Photography: Katie Miller
Weyes Blood is from another time—whether it’s the future, or the past, I can’t really tell, but singer Natalie Mering’s voice transports the listener to another place entirely. Her latest release, Front Row Seat to Earth is a melodic mix of ’60s folk and ’70s funk filtered through the lens of ’80s pop. Part Joni Mitchell, part Low-era Bowie, the record transcends genre to create something completely its own, sometimes strange, but always magnetic. Album opener, “Diary,” sees Mering channel Karen Carpenter, her vocals perfectly somber, as “Do You Need My Love” fuses psychedelic synth-pop with a traditional folk tune. On “Can’t Go Home,” Mering’s reverb-drenched vocals shine, and with “Seven Words,” the singer delivers poetic pop melodies atop cutting lyrics on love and loss. Front Row Seat to Earth isn’t catchy in a conventional way, but nevertheless gets endlessly caught in your head—it’s the kind of music that makes you think, that you have to work to truly understand. As Weyes Blood, Mering does far more than craft challenging yet highly intuitive folk-pop filled with soul—she builds her own little world.
BULLETT caught up with the singer to talk perception, punk rock and Ariel Pink.
Tell me about Front Row Seat to Earth.
The title is symbolic of our perception of the planet, our disconnection from reality. But the songs are more personal. It’s about the mixed bag of feelings that coexist in such a time as this, where our perception is the only thing we have—a time where everything feels upside down but it might be because we’re hanging from our feet.
What was the hardest part of making it?
Accepting who I am as a person.
Lyrically, what inspires you?
My sensitivity—I am a delicate but durable soul.
How would you describe the Weyes Blood sound?
Vulnerable Neo-classical folk balladry with computers present, set in a church.
You just made a record with Ariel Pink. What made you want to collaborate with him?
I love Ariel’s work—he’s been a major influence on me. I first heard his stuff on college radio in high school and I thought, “This guy is making music that sounds like what I hear in my sleep.”
How would you compare Mering & Rosenberg to Front Row Seat to Earth?
Mering and Rosenberg is a myth in itself, through fantasy realms. Front Row Seat to Earth is more terrestrial.
If you could collaborate with anyone else, dead or alive, who would it be?
Robert Wyatt is one of my favorite songwriters, it would be wild to try something with him—jamming with Enya in a castle would also be ecstatic. Maybe I’d want a guest spot singing alongside Lindsay Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac. But if I had a choice from the dead, I’d be hanging around a studio with David Bowie.
How did you get into music?
My father and mother are musicians, one of my cousins and my brother, too—I guess you could say it’s in the blood. Nirvana was definitely very pivotal in shaping my desire to express myself, and punk/hardcore shows around my town made me wanna commit every ounce of my being to making live music.
What do you want people to take away from your art?
I want people to see it like peace in the storm—I was trying to make classic songs and words to accompany the torrential shifts in technology and the emotional consequences of such. Like catching us up to the present in a way that is timeless.
See Weyes Blood at Music Hall of Williamsburg, March 30.