The ‘Beloved’ EP is a turning point for P. Morris. Moving from Kansas to LA, switching up his sound, and making the change from his old moniker, Morri$, makes perfect sense. Having previously released tracks on Nights Slugs and Fade to Mind, he steps further out of the club mindset for his debut EP to create something darker in tone, with melancholic flourishes. It's a fine introduction to Morris's work for anybody who's discovered his music off the back of production on Kelela's magical and sensual OICU or Feist's Don't Give Up.
It’s being released via Bear Club Music Group, a label he set up by Morris with a group of other artists while in Kansas. We spoke to Morris over email about the story and process behind 'Beloved', stretching beyond goomba, and how he runs Bear Club now that he’s all the way in Los Angeles.
While you're at it, check out Morris's weird Chatroulette-themed website for the EP.
Hey! How’s everything going at the moment in the lead up to the new EP being released?
P. Morris: "Everything has been great thus far. I've really been enjoying the response to the record. I'm rolling it out in a way in a way I never have before, so I'm excited just watching people react to the project."
Currently you’re putting out music through your own label, Bear Club Music Group. Do you feel more of a sense of control with your music that way?
P. Morris: "From day one, I've always put forth that I'm not the only goomba. The goomba village is an expansive region with a variety of unusual flora and fauna.
"Speaking more specifically, Bear Club Music Group has always been where I come from, but I got incredibly lucky having my music heard early on by the likes of the Night Slugs/Fade to Mind camp. We're from Kansas, so it was really important early on for me to reach beyond my immediate surroundings. I spent a lot of time sort of trying to create some connective tissue between what we're doing and the electronic scene of that moment, which was a natural thing because we were operating in that realm already and gradually getting love from outside Kansas – whether people realized it or not.
"I like to think of Bear Club Music Group as a fortress I built to live in; it's not a resumé builder or some sort of vanity thing. Releasing music with Bear Club Music Group has little to do with control, although I do enjoy the luxury of being my own boss. I'm here to deliver content to the people, so I've built a framework to release music to those who care to hear it. I have no illusions about the boutique nature of the operation but it's there for you if you're looking for it."
What’s the dynamic like between you all on the label?
P. Morris: "Part of the fun of creating from such an isolated place is being able to indulge yourself without scrutiny. I have a really unique advantage right now within the group: I live outside of Kansas so I'm sort of responsible for keeping the ship on course in a broader sense. I think we've built up a certain level of trust and respect amongst each other, so the guys trust me right now to help make sure our ideas are executed to the furthest extent of our current capability.
"With all of that said, I'm playing the role of Bossman and sometimes creative director, but the decision making behind a lot of our moves comes from discussion amongst each other. I enjoy overseeing the execution end of things, while Maal and Tom and are really excellent at helping cultivate the conceptual basis of our identity as goombas."
"From day one, I've always put forth that I'm not the only goomba. The goomba village is an expansive region with a variety of unusual flora and fauna." – P. Morris
You've talked about nostalgia which is something I feel heavily when listening to your new stuff, did you feel nostalgic when making the new EP? Does it ever get overwhelming in LA?
P. Morris: "Nostalgia is both a gift and a curse for me, which is part of the motivating factor behind my move to LA. I needed to get away from the situations and the people who motivated my past work, in attempt to both cover new ground and keep myself engaged.
"Speaking specifically about 'Beloved', I intentionally veered away from some of the orchestral navel gazing I'm so comfortable with. I've always been interested in developing my own musical language of sorts. I wanted to be slightly more direct and develop a new musical dialect for the project."
Beloved is coated in this thick layer of sludgy, sleepy atmospherics – when you were making it, what was your intention production wise?
P. Morris: "I make music to challenge myself, I forced myself to record this one under completely different circumstances – for better or worse. I used less chords, less everything in attempt to reduce things down to a bite sized chunk.
"Having spent a fair amount of time in the studio with Mocky, Feist, Gonzales, and the Canadian crew, I got baptized under the notion of 'ancient modernism' – somehow finding a balance between the sonic qualities found in classic recording, but also maintaining the edge of now.
"This record was much more deliberate, in a production sense. Approaching the project, I knew the music would be darker in tone than anything I'd done before but I didn't know how to articulate that at first. I spent the last few years reacting to the beauty of melody and reveling in my own ability to create lushness, but I really wanted to chart new territory."
"Having spent a fair amount of time in the studio with Mocky, Feist, Gonzales, and the Canadian crew, I got baptized under the notion of 'ancient modernism' – somehow finding a balance between the sonic qualities found in classic recording, but also maintaining the edge of now." – P. Morris
A lot of the titles on the EP hint at a theme of love, was there a concept for you or a subject in particular you were thinking of as inspiration when you were working on it?
P. Morris: "In general, I'm very weary of placing too much explicit meaning on my work. I try to create a lot of entry points for my audience to interact with the project, but It's all up for interpretation.
"'Beloved' is a concept piece and I'm telling a true story but my role is not as the narrator, I'm merely handing you the book. It's up to the listener to find their own story in the material.
"The record was inspired by my time on the road earlier this year. I've never felt more crazy and alone than some of time on tour in 2014. I expanded my reach into international territory and saw more American cities than ever before; I think I played more shows last year than I ever have. The flip side to that much time on the run is being away from home and away from the people you love and care about and it can take its toll on you, mentally and physically."
Bear Club Music Group release the 'Beloved' EP on October 28th 2014 (buy).