Interview: VC Pines

Our Songwriting alumnus on how he landed a slot at this year's Reading and Leeds Festivals and more...


Our Songwriting alumnus Jack Mercer is VC Pines, an alternative soul artist mixing up punk and poetry within his eclectic sound. 

The former frontman of The Carnabys has left the world of indie guitars, exchanging them for a different musical way of thinking. Working with the brilliant Fierce Panda label, his 'Indigo' EP has seen him played on BBC 6 Music and BBC Radio 1, perform at the Social, the Notting Hill Arts Club and sell out London's Lexington.  

Jack will be performing at this year's Reading and Leeds music festivals and, ahead of the performances, we caught up with him to find out how he landed the slots and what makes him and his music tick... 

Congratulations on your forthcoming slot at Leeds and Reading - could you explain how this came about? How did you get the gig? 

BBC Introducing have been really supportive of my music which feels great as London is such a competitive area. They choose one or two artists from different areas of the UK for their BBC Introducing stages at festivals and Jess Iszatt put my name forward for Reading and Leeds. 

What are you planning for the event? 

I’ve been in the studio a lot recently working on new material so I’m trying to get a couple of new songs in the set. I’ll have the full seven piece band for Reading too. 

Do you prepare for this differently to a normal gig? 

I’ll definitely have different things in mind when rehearsing, we’re going to be adding a lot more of the studio production elements to the live set, especially with these new tracks. So I think I’ll be quite focused on the set sonically. 

What led you to ICMP in the first place? And how were your experiences? 

I was doing my AS Levels at college and really wasn’t happy essentially still being at school and rolling through the same lessons every day. On top of this I’d been diagnosed with Temporal Lobe pilepsy and it all made me feel quite claustrophobic. I had been doing gigs in local pubs for a while and had always loved writing and performing music, so decided to fully commit and pursue it. That’s when I found ICMP and auditioned. Getting out of a monotonous schedule was really refreshing, as well as learning things I’d never learnt before. 

What's been keeping you busy/what are you working on? 

Writing music always keeps me busy! As well as organising writing sessions with other artists. I have a seven piece band for shows, but we change the line-up a lot depending on the gig. So some shows are on my own, some are with bass and keys, or keys/bass and drums. It takes a lot of organising but it’s great to be able to say yes to every gig opportunity. After that it’s the day-to-day social media and planning etc.

How do you approach the creative process, have you a way into your music? 

I don’t have a set way of writing/working, which I think helps to keep things fresh. But generally I’ll realise I have a load of small ideas that have accumulated in my phone, so I’ll expand a handful of them, take them to the studio and let them grow. 

What's the best piece of advice you received while at ICMP? 

I think all of the voice training I had and essentially learn how to keep my voice safe and healthy so that I can continue to do this for the next 50 years ... if It works out that way.

What's next for you?

Planning to release some new material after Reading and Leeds, along with a yet to be announced show in London! 

Visit to find out more. Watch a stripped down performance of 'Indigo' below: 

Photo credit: Joe Hunt 

Study music in London with ICMP

If you're interested in developing your musicianship, learning from our regular industry guests and collaborating within the vibrant ICMP creative community, then speak to our Admissions Team. They're on hand to help you find the right course that matches your ability and aspirations.

Contact the team on 020 7328 0222 or via email and start your music career today.

Find your course

by Jim Ottewill
July 26, 2019
Back to Blog Home