TJ Ferranola formed Mercury & the Architects way back in 2014 with his sister, Chelsea Rae, but the project has seen many changes since then. The siblings moved from Staten Island, New York, a few years ago. But it was a meeting with vocalist LYNZI at a songwriting retreat in Costa Rica that saw the whole thing tie together.
“I was writing music my whole life but never really with an intention,” says Ferranola. “Then when I was about 18 years old, I started listening to all the music [I had written]. It felt more relevant at the time I was listening to it than when I wrote it. My sister as well, and my father, we all listened to the music and we felt it was a lot bigger than just us. That’s when Mercury & the Architects was born – to bring that music to the world.”
Ferranola describes the sound as “very lyrical and melodic.” Hip-hop certainly plays a part, as does alt-rock. The likes of Eminem and even Linkin Park are references, as the male/female vocals create a beautiful juxtaposition.
“I’d say working with LYNZI has definitely evolved the sound,” says Ferranola. “The sound has evolved through the years. We’ve experimented with classic rock genres. We like to explore a lot of different genres, I’d say. One of the lines in the newer songs is, ‘Ride the wave but keep the message.’ I always feel as if we’re trying to evolve sonically with the times while keeping the integrity of the lyrics and the music.”
After meeting in Costa Rica, Ferranola and LYNZI wrote a song called “Punching Bag,” and they were up and running as a songwriting partnership. The latest single is “I Don’t Fit In,” and that follows their last EP, Message From Mercury. For now, don’t expect an album.
“I think we’re going to be going on this single run for a little while,” says Ferranola. “Some of these songs that we have, they deserve their own moment in time. We have a collection of work that we would consider to be a collection of work, but I think they all need their own spotlight and their own time. It’ll probably be a run of singles for a little bit.”
The band essentially does everything themselves, from writing and recording to producing.
“We’re going crazy over here,” says LYNZI. “In a good way – we’re always working on another single or another project, and we’re either tweaking vocals or recording vocals – we just do everything. Taking on an album, ideally, I would want to go to a different country for three months and just be in the middle of the forest.”
The latest single is a great example of that DIY ethic. If they’re capable of doing it themselves, they absolutely will.
“We did ‘I Don’t Fit In,’ in-house,” says Ferranola. “So we recorded it, we wrote it. My sister, Chelsea, did the artwork for it and played keys on it. LYNZI sang on it. So yeah, we take a lot of pride in doing all the production and recording ourselves. We do send it out to get mixed and mastered. But yeah, it’s been a journey in terms of making music. We’re finally in a place where we’ve had the experience and we finally have the right equipment, which has been a blessing.”
The band admits it’s fair to say that because they had already been doing most of their work in-house prior to the pandemic; the lockdown didn’t affect their productivity as much as it might have affected other artists.
“We were very lucky,” says Ferranola. “We were really recording heavy right before the pandemic hit, we just decided to rebirth Mercury & the Architects right before the pandemic. LYNZI got really involved in the project. And then it hit and, really, our mission at the time was to record as much music as possible, so a lot of the stuff that people are hearing right now comes from pandemic times.”
“We got a lot closer as a band,” adds LYNZI. “We both moved to L.A. in 2019. He was a bit earlier than me and then I got here in August 2019, obviously not knowing a huge pandemic was about to ruin every plan I thought I had. But yeah, we were all stuck in the house. Chelsea moved here mid-pandemic. She moved in a year after I got here, and we did these livestream shows on Instagram every week – really practiced our live show, just in our living room.”
LYNZI moved here from Texas, close to Austin, while Ferranola and Rae came from New York. Both are music towns, so what made them want to come to Los Angeles?
“I think, for one thing, the grass is always greener,” says Ferranola. “Growing up in New York is such a blessing. I’m grateful that I’m from New York City. I visited L.A. a couple of times – I had some friends who moved out here. The energy was just so much more healing and there was something about it. But yeah, I’d say people, community, and just a vibe and the weather. Growing up in New York is so bipolar with the weather. I never noticed how much it really affected me until I moved out here. Every day is amazing out here.”
“For myself. It was more like I was escaping my culture,” adds LYNZI. “Not that I don’t like the culture that I grew up in, it’s just that I felt like I didn’t fit in with my own culture and that’s fitting to this latest release. Basically my whole life, I’ve been the black sheep, the creative one, and before I left Texas, I was a housewife. I had been a high school teacher before. Music was my deep, dark secret. It was kind of like hey, if you’re over 22, you’ve got to start thinking about having kids and settling down. That didn’t sit with me.”
Looking ahead, Ferranola wants to keep Mercury & the Architects busy.
“We’re going to be consistently dropping new music every month, a new single for the rest of the year,” he says. “We’re playing live at Madame Siam on Feb. 22, and we’ll continue to book shows, as well, throughout the year. We also have a private club, the Architect Club, that we’ve started for people who really love our music and connect with what we’re doing.”
Plenty to look forward to then.
Messages From Mercury & the Architects: The “I Don’t Fit In” single is out now.
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting Irvine Weekly and our advertisers.