Week in Pop: Daddy, Mike Sempert, VA Violet

Sjimon Gompers

The incredible, expansive & introspective bedroom pop world of VA Violet; photographed by Oksun Kitagawa.


Insights from Joe Medina of MERCH; photographed by Desiree Daniels.

Introduce yourselves to the grand sweeping maximalist pop world of MERCH, lead by San Francisco musical visionary/composer Joe Medina who sent us upward to the towering celestial heights experienced on “Two Hearts”. Featured off the new anticipated MERCH album Amour Bohemian available November 3 from Sassafras Records; the new full-length features over 65 artists contributing & collaborating to what could have been a lost Screen Gems cinema score. And clearly that is not by accident, as Medina’s project of grandiose passion includes the 30 musician strong Prague FILMharmonic (who have worked with Quentin Tarantino, Werner Herzog, Adele, Arcade Fire, Joanna Newsom, et al.) alongside members of The Growlers & The Blank Tapes that have already earned the album the lauded title as being a modern day ren-rock masterpiece OCS/Thee Oh Sees/Oh Sees/Castle Face Records boss Jon Dwyer.

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Having already worked with all the who’s who of the Bay Area’s eclectic musical scenes, Joe Medina heightens MERCH to the most ambitious levels heard to date. Minds, hearts & spirits will become instantly ignited on the lead off single “Don’t Wait Too Long” that praises the potency of now in a blend of the baroque blended with plugged-in pomp & circumstance. Songs fit for both stage & the brightest of silver screens shine forth on “Ten Quetzales” where Medina & company gallantly stroll through town & countryside with the calm & casual swagger of romantic whims that band together like a flock of colorful birds. These motifs of the great wide open & the outstretched & endless arid landscapes of the American southwest frontier can practically be seen from the incredible arrangement of “Two Hearts”. Medina’s romantic passions ride out toward an endless sunset of orange, yellow & auburn hues that will the entrance the audience as if witnessing a modern classic western for all time. Joe Medina shared the following insightful thoughts on the single “According to the Doctors” & more via the following exclusive reflections:

“According To The Doctors” was actually one of the first things I ever wrote when I first moved to San Francisco many years ago. The main string motifs date back to then as well. The song is about someone I was very close to with a rare genetic illness, having it take a turn for the worse. I’d been keeping hope that there was still room for plans and dreams with each other, despite the outlook the doctors were painting. The lyrics can sound fairly stream-of-consciousness, but they are all rooted in something real. For example, in the second verse I sing, spending winter holidays at a black mass is something that we can look forward to. Well, we did spend one Christmas at Karla LaVey’s (daughter of Anton LaVey) Satanic Black X Mass party.

Joe Medina of MERCH; press photo courtesy of the artist.

The new MERCH album Amour Bohemian will be available November 3 from Sassafras Records.

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