What got you interested in music?
Torrey Mercer: I have been singing - actually training singing - for about thirteen years now, since I was 9, but I started, actually, in musical theater. I did a lot of theater growing up but my voice is always my strength and that was what my passion was and once I got to be more of a teenager, I became obsessed with the music industry and just really wanted to be a part of it. So, when I was 17, I released my first single and I've been kind of releasing singles since, but now I'm about to release my very first full EP, so that's really exciting.
Are there any artists who have influenced you?
Oh, yes, lots of them. I think probably the two that I would point to the most are Lady Gaga and Demi Lovato, because I'm a pop singer and I'm kind of a vocal power singer and, the reason I say those two is because I really like that they both are really dynamic, strong performers, but at the same time, they give back and they do a lot to contribute to things outside of themselves; they use their platform for something positive and I really admire that.
I saw you do work with The Pledge Tour, could you tell us more about that project?
Yes, definitely! So, back in 2011, I did an anti-bullying music tour where I got to tour on the East coast and the West coast; it was basically more of a concert tour, we would sing and we would make a brief statement about bullying and it kind of got me interested in the subject. I was bullied when I was younger and I have a younger brother who was bullied, as well, so it's just near and dear to me and it was a topic that meant a lot to me. So I reached out to a couple of charities, did some work with them, and my work for those charities actually had caused a family to reach out to me, asking me to come speak at their son's middle school about the subject and I did and it went over really well and, after that, I got referrals to other schools and it just became sort of a thing that we developed. At first it was just under my name, Torrey Mercer as the artist, but then, eventually, we made it its own company, so it's sort of its own side project now; I have my music ventures and then all of that stuff, so it's been really cool.
How can readers support The Pledge Tour and help to spread the word?
We do assemblies for schools all over so, really, if you - listeners or readers - know somebody who's being bullied or know a school that really would benefit from something like that, you can always spread our name and get the word out. Also, we do little fundraiser things online and we have ways that we connect - we have funders and backers and things like that, and there's ways to become that, as well. Every once in a while we fundraise for our project just to keep things going and to allow us to have a curriculum for the students and to have extra funding in case there is a school that can't afford our services that needs us.
How would you describe your sound?
I would say that I'm a pop artist, but I'm influenced by bluesy sounds, a little bit of rock sounds, and even a little bit of jazziness, like in my voice. When I was younger, I was in bands of a bunch of different genres; I was in a rock band, a jazz band, and then I did theater on top of all of this, so I was influenced by a ton of genres, so I think my brand of pop has some songs that are more bluesy, some songs that are more of that edgy pop thing, and some that have a little rock on it. So, it just depends on the song and I just have this hybrid sound that kind of just meshes together into one [laughs].
What was the inspiration behind "Miles"?
Well, I was in a long distance relationship for a while - the song's about a long distance relationship - and it was a really good relationship while I was in it and so I remember, at the time, I was really into this and so I went and looked for songs about long distance relationships and I'm like, 'oh, I want to find something,' you know? All of the songs out there, from what I saw, were these really sad and depressing songs about how much it sucks and it was just really disheartening and discouraging in that way and so I wanted to write a song about a long distance relationship that's hopeful, where it's like you're looking forward to that moment where you can finally be together long term and you're working towards that future together and working to have that life together and your love for each other is what brings you two together. I wanted to have a song out there that's for those couples that are trying to make that happen and have it be a positive thing.
And "Miles" is a smooth mix of genres, like you said, a hybrid sound, so is that indicative of what we can expect to hear on your forthcoming EP?
Yes, I would say so, and then there's influences from a couple of other sounds. So that one has more of that bluesy influence I would say, even jazzy in some ways, and I think each song speaks for itself but, yes, there is definitely that hybrid of sounds and you'll hear that sort of a sound in a couple of the other ones and then we also have an acoustic one - like it's all acoustic - and then we have two tracks that are these pounding pop tracks. So, it's very much a hybrid sound, but there's more where that's coming from, for sure.
Could you sum up your debut EP, Exhale, in one sentence?
Ooh in one sentence, hmm. I'm trying to think, I want to make this really good. I would say, Exhale is about recovering from your past and finding a strength in yourself you didn't know you had that's both gentle and empowering from everything you've been through; it's like that moment when you know you're going to be okay.
What do you hope that listeners can take away from your music?
Yeah, I mean, that really goes along with that theme but, especially with this record, it's a very personal EP for me: it includes subjects and experiences and stories of mine from probably the past three years or so that have been accumulated. Because this is my debut EP I have some songs that were released previously as a single that got kind of tweaked for it, things like that, but it's really meant to be sort of a reflection of the past. I would hope that people can get some emotional relation or connection to some of the songs and, also, it's supposed to be like closure on your past in a way and letting you step into your future and into the moment, and I hope that people can find that in their own life.
Is there anything that you'd like to add?
I have the video for "Miles", that's going to be coming out; we're going to be doing that around Valentine's Day as sort of a couples thing, so be on the lookout for that. And pre-orders for the EP actually start this Friday, so that will be up for pre-order on iTunes and, I believe, a couple of other stores, as well.