mercury’s Atmospheric Symbolism on “Together We Are One, You and I”

June 13, 2024

Text/Photos: Jeremy Whitaker

Maddie Kerr's visceral visual language has a voice of its own on mercury's latest EP, Together We Are One, You and I. 

Kerr's mercury is a project that cannot simply be defined by a distinctive sound. The music is world-building and atmospheric, and Together We Are One, You and I is a bold statement on the nature of being. The tracks came accompanied by a visual album that appears like the swelling of a cinematic orchestra, innumerable moving pieces working together as one.

In regards to the album's content, Kerr says, “I was really struggling at a point in my life. I was having a hard time dealing with a lot of decisions that I had made that affected myself and others. I wanted to sit down and really get those feelings out. I'm a human person and I've made mistakes that everybody will, it is time for me to just go forward and deal with everything that's happened and do my best.” 

The three songs that comprise the EP, “Born in Early May,” “Special,” and “Crick” were created nearly at once. Lyrics that came as fragments of consciousness took on a level of abstraction that eventually played into the album's visuals. “Those three, I feel like if people listen to them, they can hear my heart. I struggled to find the words to really convey what I was feeling. Every song I sat down and it just poured out.” 

One of the lyrics in “Born in Early May,” says “The heroes they will say/Now you're done for good/ But if love can find a way/I pray love will find its way.” The ideology of this lyricism is thematic throughout the EP. 

“People that I really look up to and love are going to let me down and I'm going to let other people down. There are going to be people who have never been in my life who are trying to strike their hammer down on me when they have no reason. I believe in grace for people. I grew up in Tennessee in a Christian household. It doesn't matter what you subscribe to religiously, everybody deserves love, forgiveness, and grace. On ‘Special,’ that whole song is just me wanting to be cool enough or good enough to feel like I deserve it too.” 

There is a deep yearning in the burning idol, the dove, the averted eyes, and the gothic sculpture featured in the visual album. “When I wrote “Born in Early May,” the first song I wrote out of the three, I instantly had visuals. That’s usually how it goes in my brain. I wanted people’s chests to glow and them to levitate as kind of a symbol of surrender.” The visuals begin and end in near blackness while stark white shrouds twist and turn. This seems to comment on the volatile nature of serenity, much like the juxtaposition of Kerr’s calm nature and guttural sonics. 

Symbolism is abundant and with every rewatch, objects, motion, and characters adopt new meanings. “I had an image of one of my good friends, I wanted him to get struck in the chest with something and to grow wings and kind of morph into something else to be a visual representation of taking pain and growing from it.” The purity of the white dove feels fleeting as the video progresses to its climax, and the idol burns. “Oftentimes we can build people up so high and then we're so disappointed when we get let down. You can't be putting people on high pedestals like that. You're going to hurt them and you're going to hurt yourself.” 

It is astonishing to think that such an expansive video was created because of happenstance. Friend and director Harrison Shook watched as Mercury played “Together We Are One, You and I” for the first time. “He was like, ‘Please let me make a video for this song. So we sat down on his studio floor and put out a giant piece of paper and just started drawing, painting, and dreaming up the craziest biggest ideas. We just started coming up with all these characters and things that could possibly convey hurt and raw human experience and emotion. We wanted people to be able to watch and put their own meaning to it and recognize that there's a deep feeling here. We watched it back and there's so much more here than we even realized.”  

Together We Are One, You and I is out now.