We Went to Karaoke with Weyes Blood's Natalie Mering
A few years ago, Natalie Mering was living in a tent in New Mexico with her boyfriend, harvesting wild herbs that she'd then send overnight to a company that turned them into "pharmaceutical-grade tinctures," as she put it. One day, the two of them went to a lithium hot spring ("lots of lithium gas," she offered as an aside), and they ran into a man sitting in a pickup truck with a small poodle. He was very high on an unspecified hallucinogen. The dog belonged to the man's mother, as it turned out, and he was feeling guilty about taking it, and that guilt had somehow roped in guilty feelings having to do with Jesus, and generally left the guy a fucking wreck. Mering and her boyfriend took it upon themselves to help.
All photos courtesy of Chris Chafin Natalie Mering at Karaoke
"I remember when I saw him, I was like, that guy's eyes are crazy. I don't know if we should trust him," she told me recently over drinks. "But, you know, we just tried to spread the good word. We were like you're gonna be fine, don't worry. There's a place you can park your truck over there, and you're just gonna wait this out. I would have been more nurturing, but my boyfriend at the time was really weird." She then explains Christian cults to me for a few minutes, before listing off a half dozen wild plants in New York you could pull from a vacant lot to eat, smoke, or rub on your wounds. She actually used the phrase "rub on your wounds," which I found endlessly charming and strange.
Perhaps the most unusual thing about all of this is how not-unusual it is in the life of Natalie Mering, who's recently started making music under the name Weyes Blood, releasing its new album through Mexican Summer on October 21st. Her band name is a reference to a Flannery O'Connor book, which is itself supposed to be a play on words: Weyes/wise. "I know it's supposed to be about, like, the characters have wisdom in their history, in their blood," she said, "but I really just like picturing that there's a bucket of blood somewhere that's wise."
Mering has lived in sort-of-an-artists'-residence in Baltimore, a house a 20 minute drive from the nearest anything in Kentucky, and she is currently subletting a Lower East Side room in which her friend stores camera equipment. "I always go to places where I have a situation," she says, laughing. Her father was a 1970s LA-scene rock star who became a Christian congregation leader. She prefers screamo to whiny emo, and thinks Kevin McDonald is the cutest person from Kids In the Hall (which is just CRAZY).