“Today he saw me, picking up the pieces from yesterday’s mistakes.” The opening line of Neffy’s November EP, I Don’t Miss You, sets the tone. Neffy dives deep into loss on this EP—which she called “a self-therapy album”—and finds the connection and growth that follow.
Neffy aka Mecca Russel is a singer-songwriter originally from the Washington, DC area who is now a sophomore at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts at The New School in New York. She has made music since childhood, but only started recording under Neffy in 2015. Since then she’s been releasing her work on her Soundcloud page and playing live, including for Sofar Sounds shows in New York.
Neffy attributes the creation of this six-song EP to the experience that inspired it.
“I was going through an interesting time with a friend of mine,” Neffy said. “We were best friends growing up in high school, and we stopped speaking to each other for a lot of reasons. But I was really, really hurt and confused by it.”
From this experience Neffy has crafted an EP that spans the inner experience of breaking off a relationship.
“I think I needed to write those songs in order to pull out of that dark thing that I was going through.”
On “Like You Did,” the listener hears Neffy’s pain as she remembers where she thought the relationship would go and mourns what happened instead. On the title track, they hear her accept that she’s better off. On “Mean” Neffy shows the complex mix of feeling like a fool, and the welcomed need to be rid of someone you care too much but ultimately isn’t good for you.
Neffy explores these emotions with just her voice and a guitar, for an acoustic soul sound. This simple aesthetic is characteristic of her style.
“I’ve always gravitated towards simplicity and minimalistic sounds of just my guitar and me just singing,” she said.
The lyrics of the project were a focal point for Neffy.
“I always am thinking about lyrics. I am always strategically thinking about where to place lyrics and how to say them. And I think sometimes when people have layered instruments or a lot of stuff going on sometimes that takes away from the lyrics. And because these songs are so personal to me, I wanted that to show.”
Despite the simple arrangements on this EP, Neffy still manages to draw from many genres.
“I am really into soul, gospel, and music that is almost sort of haunting and really in the chest voice and really strong,” Neffy said.
Songs like “Like You Did” and “Mrs. Jones” build from somber to heart-wrenching and powerful. On “Mean” she sings “I went to the river to wash my hands of you,” bringing in a metaphor common in gospel, soul and bluegrass that compliments the more direct lyrics of most of the EP.
She was specifically inspired by the Grace Potter and the Nocturnals song “Nothing But the Water.”
“I was truly inspired by that, so I kind of took from that and was inspired by that and tried to add it to my own song,” Neffy said. “And trying to show that desire, just wanting to cleanse yourself of someone who has been a toxic figure in your life, in my life.”
While the album is about breaking off one particular friendship, it is also about a larger experience of breaking away from negative influences.
“I was going through a time of frustration with a lot of people in my life and surrounding myself people that were not beneficial to myself, to my growth,” Neffy said. “And I was just really, really trying to break off from that, but also just being confused with my own self.”
But even though these songs come from an isolating time in Neffy’s life, they have brought connection as listeners relate to them when Neffy has played them live.
“It was well received,” she said. “People laughed, and they told me they could relate to it. It made me feel really good. It makes me feel like I’m not the only person that went through that experience.”
She also found catharsis in recording the album in Washington, DC.
“When I come home it’s such a good feeling to me, it feels like home and I’m comfortable,” she said.
“And it was weird too because the person that the album was about is also from DC so it was sort of like okay, this is all coming full circle for me right now.”
From facing her loss and fears and challenges head on with her I Don’t Miss You EP, Neffy has gotten herself to a better place.
“I think I needed to write those songs in order to pull out of that dark thing that I was going through,” Neffy said.
From the other side of that dark thing, Neffy admits she isn’t sure what to write now.
“I can only really write great songs when I am in not the best state of mind. So it’s going to be interesting because I am in a really good place right now,” Neffy said.
“I think that’s a reason for me to be excited, because I’m not really sure what’s next.”
You can listen to Neffy’s I Don’t Miss You EP on her Soundcloud.
Photo courtesy of Neffy.
Author: Julia Wejchert
Julia is the co-founder of femchord. She wrote about music for her college newspaper before getting a master’s in gender policy and then returning to writing about music (and gender).