Interview: Blake Morgan
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I started playing and writing music when I was five years old. and I honestly can’t remember anything else I ever wanted to do, I love music so much it sometimes frightens me. (There was a tumultuous 20 minutes somewhere in there when I first saw “All The President’s Men” as a kid and I wanted to be an investigative journalist.) However, I can admit that I would’ve overcome my fears of danger, fire, enclosed spaces, extreme speed and death to become an astronaut, and I would have overcome many of the same things to become the starting centerfielder for the New York Mets.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Someone smart once said that “creativity” is allowing yourself to make mistakes, but “art” is knowing which ones to keep. There isn’t any part of my life that doesn’t inform the music I make, or how I make it. I use everything. We artists are what we eat, and what we absorb we secrete. My music was recently referred to as “pop-rock noir,” a description I love. I watch a lot of old movies by great directors, and I’m sure those hours, like all my hours, have affected the music I make.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I’m one of the only people I know who was born, raised, and still lives in Manhattan. There’s no way one can be a native New Yorker––let alone a native Manhattanite––and not have it influence one’s music. Probably in ways I can’t even understand. I grew up a stone’s throw from CBGB’s on The Bowery and went to The United Nations International School on 25th Street for twelve years. I grew up going to Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. It’s hard to describe how much I love New York, it almost hurts. A close friend and artist once said to me, “Blake you have no idea what it’s like to be from somewhere you’re not proud of.” I’ve never forgotten that.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
I’ve performed over 200 times since 2016, across 150,000 miles of touring on both sides of The Atlantic. The residency I began at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City in 2016 changed my life, and my show. I became a “storyteller” on stage and not only did that change the show itself, but the relationship I have with my audience. They come for the songs, but they also come for the stories––and it’s brought us closer together. That show has sold out for six straight years now. The shows blur into each other but the emotion of them remains. My shows post-2016 are an entirely different animal than before then, and the success of them has changed my career.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
They’ll have to cart me out of Rockwood Music Hall in a stretcher to get me to stop playing there. After six years performing at Stage 3, their elegant jewel-like room downstairs, it feels like it’s “my room,” and always will be. If you asked me whether I’d rather sell out Madison Square Garden once or Rockwood’s Stage 3 100 more times I’d honestly have to think about it. That may be weird, but I’d honestly have to think about it.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I’d perform with The Beatles at the Rooftop Concert on January 30th 1969.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Be great. Just work towards being great and everything else will take care of itself. Don’t worry what people think, don’t worry about “success” (whatever that means to you), just find a way to make enough money to stay alive so you can keep working at being great. Great music survives––even during this moment we find ourselves in where the downward economic pressures on music makers have never been greater. Make that your focus, being great, and you’ll be able to sleep at night. Plus, you’ll get better and better. Added bonus.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
The new songs on this record, including my new single “My Love Is Waiting,” are certainly at the top of the list. This batch is the closest to what I really want as a songwriter––to be writing with both emotion and concision.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
My song “Better Angels’ is certainly one my audience expects me to play, and one I love. “Water Water Everywhere” is a song that changed things for me––it was the beginning in some ways of the “emotion and concision” marriage––and I love singing that too. But new songs on this forthcoming new record like “Baby I Would Want You,” the aforementioned “My Love Is Waiting,” and the record’s title track “Violent Delights” are so damn fun to sing and play they make my smile muscles hurt.
What inspires you to write your music?
The same thing that inspires me to keep breathing: it’s the only way I know to stay alive.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I’m a songwriter who believes that the pathway to the universal is through the specific. So if I write about what I’m going through or feeling, and if I do it right, there’s a good chance I can connect with listeners who are going through their own things, and what they’re feeling.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
This new single and video are exciting in themselves, but I can’t wait for everyone to hear my new record, Violent Delights, out May 20th 2022 on ECR Music Group. US and European tour dates to follow, stay tuned.
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