Introducing VC Pines
Some may already be aware of the man behind the moniker: Jack Mercer, formerly of indie rock collection The Carnabys. Since their split a couple of years ago, he’s immersed himself in alternative soul, poetry and punk, under this new guise VC Pines.
While many would assume that having epilepsy while working in music would damage his career, Mercer actually utilises his symptoms to aid his creativity. Experiencing chromesthesia, he writes his music in colours rather than song structures, making for an original and completely unique approach. He prefers purple colours, hence his name standing for Violet Coloured Pines.
His passion for exploring new genres started from an early age, rummaging through his parents’ record collection. “My influences stem from punk and soul with a lot more on the side. It’s a strange mix but they were CDs I could steal from my dad, so my ideas come from Richard Hell, The Stranglers, Iggy Pop and Nick Cave to Curtis Mayfield, Bobby Womack, Otis Redding and Sly & The Family Stone. Then when I got older I really got into poetry and fell in love with John Cooper Clarke and Gil Scott Heron’s works. It kinda all comes out as VC Pines. There are lots of influences coming from all directions, but that’s what makes each song unique in its own way.”
Breakthrough track ‘Garden of the Year’ garnered positive reviews from BBC Radio DJs Steve Lamacq, Lauren Laverne, Chris Hawkins and Huw Stephens, all of whom regularly span the vibrant single. January’s follow-up ‘Vixen’ proved to be just as popular amongst industry experts and fans alike. After premiering on Clash, Atwood added “Poetic, personal and downright smooth, ‘Vixen’ is a track just waiting to accompany your quiet headphones moments.”
‘Vixen’ also makes reference to Mercer’s epilepsy; specifically the symptom of mental vacancy. On the topic, he said “The song is also a statement to say that even if I’m vacant minded here and there, and seem like just a shell, not to worry about me. Mental vacancy is also something that can happen to me physically as a symptom of epilepsy, but I’m always okay after a seizure and it’s not something that will be the end of me.”
Both these tracks can be heard on his debut solo EP Indigo, which was released just a week ago (22nd March 2019). Featuring five tracks and a live version of ‘Vixen’, it showcases the fluidity of his songwriting and how far he can stretch the genre.
Having spent four years touring with The Carnabys and becoming a festival regular – including repeated Isle Of Wight slots – Mercer has already built a huge live reputation, one he has carried on into VC Pines if his first two (sold out) shows at Notting Hill Arts Club and The Social earlier this year are anything to go by. The live show is a riot of colour and stax of fun as, alongside a sometimes seven-piece live band, VC Pines delivers deep organ drones and trills to provide the dark underbelly for this wander down an alt-soul avenue, while a ‘70s-esque sound coats the grit with trumpet and trombone.introducing / vc pines