Morgan Kibby a.k.a. White Sea has established herself as a prolific artist with features and as the front woman for indie rock band The Romanovs. She has also worked and toured with acclaimed French Electronic band M83. Now, Morgan Kibby is tackling a daring new project under the alias White Sea. Her upcoming album In Cold Blood is due out early next year and her first single "They Don't Know," was recently released with an accompanying music video released this past week. I was able to ask Morgan a few questions to find out what music aficionados can expect from her soon to be released album.
EARMILK: Do you remember the first concert you ever attended?
White Sea: Smashing Pumpkins, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness tour. Garbage opened. I'll never forget it.
EM: That must have been a fun show! I really like the name White Sea. Does it have any particular meaning?
WS: Thank you, and yes… I'm terrible with song names, which extends to band names. I was desperate for a name for my solo project and finally just decided to look up what my name, Morgan, means in a bunch of online baby dictionaries. The recurring definition I found online was "of the sea" or "white sea dweller". I decided White Sea was perfect and appropriate for the kind of music I was making.
EM: What was it like collaborating and touring with M83?
WS: It was a dream come true as I had always been a fan of M83's earlier albums, and then it became wonderful hard work and an amazing family. M83 became my home, creatively, emotionally… I've been collaborating with Anthony for almost 7 years now! It challenges me, teaches me and continues to inspire me. It was a kismet connection when we found each other. He's like my brother, and the rest of the M83 crew is my extended family.
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EM: I hear you have a very interesting creative process, when it comes to songwriting, can you describe it?
WS: I'm had to become really flexible when I write based on the situation. It's taken a lot of work to get there. When I write for myself I usually write in Ableton and with my synths. I've moved away from composing on other instruments. I'm more challenged this way. I'm also very inspired by visuals. I'll often create mood boards to help me visualize the story I'm trying to tell, particularly when I'm writing lyrics. I did this a lot for In Cold Blood and the last M83 album. It was so useful for creating metaphors, describing textures and moods. When I collaborate with others, sometimes i find myself in the producer/engineer driver's seat, sometimes I'm simply there to contribute melodies and lyrics. It's fun and challenging to bounce around.
EM: Your album In Cold Blood is due out early next year; what was the recording process like?
WS: Terrifying, exhilarating, ball-busting. It's a break up album. And I had to make a choice: I either hide behind my ego or really go for it; I went for it. I lost everything - so I had a lot to say. I am so proud of the album as a piece, it's like chapters of a book for me, rooms in a shitty themed hotel. They are all very different beasts but essential to telling an extremely raw and personal story. On the technical side, I'm so proud that I produced and wrote it myself. I started a lot of the demos on the bus while on tour with M83 and then when I was finally off the road, I didn't have a home to come back to, so I bounced around Europe staying with friends and programming whenever I had a quiet space to break out my laptop. I ultimately ended up tracking everything in LA with sessions at Justin Meldal Johnsen's studio (he was kind enough to hand over the keys for a week) and the legendary Sunset Sound for two days. It was terrifying helming these sessions on my own as no one was there to say yea or nay, but I had amazing engineers for this part of making the record (Mike Schuppan and Todd burke) so I didn't feel so adrift if I hit walls!
EM: What artists and/or producers did you collaborate with on In The Cold? How was it working with them?
WS: The incomparable Greg Kurstin contributed additional production and songwriting tweaks on two tracks and I co-wrote one song with Mark Ronson who is such a rad dude. My time with both of them was limited to 2 days each respectively, but it was eye-opening to make music with them. Greg is truly an unparalleled (and FAST) producer and Mark was so good at corralling my creativity. That being said, from start to finish, this is my baby. Outside of Greg and Mark's contributions, I programmed every drum beat, produced every vocal, every synth part, every guitar sound, was there until the last measure was mixed, even helmed my first session at Sunset Sound with strings and horns, all composed by the incredible Joe Trapaneze… It was an emancipation in music making for me. If you hate it, it's my fault and if you love it, rad. There's noone really to blame ultimately except myself. I was so lucky to have amazing players on this record as well: Justin Meldal Johnsen played bass (one of the best days of music making I've ever had in the studio), Denny Weston on drums, Lyle Workman on guitar, Claudius Mittendorfer mixed (spent a week in the studio with him, it was wonderful)… it was a gifted group of contributors who really helped me execute my vision.
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EM: What are 5 items you can’t live without in your everyday life?
WS: Coffee. My motorcycle. My computer. Lipstick. Wine.
EM: Who are your biggest musical influences? Why?
WS: I always come back to Prince. He just follows the beat of his own drum and what a drum it is. I admire musicians who don't give a shit what people think and do what they do best, as opposed to pandering in order to be cool or sell records. It seems trite to write it down, but that's how I try to approach making music.
EM: Do you have a saying or motto that you live by? Why?
WS: "You always find what you're looking for." A friend said this to me in one of the darkest parts of the last two years and it rings true every time I make a mistake OR find any happiness. Sometimes things get real, but they are essential for growth, it's what you do with conflict that makes you the person you are. I also try to not take myself too seriously and I always have compassion for even the most wretched of people. Nobody's perfect.
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