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Morgan Delt - Interview

  by Adrian Janes

published: 3 / 4 / 2014

Morgan Delt - Interview


Adrian Janes speaks to American singer-songwriter Morgan Delt about his outstanding new self-titled debut album

It felt a little absurd to be thinking, back in January, that I was already listening to the Album of the Year. But even if this doesn’t ultimately prove to be the case, Morgan Delt’s extraordinary eponymous debut will certainly be in my 2014 Top Ten. Its kaleidoscopic blend of variegated musical textures and idiosyncratic production is shaped by a song craft which unites pop with a psychedelic sensibility, in the spirit that first proved so fruitful in the 1960s and 1970s. Delt has previously made an interesting statement in this regard: “I think we’ve become unstuck in time and everything is going to happen all at once from now on,” suggestive of how he is both immersed in past music but also breaks through this surface appearance to fashion something intoxicatingly fresh. What makes the album even more of a delirious discovery is the fact that he seems to have emerged, in his mid-30s, with no track record to speak of other than his 2013 cassette EP ‘Psychic Death Hole’. A recent article refers to him having previously put tracks online but then taking them down in discouragement, due to the lack of response. After ‘Morgan Delt’ those days are thankfully, and deservedly, past. In this, his first UK interview, Pennyblackmusic tries to dig into the personal and musical roots that have now flowered so exuberantly. PB: Could you tell me a bit about your family and early musical background to start with? MD: I started playing music when I was four, starting with violin and then later guitar, piano, and singing, and my family always encouraged me to do musical things. PB: Apart from the ‘Psychic Death Hole’ EP, you seem to have emerged from nowhere with your album, at the age of 36. Did you make any other recordings or perform in any bands before now? MD: I’ve been making home recordings since around the age of fifteen, and I played in various bands when I was a teenager, but nothing anyone would have heard of. PB: I’ve read that you work as a graphic designer. Do you find that your visual sensibility influences your songs ? MD: Yeah, I tend to visualise the different sounds and I sometimes picture an environment or scenario that a song takes place in. PB: I assume that you’ve adopted the name Morgan Delt from the British film ‘Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment’. If that is correct, what drew you to the film? Would you say you’ve been influenced by any other British music or culture? MD: Morgan is my real first name and my dad got the idea from seeing that movie when it came out, so I thought I would just take the character's last name as a stage name. I do love that whole era of British pop culture, the Ealing comedies, Richard Lester, Ken Russell, and of course all of the music. PB: The songs on the album manage to be both catchy and complex, and it appears you wrote, recorded, played and produced it all. Did it seem easier to do it all yourself, or have you just not been able to find compatible musicians who share your vision? MD: I enjoy recording alone and making music that's less of a collaboration and more of a solitary process like making a painting. But it's a lot slower and more difficult than working with a band. So I wouldn't say it's easier, I just think it leads to different results that I wouldn't necessarily get to with a band. PB: Your album has a really unique, spacious sound. Did you use any particular studios or techniques to achieve it? MD: Not really. I recorded it at home. PB: How much of “Morgan Delt’ is based on songs from ‘Psychic Death Hole’? Did you re-record or remix them for the album? MD: Five on the songs on the album are from the cassette EP and the rest are all new. PB: There are a lot of layers and incidental details to your music. Do you start off with essentially a simple song and then find the possibilities of the studio draw you into making it more involved, or are you working towards that level of complexity right from the start? MD: It always starts from somewhere simple like a melody or guitar riff, but then I can usually hear where I want the full arrangement to go pretty quickly. It just takes a while to put it all together. There might be a few ideas on the album that came out of some kind of recording experiment, but usually I have the sound in mind first and then try to figure out how to get there. PB: Is the album so full of ideas because you felt this was maybe your one chance to reach an audience? Did it take a long time to make? MD: The original six songs on the EP took about a year to record and then the five new songs on the album took another four months or so. I tend to like music that's full of ideas, so sometimes I have to consciously try to simplify things. The song 'Tropicana' was originally a middle section of 'Make My Grey Brain Green' until a friend of mine suggested that maybe the song had too many parts, and I realised that I should split it into two songs. PB: As spontaneously as possible, what would you name as the top five records (singles or albums) you couldn’t live without? MD: 'Piper at the Gates of Dawn' - Pink Floyd 'Easter Everywhere' - 13th Floor Elevators 'Fifth Dimension' - The Byrds 'Safe as Milk' - Captain Beefheart 'Forever Changes' - Love PB: What do you think of the early reception of the album? Is it too early for you to think about a follow-up, or are you already working on some new songs? MD: The reception has been surprising and great! I've started to think about what to do next, but who knows how long that will take. PB: Thank you very much.

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Morgan Delt - Interview

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Phase Zero (2016)
Melodic and adventurous in equal measure, Morgan Delt’s fine second album proves to be psychedelia fit for 21st century America
Morgan Delt (2014)

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