I have been a fan of MORRIS (aka P. Morris, MORRISMAN, or Morri$) since I was 13 years old. I discoverered him on spotify when I was looking for Where I Wanna Be by Donell Jones and his edit? Remix? Mix? Whatever. His version came up and the cover art caught my eye. I hadn’t heard anything like it before. That song is fire on its own, but MORRIS put his signature touch on it and made it even more fire. Adding these nature sounds like streams of water, crashing waves, and tweaking Donell’s original vocals. Then, the track after that A New Day is MORRIS in his element chopping up a song in his unique way that no one else could get away with and make it sound good. There’s a good chance you might know who MORRIS is since he’s been just about everywhere for a hot minute, producing for some cool people along the way. Go All Night by Kelela, Waterfalls by our guy Fat Tony, Persistant by Ian Isiah? All MORRIS. I’ve wanted to talk to him for a long time, six years in fact, and it finally happened and it was just as amazing as I thought it would be. We talked about him growing up in Kansas, Andre 3000 coming to one his shows, opening for FKA Twigs and a lot more!
Deshaun: When did you start making music?
MORRIS: I started making music in ’05, I made some grime beats on [Fruity Loops] after hearing Dizzie Rascal. Maybe around ’07, I heard a few songs that convinced me I could make beats: Get It Shawty by Lloyd and Last Night by Diddy…really got into ableton around that time and kept at it. I made my first mash ups around that time too.
* MORRIS sent me some myspace links to some early work that sadly didn’t work*
M: Damn none of the links work!!
D: Yeah, describe the sound to me?
M: It was super electronic, kind of like the grime music I had been into but it was more urban and definitely influenced by video games. It was like, “Okay there’s an intersection here.” I had like a chiptune project around that grime era. So it really gelled with Get It Shawty and Last Night
D: Oh yeah I can definitely hear that now. You have an ear for mixes. I would have never ever thought to blend Beyonce and Shaggy, but you made it perfect.
M: Haha I can’t take complete credit for that particular edit, I was working on that tape at the kitchen table and my partner dropped that idea and I thought it was perfect.
D: But you definitely put your own spin on it! The yelling has become like a MORRIS trademark.
M: The yell is Beyonce!! For a long time I was trying to use magic to conjure her. I thought to myself: “If I embed her voice in everything I do, eventually I’ll hear from her…or her lawyer.”
D: But she fucks with you already! How did that feel? Seeing your name in her playlist?
M: Wow yeah that was such a moment to be honest…I always hoped for more but Saint Heron hasn’t dropped anything since that project that had our song on it. It was a nice taste of what it could be. I’d like to cross over more in 2020 and beyond.
D: What do you have in store for the year? That you can talk about of course.
M: Just more content. I’m always working on music – nothing has changed there, but in general I’m trying to show more of what I do in my various feeds so more people can have a front row seat for some of the things I have going on.
D: So does that mean more radio mixes then? I saw on POPMO4 some of the edits were banned from NTS?
M: In general I’m banned from NTS thanks in part to POPMORRIS. My goal this year is to get banned from more places to be honest. POPMO5 will be coming honestly very soon. I’ve done like three cuts of the record over the last two years, but the songs get stale so quickly, I’m now working on a newer version with fresher hits. I have another edition called UNPOPULAR MORRIS, and it’ll contain all the B-sides.
D: Why is it called unpopular?
M: They’re abortions. No one wants these yet.
D: I copy. How’d you develop your style? Just trying different things?
M: I’ve had a few styles since I’ve been out which is confusing for a lot of folks, but I really just indulge in what feels good…the sound I’m on right now is just very influenced by lifestyle. In general I’m super home and living room oriented so the sound I’m developing right now draws from that space. It has to resonate. POPMO has sort of a parlor energy in it, when I’m working on it in the open air, whoever is here with me when it’s happening is probably hella engaged in the process. It’s like a fun magic trick. So it continues to have a place in my life, I can work it in my living space and its visceral and feels alive. In my living room, kitchen or wherever. If this makes sense. It’s almost like a taste test though, because if it’s here at my house, it’ll probably work at yours. On your couch, in your kitchen.
D: Nah yeah, that makes perfect sense. I was first introduced to you on Debut and that sounds different from POPMO. Where were you at when you made that?
M: Debut is sort of a greatest hits in my mind, all them songs I had put out over a few years and they did great numbers for me when it was just an emerging platform. Later when I moved to LA, people around me at the time persuaded me to try to cross over and be more of a traditional recording artist so that led to Debut. The sound though, was mostly stuff I had been developing back home in Kansas with Tom and Maal. Like, Tom and I were furiously trying to out beat one another and the two us really carved away at that sound. I think the scope of what I wanted to do then was very broad, which led to all the symphonic elements and etc. To be honest I really only got away from that sound because it takes so long to program a song like that. They’re like these epic feats of sequencing. It takes a lot of patience and I don’t have that anymore lol.
D: I remember you telling me about Breakfast At Richmond’s so it’s understandable. I can only imagine how long it took to gather all of those players anyways. What was it like growing in Kansas?
M: Kansas was very quiet, very white also lol. In retrospect, a lot of what Kanye is fighting for these days with his farm visions etc, that’s where I come from so it’s super ironic that it’s part of this wave of people looking at pastoral life like it’s the wave and they’re black and cool like me!! I lump Lil Nas X into that vision too with the black yeehaw agenda. Another goal for this year is get my friend Le1f on a track with Lil Nas X. Way I sees it: Khalif (Le1f) walked so Nas X could run. I’ll be adressing this issue on POPMO5.
D: The black yeehaw agenda is something I didn’t think I’d see happen, but wow yeah that was a time. How’d you feel about it?
M: I feel like an alien here on Earth and my species just arrived in the spaceship.
D: Oh, so you’ve been on that wave?
M: For sure. Earlier I mentioned my first beats in ’05, but before that I was literally only in bands. I was the first Kansan I knew to try and take a laptop on stage. Before that era I was an indie rock hipster person, honestly. So seeing it all kind of connect has been super fun and extremely exciting because I feel like there’s always space for me in the conversation. I increasingly understand these wild intersections because they’re where I come from.
D: What was the initial reaction when you started doing things like that? I definitely wasn’t cognizant of that because I was like four.
M: Man, super mixed honestly, people didn’t really know what to make of younger musician me. I played in jazz band, but didn’t fit in with the band kids. I found my niche really in other kids who were admittedly smarter than we were musicians. But growing up and playing with those types of acts gave me a real intellectual bend even when the surface seems very dumb. Punk music really resonated with me for that reason when I was young, it was loud but it was also smart. My friends formed a little bubble around me, so although I feel like not a lot of love and support was given to my musical endeavors there, my friends really gave me a reason to continue to play music and have fun.
D: So were you quick to become a fan of genre bending artists like Mos Def, 3 Stacks (Andre 3000 for people outside the south), and N*E*R*D?
M: Oh yeah Kanye, Pharrell. Like, all of that was super present in the convo because as the only black person around sometimes, those guys were avatars for what I wanted to be. People had already digested those images via Andre etc.
D: Right, did that get annoying ever? Like, Yo Morris have you heard Fly Or Die?? It’s really tight!” Or was it respect?
M: No I really wasn’t mad at it, it really broke the ice for me in some ways. To this day those are the artists I look to the most. So imagine my surprise when Andre 3000 becomes a fan of our band!
D: I was just about to ask you that! What the fuck was that like?? 3 Stacks just shows up and he likes your set!? Then the man talks about you guys with Rick Rubin the god?? I was so excited for you guys!
M: Yeah he’s definitely a fan of music in his old age which is incredible to think: In his free time, I think he’s checking in on a lot of little artists like us. It was such a cool and positive experience for us, we still have so much to share about that but we should wait on Maal and Morris LP2.
D: Gotchu, I’m very excited man. New Maal and Morris is an event. Quick random question just from my curiosity, but when did you start your wonderful hat collection?
M: Hahaha I’ve always been a hat guy! I worked at Lids for a long time making hats. Actually once MIA came in because she was performing in my small town on her KALA tour. She found me there slaving over the embroidery machine and had me make all of these like knock off designer hats. PUCCI and CHANNEL with the fake logos. She loved them. Gave me backstage passes and stuff. I’m a big collector though, hats are just one thing I hoard at home.
D: WHAT?! Morris you cannot just throw the MIA mention in there so casually! She’s like a huge inspiration. What was her show like?
M: Her show was so weird and we couldn’t figure out why at the time. She had these like bodyguard people following her every move on stage making sure she wasn’t getting too crazy on her acrobatics. Literally the next day, pitchfork broke the news: She was pregnant.
D: Dude, that is a wild story. You gotta write a book because I know there’s more and some that are even wilder.
M: Lived it my guy!! I lived it!!
D: Facts man wow. Okay just some more genuinely curious questions, how’d you meet [Fat Tony]?
M: Fat Tony I met via my friends who at the time worked at The Fader, Jason Scott Henderson. He was kinda managing him so we all ran together like 2011 at SXSW. We both love rock music so we ended up really linking out here in LA hanging with white boys and rocker foos. Maal and Morris took him on tour in 2016, so we all been building for a long ass time.
D: You guy’s chemistry on tracks reflects that heavy. I couldn’t imagine anyone else making the Look EP.
M: I wish more people would’ve heard that honestly, that’s the truest from of Fat Tony I feel like. It’s super raw, I would love to lock in with him again and do something longer but the coasts got us all split up, broke up this happy family.
D: Man! How do you think WE feel? I practically begged him to do Waterfalls when he came to Nashville.
M: Oh you’re in TN? Where did he play there? I’ve never come I’ll have to pull up.
D: This venue called The High Watt. It was him and Black Midi, shit was tight. Rory (aka Milo & Scallops Hotel) came through too. But yo, please do! It ain’t shit to do here lowkey but you’re from Kansas you might be kinda used to that.
M: Oh yeah I see it for sure, especially for Maal and Morris to be honest. That’s kinda where we’re trying to go with this next record.
*Morris sent a link to a new track, excuse me while I freak out…*
M: Here’s a first listen, our next single, Back To The Stars. It’s sort of made for jukeboxes in dive bars especially right there in the rivers and lakes we’re used to. We will pull up.
D: Bet man I cannot wait I’m there no doubt. Okay two more questions: Who are some people you need to work with?
M: Rihanna and honestly Kanye, everything would open up after that haha.
D: Oh my god after hearing ANTI you and Rihanna would make some magic.
M: I had done that BBHMM flip and people really received that very well at the time, I was like on tour with FKA Twigs and I really had hoped I would connect with larger artists, but it wasn’t to…rih. (Get it?)
D: Fuck, I said I had two questions, but I have to know what Twigs is like, is she cool?
M: Haha she is super cool! Honestly, shit was super hectic for her, I recall after our second LA show together Robert Pattinson showed up and essentially swept her off her feet. It was cool to watch, but also so bizarre. I did a couple sessions with her at Robert’s house actually, he has a pretty nice studio in his living room and Earl Sweatshirt came over and chilled too. Also though! I had my own box sea at the Twigs show after I performed, and I will never forget. I had blue hair at the time, my guys BC Kingdom came in and joined me in my box area and brought with them this other nigga with blue hair. They’re like this is Frank Ocean and he’s like “Can I chill?” Im like, “…Nigga.” So he enjoyed Twigs’ show with us. He disappeared before it was over though so I didn’t really talk to him at all.
D: WHAT?? MORRIS!! DUDE!! What year was this??
M: 2016? Maybe 2015. So this is pre-Blonde even.
D: Yo, you really been out here fam. You toured with Shy Girls too?? Man, who do you not know?
M: Man, being out here is great, but staying out here is the best. Those are beginnings of a story, not the peaks really…it really only takes one also and I’ve never really had that. So, I’m pushing towards that one that’ll connect and all these true stories will make it obvious that this was the logical conclusion. A true arrival. Then, the real story can begin.
D: Well, I love the build up so I already know the story is going to be amazing. Anything else you’d like to add?
M: No I think you asked very good questions, look forward to the interview. Thank you.
D: Thank you man that’s greatly appreciated.
*P. MORRIS ON THE BEAT BIIHHHHHHHHHHHHHH*
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