So my friend Lisa Pannek told me about one of her favorite bands, Pearl and the Beard, and their extreme love of mermaids, which they generously cite as one of their influences. As Lisa explained to me, “I love their vocal harmonies, broad range of musical styles, and energy. They put on one of the best damn live shows I’ve ever seen and every song makes me move.” When I asked her if she finds them mermaidly she said, “I do think it is mermaidy in that it calls, to me at least, like a siren song. I’m unable to stay away.” So I immediately went and perused their music, including their extremely popular Will Smith medley video on youtube, which I think you’ll agree is quite delicious, stylish, and amazing:
As is the gorgeous “Black Vessel”:
So I emailed the band, which consists of Emily, Jocelyn, and the handsome gentleman crooner/seaman Jeremy (or, alternatively, “three voices, one cello, one guitar, one glockenspiel, one melodica, several drums, one accordion, ninety-six teeth, and one soul”), who are all very good looking in their human guises
even whilst wearing the same sweater
and Emily wrote back the following:
We can’t believe you wrote to us: Jocelyn and I (Emily) have been hiding our true identities and moonlighting as musicians. We ARE mermaids. Though I have yet to make it to the mermaid parade myself – Jocelyn has been and made her own costume (she had to disguise her mermaid self as a beautiful goldfish.) We would LOVE to be interviewed! Jeremy is a fervent admirer of mermaids, and, in fact, has found himself bewitched by a few (not counting the two he spends most of his time with).
I knew it.
And so, shortly thereafter, the following interview took place between yours truly and Jocelyn, in which the band’s true mermaid nature is discussed in depth. Because I ask the penetrating questions on behalf of mermaids everywhere.
I understand that Pearl and the Beard is very influenced by mermaids as well as by other aquatic entities. Can you tell me in what ways mermaids exert this influence?
We try to harness their inner sensuality when we perform… it keeps us poised, graceful, and just generally sexier.
Is it true that Jocelyn and Emily might actually be mermaids themselves?
I understand that gentleman crooner Jeremy is extremely susceptible to mermaid allure. How does this affect your band dynamic?
We try not to tour too close to the ocean without bringing along plenty of rope to lash him to the mast of our tour van. Boat.
How would you guys define the allure of mermaids?
Their enchantment has been a mystery for so many centuries over so many different cultures… I’d be hard pressed to say anyone could think of one thing that makes them so alluring. But they just… are.
Would you say that, fashion-wise, you guys have a mermaid style? I couldn’t help noticing the blue shimmery dress in the Will Smith video, which I believe would be the envy of any mermaid.
I actually bought that dress to wear to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade in 2008, so you are right on! That dress may be the best $30 I’ve ever spent.
Do you have any mermaid songs and/or do mermaids pop up on your albums anywhere?
We have two; Vessel from our debut album, God Bless Your Weary Soul, Amanda Richardson and the reinterpretation of that song for our EP Black Vessel. For me, Vessel communicates the mental anguish of the sailor desperately battling against himself and the sirens, whereas Black Vessel is actually the sound of the anguish itself.
I secretly believe that the accordion is a very mermaidly instrument, especially when they’re very glittery. Do you all agree? Are there any other instruments/sounds that you’d associate with mermaids or find especially mermaidly?
Funny you should say that, as there’s a lovely accordion section in our song Swimming, from our new album Killing the Darlings. It was played by producer Franz Nicolay in a very romantic, swoony style that I think most mermaids would enjoy.
Besides yours, what music do you suggest aspiring mermaids listen to?
Lost in the Trees have gorgeous string arrangements and siren-like vocals on their album “All Alone In An Empty House” that beg to be listened to over and over again. Sharon Van Etten’s music is smooth, sensual, and mysterious as any mermaid should ever hope to be. Larcenist is the perfect band for every mermaid who wants to grow legs and mingle on the shore with a pack of sailors. Oh and Kate Bush is probably the queen of mermaids.
I read somewhere that you guys like Hans Christian Andersen and his gorgeously weird dark fairytales. Is the little mermaid a favorite of yours?
Absolutely. I love that his tales were so dark… they reflected a sense of magic and reality at the same time, rather than the Disney-fied cookie-cutter endings to stories our generation’s children have grown accustomed to. Andersen’s Little Mermaid had to deal with tragedy just like the rest of us do, and I find the darkness in that moral very uplifting.