Interview: Merimell (ISMUS)

Interview by Helena Markos

Merimell is the first lady of Techno in Estonia. Over the past eight years, she has established herself in her home, as well as abroad. She was first spotted when she won a local DJ competition, followed by many bookings. Her releases got the likes of Richie Hawtin, Dubfire & Loco Dice and more.

Merimell counts numerous releases on prestigious labels, such as Loco Dice’s label Desolat, DJ Haus’s label Unknown to the Unknown as well as Killekill. Merimell’s track ‘Workout’, released on the British label ‘Unknown to the Unknown’ earned the title “Track of the Year” from the THUMP/VICE news channel. Currently, Merimell focuses mainly on making new music, promoting and developing ‘Machine Nation’ – her radio show and -pre – covid, her event series on Raadio 2 and Club Studio, in Tallinn.

Today, few days before her upcoming robust release on the Berlin-based label Ismus, Merimell speaks to Tales of Psychofonia about her current situation, how the pandemic is affecting her creativity, as well as her DJ career. She imagines the emerging music industry, reflecting on which direction things would go and what that would imply for the artists, ravers and the scene overall.

Merimell is a producer driven by her passion for music, she is definitely a Techno fighter in her country, always trying to push things forward. She is mostly inspired by the rave lifestyle, that she is now missing a lot, although she is not giving up and she tries to give meaning to the new experiences. Happy to have her!

T.O.P: Hi! Thank you for your time to answer my questions. First of all, how is the pandemic and the current events in the world affecting you?

Merimell: Regarding my career, I think all artists are affected in the same way. We can’t perform and earn our rent, as we used to before. The music industry is the last one to get back to normal, I’m afraid. Here in Tallinn, they banned alcohol sells from 11 pm, and our clubs are allowed to be filled by 50% capacity. I’m sad that I can’t travel, see my friends abroad and perform at new venues but since I can’t change anything I’ve learned to accept it.

I think it’s a good time to get to know your own city and find adventures there. I’ve realized that I feel at peace when I can follow my daily routine and traveling can interrupt that. It’s a great time to reflect on yourself, make music, and achieve goals, which I can do at home. I want to eat healthily, be active, and produce music to release them in desired labels. I’m most focused while having free time and when I don’t have to think about what’s happening on the weekend.

T.O.P: Can you share a few things about your journey into electronic music?

Merimell: I was 14-years-old when I went to my first teenager’s disco. Right there DJing looked interesting to me. The sound guy at the club was my friend and he let me practice on the decks before the events. One day I got noticed by another club promoter who came to the event earlier and booked me to perform at his own club. The word got out that a female is playing Techno which was rare at that time and I started to get more bookings. Soon after that, I was discovered after winning a local DJ competition and I got myself a manager. He got me gigs all around my country. Soon I started to find more underground events and got into heavier Techno. I wanted to get at the same level as the artists I was playing with so I got into producing my own music. My releases were like a plane ticket to travel abroad. The more music I released, the more gigs I got. So here I am following the same route wanting to explore the world, meet new people and make art.

T.O.P: Who is Merimell outside the venues or studio?

Merimell: Bubbly, a joker, likes color, and loves sweets! In the constant hunt for adventures, loves nature, and wants to explore every new corner. Tries to paint, takes photos, and captures video on a film. Walks a lot, rides her bike, and goes into her deep thoughts while taking the tram.

T.O.P: How do your roots influence your music? How is the techno scene in Estonia?

Merimell: When I started DJing I was a bit frustrated that there was no Techno scene in Estonia. Only a few parties and even those weren’t that crowded. I was keen on spreading the word and making the events bigger. After 5+ years the scene has completely changed. I find Techno being very popular now and we have many Techno clubs here. The only worry for me is that we have too many parties for not so many people. Sometimes, on the same date you can find four different Techno events, addressed to the same crowd so the clubs struggle to reach full capacity. I’ve been inn parties with a very good line-up and great organisation but the floor is empty. At the same time, we can have completely random underground events only with local DJ’s and the place is packed. So you can never be sure what you get and it’s a kind of a surprise.

T.O.P: Is there any person, moment or experience that has played a significant role in your expression and art?

Merimell: I think every time when I’ve had the opportunity to meet someone whose music I admire. To listen to their work online and then meeting up with them and finding out that they are regular people just like us. To hear their thoughts, discuss music and life, and just spend the day with them. Also when I visit venues I’ve had my eye on for a long time. I remember when I went to Berghain for the first time and the DJ played my track. That feeling is engraved in me.

T.O.P: How would you describe your creative process? What inspires you most?

Merimell: That’s the bad part of quarantine because I get inspiration from everything I mentioned in the last question. So for my inspiration to flow I need to visit new venues and meet fellow artists abroad. Being in quarantine I have to act completely differently. So for me, it’s important to follow my daily routine. Eat, clean, exercise, and keep my mental health in check. If I feel good physically and mentally it will make me want to create. Of course, there are exceptions, like having a heartbreak or other emotional issues. Then making music can be an escape from reality.

T.O.P: How do you feel the electronic music world will emerge in a post-pandemic era?

Merimell: I’m afraid it will never be the same again. I’m worried that we will always have some restrictions and we would have to watch over our backs constantly. I think we will loose a lot of artists who will go for the day job that is more sustainable and will guarantee them rent money. The optimistic side of me hopes there will be some kind of a riot from the people. That underground will raise and everybody will be at the same level. No difference between a 15k A class DJ and a local artist with no Instagram profile to show.

T.O.P: What do you think are the major challenges that artists face today?

Merimell: For me, it’s social media and the continuous comparison and competition with others. Also, the fact when your music doesn’t seem to attract as much attention as your new profile picture. It’s the image that seems to be more important than the actual art. But it’s easily changeable – for me, it’s turning off my internet. Deleting my social apps if needed. I try to live in the present and realize that internet is kind of an illusion. It’s not real. What should matter is how do you feel in the present and make music for yourself and for the right reasons.

T.O.P: Any upcoming projects/collaborations to announce? Anything you want to shout-out?

My new track called ”Self-Sabotage” is out now on Ismus. I’m super happy about it because I’ve been following them for years and dreamt of having a release there. The ultimate goal would be to release a vinyl EP there so wish me luck! Next to that, I have ”Dominator” coming out soon on a V.A charity fundraiser on Kallkällan. Meanwhile, I’m finishing up a bunch of new demos. There is a list of labels I want to release in, platforms to have my premiers on, and podcasts that will air my DJ mixes.

T.O.P: Which piece of music or album would you suggest as a mind/soul healer?

Merimell: I always find these kind of questions hard because there is so much good music out there. I will go the easy route and link what I am listening as we speak:

Thank You for including me on your blog!