As far as career goals go, the 19-year-old Australian singer-songwriter merci, mercy told For the Record that she aims to be “brutally honest” above all else in her songs, celebrating her weirdness in a way that makes others follow suit. Her commitment to smashing taboos comes alive on the rising artist’s debut single, which is the rare kind of debut that feels assured and fully formed.
The strength of that song, “F*cked Myself Up,” recently led to merci, mercy being handpicked as Australia’s representative in Spotify’s global emerging-artist program, RADAR. The program features artists at all stages of their careers from over 50 markets worldwide and helps them strengthen their connection to audiences via Spotify’s social channels, RADAR playlists curated by Spotify’s editors, and bespoke marketing initiatives.
On her lead single, merci, mercy sounds self-aware as she sings about heavy issues like substance abuse and alcohol dependency above a deceptively slinky groove flecked with electronic flourishes. The entire track exudes a nonchalant lightness despite lyrics detailing the powerful temptation to overindulge; the song is topped off with pop-bright vocals as charismatic as they are matter-of-fact.
If merci, mercy sounds wise beyond her years, it may be a result of her having lived abroad with her mother, splitting her childhood and subsequent years between Beijing, Thailand, Sydney, and smaller towns in Australia. “It definitely made me who I am today,” she told For the Record. “Being able to live in other countries and experience the way other people live really opens your mind. I feel really grateful I had the opportunity to do that.”
It’s no wonder, then, that the teenage artist is already working with top-flight producers like Edwin White (Vance Joy, Fergus James) and Joel Quartermain (G Flip, Meg Mac), who co-wrote the track. In fact, she had already signed with a management company, a booking agency, and veteran Aussie label Liberation Records before the song even came out in March, all thanks to the strength of an earlier tune called “Be” that she quietly uploaded in 2018.
Her stage name, meanwhile, was suggested by a friend when she couldn’t decide between Merci (French for “thank you”) or Mercy. And though she’s only just released her first worldwide single, she has been writing songs—“in my bedroom, car, shower, and every other good place to procrastinate—since the age of 16, when she realized that singing other people’s material wasn’t for her.
“I started to use it as an excuse to avoid responsibilities such as schoolwork and cleaning my bedroom,” she admitted. “Nothing has changed, apart from the schoolwork and being way better at writing songs.”
What has changed, of course, is working with producers like White and Quartermain to perfect her songs in the studio. “It felt like home, like I was meant to be there,” recounted merci, mercy. “I was obviously nervous each and every time, but I just loved being with such amazing people creating such innovative music.”
As for her inclusion in Spotify’s RADAR program, merci, mercy said it’s been a welcome vote of confidence: “It leaves me in a constant state of empowerment, humbleness, and excitement. It confirms for me that my dreams are indeed coming true. I feel validated in the most wondrous of ways.”