Jess Morgan writes songs that tell stories – about women and men, life and death, work and play; the adventures of the real and the imaginary sure to make you laugh and cry. Jess is a singer-songwriter who is steadily building a name for herself in roots and folk music at home and away. Accompanied by acoustic guitar Jess’s style has been likened to that of the classic names of the 1970s but with her own easily distinguishable voice. Songs are peppered with influence from British Folk music as well as country, folk and blues from across the Atlantic.
01 How did you get started in music?
I started at school. I played bass guitar in couple of bands playing covers. I wasn’t at the front of the stage but I definitely got the bug for performing and for walking around with a guitar on my back. At university they had an open-mic night on campus – which was where I got my start in terms of singing and playing my own songs. Some really friendly singer-songwriters took me under their wings and I started playing in pubs and busking in York.
02 Where did your direction come from?
I was brought up on a really eclectic mix of music a lot of which I still love today and from which I take a great deal of inspiration. However I bought my first Bob Dylan album after we dipped very briefly into the art of protest music in History at school. ‘The Times They Are A’Changing’ was a far cry from Sheryl Crow’s ‘Tuesday Night Music Club’ but I was sold on acoustic music and spent most of my late teens finding the music that filled in the gaps.
03 Who were your major influences and inspirations and who do you despise?
British singer songwriters like – Ricky Ross and Justin Curry – and a lot of those classic North American writers in particular, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, Carol King, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Gene Clark…
I don’t despise anyone – maybe Ryanair?
04 What inspires you to make your current type of songs and sound?
I like to keep things very simple. I love the rhythm of words and guitar chords and for me, and in a perfect world – thats all there really would be to it. I’ve been known to be a bit of a purist so at the moment I’m concerned with other textures that can make a recording of a song more accessible but while not killing the simplistic vibe. Anyone who has ever worked with me would have heard me say at least one something along the lines of “thats great…but play less.”
05 What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live shows then & possibly even now?
There’ll be me, a big glass of water (trying to get into good habits now…) and hopefully an appreciative audience! Expect lots of foot tapping (think Happy Feet), guitar hitting and rhythmic playing, quite intimate songs and some funny bits and pieces too and songs that tell stories.I can probably guarantee you the worst stage-banter in the world…ever.
06 How do you begin your songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?
I’m trying to work out a way I can tackle the big stuff – things that are real and worth singing about without it being contrived or even preachy. I think a lot of people set-out to be political with their music and so many get it so wrong that nobody wants to listen. I’m not forcing anything – just hoping that the right means will develop slowly.
Right now I really love working with existing ideas – like folk tales, local myths, things that we all know happen in relationships… and sometimes the ideas/characters/stories are imagined and new.
07 How did your music evolved since you first began playing?
I’d like to think I’m a better singer and player than I was when I started – but I’ve got such a long way to go! I’d like to think I’m getting better at writing too – but sometimes I wonder if I’m just falling more and more in love with C, F and G as the years go by!
08 What has been your biggest challenge? Were you been able to overcome this? If so, how?
I toured with a band once that I didn’t get on with. We were stuck together for a month on a tough tour with no breaks. It was really hard to stay professional at all times and keep my head up – but I managed. I had my running shoes packed, so I could get out in the fresh air – which was a great help!
09 Do you play covers? If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?
Most of the covers I play don’t make it out of the house with me. I played a version of Luther Vandross’ ‘Never Too Much’ for my Sister’s wedding this year. It had a really mellow arrangement in a lovely open-tuning and I really enjoy playing that from time to time.
10 Where did you envisage being in five years time?
I’d like to be doing all the things I’m doing now – but on a much bigger scale. I’d like to think I’d be able to afford to treat a few more friends to dinner now and then but I can’t see myself being rich or successful in mainstream music.
11 Who would you most like to record with?
I’ve seen enough documentaries and special features to know that being in the studio with ‘The Boss’ – Springsteen is something very special indeed. He know what he wants and is so passionate.
12 What should we be expecting from you in the near future?
I’m launching a new ep this March – which is a collection of songs I recorded myself over last summer in locations in my home region of East Norfolk. The recordings are one mic / one take and very simply laid down. There are 4 new tracks and 3 re-records of tracks from my album Aye Me which came out last year. The album is still getting great feedback so I just wanted to show people that there is more to come and more to expect from me.
I’m also going to be touring pretty heavily over the Spring with folk festivals in Summer and a bit of touring planned in Germany, Italy and Norway too.
Tour Dates 2013:
Jess heads out on a 32-date UK tour starting this month as follows:
23/02 Cambridge | CB2
24/02 Twickenham Folk Club
04/03 Norwich | EP Launch Norwich Arts Centre
06/03 Birmingham | Red Lion Folk Club
07/03 Ipswich | Number 16 The Meeting Place
09/03 Rugby | Rugby Roots
10/03 Swindon | The Rolleston
13/03 London | Folk Room at The Queens Head
14/03 Lowestoft | Zoo Clairmont Pier
15/03 Didcot | Cornerstone Arts
16/03 Maidstone | Maidstone House Concerts
17/03 Purbeck | The Square and Compass
17/03 Bournemouth | Bournemouth Folk Club
19/03 Seend | Seend Music
21/03 Cambridge | Hot Numbers Cafe
23/03 ORT Cafe | Birmingham
25/03 Isle of Man | Ramsey | The Northern Lights
26/03 Isle of Man | Online Gig
27/03 Isle Of Man | House Concert
28/03 Manchester | Thank Folk For That
29/03 Wells Next The Sea | The Albatross
30/03 St. Austell | The Eden Cafe
06/04 Falmouth | Miss Peapods
07/04 London | The Woodman in Highgate
09/04 Sheffield | The Redhouse
10/04 Coventry | The Nursery Tavern
12/04 Farnham | Farnham Maltings
14/04 Needham | The Red Lion
16/04 Stourbridge | Stourbridge Folk Club at Katie Fitzgeralds
17/04 Nottingham | Guitar Bar
18/04 Rothbury | Rothbury Roots
24/04 Leicester | The Musician
Tickets for the shows are available from Jess’s website here: jessmorgan.co.uk/tour-dates
Link to buy the current single – New EP Richer Thinner Smarter released March 4th and available from jessmorgan.co.uk