Vera Mesmer is a modern gypsy with a penchant for catchy verses and dramatic piano. Cat On The Wall’s Jo Whitby caught up with Vera via email for a quick chat about his current work and his plans for the future…
Cat On The Wall: There will be many of our readers who have yet to discover Vera Mesmer. You’ve had a very musical past – why did you decide to produce your own music?
Vera Mesmer: I’ve got a very precise vision to anything I happen to be working on… After years of working in proper bands and with other artists I’d had the epiphany that “yes, I’m a bit controlling and obsessive… But that’s okay, I’m an artist” so it felt natural to work primarily as a solo artist and market the project this way.
COTW: Is Vera Mesmer your actual name or one you chose to represent your music? Is there a special meaning behind it?
VM: Though it isn’t my birth name it is my name. Its meaning comes from people who played a hand in the two greatest landmark moments of my life. As soon as I’d seen it in print I knew it was an eponym [sic] I would be very comfortable wearing day in and day out.
COTW: Who are the lovely musicians that make up the band?
VM: Well I’ve had quite a few! It’s a very difficult thing finding the right musicians for a performance band and keeping them right! At the moment I’m terribly blessed to have some of my favourite players in music working with me both on the recordings and in live performance.
COTW: The Gypsy Magician was released back in 2007 and there have been no release (that I know of) since then. Your fans seem to be itching for some new material. There’s word that you’ve been working on an album, can you tell us anything about this?
VM: It’s taken an eon… No, three eons… It’s been a lot of legal trouble and contractual dillydallying. I’d started the writing for the record in Boston back in autumn 2008. I’d met with a number of producers in New York and Los Angeles and found champion visionaries in Xandy Barry and Wally Gagel (The Rolling Stones, Muse, Norah Jones, Gorillaz), I’d made a number of trips throughout that year’s end and into the new year to work with them in Los Angeles on the basics of putting together such a theatrical project. I’d relocated to Hollywood so that we could start building these recordings and in the past year I’ve rewritten and recorded over and over with them while we’re waiting for all of our attorneys to be happy (attorneys happy?). It’s been slightly frustrating having to rely on them to take more steps but the things they’re haggling over will make my vision that much more a reality in the end!
COTW: Where do you feel you are musically now since The Gypsy Magician?
VM: I’ve grown in leaps and bounds (as any artist should) since I’ve been working with Xandy and Wally on this project. I feel like at this point in my career I can sit anywhere in any town in with any instrument and any colour pen and write a good song. Since The Gypsy Magician I’ve become a writer and let go of being so strictly a musician. It was a very stifling title.
COTW: You have a very particular image – very Victorian and slightly gothic. Where do you draw your inspiration visually?
VM: I was raised being toted off to class in suits so I’d grown a fondness for formal wear by the time I was making fashion decisions. I don’t necessarily consider the things I don to be Victorian just my idea of a modern gypsy’s formal wear. Passed styles are very interesting though, for the simple reason that they’ve become exotic once they’ve become obsolete…
COTW: Similarly, what inspires you lyrically and musically?
VM: Stories, passing comments, sentiments, crooked trees, shiny stones, a woman with one high heel… Everything can really turn into a story or a song. It’s the writers that try so hard to write about suppressed emotions that write the blandest passionless works… Let an idea breathe!
COTW: Can we expect a tour soon? Will you be gracing European shores at some point?
VM: I’m working on a separate project right now (that I can’t say too much about) and one of the first markets we’ll be approaching is the European one… Though my solo work will find its way over the pond sooner than later, the label certainly wants to market it in the US first.
COTW: What are you listening to at the moment?
VM: I don’t get a lot of time to listen to music but I have gotten into the habit of picking up a few new releases every so many weeks and getting to know new songs. It’s an exciting thing to be listening to words and melodies you’ve never heard. It’s easier to pay attention intently. I’ll get a few listens and move on to something else… When all else fails, there’s always Tom Waits and Tori Amos…
COTW: Finally, what are your plans for the near future?
VM: It’s wonderfully exciting to me but the music industry has become the Wild West! The album is a dead idea at this point and after months of devising an inventive approach to abandoning the old ways I see my solo work releasing series of 5-8 song records every so many months. This also gives me and my production team a great opportunity to consistently dream up and add companion material to each release… I don’t know when the “album” became such a huge undertaking but most of those Beatles and Led Zeppelin records only had 8 top notch songs each and they released them more regularly than artists do today. I think that’s where it’s headed again and certainly where Vera Mesmer is. There’s also the other project I spoke briefly of that I’ve dedicated quite a bit of time to and drawn some great industry attention as well, which will find a release even sooner than my solo work. All in all I love what it is that I do and the next few years will be a very exciting time for me…