woensdag 5 juni 2013

Interview for WoNo Magazine’s blog with Morgan Mecaskey

By Wout de Natris

© 2013 WoNo Magazine

As not all readers of the blog will be familiar with you, how would you like to introduce yourself?
I am a musician from Cleveland, Ohio (USA).  I love people, exploration, the great outdoors, a good conversation, and dill pickles.

‘Righteous kind’ is, in my opinion, very ambitious album, a statement of proficiency. Was there a defining moment in your life when you knew you would dedicate yourself to making music professionally?
I knew from the young age of four that I wanted to do music as a career. I distinctly recall crying when my mother forgot to take me to my piano lesson; it meant that much to me. Honestly, I don't think I could do much else.

You’ve played in a band, Tinamou, before? As you are now a solo artist, what do you prefer?
Foto from Noisetrade.com
Tinamou was my first band.  I formed it with my best friend in 2007 and the members of that band played on my new record.  There are perks to being in a band and being a solo artist.  On the one hand I love composing everything but on the other I love playing music with other people. Regardless of whether I am solo or not I want to play with a band. 

I can hear some influences in your music, but I dare to say that you are Morgan Mecaskey with a clear own voice. Which artists have influenced you to get where you are now?
I love classical and jazz, which have influenced me greatly, Chopin, Ravel, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Coltrane, ect.).  It is impossible to list all influences but some are Radiohead, Nick Drake, Talking Heads, Andrew Bird, Patrick Watson, Grizzly Bear, ect. 

You’ve recorded ‘Righteous kind’ with Dave Douglas of Danger House. Who between the two of you was responsible for what in getting the album on tape and all the intricate arrangements?
I wrote and arranged the record.  Sometimes the parts were written out, sometimes I simply gave verbal articulation of a rhythmic/melodic part or idea, and certain times, such as the beginning of 'Righteous Kind' I simply described the tones I was going for and allowed the players to improvise.  Dave is a phenomenal engineer/producer, and we collectively worked to get the specific sounds with amps/mics/placement.

There are so many different ideas, intricate melodies and “side-streets” explored in the songs. Did you have a clear picture of where it all should go before entering the studio?
I would say about 75% of things were decided prior to coming into the studio, mostly to save money and knock out tracking.  A few ideas came along the way, and a couple songs were written/recorded/arranged after the others. 

Performing live is nearly impossible without bringing a chamber orchestra next to a band. How have you transposed your songs to the stage?
I have yet to perform with a horn section (one day), but we try to emulate the parts as much as possible, endeavoring to keep the spirit of the songs.  I've been fortunate to work with some very gifted musicians whose musical intuition allows the songs to be fleshed out and full.

Righteous kind starts instrumental, almost modern classical or minimal. What made you decide to start the album this way?
I'm a big fan of minimalist composers such as Arvo Pärt, and I wanted to open the EP by creating an atmosphere, almost a juxtaposed prequel to the upbeat 'Two Men'.

And hence the title Jacque Cousteau?
The title was inspired by the bass tone.  It has this undulating vibe that reminds me of the ocean, and is consequently an ode to my favorite oceanographer, Jacque Cousteau

The same goes for ‘Righteous kind’, the title track. On the one hand it sets a listener on the wrong foot totally for what’s to come, on the other hand the intro prepares him for a jazzy tune. You seem to like a few nice embellishments to a song?
'Righteous Kind' has the constant tension of chaos-resolution, making manifest the lyrics.
You sing “I’m not one of the righteous kind”. Who are? And it does not sound like you would like to belong?
'Righteous Kind' was really written as a meditation on my own depravity, in addition to a reflection on humanity as a whole.  When I say that I am not one of the "righteous kind", I am trying to communicate there is nothing in and of myself of salvific merit, hence the lyrics "can't save myself no matter how hard I try."

In ‘Two men’ you seem to be asking for, perhaps even gently demanding assistance, back up. What inspired you here?
'Two Men' is a song about the importance of community, of doing life with people.  It is not a new or novel theme, simply an ancient truth restated.

You dare to be very vulnerable in your music (and lyrics). Aren’t you “afraid” of audiences not listening, but talking right through everything?
I could live in the fear of being overlooked, but I suppose the ones who listen will listen, and I cannot write songs that are meaningless to me out of a place of fear.  I'd rather take a risk and write out of a place of truth and authenticity. 

Your lyrics are important to the song, tell a story. What comes first to you music or lyric?
Each song is different.  Generally musical ideas come first, but sometimes a melody/words will get stuck in my mind, then I work to arrange.  Other times everything comes at once, very fast, and I have to play catch up with my mind.

What can we expect from you in the coming year?
I hope to keep making music, touring, getting better at my craft and sharing my music with the world. 

You can find the album on Noisetrade,com here.

As Morgan Mecaskey is giving her music away for free, don't forget to tip!

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