It’s been quite the ride for young musician Kayden Mercer since he decided to pick up a guitar to learn how to play and write songs less than a year ago in Rankin Inlet.
Mercer, 14, could look back upon his musical career one day and make a strong case for the saying “mother knows best,” considering he first started learning the guitar in October of 2018 after his mom, Holly Mercer, saw his attraction to the instrument and asked him if he’d like to learn to play.
Kayden said he was fortunately in the mood to try something new at the time, so he took up his mother on her suggestion.
He said playing guitar did not come all that easily to him and his heavy practice routine had his fingers full of calluses and blisters – but he started making good progress on the instrument thanks to a little help from his friends (and fellow performing artists), Sam Tutanuak, Martin Walach and Jennifer Wakegijiq.
“I got a bit of help from other musicians in the community while I was learning and that felt just great,” said Kayden.
“Their help had me feeling humble, to be honest, because a number of them had toured around Nunavut and other parts of the country.
“It was really nice of them to find the time to help me begin my journey.”
Kayden cites classic rock from the 1970s and 1980s as his favourite grooves; being particularly influenced by the likes of The Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, ZZ Top and John Mellencamp – with a dash of Queen thrown-in for the sizzle.
He said he began writing song lyrics about a month after he began studying the guitar.
“I was always interested in writing my own songs once I got good enough on the guitar to begin the process.
“For me, every song I write seems to be different when it comes to the process, but I lean more towards coming up with a riff I like first and then trying to write lyrics to fit the riff.”
For now, Kayden said, he plans to stay focused on improving both his guitar playing and lyric writing, while constantly being on the lookout for venues to play.
“I was pretty lucky to be included in both Solfest and the Nunavut Day concert during my first year,” he said.