Q&A with ALEXANDER MORGAN – Talks Debut Album FOR THE KING, New Single “Hourglass” And Show THIS Saturday at Bar 20 On Sunset in Hollywood!
Posted On 19 Nov 2015
Tag: Alexander Morgan, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, allaccessmusicnicole, Artist Interview, As Tall As Lions, Bar 20 On Sunset, Beach Boys, Beatles, California, Canadian, Daniel Rossen, Deerhunter, experimental, For The King, Gary Sinise, Grace, Grizzly Bear, Hollywood, Hotel Cafe, Hourglass, Hundred Waters, Interview, James Blake, Jeff Buckley, LA, Laura Marling, Led Zeppelin, Los Angeles, Mac Sinise, Mother Mother, Music, music interview, New York, New York City, Nirvana, Pop, Pyramid Song, Radiohead, Rift Studios, Rolling Stones, Science, Soundcloud, Stones, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Dear Hunter, The Hotel Cafe, The Punch Brothers, The Rolling Stones, Thom Yorke, Tom Gardner, Zeppelin
For The King is the dynamic debut full-length album from Alexander Morgan, a New York-based, Southern California-raised singer, songwriter, composer, and musician. Recorded at Rift Studios, a well-respected artist’s haven in Brooklyn, NY, the album was released on September 4th. The collection’s first single “Hourglass” which you can check out here .
With his broad vocal range, multi-instrument arrangements, and an approach to writing that describes emotional experience with sound as much as it does with lyrics, Morgan has recently gained the attention of New York City’s most intimate venue audiences with buzz-worthy live shows at Brooklyn’s Rock Shop, Rockwood Music Hall on the Lower East Side, and the historic West Village stalwart, The Bitter End.
Intuitively drawn to such musical experimentalists as Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke, Grizzly Bear‘s Daniel Rossen, the late Jeff Buckley, and the progressive musical theatrics of The Dear Hunter, Morgan took over a year to formulate, write, and craft For The King, drawing simultaneously from across many genres, including psychedelia, electronica and classic rock. Teaming with engineer and co-producer Tom Gardner of Rift Studios in Brooklyn, NY (Chromeo, Lana Del Rey) Morgan expanded his sound by infusing many of the songs with strings, winds, and offbeat touches (like an antique pump organ that bookends the album.)
Morgan’s first effort, 2013’s Science – EP, was the result of a frenzied, three-day home recording session with producer Jake Hays (Maudlin Strangers) which can only be described as a melodic exploration into the relationship between inner space, outer space, and other dimensions of existence.
Alexander Morgan was born in Houston, TX. His father, Larry Morgan, a veteran Top 40 and rock radio personality, exposed his son to an eclectic variety of music at a very early age while his mother Charla Morgan, a painter, instilled in him the sensitivity and passion of self-expression through the fine arts. Eventually settling in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley, Morgan showed an interest in singing and composing, and was encouraged to study piano and guitar. He continued to create music and write lyrics throughout his high school years while fronting several bands as well as being featured in leading roles for a number of musical theatre productions. A collaboration that began at that time, and continues to this day, was with friend (and now well-respected studio musician) Mac Sinise (actor, Gary Sinise‘s son), one of three drummers contributing to For The King (including Fred Williams and Max Maples.)
For The King will be supported with full band release shows on both coasts: Morgan recently played at The Bitter End, NY in July and you can check him out THIS Saturday, November 21st at Bar 20 on Sunset in Hollywood.
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa got to catch up with Alexander upon the release of For The King. Read more in their interview below!
Hi Alexander! How are you today? What’s on the agenda today besides our interview?
Hey there! I’m feeling great today, thanks for asking. Amazing what a good night of sleep will do for ya. As for the agenda, this week I pretty much live in the studio finishing up mixes to be sent to master. Today is happily no different.
For those that are not familiar with you and your music, how did you get your start? Who or what was the catalyst for you to want to live the life of a musical gypsy?
Well, I’ve been playing and writing music for quite a long time before committing to it as a career path/way of life (i.e. musical gypsy). Since I was young, both of my parents were constantly playing music in the car to sedate me and I think that made a lasting effect. They also tell stories of me as a toddler wandering around in the front yard, observing random stuff and singing about it. I believe one of my first works was titled “Don’t Get Ants on Your Paw”. It had one lyric.
You just released your debut full-length album For The King in August. What did you learn between your previous work (2013’s Science EP), collaborations and playing live, that you felt you wanted to infuse into your debut album?
I’ve learned quite a bit since recording my first EP. On the obvious side of things I learned more about the recording process, specifically how to get a big sound with as few elements as possible. It’s easy, especially on your first endeavor, to over produce. You want things to sound huge, and sometimes “more” isn’t always the answer to that. I also recorded “Science EP” (within 3 days and in a bedroom, mind you) before getting to ever play a note of it live. I discovered what the songs were in the studio.
With “For The King”, I’ve had the luxury to play a bunch of these songs live and vibe out what works and what doesn’t. You can’t take for granted what an audience gives back to you; it’s quite informative.
You have worked with many talented individuals on the new album like Tom Gardner (engineer of Rift Studios), and well respected studio musician Mac Sinise (actor Gary Sinise’ son). What did you learn from those guys throughout the recording process?
Those two in particular have really shaped my music in an amazing way. For starters, Tom Gardner is a wizard and has been wearing tons of hats in this process. He’s engineering, mixing, producing, and basically my therapist at this point; he’s an insanely talented individual. Tom specifically taught me the importance of integrity vs. perfection. What I mean is, you may record a take that has a lot of imperfections, but if it has integrity and the right emotionality to it, that reads so much more than just simply playing correctly or being on pitch. Quite a wise sentiment.
Mac Sinise is a beast behind the kit, but he’s also one of my best friends. We’ve known each other since freshman year of high school and have grown up together, especially in music taste. He’s one of those guys who I can’t wait to meet up with and share what music we’ve been geeking out to. He’s also a songwriter’s drummer; it’s not about fills or being perfectly in the pocket (which he is), to him it’s about writing percussive parts that serve the song. That, in my mind, is integral.
Who have been your musical inspirations growing up that also inspire you today?
Quick side bar: Some of my friends tell me that my influences are blaringly obvious. I used to have mixed feelings about that comment, but now I’ve really grown to like it and embrace it. This may seem obvious, but I love the bands I love. What I mean is that I’ve grown to appreciate every little moment, every detailed choice, every small sonic blip that may go unnoticed, from the songwriters I admire. I think it’s those little things that separate the geniuses from the rest, so I celebrate those comparisons.
But to answer your question, those geniuses include the late/great Jeff Buckley, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, Grizzly Bear (specifically Daniel Rossen), and two indie bands called The Dear Hunter and As Tall As Lions. They are all vastly different writers, but meet at the apex of my musical nirvana. Oh, and Nirvana.
I understand you grew up in a very musical and artistic household, is that right?
That’s correct, but not in the traditional sense. My father for most of his life has been a Radio DJ and personality. If you’ve ever listened to the radio in LA, you’ve probably heard my dad’s voice at some point. Nonetheless, he has a fantastic taste in music and introduced me to all the essentials; Beatles, Zeppelin, Stones, every grunge band I could get my ears around, you name it.
In fact, I remember vividly the moment he came into my room and insisted I listen to Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace’. Truly changed my life. My mother too has great taste in music. She’s also a fantastic writer and painter, two skills I certainly did not inherent. More than anything she has a way of viewing the world that’s like looking through a diamond looking glass. She’s always been a reminder of how beautiful the world is.
What was the inspiration for your new single, “Hourglass”?
To pinpoint the inspiration for this song is a bit tough. It sort of just poured out of me one day. I do know that around the time I was writing it I was interested in writing a song that people could move to, while at the same time indulging myself with a solid rock riff.
At its core I wanted the song to sonically grow and progress grandly. The song covers a lot of ground. Point A and point Z are very different worlds, and that’s a writing style I very much love.
What was the first song you fell in love with and why?
Oh boy, that’s such a hard question. It’s sort of like that first relationship you have where you think you’re in love, but then you find later that now you’re actually in love and blah blah blah. If you’re catching onto my analogy, I’ve had many lovers. But if we are talking true love, then it’s ‘Pyramid Song’ by Radiohead.
I’m a shameless Radiohead nut, but that song is perfect in my mind. It’s melodically complex, rhythmically creative yet challenging to the ear (while still technically being in 4/4), the lyrics encompass my poetic aesthetic on life and death; it’s just one of those songs that perfectly hit every note my teenage brain needed. To this day I think it’s a perfect song.
Who is in your current playlist? What artists or bands are in current rotation for you?
Right now my playlist is all over the place. I’ve been finally exploring deeper into The Beach Boys canon. Other than that, I’ve been really enjoying the new album from Hundred Waters, still listening to James Blake’s newest album, some folky stuff like The Punch Brothers and Laura Marling, a Canadian pop-rock quartet called ‘Mother Mother’, to name a few.
What’s on tap next for you, Alexander? What are you most excited about for this year?
For the rest of the year, I’m so very excited to share this album I’ve been slaving over for the past year and some change. I’ll be playing locally and doing some touring for the first time with this project, which is really exciting.
I’ll also be collaborating with some filmmakers and theatre artists to do some scoring. All very exciting stuff!
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