Do you ever just want to mentally check out for a while? Take your mind out of the game? Rescind control and not worry about it? In other words, do you ever just want to be a “Space Cadet?” With his latest single, singer-songwriter Mercury Slim has composed something we can all relate to at one time or another.
“Space Cadet” is Slim’s latest single, a sign of things to come for him on his forthcoming debut album. Slim was actually already supposed to have issued his debut LP, and it was supposed to be called Love In A Time of Dystopia. He was all set to release the album but then decided to shelve it in favour of a new set of songs that felt more meaningful to him. When the pandemic hit, the songs that were to make up Love In A Time of Dystopia no longer felt appropriate, given the state of affairs we found ourselves in.
Finding himself in a different frame of mind, Slim recalibrated his approach and began writing some new material that better fit his state of mind, as an individual experiencing the harsh realities of 2020.
As a youngster, Slim lived something of a nomadic lifestyle, traversing New Mexico, never living in one place for more than a year. After playing as a drummer in various high school bands, and developing an early passion for songwriting, Slim became a regular at local venues in and around Sante Fe and Albuquerque. He then did what many other young, hopeful musicians do; he packed his bags and headed to Los Angeles. It has turned out to be an excellent decision, as Slim has become a more talented and accomplished musician, learning to perfect his own brand of psychedelic folk and R&B. The move has enabled him to become the singer-songwriter he always envisioned as a teenager.
In honour of the release of “Space Cadet,” we recently spoke to Slim about the song, what inspired it, and the upcoming debut album.
Where was your mind at when you wrote “Space Cadet?” What headspace were you in when this was composed?
Mercury Slim: “I wrote this song while living in a van, on a rainy day in LA before the pandemic. I had a cold, hence the ‘I don’t want to be sick’ line. But I suppose my headspace has always been anti-capitalist and pushing back against societal expectations and constructs. I had also been watching a lot of my favourite show, Star Trek: The Next Generation at the time (which I continue to rewatch religiously.)”
How fast did this song come together? Was it a quick one, or did it take some time to get right?
“The guitar part itself took a day to work out. Then the lyrics and melody came the next day.”
When you say in the song “I just want to be a space cadet,” it infers that you perhaps want to tune out, or you don’t want to be bothered by worries or troubles. Was this inspired by the constant streamline of bad news over the last year and a desire to be just left alone?
“No, news is always bad. This song was written before the pandemic. The hook lyrics for me are a rejection of capitalist realism in favor of a post-scarcity society like one in Star Trek where money has been abolished there is no poverty or starvation and people live their lives to better themselves through personal enrichment while navigating a classless society.
So ‘I just wanna be a space cadet’ is not about escaping or tuning out or repressing. It’s about the catharsis of releasing yourself from societal expectations and consumerism to reclaim our humanity and to welcome in the kind of future many people see possible. People like Gene Roddenberry.”
There’s somewhat of a solemn vibe to “Space Cadet,” or perhaps a longing for something different or better. Is this the vibe you were going for when you were fleshing out the song?
“Yeah, I suppose there is a yearning for something better there. I’m a fool for songs that can be beautifully sad. I like to strive to sometimes make songs that can have that effect. But this song revealed itself to me through the lyrical structure of saying all these things I did not want to be and then what I did want. I can’t say I was going for it as much as I was living it. I think the song met me there in that solemn space.”
“Space Cadet” will be appearing on your debut album, which is due later in the year. Where do things stand right now with the album and what can you tell us about it?
“Yeah the album is coming together, I’d love to have it out this year. What Jon Gilbert and I have done so far feels really good and I can’t wait to get it out into the world!”
Is “Space Cadet” emblematic of what we’ll be hearing on this forthcoming album? What else do you have planned aside from completing this album?
“Yeah, it’s the first song I’ve released with a more counter-cultural tone. I have a lot of songs like that actually. I can say that there will be a couple more counter-cultural songs on the album, hopefully, more. I’d like that.
Planned aside from completing this album? Yeah, continue writing, recording and playing shows. I have so many songs to share.”
Are you hoping to do some tour dates coming up soon?
“A tour would be great. Nothing set in stone at the moment.”