Aneesa Marie: “Trinidadian blood runs through my veins”
Shakira Dyer interviews Trinidad-born artist on her summer single ‘Mercy Mercury’
I met singer-songwriter, Aneesa Marie during the Windrush Festival at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre 2021. Inspired by her neo-soul talents, her many albums and spiritual, lyrical songs, I am so proud to be able to interview Aneesa about her first single released since the pandemic: ‘Mercy Mercury’. __________________________________________________________________________________
Shakira: How did you start out as a singer-songwriter?
Aneesa: I started singing in my childhood, merely as hobby but I felt close to music, as though it was a part of myself. I began to write but, due to confidence and my home life, that dream was crushed.
I decided to take music seriously when I moved to London in 2012 and again, due to life stuff, I gave that up and came back to Trinidad in 2015. I have so much life experience and I feel like I have so much I want to share with the world that is of benefit, so I decided to not hide from my destiny anymore.
Shakira: How did you co-write and create music for your new single, Mercy Mercury?
Aneesa: I wrote Mercy Mercury in 2019, within, I think, the first two quarters of the year. I connected with a producer through SoundCloud. He sent the beats and I wrote this. It was an extremely spirit/energetically driven piece. I remember the feeling that came over my body. I asked everyone to leave the room so I could be led and this is what I came up with. It was a difficult time for me and now, when I think about it, was a true reflection of what I had been going through – which is something I have struggled with in my writing process.
Shakira: How did you then finish the song and get it out in 2022? Did anyone help you with this?
Aneesa: I finished it in 2019, recorded it also. However I wasn’t happy with the mixes and I felt as though I needed time away from creating because I was losing my life, my sense of self and my sanity. It’s difficult to give what you don’t have – to go through a campaign and have to be social and interactive when you cannot even give that to yourself. I felt as though I would have been doing myself an injustice. I know it’s the right time now, I can feel it.
Shakira: How do you advertise ‘Mercy Mercury’ and all your new songs and events?
Aneesa: It’s available on all major platforms, I have a music video dropping soon to advertise the video. Amazing journalists such as yourself help to get the word out. I am reaching out to platforms for collaborations, no joy as yet but fingers crossed someone will help.
Shakira: You say this this song is different from the other work you’ve produced – how so?
Aneesa: I think this is different in the sense that it’s intentional. I know what I wanted to create and did that, I listened to myself and honoured that. Even sonically, the beat isn’t what my fans are accustomed to. It’s faster, choppier, demands more from me vocally and respiratorily but it’s something I knew I had in my repertoire and decided it was the right time to share that.
Shakira: What is the theme of the song – touching on healing after self-harm – and what does the ancient Roman mythology of Mercury have to do with it?
Aneesa: This is a great question Shakira. I was in a relationship that was killing me, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and I was witnessing the decline of myself through my eyes. I felt powerless. The relationship mirrored trauma I had experienced as a child and I felt as though history was repeating itself. Although I could see. I could not do. I wasn’t in a position to do because I was well worn. I had taken to self-harming as a modality of coping, that was physically and with substances – because what do you do when no matter what you’ve tried doesn’t work and is not making things better?
It’s like I had to punish myself because ultimately I believed the things that were painful, that were being said to me on a daily basis. This song touches on my pain but is about forgiveness. Forgiving myself for not trusting myself to leave, for hurting myself, for making decisions that hurt others and myself. “Life and death flows from the tongue.”
I believe the things we say about ourselves are spells and when I was experiencing darkness I said and believed horrible and evil things about myself. So this song is about how I saw what it was and wasn’t. But I forgive myself for that and I will move forward with perseverance and grace.
In terms of the title ‘Mercy Mercury’ , the mercy is for just that: please have mercy while the mercury derives from the astrological phenomenon Mercury Retrograde, in which Mercury appears to move backwards, as we both go round the Sun, and communication is said to break down. I’m asking the planets, the stars, G-d, my ancestors to have mercy on me.
Shakira: What musical influences are there in the song?
Aneesa: Baile, Funk, Soul, a little Aneesa Marie.
Shakira: How is your music as a whole inspired by your Trini roots, and is there a mix of that and inspirations from London?
Aneesa: Trinidadian blood runs through my veins through and through so everything I do is inspired by my culture. However I think that I am inspired by the life I have lived, with all the lows and highs. I moved to London ten years ago and I feel like I’ve lived 100 lifetimes, with so many rich stories; hopefully that reflects in my music.
Shakira: This is your first single since the pandemic: how did you stay creative during that time?
Aneesa: I tried to stay alive at that time. Being creative was the least of my concerns. I had a steady flow at the beginning of the pandemic but I came to understand that, if I am not okay, then there can be no creativity in music. Life is honouring ourselves, our bodies, spirits and mind.
Shakira: What messages do you think young people can take from this song?
Aneesa: Beside the fact that it’s a great song, they can take from it that one should be careful with the things they say about themselves. It’s okay to go through things but be forgiving towards yourself; you’re doing a good job!
Shakira: Have you got any advice for young singer/songwriters who want to produce their music successfully?
Aneesa: Have a plan and work backwards. I mean from the song, the writing, the video, the promo, everything. Trust in your ability; your time will come.
Shakira: Are you working on anything else lately that you want to plug?
Aneesa: I’ve got more singles for the summer, so please follow and subscribe etc, but I did drop a video for my singe ‘Suicide’, regarding sexual abuse and mental health. Support is always appreciated. __________________________________________________________________________________
When Aneesa sent me ‘Mercy Mercury’ I connected with it on the level of personal change and how to get through the dark times and into the sunshine. I feel like other young people can also enjoy and connect to the song for this reason, as well as Aneesa’s other awesome singles, collaborations and albums. I hope that more people listen to her music. Go check it out!
Shakira is a visually-impaired writer and graduate of Kings College London, living in Tottenham. Loving history, literature and especially the German language, she wants to use all of these interests in a career someday. She is a part-time German translator. Visit her website to find out more about her journalism and translation work.