We found our newest crush Kendra Morris by way of Holly Miranda’s twitter
(thank god for social media). One listen of Morris’ Pink Floyd cover
, and we were completely smitten with her jazzy sound. It was as if Cupid shot his musical arrow straight through our ears. With a new album coming out tomorrow, and an impressive slew of covers released over the past Tuesdays, Kendra Morris is about to take on the world one soulful note at a time. But before she completes her full on domination, let’s play a game of
14 questions, shall we?
TS: What inspired you to become a musician?
KM: I really don’t know what the exact thing is that set the inspiration to become a musician into play.. I think it was something that I always had in me.. I sit here and try to think back to the very first time I wanted to perform and I just can’t seem to recall. I remember hanging out by myself as a little kid and making up songs while playing with my toys, or building stages out of piano benches and performing for my stuffed animals. On career day in the fourth grade I showed up with purple crimped hair and lucky charms stuck to my forehead because my career choice was rockstar! I was never so much interested in joining Girl Scouts or playing with other kids.. I just wanted to sing.
TS: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
KM: Most people don’t know that I am obsessed with the sense of smell. I smell everything.. books, magazines, closets..My friends pick on me for this all the time. The sense of smell is one of your strongest senses because it is related directly to your memory. I love how someone can walk by you that you never met before and if they are wearing the cologne of your seventh grade boyfriend or your moms old perfume.. you’re taken right back to that place in time.
TS: You come from a very musical family with your parents being musicians and all, were they big influences on your musical growth? Where do you draw most of your inspiration for songwriting?
KM: My parents were huge influences on my musical growth. Every friday they would get together with friends and play music late into the night. i’d always hang out in the other room and listen through the wall. My mom has a beautiful voice and my dad has this raspy Axl Rose thing going and they’d sit there playing with their buddies laughing and doing harmonies and it just taught me so much about using music as a release from everything that weighs on you.
TS: Your songs have a very soulful/vintage feel to them….how would you describe your music? What sets you apart from other musicians?
KM: I would describe my music as a collage of my influences both sonically, visually and lyrically. It has a lot different layers to it. I always try to be honest with the where I am coming from. I use my voice as an instrument as well as a way to emote whatever it is I am singing about. Then there are the mutiple layers within the songwriting too. My producer on BANSHEE, Jeremy Page definitely has a distinct style that he brings to the table with heavy bass lines, snappy organs and fragmented beats but then the way that I obsess over vocal arrangements brings another angle to the spectrum. I think what sets me apart from other musicians is the fact that I have always unapologetically done my own thing. I have tried and fallen short, gotten up, tried again. I think there is enormous growth in learning to accept your weak points and turn them into new muscles through every sour experience.
TS: What’s the toughest thing you’ve had to deal with to get to where you are right now?
KM: I definitely have a list of some intense hardships that i needed to go through in order to get to where I am now but one of the tougher things in general that I have had to deal is the simple acceptance that I am constantly learning and have so much more to become as a human on this planet. I definitely used to think that I knew all there is to know and didn’t want to listen to other peoples advice but over time I have come to find out that there is always something to learn, someone to learn from and tons and tons of room for improvement. I think life would be pretty dull if we were all born great.
photo c/o Janette Beckman 2012
TS: We know NYC has a huge music scene, but did your hometown in St. Petersburg, Florida have a music scene that you followed?
KM: St. Petersburg had an extremely laid back music scene while I was living down there. It’s so cheap and the weather is always warm and sunny.. you don’t really have to work too hard at anything, so with that being said, it’s really easy to play a show here and there, get your name in the paper and and call it a day. I can’t speak for others, but for myself ,living in St. Pete was the greatest precareer vacation a gal like me could ask for.
I still go back and visit a few times a year as all my immediate family resides there and it definately feels so much more electric than I knew it to be back when I was living down there. I think there’s definitely a scene boiling there now as so many great new mom and pop shops and antiquing gems now thrive along central avenue. They also recently came up with a great deal on leases for new bars and venues as a way to breathe new life into the city. I sound like a travel agent for St. Pete.. geez! I’ll stop now
TS: We know that your debut album will be dropping tomorrow! If you were to describe your album in just three words, what would they be?
KM: BANSHEE….. multi-dimensional, glazed and mystical.
TS: You used to be in a band but decided to go it alone, do you feel more comfortable as a solo artist? What makes it easier/harder for you to be on your own?
KM: I definitely feel more comfortable as a solo artist. One thing I can appreciate is that at the end of the day I have the final say in how I want myself to be seen and heard. Whether something comes out that either I love or I hate.. only I am to blame. Also, as a solo artist you never have to worry about the band breaking up and starting to rebuild from scratch.. I can’t break up with myself!! As much as I do make a lot of general decisions on my own, I’ve built up a team of amazing people around me that I respect and admire whom I can go to when I don’t know how to do something or if it is something that I am not sure about. Asking for help can be scary but it is important to remember that that’s what friends are there for.
TS: You used to study musical theater but then decided not to pursue it, how come? Would you ever consider going back to school?
KM: I studied musical theater in highschool and was always involved in acting and music summer programs as a kid but as I got older I found my strength in singing. I got a lot of C’s in actiing class in highschool because I’m horrible at memorizing lines and my teachers wouldn’t cast me in a lot of the shows because I could never get the dance moves down. I remember cussing out my musical theater teacher Mr. Debeck sophmore year because he didn’t cast me in The Westside Story… I also snapped in his face. haha As for going back to school.. I have no plans as of right now to do anything of the sort.. I prefer the school of life.
TS: What do you love most about being an artist and why (touring, performing, recording, writing, music videos, etc)?
KM: I don’t think I can limit myself by picking favorites as to what I love the most about being an artist. I have always been inspired by the creative realms and constantly try to inspire others with what I do as well. I do know that if I were to wake up tomorrow having lost everything, I would still have the immediate need and impulse to create. I love where I am at in my career right now, taking every opportunity to tackle a challenge in order to bring a vision to life. Whether I am writing a song, piecing together a vocal arrangement, busting a lung in the sweatbox of a soundbooth, or on a stage performing, I feel like i’ve found home.
TS: How did you develop your rad sense of style? What’s your favorite article of clothing?
KM: I developed my individual style over time and by making a lot of strange choices; sometimes really, really bad ones and not being afraid to try things. What I choose to wear everyday is how I like to express myself in the moment. I also often tend to think of everything in themes, so that has had a lot to do with it as well. For example, my entire apartment is broken down into themed rooms, such as my enchanted forest living room complete with barf green and gold glittered walls, seven taxidermied deer heads and shelves of old nature books and encyclopedias. My closet and what I wear each day sort of works in the same way. I remember one fall I wanted to go for a sleazy grandpa thing so I wound up strutting around in plaid trousers, big wire rimmed aviator glasses and would grease my hair back. I also like to collect key pieces for my wardrobe to highlight various outfits. I try to go out thrifting and fleamarketing as much as possible looking for my unique finds. Right now I particularly love big, bright mod prints, kaftans, kimonos, things great for layering. Probably one of my favorite pieces hanging up in my closet is the denim vest covered in pins and a huge Duraflame Log backpatch.. I started collecting pins for it this past december and since then it has become quite the conversation piece. A lot of my friends have given me pins for it, or when I go someplace special I try to find something to remember my adventure by. The vest has really become something representaional of my life.
TS: Any new musicians you’ve been obsessing about? What have you been listening to lately?
KM: A recent band that I am obsessed with on both a musical level as well as they are some of my best friends in the city are Caveman. Matt Iwanusa has this incredibly soft and dreamy voice and this clever knack for melody and vocal layers that I have always been drawn to. Keep your ears perked for them.. they are incredible musicians and such wonderful, loving humans.. the world will catch up
I actually recently downloaded a bunch of stuff from The Turtles, Dion and the Bellmonts and the BeeGees. I’m definately on a 60′s and 70′s boygroup thing lately.
TS: Would you ever consider reuniting Pinktricity? (joking..sidebar: Pinktricity was Kendra’s all girl band, named after a word on a box of Nerds.)
KM: hahahha… ummmm…. I’d probably just wind up getting kicked out of the band van again.
TS: Quick, there’s a zombie apocalypse raging outside, WHAT DO YOU DO FIRST?
KM: I grab my dog Taco, throw my tortoise Melvin into a backpack and run for the nearest deli to raid the shelves of prepackaged goodness.
TS: And lastly, where/when can we come see you perform?!
KM: You can find me Tuesday, August 28th, 2012 performing in celebration of the release of BANSHEE at Mercury Lounge in NYC at 8pm!!!! Address is : 217 East Houston Street, Manhattan, NY
For more amazingness that is Kendra Morris, check out:
Interviewing one awesome person at a time,
Melissa and Teresa