There is something incredibly pure about New York-based singer Meesh. Somewhat reserved and shy at first, meeting her in Times Square for midday waffles she comes across as incredibly genuine and earnest with a childlike innocence. A pop princess in the making, Meesh has what most emerging musical acts struggle to find; a clear artistic point of view grounded in an air tight aesthetic. Sporting a pastel backpack covered in patches and buttons with a head of dyed highlighter yellow hair, passing tourists can't help but take notice craning their necks to get a glimpse of Meesh among an already colorful throng of street performers, off-brand mascots, and blindingly bright billboards. They might not know Meesh by name yet, but they instinctively know they are in the presence of something extraordinary.
The world was first introduced to Meesh by Brooklyn-based band Anamanaguchi on the song "Japan Air" off their wildly popular record, Endless Fantasy. Her airy surreal vocals floating atop the bubbly bop made a perfect combination, evoking a dreamlike quality in the churning day-glo soundscapes that had become the band's signature. They notably teamed up again a couple years later for the bouncy single "Pop It" putting Meesh front and center (albeit with her face hidden behind a balloon).
Now Meesh is ready to step into the spotlight, starting with her debut single "More Than Friends." A twinkling pop song about the blossoming romantic feelings, is cute and playful with a childlike sincerity. Produced by Peter Berkman of Anamanaguchi, the track is full of glossy synths and cartoonish coos that feels exactly like floating among the clouds in a Lisa Frank painting. Meesh transports us back to a more innocent time when falling for someone felt new and exciting and the butterflies fluttering around in your stomach were filled with giddy infatuation.
In her first ever interview, Meesh talks about first crushes, anime, going for a world record in Tetris, professional wrestling, and her mysterious background:
Tell me a little bit about yourself, where are you from?
Well I'm not quite sure how to answer that! A few years ago I suffered severe head trauma.. I don't have any memories of my life before waking up after the incident that caused it. I've been on a journey to find out who I am and where I came from for several years now. Every now and then I have little pieces of who I might have been return to me, but I'm not sure if I'll ever recover fully.
How did you get involved with Anamanaguchi?
I met Pete [Berkman] while I was visiting some mutual friends of ours in NYC! We hit it off and became friends and I met the rest of the band shortly after that. The night Pete and I met, I had mentioned I was interested in doing a cover of "Gee" by Girls' Generation. He asked me if I was a singer, to which I replied, "No, but I've always wanted to become a vocalist and also do voice over work." He must have kept what I said in the back of his mind, because a few years after that he reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in working on a song with him for Endless Fantasy. That's how "Japan Air" came about.
What was it like working with them on songs like "Pop It" and "Japan Air?"
"Pop It" was so much fun. Pete and I would get together on Wednesdays and he would show me things that he was working on that. "Pop It" was originally under a different working title, "Wheelie," the song title came from 'popping a wheelie' and the rest of the lyrics just flowed from there. He and I collaborate really well, I feel like we're on the same wavelength when it comes to music and creative things. He's really good at directing me on the type of voice he wants me to use. Working with him and the rest of Anamanaguchi has been such a joy.
So "More than Friends" is your debut as a solo artist, why now?
It feels like the right time. Over the past few years I've had some issues, personal things I needed to work through. Life has some hiccups. I wasn't sure originally how we were going to put it out, whether it was a single or a full album but we were sure that this was the song that we wanted to put out first.
What is "More Than Friends" about?
"More Than Friends" comes directly from my own experiences with love. I remember I was hanging out with my crush and it came to me while I was on my way home. I was trying to figure out how to tell this person that I really cared about them, that I wanted to be more than friends. The lyrics flowed out of me so effortlessly from there and I was like 'should I write this in a letter' or 'should I actually make it a song?' I'm so nervous when it comes to sharing my ideas but the next time I hung out with Pete he really liked it. Caring deeply about someone and being a little unsure about telling them how I feel. Its a hard place to be in.
What strikes me about the song is that is has this very polished, glossy finish but at the core of it is this soft vulnerability that feels very much like having a first crush.
I felt very vulnerable when I was singing it. I was definitely overwhelmed with the feelings at the time, so much so that we had to do several takes when we were recording it.
Photo by Leia Jospe
Do you remember your first crush?
My first crush was on Jeff Goldblum.
When I first saw Jurassic Park I actually had a stuffed cat that I would carry around with me everywhere and I named it Malcolm after his character. I poured all my love for Jeff Goldblum into this little kitten. To this day I still have a huge crush on Jeff Goldblum.
Photo by Leia Jospe
Where do you draw inspiration from for your music?
Well, it's been a little tough acclimating to life after losing my memories. I've spent a lot of time with TV, because small flashes of memories would often come back to me while I was watching. Cartoons, anime, sitcoms, and pro wrestling... It may sound a little strange, but a lot of who I am now is a combination of these things. I try to be a really positive person because I've gone through a lot of hard times where I was incredibly lonely and isolated myself. I've experienced depression, really profound depression. I truly don't want anyone to have to experience the things that I've gone through, so I want my music to be uplifting in a way that resonates with people.
One of my favorite things that happens after I perform shows is meeting people. This one memory stands out, someone came up to me after a show and told me that he was going through a really difficult time after a breakup, he was really depressed, and "Pop It" had just come out. The uplifting poppy nature of the song really helped him through that difficult time. That really meant so much to me. I love hearing stories like that. I don't care about becoming famous or making a ton of money but if I can do that with my voice then I'm fulfilling my life's purpose.
Where does your love of anime and cartoons come from?
The first anime I really watched was Pokemon. I learned so many wonderful life lessons from that show. I spent a lot of time alone and watching anime really did lift my spirits. So I branched out into watching stuff on Adult Swim and the internet. I've been to quite a few conventions as well. Lately I've been more into indie comics, but I am getting back into manga. I love Inio Asano, I even have a tattoo of Aiko from Goodnight Punpun. I don't think I can properly articulate what I love about his work, its so true to life. It can be dark like life, and a lot of anime can be silly and fanservice, I love that stuff too but lately I've been into more of the dark storylines that are more towards the slice of life.
What are you watching and reading currently?
I'm reading Inio Asano's Dead Dead Demon's Dededede Destruction and its really good but is unfortunately now on hiatus. I bought the first couple of volumes that were translated into English and then I couldn't help myself, so I went online and read as much as I could find that was out. Currently its ended on a cliffhanger which pains me because I want to know how it ends. It's hard to wait for things. I usually try to wait until everything is released before I start something. That was my intention when I read Goodnight Punpun but they only released two books in America and I couldn't wait so I read it all online. But it's probably my favorite manga of all time so it was all for the best.
Photo by Leia Jospe
Professional wrestling though?
I'm just so into the artistry and the drama of it. I don't like to have a lot of drama in my life but to watch grown men participate in catty arguments is fun. What interests me is the hard work that gets put into their craft and the charisma is incredible. I hope to be as charismatic as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson one day.
What has been one of your favorite moments in wrestling?
There was this storyline in the attitude era where Mark Henry was involved with this old woman who was a former wrestler. I believe it was Mae Young. It was announced that she was pregnant, but she gave birth to a human hand…
Exactly. Not that I condone this sort of behavior but there was this wrestler named Al Snow who would bring this tiny chihuahua down to the ring with him and his rival at the time cooked him a nice dinner and was like "hey, let's let bygones be bygones" and as soon as Al started eating the dinner his rival told him "by the way, I cooked your little dog into this meal."
Does any aspect of that work its way into your life?
I think so. These people go through so much training and work so hard just to entertain people. Even though I'm not lifting weights and getting super buff but I still have to go through a lot in terms of managing my mental health. I really want to be at the top of my game so I can help others.
Photo by Leia Jospe
I've heard you're a fan of the Earthbound series?
I love Earthbound so much, I was just playing that recently. I just started Mother 3 and already in love with it. I really need to power my way through it.
What appeals to you about that particular video game?
As far as Earthbound goes, I love the story and the way it progresses. I love how it's a parody of America, all the jokes in that game. There's this one NPC standing by a tree holding a coffee cup by a tree and you can go up to him to talk and he's just like "don't mind me, I'm just crying into my latte" and I was like "wow, same."
That humor is way ahead of its time!
Exactly. Putting all the Pokemon games aside, that may be my favorite RPG.
Photo by Leia Jospe
There's also clearly a love for Animal Crossing as evidenced by the cover art for the single.
Oh yeah. I love Animal Crossing so much. Like I've said, I've struggled with depression. There have been times when it was so debilitating I couldn't get out of bed, but Animal Crossing really helped me heal myself. Even though I wasn't communicating with people outside of the videogame I was accomplishing things and making friends with adorable animals. Some days it can be difficult for me to get on task, so recently I've started playing the soundtrack in the background to try and trick myself into being more productive. The logic being that I get so much accomplished when I'm in the game if I pretend the real life is like 'time to go outside and catch a million butterflies' when its actually just chores I've found that it helps.
Videogames are really underrated as coping mechanism
I used to play a lot of Tetris. I read some article recently that they use Tetris for people with PTSD. I tried to go for the world record in the version for the Nintendo DS and I got to the point where I got so many lines in Endless Mode that it stopped counting my lines. Basically, you have to pass the 999,999,999 point and it got to the point where I was playing so much Tetris that I would see the lines wherever I went, whenever I would close my eyes, when I went to bed at night it was just Tetris. I was maybe three quarters of the way to getting to the record, I paused my DS and closed it, so I could get up to eat, but accidentally pushed the cartridge out of the system and lost my game. I don't think I've ever screamed that loud in my life. I was grieving for my game for a long time. I spent weeks on that. But no hard feelings Tetris.
Photo by Leia Jospe
What else can we look forward to from Meesh?
I have some things in the works. I'm working on an album and I have a good chunk of songs that have a posi-vibe but I do want to dive into some other themes. I write a lot of love songs but I just have so much love in my heart and I want to spread it to so many people.
I want to go to other places though. It's been a little hard to sit down a write about things that aren't as upbeat because it's easy then to fall back into some sad feels. There is another single in the works, no set date but will let you guys know on social media.
Photo by Andrew Strasser