An empowering message for the masses is found among theatrical, gothic flair, jagged-edged pop hooks, and a taste of dark cabaret
Blending rock-noir style, poetic, dark lyrics, and captivating theatrical performances, NJ’s singer-songwriter Shayfer James swaggers on a unique path of his own, with a dark charm that turns heads. His new single and music video “Mercy Down” lends a spectacular introduction, with an eye-opening message for humanity, reflecting on the state of the modern world. PureGrainAudio hosted the premiere.
The montage-style video evokes a dark cabaret special, utilizing a variety of B-roll film including old comedy scenes, news-reel, landscape scenery, and wildlife footage. Throughout, they provide depth to James’ lyrics, often providing a chilling reminder to the dark realities of humanity and modern America – including visuals of war, environmental destruction, and nods towards various social crises. Flashed sequences of James singing and gothic go-go dancers bring the video together for an intense, noir-filled visual.
Despite the darkness, James embraces the audience with a positive hope, empowering and emboldening into a new age. The lyrics in the bridge of the song inspire, saying, “but we’re gathering our strength, we’re becoming less afraid, there is hope for us in this unholy mess we’ve made.” James shared, “Mercy Down is my commentary on the empire in modern America. The current state of affairs is quite disturbing, but I believe that humans are good at heart and that this era is a kind of death throe before a new, more positive age begins. Words are far more powerful than guns or bombs, they just take a hell of a lot more time to accumulate and make impact. Words. Love. Resistance. Those are the weapons I’m referring to in the song.”
James shared that visual inspiration for “Mercy Down” was taken from the movies Mulholland Drive and Natural Born Killers, as well as the opening credits of the television series True Blood. Always theatrical and cinematically conscious, James takes inspiration from film directors including Quentin Tarantino, Tim Burton, Stanley Kubrick and Ridley Scott. “A lot of friends did serious favors for me to get the video made, for which I am incredibly grateful,” he shared. “I spent about twenty hours gathering all the found footage that is cut into the shot footage.”
He has released six original EPs/LPs to date, and has contributed many original songs and musical scores for film, including some which have premiered at The Tribeca Film Festival (2017), SXSW (2018) and North Bend Film Festival(2018). He is also known for his collaborative work with Kate Douglas (Sleep No More) which have been developed in residence at Goodspeed Musicals, The O’Neill, and Rhinebeck Writers. James will be celebrating his EP release show on Friday, March 8, at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2 in NYC (9pm show, $10, 21+). “Mercy Down” is available for stream and purchase on all major digital retailers today
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