Interview: Mercy Isle: "We do this for passion, not because it makes us rich!"

  Van Muylem    18 juni 2016

Mercy Isle is one of the must see bands for the next MFVF edition! They will also bring out new tracks and are right now working hard on every aspect of it, so time for a good chat!

My logic starter: from where the choice fort his name? Is there a philosophy Behind it?

I picked up a novel on my night stand by my bed and paged through it, looking for words that stood out. It was the book American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I came across the word "mercy" and then later on a different page in the book, I believe I saw a reference to Treasure Island. So, I put "mercy" and "island" together, shortening it to Mercy Isle. To me, there is also a deeper meaning. This band is a kind of family and safe haven, when the rest of the world is nothing but nonsense, this music and friendship makes sense. It's an environment, and we all agree that we want this same kind of welcome extended to our fans, that they're safe to be themselves with us, they all have voices, and we all love metal together as a kind of nation.

How did it all start for you?

I have been in several bands over my career as a singer. But, Mercy Isle started at Metal Female Voices Fest, particularly in 2014. I sang with Metal Female Voices United, a cover project made up of 7 singers and a volunteer backing band (they were very lovely people). After performing my two solo songs (I Walk Alone by Tarja, and We Live for Love by Pat Benatar), friends and fans strongly encouraged me to put a band together. Marcela Bovio (Stream of Passion, and solo artist) sat with me for about a half hour giving me words of wisdom and encouragement. Well, when I had that much support, I just had to put a band together. I couldn't let anyone down, they had expectations of me. And I was so terrified, really. I was crying that weekend because I was so afraid of putting a band together. But, I got over my insecurities and I learned to be a leader, thanks to everyone and especially my band who are wonderful people to work with. An especially big thanks to Chad Novell, who is not only an incredible bassist by my partner in life, and provided his much needed shoulder to cry on while I was gathering my courage.

The Storm EP worked well and for sure the track I’m gonna Make it won’t be forgotten, how do you look back at it?

It was a real rush job, we were just working so fast and furiously at it, everything was literally a storm! But this is still how we work now, even with this new album. We are always working on something, if it's business or music.

How hard is it to get things done and to gather enough money to record and tour the way you want?

It is a lot of work. Daily dedication to maintaining an open line of communication with fans and friends, and when you're holding a crowdfunding campaign, you have to find new and creative ways of saying the same thing. It all becomes very boring if every single social media post is "please join our campaign." You need new pictures, new videos, new clever ways to get attention without being too big of a nagging pain in the ass. And, as far as gathering money, it is very hard. We do not have a huge global following. We have a very dedicated group of fans and friends who have given us so much support, it's breathtaking. But, we still need to work hard to fund this ourselves as well. Our crowdfunding campaign had a goal of $17,000 and we raised $9,392. We have to make up the difference. So, I actually got a second job working on the weekends as a bartender. Now I work 60+ hours/week. Such is the life of musicians: we do this for passion, not because it makes us rich.

I hope to review the new and first full album, can you already tell us more (10 songs announced)? I already know it will be released at the MFVF.

Three of the songs on the album will be recorded new with our lovely new drummer Ywe Van Der Pol and our guest guitarist Sebas Honing. The three songs will be Storm, No One Will Save You and Uncaged. The rest will feature a piano/voice ballad (Saying Goodbye), a kind of more rock band ballad called If I Could and a few other more high-energy songs that I think people will really love. I think a crowd favorite will be our song Wake Up. So, look for that one when it comes out.

Amanda Somerville of Trillium (and recent guest of Avantasia) will join Kassandra Novell in a duet on the song Saying Goodbye to be released on their upcoming album Undying Fire. How does that feel? How did it happen, did you just had to give a call or send a mail?

Our producer Sander Gommans is married to Amanda. It's by fate and clever networking on behalf of our keyboardist Joop de Rooij that we were lucky enough to get Sander, and in so, having him as a link to Amanda. She is also my vocal coach for a few of the songs on Undying Fire. Right now, we are working on finalizing vocals for our song The Ghost.

Can you unveil why the album will be called Undying Fire?

Our rock ballad on the album called If I Could has this in the lyrics. One of the lines is "every heart would beat with an undying fire."

Who will do the artwork and how will it look like?

We are having Jan Yrlund from Imperia do the artwork. As of this moment, we don't even know what it will look like. Artwork begins next month (July).

In October you will play at the MFVF in Wieze, must be pretty exciting?
It won’t be your first time on that stage, how was it so far?

I have been on that stage three times now, in 2012, 2013, and 2014. It has been a life changing experience and I cherish that festival deeply. There are really no good words to describe my emotions and sentiment for Metal Female Voices Fest and the wonderful people associated with the festival. It is truly a blessing to have the honor to be there.

We all know that magical things can happen on stage, can we expect some extra guests?

Joop and I will participate in the acoustic performance Friday night. We'll play three songs, and on each of those songs I hope to be singing with guests. I have ladies already in mind and have spoken with them about it, but we will finalize details as we get closer to the date.

The cool thing about this festival is that more than ever a lot of bands will perform for the first time ever in Belgium (bands from Japan, Taiwan, US, …). It will be a highly cultural meet and greet for bands and fans. Are their bands you absolutely want to see for yourself (who will perform at MFVF) and why?

Enemy of Reality of course, because I'm practically in love with Iliana. But also Kontrust, because they were there one year and I missed nearly their entire performance, and I was very upset about that. But, honestly, I look forward to all the bands. I get a chance to meet people I've never met before, give hugs and kiss cheeks. It's like a family reunion with people I've never met.

What else can we expect for the rest of 2016?

We will have our hands full completing this album and making sure we give a performance our fans deserve at MFVF. Our schedule is very very tight, and we have already begun recording for the album. I go in at the end of June to record vocals, so we all have things to keep us occupied.

Is there something you want to tell us to close this short promo interview?

The only thing I can think to say is THANK YOU for being interested and for caring about us in the first place. Thank you for listening to our music, thank you for being an advocate. So many times, as artists, we run into emotional situations with our music or struggling financially with making albums where we feel it is so much overwhelming work it is almost defeating. But, knowing that the music makes people happy and that people care really gives us joy to keep going. Support goes both ways. Some fans feel that music has saved them from suicide and depression: our fans do the same for us. You inspire our music, so thank you. From the bottom of my heart.

More MFVF-related interviews:

interview Jaded Star

interview Bergtatt

interview Ancient Myth

interview Battlelore

interview Crescent Lament

interview Evig Natt

interview Whyzdom

interview Helcanen Val

interview Skeptical Minds about MFVF

Discover the line-up of the 2016 edition of the Metal Female voices fest in Wieze:

Leaves' Eyes Official with their amazing Viking ship show!
Tarja Turunen
Battlelore (come back!!!)
Spoil Engine
Savn - Official
Crescent Lament 恆月三途


Mercy Isle (Usa)

Mourning Sun


Enemy Of Reality Official


Skarlett Riot (Uk)

Ancient Myth