Emerging from a place of emptiness and isolation, while finding light, love and creativity, pop vocalist Merlin expresses that passage in the metaphorically powerful EP, Dark Matter. Illuminating the darkness along the way, Merlin, the artist’s real name, expresses ideas about going from feeling near nothingness to establishing personal boundaries, recognizing vulnerabilities and more. The imaginative difference Merlin provides is easily heard and seen in the presentation of the artist’s songs and music videos.
Merlin delivers consequential thoughts through appealing music ideas during Dark Matter.
From the Dark Matter EP, the 2:34 track “Can’t Touch This,” has a terrific accompanying YouTube video with engaging visuals featuring Merlin. The editing, camera angles and stylized surreal reality joins with the music for a distinct entertaining experience.
Musicinterviewmagazine.com welcomed the opportunity for an interview with Merlin.
Musicinterviewmagazine.com: Congratulations on the new Dark Matter EP. Titles can say a lot. What inspired the eventual creative illumination which led to overcoming your personal darkness?
Merlin: Thank you. It’s a journey and I’m still on it. It was many small moments that led to big leaps. Looking back, the summer I lived in Prague was the catalyst. Before that experience, I had strayed so far away from myself that I ended up in a corner with no choice but to face it. I had to trust in myself, my desires and intuition to reclaim myself. Some moments I felt I was crawling and some felt like I was running. Each time trusting that the next step was all I needed. All leading to this moment in New York City, when I had just missed an audition and I felt like I was at a fork in the road. I could either get depressed and take that as a sign I should give up on everything I’ve ever dreamed of, or I could come back home to Boston and finally start recording my music.
The second I chose the path of my dreams something caught my attention and I saw the phrase “Every little thing is gonna be alright,” graffitied on a wall. My dad used to sing and whistle “Three Little Birds,” by Bob Marley, to my mom all the time growing up, whenever she’d get overwhelmed with the path we had chosen. That sign is the reason I get to live this moment now.
Before creating the music for Dark Matter, you indicated having a feeling of being stranded in space without light or love. Why such a strong expressive affinity for the universe, instead of something with a poetic terrestrial pull?
It’s the best way I could capture my experience, this juxtaposition within. Being a first generation immigrant, I always felt too American for my Albanian roots and too Albanian to claim being an American. To feel a sense of belonging, I’ve always reached for a higher, wider view. I’m human first. Kind of like being able to see earth but not being able to land on it, just floating somewhere between ground and infinity. Almost in a void, where there is limitlessness but also nothing. To me, dark matter is a metaphor for the gray area in our lives. Being such an extreme person, I think I’ll always reach out for the gray, whether to make sense of it or try to find some balance.
Listening to “I Owe You,” also from the Dark Matter EP, how important is having boundaries? Why is taking back individual power so significant?
Boundaries are vital to living authentically. We’re constantly told how to think and feel since the moment we’re born. Our families and loved ones, although trying their best and mostly coming from a good place, impose on us their beliefs and fears. Then society imposes its beliefs and expectations. Without personal boundaries, we can lose touch with our inner compass. You want to make a change in your life? Your loved ones lives? The world? Start with your boundaries. To define and uphold your own boundaries is an act of self-love that seeps into the way you show up in the world. It has a butterfly effect.
The songs from the EP are generally based on your life experiences. What encouraged you to write and record “Spiral?”
I’ll hear a part of a chorus or hook that leads me down a rabbit hole in my mind. It’s a sensation where I just have to follow it, wherever it leads. Writing has always led me into my inner thoughts, even the ones I try to avoid. The lines “Can you love me when you’re down/Can you love me when you’re out,” unraveled a whole track where I realized my fears about my relationship and how that’s been an underlying theme in all of my relationships—familial, platonic and romantic. I realized how my thoughts sabotage my happiness and how that’s a coping mechanism to keep me protected. It’s almost like when things are too good, we can try to bring our selves down. Then we start the loop again and again, eventually realizing there is no end, because instead of closing these cycles, we’ve been going in a never ending spiral.
The ideas behind the music for Dark Matter suggests a desire to heal and personnel autonomy. Did recording the EP prove to be cathartic?
One hundred percent! This healing was long overdue. It feels like every time I write out another track and release another piece of me, I get pulled in deeper into healing and understanding myself. I remember before I started to record my music, I had this fear of running out of what to say. Now, I realize that’ll never happen because there will always be healing and learning. Every step along the way pulls me closer to my authenticity and I can’t wait to keep exploring.
What is next musically for Merlin?
More music. I’m already working on new tracks which I’m very excited about. With each track I feel more and more comfortable showing all sides of me. There’s an overarching theme in how I’ll be releasing music over the next year. Dark Matter is just the first installment. I’ve already got the next title planned out, but that’s a secret!
Paul Wolfle, the publisher of musicinterviewmagazine.com, is a web-based journalist who has written for several popular sites. Paul has a passion for connecting with a diversity of musicians who are looking to grow a positive presence on the World Wide Web.