This article appears in FLOOD 12: The Los Angeles Issue. You can purchase this special 232-page print edition celebrating the people, places, music and art of LA here.
BACKSTORY: A soft-spoken (and -singing) artist who emerged with his first single “perfume,” marked by a fluttering guitar and a timeless mix of folk, indie, electronica, and ambient pop
FROM: Los Angeles, CA
YOU MIGHT KNOW HIM FROM: His semi-autobiographical debut SKY ON FIRE racking up plays on streaming platforms and TikTok, or his starring role in the short film Scarecrow
NOW: Documenting the harshness and beauty of nature, as well as his own growing pains, with songs from his “Alchemy/Dark Corners” series
As the California wildfires of 2020 turned the sky crimson, and the world was undergoing tectonic shifts around a global pandemic, the devastating reality of the natural disaster made mehro recognize the brutality and beauty of life. “The songs were coming from my body, my soul, and the universe,” says the Los Angeles avant-pop songwriter of his debut project SKY ON FIRE, “and I felt they spoke to how I was feeling, like they were written for me.”
Fixated on the human experience, SKY ON FIRE documents the 22-year-old artist’s growth and vulnerabilities, a realization of abrupt ends, living struggles, and the capability to renew and emerge from the ashes. “There wasn’t a conscious or deliberate execution in them, but when we saw our sky blazing red, the idea and concept for the project was born,” says mehro. "The universe has led to almost every decision that was made. We just listened to it.”
mehro worked on the seven tracks for more than a year and a half, while waiting for the right moment, a sign, to release them. “We listened to the universe,” he says. “My first show ever, opening for Elohim in New York City, was the same day that ‘perfume’ came out. It aligned perfectly.”
“The songs were coming from my body, my soul, and the universe, and I felt they spoke to how I was feeling, like they were written for me.”
Informed by mehro’s own experience and memories, and his growth from teen to adult, SKY ON FIRE picks up on the mixed emotions of regrets on “chance with you” and the opening “lightning,” a song written during mehro’s junior year of high school after losing both his grandfather and his best friend, who was only 16, on the same day. Autobiographical and universal vignettes are gracefully adapted into soft-spoken lyrics, floating around blooming guitars on tracks like the tender “perfume” (“Heels over head in the bedroom / You smell so good, don't need perfume / I’m the tulip, you’re the spring bloom / I’d be a fool not to love you”).
“They resonate with me because they’re tinged with my experiences and memories,” says mehro of the songs. “With that being said, I’ve learned to let go. Once the songs are out, they belong to the world. They come from a pure, unattached place. They have something to do with me but also nothing to do with me at all, so the thread is that there isn’t one.”
Still entwined in nature and all its elements, a nighttime gander at the Malibu Mountains helped him come to terms with a fleeting relationship on the sunny, synth-tapped 2021 single “coastline,” while newer offering “howling”—the second installation of the “Alchemy” side of mehro’s “Alchemy/Dark Corners” series—comes from a more subconscious space. “With all of these songs there was a moment where it felt as though the song was writing itself, and I was just witnessing it,” says mehro. “I trusted my inspiration. It wasn’t conscious or deliberate, it was just happening, and there were times when I loved it and there were times when I couldn’t stand it. Now that it's out, I wouldn't have it any other way.”
“With all of these songs there was a moment where it felt as though the song was writing itself, and I was just witnessing it… There were times when I loved it and there were times when I couldn’t stand it. Now that it's out, I wouldn't have it any other way.”
Living and creating in Los Angeles is the most palpable inspiration for the artist, and he says it all comes down to “the people I’ve met, the views I’ve seen, the energies that rise from the ground, the smells that take you to places you hope to go to or never return to. The duality that exists here—the shallow and the deep, the beautiful and the not-so, the light and the dark—this place holds memories and experiences far beyond me that I can tap into and experience for myself, and give them to those who may not be able to do so.
“I feel that I am on a journey that will cease when it’s meant to,” mehro concludes. “It’s one day at a time, one step at a time. My intuition says that there is evolution and growth, but it's hard to tell when you're so entrenched in it, and we’ll see how it weaves into my art. I’m not so sure where it’s all going, but I know my dreams and my aspirations. I see them and head there with gratitude and humility in every step I’m able to take.” FL