A Conversation with Clive Mercury - Sophia Joannides
“Mercury is closest to the sun, and my bars are heat. They’re fire. Mercury is one of the most toxic elements as well, and that's why I say I’m spitting mercury. I thought of that when I was 16.” Mercury by name, Mercury by nature - Clive Mercury is the newest addition to London based record label Polarface Records, and a name that you’ll definitely be hearing more of in 2017. Clive has been recording music for over three years now but had his first major show just recently at Surya on Tuesday night. When asked about how it felt performing at a packed out venue, he laughs reflecting on noticing strangers spitting his bars back to him, “The response was more than I expected”. But if you see Clive perform, this doesn't seem out of the question at all.
Having spent time behind the scenes filming other artists, and consequently being met with some harsh rejection from SBTV, you get the impression that Clive is aware his time as an artist has come. “I remember receiving my first no, and I had to eat that. I had to take that on board, and I think that was what really geared me towards knowing that I have to prove something, somehow.” Onstage, he has the quiet confidence of somebody who knows that he’s where he’s meant to be, yet despite his seemingly nonchalant approach, Clive is an incredibly calculated performer. When asked about his musical inspirations, he states that Michael Jackson is who he looks to for guidance on stage presence, religiously watching clips of him on stage to prepare for his performances. “I study different musicians. I’m a big studier. Regarding influence, Kendrick has to be the biggest one. Also Eminem, and grime artists like Skepta for his kind of dominance over the mic. Jay Z again, for his confidence. I draw different things from different artists, so like Kendrick lyrically and Eminem regarding stories. ”
In his earlier releases, these US influences can be heard, “Back then I was listening to a lot more boom bap, Hip-hop, Neo soul, but I think things are definitely different now. I feel like UK music has helped gear that change, having evolved itself. Because from then to now, you've just seen the growth in that, so I think that's had a big part to play in my evolvement as well.” This becomes apparent when listening to Clive’s newest release Orange Rooms, where despite the undeniable compatibility of his production and vocals, the beats definitely take a backseat allowing Clive’s storytelling skills to shine through. In contrast with his previous process, “Bars over beats” is Clive’s current musical philosophy, converting stories from those around him into the anecdotally raw and unfeigned lyrics that could only have come from an artist from the UK.
“I’m a UK guy at heart; I grew up with grime. Everyone grew up with Grime. Regardless of any American influence, grime sculptured my point of view.” But aside from grime’s influence, Clive lists the area he grew up in as his biggest inspiration; “Everyone growing in the blocks, they’ve all seen the bullshit that it brings, whether it be drug dealing or drug addicts, killings, robbing’s... And I feel like all of that has this power of moulding people's perspectives, whether you take it and run with it to another angle, or you take it and do something positive with it is a different story - but if you see any artists, even 50 Cent or Floyd, they've all come from struggle, and despite it you see them now flourishing. It gives me this feeling that the block has a purpose for someone, and it plants the seed towards that subject. It's almost like the lotus in the river, where the lotus grows in the most disgusting river, the most disgusting conditions and still flourishes. I feel like all over the world; the blocks have that. Not even just in London.”
This undoubtedly is the case for Clive, and you can witness it yourself by listening to Orange Rooms - available on Soundcloud, Spotify and Apple Music now.