Most of the artists we feature on Crushable come to us by way of emails and invites to shows. But recently, the wonderful world of Reddit led us to Mree, an eighteen-year-old singer/songwriter from New Jersey. And we just couldn’t pass her by.
Mree is getting ready to graduate from high school, but unlike most other high school seniors, she already has a full-length, self-produced debut album under her belt. Her warm, simple sound leaves a lasting impression, and she’s become a YouTube sensation thanks to her beautiful videos. Did we mention she shoots and edits those herself, too?
We had the chance to catch up with Mree via Skype, and we couldn’t have been more inspired by her. She talks about her artistic pursuits with true enthusiasm and passion, and we can’t wait to see more from her. We’re not the only ones – one of her videos recently garnered the attention of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon.
Check out our interview with Mree below.
Crushable: How did you get started writing your own songs?
Mree: I started writing freshman year of high school. And it was kind of like, I was posting covers on YouTube, but I was thinking, what if I tried to write my own stuff. And I wanted to see if I actually could. So, I started writing on piano, because at the time I was still learning to play guitar. But my first couple songs were kind of cheesy, so people won’t really hear those, but I guess that’s how I got started.
You’re eighteen. So does that mean you’re graduating from high school this year?
Yeah. It’s really crazy because this whole high school experience has gone by so fast, and I’m excited for college.
Where are you headed for college?
I’m going to NYU, the Tisch program for Recorded Music.
Congratulations! How does it feel to be graduating from high school?
It’s such a weird feeling, because I just remember myself being a freshman and thinking, oh, I’m going to graduate in forever. But it’s actually happening now. So, it’s weird.
Your record, Grow, was self-produced. What’s it like to record and produce your own songs?
Going into it I wasn’t really sure what to expect, because this is the setup I have right here, in my room. But I started out and I recorded, and we were going to send it to get mixed by someone else. I was going to record it at home, and I was going to send it get mixed somewhere else. But after getting it back, I just had this vision in my mind, and I could hear it in my head exactly how I wanted it. And it was just hard to communicate it to the person who was mixing it for me. So I ended up mixing it myself, and my manager actually helped me a lot, because he produces as well. So whenever I had questions I would call him up and he helped me out a lot.
You also film and edit your own videos. How do you conceive of the ideas for your videos, and what kind of process do you go through in order to translate that vision into a finished product?
The idea behind my songs… I usually play it back and think about it, because I know what the song’s about in my head, but other people don’t really understand. I mean, they can have their own interpretation of it, but in my head I see it a certain way so I want to get that out there to show people what this song means to me. As for going out and recording it, I just bought myself a nice camera, a Canon T2i, and my mom helps with the shots I can’t do myself. It’s fun. I love having footage to edit, because I love adding color correction and all that stuff. Sometimes I do too much, but it’s fun. It can be stressful, but I like it.
How long does it usually take you to make a video?
It all depends. The one I just did, it’s the longest video that I’ve had to do. We went out for maybe three or four days, because we did some shots in the forest, and we couldn’t do them all at once because there were just too many. And a lot of the time the weather wasn’t good, it was rainy and gross so we had to prolong recording. I’m not sure how long if I added it all together. But overall we took shots in the forest, me and my friend went to a lake nearby and we took some shots there, so this is definitely one of my longer videos. The longest it’s taken me to record a video and edit and stuff like that.
You’ve really taken advantage of the internet, especially YouTube, to get your music out there. Does it ever feel weird to put yourself out there in that way?
It’s weird seeing it somewhere else. Like not at my house. If someone has it on their phone, I’m like, woah, that’s me. It’s just weird because I guess I’m not used to that yet. But it’s so exciting to have something of your own and just putting it out there and seeing all these responses from it. It’s incredible. I get messages from other countries, and I think, people have seen this? It’s insane. The internet is great. YouTube has really helpful, definitely.
Do you look at all the comments on your videos?
I do, I actually do. I mean, I don’t reply to all of them but I definitely read them all. And it’s just, it’s awesome to see what everyone says.
If you could collaborate with any other artist, who would it be?
Oh man. There’s a lot of artists I would like to collaborate with. But definitely, definitely Bon Iver. Because their music is incredible. Actually, somehow, Justin Vernon saw my video and he actually tweeted it. And that was insane. That was like, the happiest moment ever.
Are you going to take a step back from performing live while you’re in school?
Hopefully I can just keep doing what I’m doing now. Because right now I’m juggling school and shows on the weekend, and sometimes during the week, so it’s doable. And because I’m going to be in the city, I’m starting to play more shows in the city. So it’ll be easier for me to work around my school schedule if I’m right where I need to be. I’m really excited because the program, I’m really honored to be in it, so I’ll definitely learn a lot from it and take advantage of the studios there. And just all the connections I’m going to make. So it’s going to be exciting.
Where do you see yourself in a few more years?
Hopefully I’ll have maybe three or four more albums out. I just want to keep increasing my fan base, and playing and touring, and all that fun stuff. So hopefully, I mean, I just want to keep doing this.
What would be your dream venue to play?
I don’t even know, but I mean I have it in my head. I know what it looks like in my mind. I just want a really nice stage, and I have this scene in my head, with all these string lights, and paper cranes. Because I don’t know why, I just love paper cranes and have them in my room. And lanterns and all that kind of stuff. But that would be amazing.
For more on Mree, check out her website.