WRBB had the opportunity to chat with upcoming artist, morgxn, before he arrived in Boston last week for his show with Phoebe Ryan.
You’ve already got a few shows under belt – how has the tour been going so far?
I don’t want to jinx it, but i think it’s the best one yet. First of all, Philly and New York are amazing cities, so you can’t beat that. It’s kind of the best start ever. There’s no way to go but up, so it’s like we’re starting out with a bang.
How do you prep yourself while you’re on tour and before you go on stage?
I really like to workout while I’m on tour. I have this mobile rig that I bring with me. It’s a weird thing when you travel from city to city because you’re never in one place long enough for it to feel like home. When I workout and have my coffee, for some reason it makes my mind feel like I’m at home. The only thing is … you’re not. I walk around, and I have no idea where I am. But I like that. Before I go on stage with my band, we do this weird breathing thing together, where if anyone was to ever watch us, they’d be like “this is too strange for normal consumption”. It just centers me, and that’s the most important thing for me – to feel grounded before I go on stage.
You also did theatre for a little bit – do you think that has an influence on the way you prepare yourself?
Honestly, you saying that makes me feel like … yeah, there is. There’s something about what I’m doing with my music, and how it’s a culmination of all the places I’ve been. I’m from Nashville, and I live in Los Angeles, but I’ve lived in New York and Chicago. To me, yeah I did theatre, but my music I write is the first time a way for me express what’s going on with myself, and in a way, it feels like everything I’ve done up until this point has been preparing me for this moment in my life. I think what theatre gave me was a sense of strength, and there’s definitely a power in ritual for any artist. Any artist you talk to has some kind of ritual before a show that makes them feel grounded and connected to their source, whatever that is. For me, theatre is definitely that place where they cherish ritual.
What made you decide to pursue a career in music rather than theatre?
I don’t think I ever made a decision that I’m pursuing theatre or I’m pursuing music. That was just how life unfolded for me. I did have a moment in theatre where I start to realize you can only sing songs for so long that other people give you and then you start to lose who you are. And I definitely felt like I lost a sense of who I was in that journey. For me, pen to paper was the place that unlocked my own strength. I’m in a Lyft right now and the driver had this radio station on, and this woman on there is like “If I can’t get up in the morning and look myself in the mirror, and tell myself I love myself, then I’m not doing a great job.” And I’m like “Amen,” because for me that was the thing I couldn’t do. I couldn’t get up in the morning and say “I love you,” and I was just so stuck. And music was my get out.
Do you have a favorite song you like to perform live?
I could never even chose. I think right now it’s ‘Bruised,’ which is a song I just put out. There’s just something energetic that happens when you release it. That’s a song about being about to look yourself in the mirror or look someone else in the eyes and tell them that you love them completely.
What was your process with getting into the music industry?
Honestly, just writing the music. Doing theatre is a beautiful thing, but making your own music is a journey that no one can really tell you how it’s done. You can create the journey until you’ve created the music. I knew I wanted to make music. I was in New York and on a whim just sold everything I owned and moved to LA, and I knew no one. But when I came to New York, you know, I met people at parties and they were like “Oh you should come to the studio, we need someone to record a demo,” and I walked into the studio, and the track wasn’t finished, and I didn’t know anything. I thought I was just going in to record and demo and it turned out I was actually writing the song too, and singing. And that lead to me discovering things I did like and things I didn’t like. I kind of got into electronic music and how I could blend the thrill of dance music over the emotional qualities that come from a good song. I would say it was one day, I wrote the song “xx” where I finished it I was like, there’s something different about this and instead of rushing the process I want to keep writing. I guess what the difference is between [writing music] and anything else is that I didn’t force it to become something, I just kind of let it happen over time. The most specific thing is that you need to write the music and then let the music tell you where it needs to go.
Your single ‘Home’ has been your most successful track on Spotify, with over 5 million streams at the moment – what was the inspiration for writing that song?
You know, I’ve said this before, and I really mean it – I have no idea what I’m writing when I start writing a song. The truth is the melody for me and the way words fall out of the mouth is what the writing process is like. The verse came first, and then the lyrics “back home where the blood runs through my soul,” that’s just the words that came out of my mouth that came to me in the moment and felt right. It also felt kind of strange and unsettling, and in that way, it felt right. I finished that song, and I kind of forgot about it, because in the middle of writing all this music, my dad passed away. For me, I kind of let it all go for 6 months and I found that song in my email and I just started crying and I was like I need to finish that song. I went and recorded a choir in Nashville, where I’m from, and that was the finishing touch. When I stood back and listened to it, I knew that was it.
You’ve been receiving a lot of praise for the music you’ve released so far – do you have any plans for releasing an album in the near future?
I’m finishing up my first album and planning to release it in 2018.
How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never heard it before?
Do you think you have a specific sound that you’ve captured from one area or do you think living all over the place has influenced the way your music sounds?
That’s a great question. I feel like I’m less interested in the way something sounds as a whole as much as I’m interested in making the right choices for the song. To me, when someone who doesn’t know me listens to my music, they get a sense of me. I know I’m a mixture of all these different cities, but I feel like you can really hear LA and Nashville in the way I write and sing. I think we’re in an exciting time for music, where where you’re from, who you are, what you look like is not as important as if the music is real and resonates with people. This is journey for me about putting out songs that are important for me and then finding my tribe along the way. That’s what’s awesome about tour.
What new music have you been listening to recently?
I’m really into the St. Vincent’s album. There are no words. I want to say the word “sexy,” but I feel like that is such an unfair term for her music because it’s far more than that. I feel like she masters something very clean and very dirty at the same time.
Where do you get your inspiration for writing music?
I’m the kind of person who gets the most inspiration from pictures and visuals than from listening to thing. I’m definitely a museum dweller. I try to go to museums, and that’s sort of my recharge.
What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?
Someone asked me that after my show in Philly, and I’ve been thinking about that a lot. When I left New York, I was very heartbroken and I was very defeated, and then to come back, and now I have more love in my heart than I’ve ever had before. You can’t draw a straight line from where you are and where you want to be. I think if you can, you’re not dreaming big enough. I guess my advice is enjoy the twist and turns, and keep putting yourself out there. You have no idea what people are going to on a day-to-day basis, and now more than ever, we need people to put their heart on the line for the people and things they love. It can be hard and confusing and lonely, but I don’t think there’s a better way to live than going after what you love.
I like that a lot. My last question is: if you were a new addition to the crayon box, what color would you be and why?
I’m gonna go with Pink Flamingo. I don’t know if that’s a color already so if it is, then we’re the Neon Flamingo, because it’s a more vibrant version of the pink we know and love. Plus, I have really skinny legs like a flamingo, and I have a neon pink flamingo in my room, so that’s definitely my crayon.