Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Interview with lyricist LEVI MERICLE by Dave Wolff

Interview with lyricist LEVI MERICLE

How long have you been a lyricist and how did you start sharing your work with established bands?
I started writing poetry at the age of fifteen, but it wasn’t until I was about nineteen or twenty when I wrote my first lyric. So twelve years ago was when I really got the hang of writing lyrics. About five or six years ago was when I really started sending my work out to artists and bands. It was on Myspace (When Myspace was really booming) where I really received the best feedback for my lyrics, from bands like Kittie, Upon A Burning Body and Davy Suicide to name a few. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to write for a band, although my work has received great comments and praise. My goal now is to collaborate with bands or artists that need lyrical help or who would like to collaborate. Music has always been a huge part of my life, and I think I could help create some great music if given the opportunity.

Describe the feedback Kittie, Upon A Burning Body, Davy Suicide and other bands have given you for your lyrics?
Most bands I’ve queried to about my lyrics never responded. But sometimes I get comments from bands that are quite encouraging. When I wrote to the band Kittie their bassist, Ivy Vujic, wrote this in response. She said, “Wow those are quite powerful lyrics! I don't know of anyone looking for a lyricist but I think you should definitely keep writing and keep trying to find someone who will publish your work. Good luck! I shared a lyric with them and also stated if they knew of any bands needing a lyricist to please think of me.
About the same time I messaged Kittie, I messaged Upon a Burning Body and Davy Suicide. Once I showed a lyric to Upon A Burning Body, they responded with “They are good! I will keep my eyes open for someone in need of your help :) thank you”. I was very happy that they acknowledged my message as I knew they were becoming a well-respected and popular band.
I’ve been acknowledged and have had conversations with bands and artists such as John Schlitt “Petra”, and The Dead South, etc. A lot of messages were lost in the Myspace transition but luckily I was able to save a few.

How many songs did you submit to each of those the bands we discussed? Did you choose each lyric according to what you thought would work for each band?
Usually, I only send one lyric per band and then I wait for a response. There are only a few bands I’ve actually sent more than one lyric to. I believe I only sent one lyric to each of the bands we discussed above. I’ve found that sending multiple lyrics at the same time, sometimes pisses musicians off. So I try to stick with one lyric per band. I study lyrics and listen to most of the music from the bands I submit to. I don’t just randomly submit stuff out there without first doing my homework on the band. I tried that in my much younger days and didn’t get any results, lessons learned. 

Do you think Myspace needed its upgrade to version 3.0 or should they have left well enough alone with version 2.0?
I didn’t quite understand the change they were making in the beginning, but once they did, it was like a night and day difference for me. For one thing, when I switched to the new version, I lost all my correspondence responses. All the messages from all the bands (for the past three or four years) I talked to were just gone. And I didn’t receive a notification email explaining that to me. That totally pissed me off and turned my likeness for Myspace into pure dislike. I do still have a Myspace account, although I don’t think I’ve visited the site for about two years now. The Myspace I once loved is now just a fond memory.

When Myspace waned in popularity and people switched to Facebook, were you set back when it came to corresponding with bands or were you able to continue?
It was slow at the beginning of the transition but once I switched, I quickly learned the ins and outs of Facebook. It didn’t take me long and I’ve been submitting lyrics to artists and bands ever since. I’m not just a one genre lyricist, however. Although one of my favorite genres of music is heavy metal, I enjoy writing in many different styles. So, therefore, I write to many different artists in all forms of music.

Do you still have your earliest writings saved in notebooks or on your computer? If so would you ever consider releasing them in print?
I have boxes and boxes of notebook pages and scraps of paper in my storage that I haven’t looked through in a decade or longer. A bunch of the lyrics I wrote in the Myspace days are still on a hard drive but I haven’t seen them for some years. I would love to one day unearth my old poems and lyrics and share them with the public. One day soon hopefully I will.

How much of your work is collected on your Facebook page at present? How many subscribers are reading your work there?
I have links to all my published works including, short stories, interviews, newspaper articles, competition results, etc. I have currently published over a hundred poems and short stories all of which can be read there. I have just a hair over three hundred follows on my Facebook page at this time. I’m hoping to acquire more and more by doing interviews and soliciting my page through other literary avenues.

What sort of a transition was it from poetry to song lyrics? Or is writing poetry and lyrics based on the same principles?
When I first started it was basically one and the same. But when I matured in my craft and learned how to format lyrics, it became clear to me that they are not exactly the same. Although the lyrics are essentially poems set to music, the meter and flow of a lyric can be much different from traditional poetry forms. And without having a melody, that can sometimes be a hard task to execute. Almost every lyric I write, I create a tune in my head which I think accommodates the lyrics. Although I am not a vocalist I think I would be good at placing lyrics to existing tunes if given the chance.
Now, I put my poetry and my lyrics into two totally different categories. I submit my poetry (Free forms, traditional, haiku, etc) to magazines and lit journals all over the world, but most of these venues won’t accept lyric formats. So, I pretty much only submit lyrics to bands and lyric contests.

Which magazines and literary journals have you submitted your work to most often? Do any of them have websites where your lyrics can be read?
“The Journal of Artistic Creation and Literary Research” from the University of Madrid out of Spain probably has received the most submissions in the past four years. And in that time I’ve been published from 2016-2018 in that journal. I’ve submitted to hundreds of journals and magazines and I have gotten my fair share of rejection letters. It wasn’t until about four years ago when I started getting more acceptances. And when I received that first acceptance, it really motivated me to submit more often. Now I submit as often as time allows. All my published work can be read on my professional Facebook page The Poetry and Writings of Levi J. Mericle.

Is “The Journal of Artistic Creation and Literary Research” well known exclusively in Spain or does it reach readers in other countries?
JACLR is based in Spain but they publish their journal in English as well as Spanish. I’m not entirely sure how far their readers reach expands, but being one of the largest and oldest universities in Spain, they should have a fairly large readership.

Can you view “The Journal of Artistic Creation and Literary Research” online or is it published exclusively in print?
It can be viewed on Facebook and on its website. I’m actually not sure if they have a print edition, I think it’s solely an online publication. But their website is https://www.ucm.es/siim/journal-of-artistic-creation-and-literary-research.

Name the magazines you have submitted to in recent years. Do you collect any of the magazines that published your work?
I’ve been published in over four literature magazines and journals in over half a dozen countries. Some are online and some are in print. These include The Awakenings Review, Apricity Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, Black Heart Magazine, eFiction India, The Elephant Journal, Mystery Tribune, and Zero Flash to name a few. I’ve been reviewed and have had news stories printed in Premiere Magazine and ABC News, as well as local newspapers. Most of the print magazines I have submitted to, do offer a contributors copy. The smaller print magazines that can’t afford to supply a contributors copy, I buy one from them to go in my personal library.

In which countries has your writing received the most favorable response? Where would you be most interested in publishing next?
I would have to say India and the United States. I’ve gotten several pieces published by several different magazines in India, including eFiction India and forthcoming in Taj Mahal Review, etc. I’ve been published in China, Africa, Indonesia and France to name a few. The country I’d like to see more of my work published in would probably be England. I’ve had one poem published in England from the expired magazine The Screech Owl. This was one of my first publications.

What other genres do you work in when it comes to writing lyrics? Does the tone of your lyric writing differ from genre to genre or is it similar throughout?
Lately, I’ve found myself writing more and more country lyrics (something I thought I’d never do). I never really listened to country music until a couple years ago. I wrote my first country lyric entitled “Whiskey Deep” which I entered into a major songwriting competition called The International Songwriting Competition. For last year’s contest, I ranked third place in the lyrics only category. And after that placement, I really felt comfortable writing and submitting country lyrics to artists and contests. Also, pop and R&B have become some of my best lyrics I think. And although metal is my favorite genre to write lyrics in, I like to delve in many others.
I find almost all my metal lyrics have a dark subject matter which I think is pretty much par for the course. But I try not to write stereotypical lyrics for each genre. It’s easy to only write about booze and your favorite dog when writing country songs (much like Whiskey Deep). But I try to think outside the box and write something fresh and different within each style of music.

What is your definition of thinking outside the box when it comes to writing lyrics from genre to genre?
Since I have no music yet behind my lyrics I try to follow the basic formulas and patterns of lyrics but with my own twist. For example, when I write a country lyric, I try to incorporate maybe a dark side. Yes, there still might be a dog or a pickup truck, but I try to throw in my own personal flair as well. Now with my metal lyrics, I almost always keep it dark. Hopefully one day, they’ll be finished songs that metalheads, such as myself, can rock out to.

Did your transitions into other genres come naturally? Was it more honest than when people try to force themselves to branch out?
Actually, it was fairly easy to write in the other genres I thought would be difficult for me. To my surprise, I wrote my first country song in under a day and it flowed very well. And it was my first country song I entered in a major competition and scored 3rd place. So yes, I am able to write in other genres without too much trouble. This has been the same in not only country lyrics but also in the pop genre among others. I try to listen to every genre of music. I’ve studied by reading and examining lyrics to learn how different songs are compiled lyric-wise.

Do you think about expanding further into genres like Celtic, world, ska, goth, etc?
I’m always open to writing in any genre of lyric writing. My music library expands all the time as I listen to music in the genres of thrash metal to country and from classical to southern gothic. My music listening exceeds no bounds, as I pretty much listen to every style. I just love music. And I’m hoping collaboration opportunities come with bands and musicians that play in different genres.

What albums have you picked up recently that are making an impression on you?
In the metal genres, I must say Korn’s “The Nothing”, is quite remarkable. I am a huge fan of Korn so I love all their stuff. But this album really stands out. My favorite song in this album would have to be “You’ll Never Find Me”. My favorite mainstream band however is Slipknot. And their new album “We Are Not Your Kind” is really good. It’s not my favorite album they’ve put out, but it’s great nevertheless. In the Hip Hop and Country genres, I’ve been listening to a lot of Joyner Lucas, 21 Savage, Boogie, Tom McDonald, Juice Wrld, The Dead South, Brantley Gilbert and Bridge City Sinners to name a few.

Are any bands who have read your work showing interest in collaborating with you?
At this point no. Most of the bands and artists I talk to have the lyrics side of the songs covered. So even though quite a few of them leave me great comments, they are unable to collaborate with me.

Have you ever considered publishing your poems and lyrics in a book or an eBook? Many writers are self-publishing their own work these days, did the idea ever cross your mind?
I have a poetry and flash fiction collection that will be published in 2020. Unfortunately I can’t dive into details at this time, because we are still in the process of getting the layout completed. I have tried to steer away from self-publishing as I personally like traditional publishing more. This will be my first collection of poetry published in the traditional fashion.

Have you found a company to publish your collection, or are you still looking at the time of this writing?
I can’t reveal the name at the moment but I can tell you the company publishing me is listed on the Poets And Writers Magazine Database for publishing companies and they are based out of India. Once we get everything squared away, I’ll be able to say more.

-Dave Wolff

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