Gentler than a kick in the head

Popklikk has talked to Jess Morgan about her wonderful album, «Edison Gloriette».

A very good record, indeed!
A very good record, indeed!

– How would you describe your music to someone who never has heard it before?

– I would describe it as lyric driven folk music influenced by both British and American roots music. It’s gentler than a kick in the head – but a little rough around the edges.

– Why did you name the album «Edison Gloriette»?

– Both «Edison and Gloriette» are the names of cinemas (movie theatres,) picked from a list I was keeping on top of my piano for almost a year. I love those words – loved the sound of them. The album is populated by the voices of characters, and their stories. They felt to me, like little films for a while.

– How did you end up making the album in a small cabin near Bergen?

– I made my first record in Bergen. It began with total strangers – who turned into friends – who formed one amazing team. Everyone worked for free and gave me the gift of a debut record which really helped me get a start in music.

– I wanted to get the old team back together – except in a slightly more organised way. I’ve had nearly 6 years to reflect on that first album on how we worked together, I’ve also learned a great deal about how I work as an individual and what makes me perform at my best. I wanted to see if we could get that magic going again.

– Pick two songs from the album that makes you especially proud.

– I’m very pleased that «Come To The Opera With Me, Loretta» made it to the album. It’s one of only a few songs I’ve composed on the piano. I’m not much good as a piano player – but I am learning by writing songs.

– I’m also really happy that we got «In Brooklyn» on the album. That song caught the ears of the guys over at Drabant Music and started this wonderful working relationship. I’m really pleased to be part of that family and it’s kind of because of that song.

– Please describe how  Popklikk-favorites like «The Longest Arm», «Don’t Meet Your Heroes» and «Come To The Opera With Me, Loretta» developed into great songs.

– I remember writing some of the lyrics for «The Longest Arm» when I was out in Berlin last November. I was on a tour that was slowly breaking my heart. I was losing a lot of money, things were falling apart and all because I really made some bad decisions. It happens! «The Longest Arm» is a song for the times when you really need to smile through the shit times.

– When I wrote «Don’t Meet Your Heroes» I kind of imagined someone telling themself a bit of a story as they look in the mirror. It’s about remembering dificult situations and trying not to repeat mistakes. It’s also a song about getting free of people who want to walk all over you.

– «Come To The Opera With Me, Lorretta» – is something Nicholas Cage’s character Ronnie Camararri says in the 1987 film «Moonstruck». The film itself is about romance, perseverance and patience. My sisters and I grew up watching this film (as well as a lot of movies Cher starred in,) and it really says happiness to me.

– How did you end up working with HP Gundersen and Daniel Birkeland?

– I «met» HP in 2009 when we were both on Myspace. I forget how – but I think it was in a conversation about Gram Parsons. We stayed in touch and HP invited me out to Norway to make a record in his studio. I went out in 2009 and we made a little EP. It was so much fun and we found we had a musical connection – particularly when just playing live. We wanted to build upon that so we went ahead and made a whole record over the course of the next year.

London Calling
London Calling

– Daniel had a studio next door to HP’s place. He engineered a lot of our sessions then. I liked Daniel’s style and his way of working put me at ease and I knew that I wanted to work with him again but this time as a producer – as Daniel is a really creative guy and has a lot of great ideas.

– Daniel is also the only person in the world who could have made any sense of the chaos of audio files we sent over from the cabin in the spring! It was a mess – but he knew how to make it beautiful!

– Popklikk visited Norwich last year watching Norwich City beat Cardiff City 3-2. We stayed there for three days and absolutely loved it. Did you enjoy growing up there?

– Well actually I grew up a little further East toward a town called Great Yarmouth. I wasn’t a city kid at all it was only until after I had finished studying (in the North of England), and then had enough of living in London that I moved back and thought I could live in Norwich.

– A lot of my friends were moving there and I thought I’d give it a try. So really although it’s a small place and you can walk everywhere – I still get surprised by my city. There’s always something new, creative and kind of hipster happening… and a lot of good record shops and coffee places.

– What is your favourite Edward Hopper painting?

– It’s so hard to choose. I have always loved the way he captures people with so much mystery and sadness implied. I think my favourite for a long time though was a painting called «Drug Store». There’s nobody in the picture – just a lit shop window on a city street corner. There is an emptiness about it which makes my mind drift and want to imagine people, stories and songs.

– What kind of music did you listen to as a teenager?

– I did listen to the radio a lot. I was young enough to listen to Radio 1 without finding it annoying and I came in for the middle of the wave of Britpop music and bands like The Stone Roses, Blur, Oasis, Pulp, The Manic Street Preachers, and bit of U2.

– CDs and tapes were kind of expensive – so I relied on CDs from my parents collection – which housed a lot of Whitesnake! I found my way into folk music after our history teacher at school played us a Bob Dylan record. That was the start of something.

– Pick three albums that have inspired you and describe what it is about them that you like.

– «Devils and Dust» – Bruce Springsteen

Springsteen makes a lot of really bold moves in this record. He uses parts of his voice that other people wouldn’t, he tells stories that others wouldn’t sing about and every song had this golden thread running through it. It’s completely cinematic.

– Karine Polwart – «Traces»

Every inch of this record is poetry.

– Bruce Cockburn- “Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws”

I actually heard about 30 seconds of this record in Bergen one time and I had to go and ask the DJ what the record was and copy it down in my notebook straight away. There is a playfulness to the record and a warmth that makes it so special.

– Pick between the following artists:

– The Pogues or The Clash?

– The Clash. I had “London Calling” on tape when I was younger and I found it again when I got my first car and it had a tape player. I used to hate driving in London – but it somehow took the edge off!

– Dexys Midnight Runners or Oasis?

– Dexys. Amazing pop songs with the detail and depth of Kevin Rowland’s lyrics is such a rare and special thing.

– Everything But The Girl or The Cure?

– The Cure. «Close To Me» is one of my favourite songs ever.

– Beth Orton or Suzanna Vega?

– I’d have to say Suzanne Vega for now… but I’m on a mission to listen to much more Beth Orton. She’s from Norwich I think . Musically I just haven’t got there yet – but I will – I definitely will.

Jarvis Cocker or Billy Bragg?

– That’s difficult. I grew up listening to Jarvis Cocker. In fact I still listen to him on the Sunday Service on BBC 6 Music. It’s Billy Bragg for me though. He’s made such a mark on British Songwriting yet still been involved in a lot of diverse and interesting writing projects. I met him once – I was so star struck – I was an idiot.

– The Waterboys og Adele?

– The Waterboys. I listen to them when I’m running – they can get me through the hardest of runs on the coldest of days. Plus they have the word ‘Brigadoon’ in a song. No contest.

– The Kinks or The Who?

– The Who. We used to play a lot of The Who songs when I was in a covers band. I used to really look forward to bassing along to «The Seeker».

– Paul Weller or Tom Jones?

Tough one. Paul Weller has written some incredible songs – but Tom Jones is just so damn sexy. He’s Tom Jones for God’s sake.



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