Skip to content

Weyes Blood and The Story of Our Country.

January 14, 2015

WEYESBLOOD (1 of 1)-2The road to discovery lies in experimentation. And Brooklyn folk artist Weyes Blood – aka Bucks County native Natalie Mering – is intent on traveling that road, personally and professionally.

Mering, 26, grew up in Doylestown and graduated from Central Bucks West High School before dropping out of college and pursuing music. Her music blends a choral folk style with experimental noise (fans of the latter genre will recognize her soprano voice from Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti’s “Mature Themes“), mixed often in equal parts: beautiful ascending piano or mandolin will suddenly falter like a warped record and eventually give way to echos and strange rumbling noises.

Mering also seems to find it difficult to stay in one place physically. She’s traveled around the country twice, living in locations as varied as Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Arizona, and California. Our Kyle Bagenstose caught up with Mering before her tour kick-off show at Johnny Brenda’s last Saturday to talk about the buzz building after the release of her second album in December, her roots in Pennsylvania and what she found out traveling America.

Images by Grace Dickinson.

So you’re a Delaware Valley native. How’d you get started in music?

My father’s a musician, so music was always in my house. I started playing guitar when I was like 6-years old. But I didn’t start really singing like I sing now until middle school, when I joined a bunch of choirs. I got super into choir and singing classically. Before I sang in school, I sang in church.

Was that driven by your own interest or pushed by your family setting?

It was my own desire but my parents both loved music and that definitely impacted me. My dad did teach me stuff on the guitar and I also took piano lessons. It was just a very musical household.

How did your early music development transition into recording?

I went to one year of college at Lewis & Clark College and then dropped out to go on tour with the band Jackie-O-Motherfucker but I was never in bands really before that. I was always a solo musician.

I’ve read from other interviews that you actually prefer working more on your own than in a band. Why is that?

I could just never find a band to be in at a young age, so I just got used to playing and doing everything myself. And now I like to have the control. I’m touring with a backup band now, but it’s with a lot parts that I’ve written. In general, it’s just what I’m used to, and it kind of came out of necessity. Being friends with a lot of guys in bands that didn’t want me in their band because I was just a girl or something.

So you dropped out of college in 2007, moved to Philly and released your debut, The Outside Room, in 2011. What happened in between?

I was self-releasing music on CD-Rs and was doing a lot more experimental music. I had yet to find somebody who wanted to put out a vinyl. But just a lot of churning and learning, migrating and living in a lot of different places. I was in my early 20s, so I was just figuring things out, becoming an adult and realizing you’re not a kid anymore.

After the release of your first album you took traveling to another level. Can you share what you experienced between then and the release of The Innocents last month?

I lived in Kentucky, New Mexico and then New York. At the time, I was working for an herbalist and wild crafting herbs, so I was working on a farm and doing more stuff with nature and plants and traveling and taking a little breather from the music world. I tapped maple trees and made maple syrup, and learned a lot about herbal medicine.

In several of your prior interviews, it’s clear that you’re very socially conscious and concerned with the injustices of America, which also comes across in some of your music. I’m wondering if your travels across America were motivated by this at all and if you came to any conclusions?

Definitely. I think in our culture, especially in the industrialized northeast, there’s, like, an abandonment of localism and what comes from that. New York – Oyster Bay – used to be an oyster zone. Chesapeake Bay used to be an oyster zone. And now they’re just these intensely polluted zones that you can’t even swim in if you wanted to. It’s become so industrialized and capitalistic here that I think people really have lost touch with what this land was initially. It’s taking something that was so beautiful and kind of abusing it.

It’s the same with what the industrialized north did to the south. Building dams on rivers and ruining a lot of ecosystems and just kind of taking coal from wherever. It’s a sad story but it’s basically the story of our country.

Did your travels solve any of these problems for you?

Yeah, it did. I found that plants are kind of hiding. There’s a reason they all look the same. You actually have to look deeper and learn more to understand how to decipher them. And once you learn that, plants are incredibly powerful. It can he a healing plant. It can be a plant that kills you. It can be an edible plant. The chemical spectrum of the plant world is so amazing. But people choose to just think of plants as this one “uni” thing. Once you kind of crack through that, they become this mysterious beings that you seek to know more about.

What’s next for you musically?

I feel like my albums are the porridge in the three bears. I made kind of a cold album, and this album might be a little too hot. The next album’s going to be just right. It’s going to be the porridge that Goldilocks chose.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: