When it comes to fighting for a more inclusive music industry, few do more than Torrey Mercer. She is a brilliant songwriter and musician, putting out music that gives a voice to the LGBTQ+ community and many other issues.
On February 28, Mercer debuted a new EP titled Boys/Girls, calling it a process of, “celebrating all that uniqueness that I know so many others have too.” The EP is available on all platforms, why not listen while you read? Listen here.
For The Punks was honored to have Torrey as one of our Women of the Month features, and even more honored to get to talk to such a powerful figure in music today. Now, let’s get to know Torrey!
THE ARTIST BEHIND THE FIGHT
Tell me about the motivating factors that got you into music. How did you decide you wanted this career?
Honestly, I believe for those of us who are crazy enough to embark on a full-time career in music, we didn’t choose the career, it chose us. Music is something I can’t imagine my life without, it has always been what makes everything make sense to me. From a young age I was a mega misfit at school, and performing, singing, and musical theater were my haven. That drove me to take it seriously and get professional training from a young age.
You recently released a new EP called Boys/Girls. How did the release show go? Why did you choose to donate proceeds to DTLA Proud and amBi Los Angeles?
The release show was amazing, we had a great turnout! It was so cool seeing how many people came to support the local LGBTQ community of performers, and organizations. I would love to host more events like it in the future!
You called Boys/Girls a, “sort of my personal love letter to the community.” Can you explain a little bit about what the album means to you and the writing process behind it all?
This project was absolutely a liberation project for me. I wanted to be able to feel liberated both as a woman, and a member of the LGBTQ community. So often, I’ve felt at many points in my music journey that I had to censor myself, and be the kind of girl others wanted me to be. This project was sort of my personal process of taking the duct tape off of my own mouth, and celebrating all that uniqueness that I know so many others have too.
Sometimes creativity might not be flowing. How do you relax and reset your mind so you can get back to creating?
Great question! I’ve found journaling can be a great source of gathering my thoughts, and getting motivated. Listening to music by my influences also helps, and can give me melody and hook ideas. It’s important when being creative to stay inspired, even if all you can do to help your muse that day is to watch a movie or listen to your favorite song.
In what ways does being a LGBTQ+ activist influence and motivate your career?
I believe music has the ability to transform people in a way other platforms do not. As we have seen, this is a very politically polarizing time for a lot of reasons, and I believe we need art, and music to be leading the way on humanizing many of the issues that are so easily dismissed. I believe art and activism go together for this reason, it can give those who need it hope, and those who can’t relate a new perspective to empathize with.
You also are an outspoken advocate on many things such as anti-bullying, women’s empowerment, and mental health – in what ways have you seen the music industry fight and bring awareness to these issues?
I think that the music industry still has a ways to go with women’s empowerment and mental health, but there are many positive role models in music leading the way to spark this dialogue: Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift, Halsey, among many others. It has been great seeing how much the music community has rallied around anti bullying messaging though. I think that we address this subject very differently today than we did even ten years ago, because of both policies, and the influence of entertainment and media.
What is your best advice in making a more inclusive industry? Especially for women and LGBTQ+ individuals wanting to break into the music industry.
To those already in the industry in power: hire more woman and LGBTQ+ producers, tour managers, label reps, songwriters. Giving access and space for these communities starts on the inside. And to other women and LGBTQ+ individuals wanting to break in, I think having a thick skin is important. Know that your message will be heard, even if there are those who try to shoot you down, dismiss you, or belittle any of the work you have created. If we are able to be loud for those who can’t, we need to be.
Before we close off, what can your fans expect to see from you in the near future?
Working on lots of music things! Hoping to drop some more music throughout this year. And, if you’re on the West Coast, we will be announcing those tour dates very soon! I will be touring in June.
If you’d like to keep up to date with everything Torrey Mercer, make sure to follow her on social media. While you’re at it, stream Boys/Girls now! Links can be found below.