If spending so many nights in has got you feeling antsy, let Nicole Mercedes remind you that you’re probably not missing much. The dream-pop singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist’s latest single, “Filters,” is about those nights when you go out and absolutely nothing of interest happens — which, she conjectures, is probably the way things turn out most of the time.
“I feel like that’s the real truth of it — sometimes, you’re just like ‘I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna get dressed and go out,’ then nothing happens and you kind of just go home,” she says. “There’s something kind of nice about that. It’s not even sad. It’s just kind of the regular single life.”
Synths set a fun, dreamy mood as Mercedes sings, “I’ll conjure up a small mess/A filter to see the rest/Of the night through until I’m undressed.”
The video, which shows a man in drag performing the song in front of an empty room, was inspired by a real experience Mercedes had at a karaoke bar drag night in Cape Cod during off-season, when she saw someone passionately sing Kelly Clarkson to almost nobody.
“I just thought it was the saddest, most beautiful scenario,” she says. “No one was paying attention to this person, and they didn’t care, and I thought, ‘Wow, that is such a beautiful moment.’ It seemed like that’s just what they do off-season.”
The song is on Mercedes’ second LP Look Out Where You’re Going — a title inspired by “I Know a Man,” a Robert Creeley poem about a man driving a car. “The poem in general just symbolizes thinking you’re in control and that you’re behind the wheel but then realizing that you’re not,” she explains. “I thought of it as a reminder to look out where you’re going, keep your eyes on the road, make sure you don’t drive off that street.”
The album, which comes out June 5, was largely inspired by the loss of a partnership and a close friendship. “I felt extremely alienated from a lot of friends that I had,” she remembers. “I think a lot of the songs were dealing with being a little weirdo out in the world and feeling a little bit detached and trying to navigate it.” This feeling dates back to Mercedes’ childhood and early adulthood, having been born in LA, moving to Israel at age 10, then living in Berlin before returning to the U.S.
Sonically, her goal with the album was to create “a sound where, even if you didn’t listen to the lyrics, you would understand the mood,” says Mercedes, who produces her own music and partnered with producer Joe Rogers for Look Out Where You’re Going. “It was very important to me for everything to be dream-like and a little bit eerie.”
Even though going out in any capacity is currently a challenge for most, Mercedes believes “Filters” offers an especially relevant philosophy: embrace the uneventful. “I do quite enjoy the feeling of loneliness, and I think it’s something to embrace,” she says. “It’s okay if nothing’s going on.”
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