“…[We] decided we should actually not be dumb losers and actually start a real project.” Let’s be honest, that beats the hell out of the ever tired, ever clichè “Hey! Let’s start a band!”. What you’ve just witnessed was the birth of Kelsey Merritt’s new project The High Life Collective and it has everything; tattoos, beards, drinking, lumberjacks and a cameo from a 90s metal band member and Ms Merritt doing things with her legs that no jean wearing emo will ever do: “…when I have my make up on and a cute outfit that exposes my very shapely backside I can be sort of compelling.”
Simply put: the High Life Collective is two well-placed middle fingers in the face of everyone that tried to mould Merritt into their own, boxed up, bowed up, plastic package version of herself.
Over the last year, setting that packaging on fire has become ever more important (a la the genre collision that is the new music), “this is the real ‘me,’” she says. And this year she’s learned it’s important to stay, “steadfastly true to yourself. Don’t do things you don’t want to do deep in your soul, just because it’s expected of you or you are worried about others’ reactions.”
You lose a point if you fell into the trap of thinking this is a one dimensional get wasted, rinse, repeat, interview.
“Listen to your gut,” Merritt continues, “and follow your instinct even if your decisions or path may seem unpopular to those around you. We have one life to live here, people. Impermanence is a real thing…I think the happiest people are the ones who live authentic lives and pursue things they love. Let everyone say what they want. On your deathbed, do you want to regret the things you didn’t do out of fear and fear of change?”
Of course, thick skin comes with experience and after 10 years in the music industry Merritt walked away feeling more than a little battered and bruised. Her previous band Kelsey and The Chaos saw multiple runs on Warped Tour and toured, and toured, and toured. Coming back says something about her resilience but also about her love for music (which is all wonderful and romantic sounding but by now we know it’s not that easy).
“When you wear your heart on your sleeve via your music and you leave it out there, you just open the doors for people to say what they will. I no longer pay attention to the negativity though.” In fact, she’s quite happy to show you the door. After all, you can’t please everyone (but you can please most people).
“My goal through music is to connect with people, make them dance, make them laugh and make them happy when they listen. That is all.”
And of the 7 billion people in the world Merritt has her sights firmly set on a billion of them (so take that, Slayer, stop being so half arse). It’s seems impossible, actually…it seems down right ridiculous to approach that many people. But she’s armed with more resolution than you’d fit in an aircraft carrier and some simple advice from a producer-friend.
“If you want to reach the public on a global scale,” she was told, “regardless of age [and] nationality you have to create songs that appeal to people universally.”
Which, as she explains, means she tries to write, “stuff that everyone can get into and write about things everyone can relate to easily.”
She champions her interests; “Love, loss, jealously, spirituality, heartbreak, happiness, sadness, success and failure.” The staples of the human condition (throw in a murderer and we’ll be tip toeing around Dostoyevsky territory) and while they’re always in mind when Merritt’s writing, it can boil down to something much simpler, eight simple words.
“Get turnt. Stay turnt. Live turnt. The end.”
(Someone please explain what “turnt” means. Urban dictionary gave me unquotable quotes that could have been written by one of dem dayum turnt tight jeaned teenagers you hear so much about…hey, mom still thinks I’m cool.)
Partying, the human condition, no politics in sight (“…you ain’t hearin’ ‘bout any of that SON”), and music without genre restraints and creative barriers. It’s Kelsey Merritt uncensored, unadulterated, 100 percent burned out of that bitter smelling industry plastic wrapping and laid out for the world.
It’s the High Life Collective.
Get amongst it.
You can grab a copy of the new single on iTunes here.