I’m taking this route. I know what I want. I think it’s strengthened me as a producer and engineer, I’m able to form my own teams and also have a language where I can explain things that are in my head and know how to have a conversation with somebody who is maybe a bit more attuned to that particular skill set. Without that scholarship, I would not have as much autonomy as I do now.

It’s led to so many opportunities. And this kind of broke my brain and kind of split it in half because it’s just like I’ve I’m thinking in ways I’ve never thought before. It feels really powerful to be an artist who writes producers and has knowledge of their own engineering wants, needs and requirements and can form their own teams around it.

The whole point of the scholarship is to dismantle or at least try to combat inequality within the music industry and I feel very empowered. God-willing, when I’m able to form my own teams, I’ll be able to delegate the job responsibly, equitably, and efficiently and I just know what to do. I’m just very well rounded and very holistic in my approach to making music and I’m very thankful for it.

Securing spots at festivals like Reading, Dot to Dot, Glastonbury, Kendal Calling, and We Out Here is impressive. How do you prepare for festival performances, and what moments stand out from these experiences?

It’s been so long since we’ve done a festival and I’ve been taking a break because I wanted to completely focus on upskilling myself in terms of the recording and technical side. My band also influenced a lot of my production through our rehearsals for gigs. 

Jamming new songs and ideas influences how I want to produce it or how I want to sing my songs and it’s like a love language and when we go back and forth. Prepping with them is always easy because you’ve got an energy between us and we’re able to just flesh out these songs and tighten up what stands out from these experiences. What stands out is the energy I think the energy releases because sometimes my band as well because everybody’s so busy with life and stuff. When we lock in; it sounds even crazier than any recording or demo that I have.

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