By Bob Gourley | Originally published in 2006
Best known for her work with M83, Morgan Kibby recently released “In Cold Blood,” the debut of her current solo project White Sea. But before M83, Morgan put out a great solo album, “…And the Moon Was Hungry…,” and formed a band called the The Romanovs around it. The following interview was done with her when the album first came out and she was simply going by the name Morgan.
On her debut CD, “…and the moon was hungry…,” Morgan manages to flawlessly bring together the classical training she’s had since childhood and her love for darkwave music. What makes it work so well is that she obviously has a deep understanding and heartfelt appreciation of both genres. This isn’t like when a singer/songwriter just adds electronic beats to give their music an edge, or when a synth band experiments with orchestral samples. Together with the production team Wizardz of Oz, Morgan has truly managed to fuse styles in such a way that sounds natural and extremely powerful. In an email interview, Morgan told us a bit about the CD, her work on a “Harry Potter” trailer, and more!
I know from your bio that you got started with music as a child, but can you talk a little bit about what you were doing musically immediately before this project? Had you been involved with other bands/projects?
Morgan: I was noodling on the piano and learning the cello prior to making my EP. Nothing serious, just fishing around for what I wanted to play, who i was musically. The EP was my first attempt at combining the classical instrumentation with the industrial beats. It was born purely from my love of both genres.
What initially inspired you to combine classical elements with rock and electronic music? Was it just a love for different styles, or were there particular bands who influenced you?
Morgan: Like I said above, i really love industrial and classical music in general. Since I was trained classically in voice, piano and cello, it was natural for me to incline the music in that direction. However my appreciation for Front 242 and various darkwave bands really boosted my desire to incorporate industrial beats to the recording process. Bjork’s album “Post” was also a huge inspiration in that the production was beautiful and yet heavy and metallic at the same time.
How did you come to work with the Wizardz of Oz?
Morgan: The Wizardz were actually friends of my manager and when we sat down for the first time, it just clicked.
Are there particular ways that your music changed or evolved once the recording process got underway?
Morgan: Oh goodness yes. For example “Nice Day (for a murder)” is a very simplistic almost music box-like song, but once we got into the studio, the layering of strings, the clock sound… the layering transformed the piece. Production, particularly good production, can take a tune and turn it into a “piece”. I feel that the Wizardz really have a gift for transforming my ideas into a reality.
Why go by just Morgan, as opposed to your full name ?
Morgan: Well, Morgan just went better with the music i suppose. However now that i’ve got such amazing players to create with, we are thinking of becoming a full-on band.
The artwork on the CD and website is really interesting. Can you explain a bit about where it came from, and what inspired you to use it?
Morgan: As a child I admired the artwork of Edward Gorey and Im also a huge lover of bizarre Victorian drawings. I happened upon some amazing source books at an art store when I was finishing a collage project and I knew immediately that the images would be perfect for the artwork of the album. I do a lot of collage in my spare time and that had a huge effect on the type of art I wanted to incorporate.
Do you have a general approach to song writing in terms how the process generally starts? (lyrics first, melody first, etc). Or does it really vary by song?
Morgan: I hate to say it but the process is always different! When I first began writing, it was purely short stories and stream of consciousness. It only occurred to me to put music to my writing at the encouragement of my piano teacher. As a result I tend to write words first, but lately I’ve been pushing myself to write the music initially in order to keep it interesting. In other words, I try to go with what gives me the most inspiration.
How did you get involved with the “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” trailer? Why weren’t you heard in the US version?
Morgan: Well, I got lucky! The producer of the trailer happened to have been given my EP by a mutual friend and called me in for an audition as they were prepping for the recording. I got a call the next day and was told that I needn’t audition, I was hired! It was truly a lucky break as they say. Trailers tend to be marketed differently depending on what the audience is. For some reason the marketers decided that the US version would have a larger impact with no voice at all, hence the lack of my voice on the domestic version.
Your CD is available through CD Baby, but can people buy the songs online as downloads (iTunes, eMusic, etc)? If not, do you have any plans to do this?
Morgan: Yes, the music is available on iTunes, however Im not sure that all of the tracks off the album have been uploaded yet, hopefully this will be rectified soon
What is your opinion on the use of the internet as a promotional tool?
Morgan: What I love about internet promotion is that you dont have to be a big name to make it work for you. Its easier to connect to fans on a personal level, spread your image and music, and develop a fan base that is not just local, but world-wide. I love the internet, and I am extremely grateful for the benefits it has afforded not only me, but other artists as well. It is also a wonderful way to meet other like-minded artists and communities of performers.
What’s in the immediate future for you? Any touring plans?
Morgan: Right now we are working on finding the right tour, yes, but distribution is also something that I have been navigating the past few months. In truth, I’m more focused on a grass roots effort at the moment. I want to get the music to people that really love it and then take it from there.See all interviews →