Interview with British duo Mere Martyr | @meremartyr (English only)
London based Trip Hop/Jazz Hop duo, Mere Martyr, consists of Stephen Good (Production, Guitars, Programming, and Keys), and Meridyth Dickson (Saxophones and Woodwind). Inspired by UK Trip Hop artists including Portishead and Massive Attack, Mere Martyr fuses electronica, hip hop, jazz and alternative rock together to create their own unique sound.
Good has been produced and engineered for different bands and artists across the world for over a decade, and now also lectures Music Production at London Metropolitan University. Dickson, inspired by her jazz heroes Cannonball Adderley, Dexter Gordon, and Ronnie Cuber, adds an extra dimension to the music beyond the expected programmed beats, guitars and synthesizers.
In addition to their music, Mere Martyr also produces content for songwriters, musicians and producers, including loop and sample packs, video guides and reviews.
The duo released their debut album “Flight for Freedom” in July 2020, which is available on all streaming platforms, as well as available for download on Bandcamp.
What inspired you to become a musician?
Stephen – Growing up surrounded by skaters and BMXers listening to punk rock, then inheriting my brothers’ guitar and learning how to play Green Day songs and steadily getting quite good. I also became obsessed with how producers turned songs into classic record. I guess a massive turning point as well would have been hearing The Prodigy for the first time and being blow away by how explosive electronic music could be.
Meridyth – Being surrounded by music as a child was a massive influence. My parents always had music on and from a young age, I had the opportunity to play in orchestras, then later in swing bands and rock bands. Music has always been a very social thing for me too, and a lot of my friends were in bands as well. I think I was about 16 when I realised that I could actually make a career out of it, and I was sold.
How old were you when you started playing?
Stephen – I was 14, I stole my dad’s bass guitar, it was fret-less and horribly set up, but I learned Sex Pistols songs and "The Chain," by Fleetwood Mac. I still have that horrid guitar on top of my cupboard, no one wants it.
Meridyth – I started clarinet when I was 8, then picked up the tenor sax at 14. The year after that I started drums.
How would you describe your music?
We would describe it mainly as Trip Hop but with an eclectic range of influences like David Bowies Black Star album and also alternative acts like Morphine as well as synth elements from Depeche Mode and Duran Duran. A real melting pot.
Where did you perform? Do you have any upcoming concerts?
Mere Martyr started as a home project for us as we are both a professional musician and music producer, but it developed into producing this album and now having an eye to perform live. As Covid 19 hit we have been unable to prepare and book to tour the album as initially planned, and our drummer, Moyano el Buffalo also had to relocate back to Spain, so for now this side of our music is on hold.
Where would your ideal concert be?
Stephen – for me an evening at the Roundhouse or a sunny afternoon at the Isle of Wight.
Meridyth – Roundhouse would be awesome. Or Village Underground or some sunny festival vibes. I’m missing the festivals this year! I played Primavera with a different band a couple of years ago and would love to go back.
What is your favorite song to perform?
Stephen – "Blind to Beauty" is definitely my favourite, it has a really fun bass-line and the syncopated guitars are always fun.
Meridyth – I’ve got two – I love the baritone sax and guitar break down section in "Poppy Seed," but also "Flight for Freedom." The tenor really soars and it’s a moment that I get totally lost in.
Which famous musicians do you admire?
Stephen – For me acts like Massive Attack and Portishead have always been the type of music I wanted to make. But I also really admire Billie Eilish and what she and her brother are producing at the moment.
Meridyth – I agree with Steve, but being fairly biased towards the saxophone, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Morphine have has inspired me. Although, give me anything with a great sax line or horn section and I’m sold.
What's the best advice you've been given?
Stephen – Just never give up, especially in the music industry, if you stick it out you will always out last the flash in the pan acts and forge a sustainable career. This has been the case for me as a producer at least.
Meridyth – Work hard for what you want. I think particularly with music, you have to really want it and to keep at it. And that is what gives you the drive to work hard and to keep persevering.
If you could change something in the music industry, what would it be?
Stephen – Streaming revenues and how much artists get paid for their work. The value the consumer puts on our art has never been so low.
Meridyth – A proper fee for gigs – free beer, whilst fun, really doesn’t pay the bills! Obviously, the odd exception can be made, but it can’t happen all the time.
What is a message you would like to give to your fans?
Watch this space! The album is just the start, we have plenty of other exciting projects in the pipeline.
What's next for you?
We’re currently working on a concept EP and also writing and producing new tracks with some exceptional artists, as we said, there are some exciting things on the way!