New Jersey R&B artist Maritza Merk makes music that feels like those classic R&B vibes. She pulls from her Grandmother's Haitian background to create beautiful stories and lets her creativity flow through all spaces of her life and relationships.
Her latest single "Both Ways," off her forthcoming project touches on the human habit of trying to save a failing relationship and maturely breaking the cycle.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. This interview aired in its entirety on December 7, 2020, on 91.3 FM WVKR. Tune in every Monday at 10 PM EST. Outside the area? Listen via the TuneIn or Simple Radio app by searching WVKR.
Erin Boogie: For those that might not be familiar, who is Maritza Merk?
Maritza Merk: My name is Maritza Merk. I’m a singer, songwriter. I work with a group called Merk La Familia, and it’s like a production company/collective of different artists. I’m in New Jersey. I’ve performed in several places, like New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Mexico, and I’m just trying to see how far I can get with it.
Erin Boogie: In Mexico? Tell us about that.
Maritza Merk: So, I think I started to go to Mexico maybe three years ago? And the first time that I went, it was just awesome energy. We did a little event out there and were performing just to see how it goes, and then from there, it was like, we have to every year now. The energy was always so right over there. They welcomed us with open arms, and they just love the music so much. We always have to make it a mission to go back every year now.
Erin boogie: Where in Mexico?
Maritza Merk: Mexico City. Last year, I was there for a festival called Tropico, and it’s like one of the biggest festivals in Mexico. In Acapulco. I did that, and it was awesome. I was waiting to go back this year, but of course, with everything, it’s just been hard. Mexico definitely has a special place.
Erin Boogie: Where are you from originally?
Maritza Merk: I was born in New York. Brooklyn. And I’m raised in New Jersey. In Rahway, New Jersey.
Lady D: So your work in La Familia, you all create compositions? I see your work got picked up for a film.
Maritza Merk: For me, I’m just more of the singer/songwriter. I try to work on stuff that goes on my project and whatever I’m going to put out. Of course, our goal is to always try to expand the music and get it to wherever we need to, so if it goes right into somebody’s movie or their fashion show, things like that, we’re always looking to get it to the right ears. We’re always trying to get the music to the right crowd and the right vibe and right audience.
Erin Boogie: What’s the dynamic with Merk La Familia? I know there’s a couple of producers. Are you the only singer/songwriter?
Maritza Merk: I feel like we all kind of play that role. I’m not a producer; as you know, I am the singer/songwriter in the group. The guys definitely play that part as well. They’ll do some writing as well.
Lady D: How did you all come together?
Maritza Merk: It was basically through word of mouth. I had a song on SoundCloud that my friend heard, and she played it for her friend who happened to be married to one of the guys. She reached out to me and said something like, “Oh my God, I really like your voice. So let me link you up with these guys.” Then from there, it was history. We just kind of clicked and started writing music and putting it out.
Erin Boogie: Are they located near you, or do you collaborate via the internet?
Maritza Merk: Near me. Sometimes we’ll go to New York and sometimes we’ll stay in Jersey.
Erin Boogie: When did you start making music?
Maritza Merk: I feel like the cliche thing to say would be my whole life, but professionally, I would say maybe five years now.
Erin Boogie: How does your Haitian origin influence your music?
Maritza Merk: My parents would talk about their time in Haiti, how it was growing up, and I always go through the family photos. It just looks so beautiful. I’m very much like an old soul at heart. I always tell everyone that. I always go back to my family history and see how they grew up; what was their love stories like? That’s a big part of how I write.
Lady D: Are their love stories significantly different from United States love story?
Maritza Merk: I mean, I think it all means the same thing. It’s just interesting hearing it from a different perspective. I feel like it all is the same. Everyone feels love, but it’s just interesting to hear it from a different time or a different place. I always tell them they inspire me a lot.
Erin Boogie: Your single “Both Ways” is about trying to save a failing relationship, something we can all relate to. Was that drawn off of family history, or was that personal influence?
Maritza Merk: That one I feel is definitely more personal. Just dealing with somebody, trying to get over them, and just going through the cycle and like “oh my God, here we are again” type of nonsense. I guess “Both Ways” is trying to stop that in a very mature way. That’s what it means for me, to be honest.
Lady D: Are you working on an album?
Maritza Merk: Yeah. I’ve been working on this album for years now, and now I’ve finished it, and it’s basically the rollout of things and trying to make sure that I’m getting it out to the right audience and getting as much momentum behind it. That’s what I’ve been working on right now. It’s done. It’s uploaded and ready to go for the date. It’s just a matter of presenting it to everyone the right way. It’s like a present, you know? A gift that you give to someone, and you want to make sure you got the right wrapping paper, the right box.
Erin Boogie: Can you tell us when it’s dropping yet?
Maritza Merk: Not yet. You know why? We’ve changed it a few times, and so even though we’re set on a date, but I’m like, let me not jinx it.
Erin Boogie: Are you going to be dropping any visuals?
Maritza Merk. Yes. Yes, I will. I think a few weeks ago, I did a music video for one of the songs on the album. It looks really, really cool. I can’t wait to share it with you. It’s super earthy. I don’t want to give too much away, but sometimes on my Instagram Story, I’ll put some stills up of it, but that’s as much as I can give for now. I really want it to be a surprise.
Erin Boogie: How has the pandemic affected your rollout?
Maritza Merk: Of course, that was definitely a slow down for everyone. You weren’t sure how bad everything was or when anything was going to get better, and you were kind of scared to get in contact with people, so to even make a music video felt like, oh my God, we have to press pause. Hit pause on that. Wait to see how everyone is really doing and all of that. It slowed everything down, but it didn’t stop it, so we still found a way to make it work.
Erin Boogie: Who are you listening to right now?
Maritza Merk: SZA, Jhene Aiko, Giveon. A little bit of Whitney Houston. That’s all I can think off the top of my head, but there’s a lot of other people, too.
Erin Boogie: Dream collab?
Maritza Merk: Frank Ocean. Daniel Caeser.
Erin Boogie: Anything else you want the people to know?
Maritza Merk: Stay tuned, and I really hope that this project brings them a lot of joy and inspiration. Something that they can really hold onto and cherish and go back to if their ever in a situation. That’s my message.