If you’ve yet to have the pleasure of listening to VC Pines, it’s high time you took five to wrap your ears around his poetic strand of alternative soul.

The London singer-songwriter, real name Jack Mercer, has already garnered support from the likes of Steve Lamacq and Lauren Laverne thanks to a winning mélange of jazz-flecked instrumentation, velvety falsetto and hooks that burrow deep.

Ahead of playing our Hidden Herd Presents night at The Finsbury on Friday 16th August, we caught up with him to talk all things VC Pines.

How would you describe VC Pines to a stranger?

“Alternative soul with a dark underbelly, sugar coated by trumpet and trombone.”

Who are the biggest influences on your sound and why?

“I don’t really have individual influences on the sound. I make playlists every season and they’re full of the most random tunes – it all kind of culminates to make my music. I’m inspired by people though: John Cooper Clarke is a hero of mine. Hunter S. Thompson and Charles Bukowski too. They help me feel comfortable getting lost inside my own head. It’s good to go a bit mad sometimes.”

What was the best gig you’ve played so far?

“Selling out the Lexington was a big one for me. It kind of cemented my own understanding of where I’m at. The feeling in the room was something I’ll never forget.”

You’re based in London – what’s your local music scene like?

“I used to go to loads of blues and jazz jam sessions and play and meet people. They were full of proper old boys that have played with Sly Stone, James Brown, Jeff Beck and all that. And younger dudes that can shred for days. Some people I still chat to. It can be quite a weird environment at those things though. Some people are really competitive and that’s not how I see music. I prefer the open and creative side of it. I’d say my local scene now is just the friends that I write with.”

Who are the THREE other new artists we should listen to right now and why?

Obongjayar is smashing it up. We bump into each other a lot and I could chat music to that guy for hours. He’s a wicked performer and is creating something really original.

Celeste is someone I’m really into at the moment. I think her band are Gotts Street Park? If not live, then I’m sure she’s written and recorded with them. They all seem to work really well together and write nice tunes.

Wu-Lu as well. I saw him play at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club supporting his brother’s band Childhood before they split. He’s still going and there’s something about his track ‘Seven’ that makes me wanna go nuts. I like it.”

And finally, what does the rest of 2019 hold for VC Pines?

“I’m playing Reading and Leeds Festival on the BBC Introducing stage in August. I’ve wanted to play Reading since going when I was 16, so going back with the full 7-piece band will be dreamy. I am also in the studio recording and I’ll be releasing some new music in the autumn. Can’t wait to get it out!”

VC Pines will play Hidden Herd Presents at The Finsbury on Friday 16th August alongside ST.MARTiiNS, Pet Grotesque and Byfyn. Free tickets are available via DICE and Eventbrite.