Back in the early 1980s, when synthesizers became popular, Michele Mercure, a self-taught guitarist, saw a whole new way to explore music.
"I was experimenting with different kinds of art," she says. "I was interested in merging sound as art and sound as music. I was one of the first to start using computers. With synthesizer loops, the possibilities are limitless.”
In her late teens and early 20s, she started recording her work.
"From the early '80s on, I started recording small cassettes. I did three or four of these throughout the '80s."
Mercure, a Massachusetts native who was living in Harrisburg at the time, loved the possibilities of the music and the way it could tell stories.
Her interest was especially piqued when she was asked to score a production of “Waiting For Godot,” at the Commonwealth Stage Co.
"It's in my soul, that's what keeps me going,"says Mercure. “I don’t have any formal training. It’s intuitive.”
She moved to Lancaster in 1989 and worked with Independent Eye theater company and the Fulton .
Today, Mercure, with partner Mary Haverstick, runs the film company Haverstick and Mercure Independent Films in Lancaster.
She spends much of her time working on films, including their most recent work, "The Last Horsemen of New York," a documentary about the recent controversies surrounding the carriage horses in New York, which is narrated by Liam Neeson.
Originally filmed as a short, the film proved so successful it was made into a full length film.
Because it is a documentary filmed mainly on the street in New York, the crew had to be mobile and dealing with sound was a special challenge.
Subjects used a small microphone in oder to be heard above the din of noise. But it didn’t sound natural.
“We had to add back all the exterior ambiance — the crowd and traffic — to the film,” Mercure says.
Other films she and Haverstick have worked on include "Home," starring Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden in 2008 and “Shades of Black” in 1993.
Haverstick is the cinematographer and Mercure writes the scores for the films, is involved with sound and location scouting.
She says she will often write music for a score, which Haverstick will listen to and decide to put in another scene. Other times. Other times, Mercure is testing out an idea and Haverstick will declare it part of the film.
Mercure uses many different music genres in the films - "whatever helps tell the story" - but electronic music has always been a constant in her life.
And recently, the center of it.
Mercure and those recordings she made have a following in the electronic music world.
"A couple of years ago, out of the blue, there were inquiries from all over the world to reissue the music," she says. "I'm still kind of astounded. I have a following I didn't know I had. I didn't know people were taking out their old music.
The music has been called both minimalist and sprawling. It can be dreamy and evocative. It’s telling a story.
In Nov. 2018, an anthology, “Beside Herself,” was made of all of Mercure's cassettes.
In 2017, Mercure released a vinyl record, “Eye Chant.”
Both are available on Amazon and Discogs.com among other places.
Then came requests from her label, RVNG to perform in public, something Mercure hadn’t done in years.
“My first big show was (last month) at Roulette in Brooklyn.”
And just last week, she was part of the MUTEKFEST in Barcelona. The festival celebrated digital creativity and electronic music and stops at different venues throughout the world.
Mercure has been exploring Cold War themes in her music and her shows are a mixture of new and old music. There is a strong visual element.
“I feel like a won the musical lottery,” she says. “I was googling myself recently and I saw one of my cassettes (from the 1980s) was going for $400 on E-Bay. I was really stunned.”