MRCY introduces themselves today with stunning debut single “Lorelei,” available now via Dead Oceans. MRCY is composed of producer Barney Lister and vocalist Kojo Degraft-Johnson. Hailing from different ends of England and disparate cultures, theirs is a space of self-expression that combines the timeless musical warmth of Marvin Gaye with the genre-melding, modern sensibility of Khruangbin, Anderson .Paak and Sault. Having strived separately behind the scenes, the band is as much about putting yourself first as it is about the spirit of compassion that has never felt more needed. “It’s like hearing a distant memory,” Barney says, “but one that speaks to where you are now.”
“‘Lorelei’ is about being in a romantic situation that you know will result in heartbreak,” comments Kojo, “but you’re too under the spell to get out of it. The lyrics come from the ancient tale of Lorelei, a mythical creature that leads navigators and those sailing to their demise with its beauty and song – ‘I thought I saw you walking by the riverside’ and ‘the summer storm’s still on my mind.’”
Arriving with a fully-formed vision, MRCY has nonetheless hustled to make work in their own voice. Raised amidst Huddersfield’s melting-pot culture, Barney has established himself as one of the UK’s most in-demand, eclectic young producers; ranging from an Ivor Novello Award for his long-standing collaboration with Obongjayar to Mercury-nominated artists like Joy Crookes and Olivia Dean. South London-raised Kojo, meanwhile, earned his stripes in church as well as singing with equally illustrious homegrown artists like Cleo Sol and Little Simz. Having first connected over Instagram during the pandemic, MRCY met up in Brixton between lockdowns and allowed the band’s sound – and bond – to deepen. And though social and political chaos inevitably informs their upcoming project, MRCY is also about the need for common ground: universal but highly individual experiences of class, community, and quality music that has always brought good people together.