NJ rock noir artist Shayfer James shares haunting new single & music video “Mercy Down”

An empowering message for the masses is found among theatrical, gothic flair, jagged-edged pop hooks, and a taste of dark cabaret; first single off upcoming EP Hope And A Hand Grenade 
Shayfer James’ new single and  music video “Mercy Down”
JERSEY CITY, NJ | January 18, 2019 – Blending rock-noir style, poetic, dark lyrics, and captivating theatrical performances, NJ’s singer-songwriter Shayfer James swaggers on a unique path of his own, with a dark charm that turns heads. His new single and music video “Mercy Down” lends a spectacular introduction, with an eye-opening message for humanity, reflecting on the state of the modern world. PureGrainAudio hosted the premiere yesterday.

The montage-style video evokes a dark cabaret special, utilizing a variety of B-roll film including old comedy scenes, news-reel, landscape scenery, and wildlife footage. Throughout, they provide depth to James’ lyrics, often providing a chilling reminder to the dark realities of humanity and modern America – including visuals of war, environmental destruction, and nods towards various social crises. Flashed sequences of James singing and gothic go-go dancers bring the video together for an intense, noir-filled visual.

Despite the darkness, James embraces the audience with a positive hope, empowering and emboldening into a new age. The lyrics in the bridge of the song inspire, saying, “but we’re gathering our strength, we’re becoming less afraid, there is hope for us in this unholy mess we’ve made.” James shared, “Mercy Down is my commentary on the empire in modern America. The current state of affairs is quite disturbing, but I believe that humans are good at heart and that this era is a kind of death throe before a new, more positive age begins. Words are far more powerful than guns or bombs, they just take a hell of a lot more time to accumulate and make impact. Words. Love. Resistance. Those are the weapons I’m referring to in the song.”

James shared that visual inspiration for “Mercy Down” was taken from the movies Mulholland Drive and Natural Born Killers, as well as the opening credits of the television series True Blood. Always theatrical and cinematically conscious, James takes inspiration from film directors including Quentin Tarantino, Tim Burton, Stanley Kubrick and Ridley Scott. “A lot of friends did serious favors for me to get the video made, for which I am incredibly grateful,” he shared. “I spent about twenty hours gathering all the found footage that is cut into the shot footage.”

“Mercy Down” comes as the first single off of Shayfer James’ upcoming EP Hope And A Hand Grenade, due out February 1, 2019. He has released six original EPs/LPs to date, and has contributed many original songs and musical scores for film, including some which have premiered at The Tribeca Film Festival (2017), SXSW (2018) and North Bend Film Festival(2018). He is also known for his collaborative work with Kate Douglas (Sleep No More) which have been developed in residence at Goodspeed MusicalsThe O’Neill, and Rhinebeck Writers. James will be celebrating his EP release show on Friday, March 8, at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2 in NYC (9pm show, $10, 21+). “Mercy Down” is available for stream and purchase on all major digital retailers today including SpotifyBandcamp and Apple Music.

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Photo by Joe Velez, Acid Test Photography
WHAT THE PRESS ARE SAYING…“…rich orchestration..conjures up a dark and sinful scene underscored by mischievous charm”. – WNYC Culture Desk

“Simultaneously celebratory and sinister…satirical and scathing…theatrical jagged edged pop.” – The Star Ledger, New Jersey

“While many are taking a more lighthearted approach…James and his band are focusing on something a little darker, neofeudalism.” – Filter Magazine


Shayfer James is a Rock Noir singer-songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist. With music that is equally at home on playlists that feature Nick Cave, Fiona Apple, Amy Winehouse and Leonard Cohen, Shayfer moves unflinchingly from soulful uptempo rock to serene ballads. Known for his poetic, gothic-tinged lyrics, swaggering grooves, whiskey humor, and captivating, theatrical live performances Shayfer is a true showman whether it be on large festival stages or at living room house concerts.

Shayfer’s darkly fascinating musical story reaches far back into his early childhood when he nearly lost two fingers while curiously reaching his right hand into the engine compartment of his father’s idling tractor. After emergency surgery and skin grafting, Shayfer’s mother sat with him and exercised his fingers at the piano every day for months. It is that early relationship with piano that, fifteen years later, resulted in the piano becoming an innate emotional and physical extension of Shayfer’s writing; a mechanism through which he creates, communicates, heals and destroys.

Shayfer began recording music in 2008 and since then, he has released two full length albums, three EPs and various singles, as well as special projects and demos for his fans. He has toured and performed at festivals and events in the U.S. (Art Basel, CMJ), the UK, Iceland (SagaFest) and Hong Kong. Shayfer’s music has been featured by Filter MagazineMTV Hive and as New & Noteworthy on iTunes. His original songs and musical scores have appeared in horror and suspense films which premiered at The Tribeca Film Festival 2017, SXSW 2018 and North Bend Film Festival 2018. In addition to writing, recording, performing and scoring for film, Shayfer is currently writing two musicals with collaborator Kate Douglas (Sleep No More, NYC) which have been developed in residence at Goodspeed MusicalsThe O’Neill, and Rhinebeck Writers.  

Shayfer recently completed production on his fourth EP, Hope And A Hand Grenade, set to be released on February 1, 2019 via AWAL distribution (Kobalt Music).

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