Credit: Fartein Rudjord
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London-based singer-songwriter MEI (aka Mercy Welbeck) has unleashed new single ‘Steppin’, her debut release through SE London-based label Lapsang House. A bassist/vocalist with roots buried deep in soul, afrobeat, hip-hop and jazz, MEI has weaved an intricate patchwork of sounds on her latest single. Following the self-release of her debut track, ‘Sandstorm’, at the start of the year, ‘Steppin’ is the first snapshot of a new chapter for MEI as she readies a full body of material for 2018.
‘Steppin’ was written and recorded in Norway during sessions at Bendik Toming’s Family Day studios, with rising producer Count Counsellor lending a hand to piece the track together. Shaped by the serene backdrop of remote island Søndre Sandøy, MEI found limitless inspiration in the Norwegian landscape and quickly formed the lyrics in her head one day as she watched Bendik’s dog, Caesar, move with ease through the winding forests and rocky shores that surround the handbuilt cabin studio. The track is fiercely splintered with dissonant chords, played by Teresa Origone (from her other band, LVNA), as MEI sings of a personal journey to the correct path and ‘becoming the person you are meant to be’. With an otherworldly bassline that growls beneath each repetition of the title hook, ‘Steppin’ is proof that MEI’s sweetly soulful vocal can surface an untapped beauty in the most peculiar of sounds.
MEI’s was first introduced to the soul music that influences her sound when she began singing in a church choir at the age of 11, but it wasn’t until a decade later, studying music with her future collaborators, that her passion truly blossomed. Given the name MEI (Chinese for ‘beauty’) by her Mandarin teacher, unaware of the importance it would have in years to come, she went on to sing backing vocals alongside Brian Eno and Karl Hyde on Later... with Jools Holland as well as supporting Little Simz at her Roundhouse Rising Festival with LVNA earlier this year. MEI is now taking centre stage for her latest project, but with a newfound network of creators around her, from Count Counsellor’s Tiny Factory and From Concentrate collaboratives to her new label, Lapsang House, she may finally be stepping out on her own but there’s a small army of belief in her talent, eager to share her music with a new audience.