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April 20, 2021

Interview with Merryn Jeann

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Merryn Jeann launches her debut album at the Byron Theatre on Friday 6 September at 7.30pm

Merryn Jeann debut album launch

Byron Theatre, Community Centre  |  Friday 6 September  |  7.30pm  |  $20/25

Back in 2016 Merryn Jeann won CSDEM: Original Song of the Year with Aloha, a collaboration with French DJ Mome. Pretty extraordinary for a girl who found her musical feet while a student at Cape Byron Steiner School.

These days she’s a woman of the world, living and working in Paris: a city that she has always a great affinity with.

‘I have been attracted to Paris since I was a kid,’ says Merryn, who is now 24. ‘I realised that living in Europe was an option for me because I hadn’t entirely bonded with Australia. My grandfather is Swiss, my grandmother is French Canadian, my dad was born in the UK, and my mum, well she’s very Aussie!’

Merryn’s work has an ethereal confidence. An understated simplicity that seduces the listener into leaning in, careful not to miss a thing.

Her solo debut was created here at Museagency with Gyan and Simon Greaves, dubbed a ‘masterpiece’ in reviews, it simply is. Merryn’s self-titled offering was four years in the making with the album evolving in the studio on every visit.

‘It was a really beautiful process for me,’ says Merryn. ‘It took up to four years to finish because I didn’t have a deadline, and that meant working with Si so he got to really understand what we were doing; he wanted to get to know me and my music.’ It certainly shows on the album.

‘I am so lucky. I get to view my work as unique and important. In the time I spent recording over those four years I came to find my art and believe in doing what I want to do. Gyan and Simon pushed and encouraged me to believe in my ideas. Over that time I realised I had grown as an artist and as a woman. It’s quite rare!’

Merryn exudes a confidence in her work, a sense that she knows who she is.

‘I don’t think I should ever have to sound like anyone; that’s my voice, and that’s what I sound like. I have this weird ego thing. Sometimes I have no confidence and other times I know I am doing a good thing. There were times in the recording when I knew this was something special. I imagined it would have been like that for Radiohead or someone like that during the process. When you don’t feel a need to conform and know what you are doing is good. I truly believed it and I’m proud of our result.

‘We recorded mostly in a house in the lounge room for the demo. We came back and did about 50 takes and then went back to the beginning! The first takes are often the best.’

Originally Merryn was only planning a quick visit home from Paris to surprise her mum for her 60th birthday.

‘But Simon and Gyan said come and do some gigs! We will have a cello, a clarinet, and a choir, and there will be a double bass and Angie Hudson is playing too and Ruby and Bella who have a band called Alfalfa. I have a choir on the album; it’s the St Maryanne Choir – it’s a Leonard Cohen tribute.’

As a songwriter Merryn is a huge Cohen fan, but only really from seeing him with Simon and Gyan who took her to his Brisbane concert.

‘I thought the poetry of his music was off the chain. I think Suzanne is one of the most incredible songs ever written!’

Merryn’s quite the songwriter herself. Even the songs she wrote at 16 like See Saw still stand the test of age! ‘It was one of the first proper songs I wrote; I love it! I wrote that song and didn’t know what it was about until some time after!’

Merryn Jeann launches her debut album at the Byron Theatre on Friday 6 September at 7.30pm. $20/25. Tix at byroncentre.com.au


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