Kendra Morris was back in Paris to promote her new EP, Babble. Radiant, generous, she shares with no filter the secrets of the composition, while confident about her special relationship with our city and Frenchies more loyal than ever.
INTERVIEW / KENDRA MORRIS
UsofParis : Are you still the same artist, the same writer, the same singer since your beautiful love story and your baby?
Kendra Morris: I think maybe even more like, you have so many more experiences and I think about things in a different way now. You really start to think about life in other terms. I’m just thinking more about suddenness of things. Definitely more responsible, ’cause I have to be.
But, are you still optimist?
Definitely an optimist. Yes, there’s new challenges and things are different but there’s always another path, there’s always another way to get to where you want to go. I’m definitely even more so open to try new things, working with other people, like… taking chances.
Do you have time to think about your music, your new songs when you have your child to take care of?
Yeah, actually something I’ve noticed about having a child is that even though in some ways I have less time, all of my free time I am so careful about, I take all of my free time and I really focus. I’m more focused than I’ve ever been and you know…
In your work?
Something that I started doing since having her is, I started editing videos. I’m creating this visual, like visual videos that go with each song. Because the way I write is a very visual thing. I see colors and the moods of the song. I grew up around visual arts, my dad being an illustrator, as well, so that’s always been a huge part in music for me. So I started finding these old videos and different clips and editing them to the songs, and then when we play live we have a projector where we do our projections.
So, Avalanche, the video clip was your idea?
That was one of the visuals I did and then I had my friend come over and I have an old like, 1950’s projection screen in my apartment and, like I said, my idea was to film myself in front of the projection screen and use that footage that I put together. And so I’ve been putting the Woman visual that’s up. That was one of the videos I did also and I’m going to put all of them up like, Cry Sometimes has a lyric video. That was one that I use old footage of skyline.
When did you write these new songs?
It spanned… It’s weird, I know, like with Banshee I wrote Banshee about a relationship, over the course…
I think I wrote it over a year or two and this was the same. I think I wrote it over two years. I started really writing because something I always take time is make sure to go to the studio two or three times a week to write. Always. Even when I first had Opal, when she was weeks old I would go to the studio. As soon as I was healthy enough, and I was spending two… a few hours a day there, just writing, working on these songs, but I started on these songs probably around the first tour, here. Because Le Snitch was influenced by France.
No? I want to know!
That was written around the time of the tour we did where we played at Café de la Danse. I think we, maybe, might have played it then. We wrote it right between that November show that was played in, ’cause this was a song where the whole band had to do the instrumentation on.
The sound, everything sonic in it, is very much influenced by France and Paris.
What about Woman? I love this track.
I wrote that one so fast ’cause I felt so strong about it. I wrote it in the studio one day. I call it the “Instagram lab” at home. I was on my phone and I had started obsessing about this other woman.
She was a beautiful…You know, girls on Instagram that took all these selfies and look right in every angle and I was just looking at her and I had started being like: “She is so cool…” You know, – he was my boyfriend at the time, now he’s my husband – “If he ever meets her, what if he falls in love with her?” Crazy thoughts.
It was just me comparing me, like finding… comparing myself to her. It’s not just this person. I do this all the time. We’re always feeling inadequate and then I started Instagram is a monster. It’s become this whole cultural obsession with vanity and these things that are all gonna fade.
The chorus came to me, like, in two seconds. Jeremy was fiddling around and I was like: “What about this chords and why don’t we try and find the lyrics?” and the chorus was: “Always gotta be a woman making me feel like shit.”
I actually felt so much better when I left the studio that day. I was like: “Even if I keep comparing myself, I got a really great song out of this.”
Did you learn something, or what did you learn by coming to France, for the promotion, for the shows?
Each time I come back here, I feel more and more comfortable, here. I pick up a little more of French, of the language each time. A bit of understanding the culture more. I feel like more at home.
What kind of relationship do you have with your French fans, and with the French audience?
I think it’s bittersweet, like, I love them and yet we’re so far away, in some way but, like, after the Paris attacks I remember, I was, like, in tears that day because I know how much you guys… music is such a huge part of Parisians’ life and the French’s life.
Every time I do any sort of post on line, I have my French fans say: “Come to Paris, come here!”
What is the best place in Brooklyn, where you live?
I’m in Greenpoint. Sometimes it’s just riding the subway. As weird and bananas… but sometimes it’s nice to get on there, especially in the summer when there’s air conditioning. And you just kind of zone out, people watch and there’s all kinds of everything, everybody you can think of. You just can sit there, and your phone doesn’t work, you’re just underground and whizzing through the city. The New York subway is another, like, you would get off on the platform and someone is playing amazing music, you get off on another platform and someone has crapped their pants…
What the French audience does not know about you?
I love smelling things. I love… I have a great sense of smell, I don’t know if it’s because of my nose…:-)
You have a beautiful nose!
Everywhere I go I smell things, and then I think I store them in my head because that’s where I drop all my experiences. Sometimes, like the smell of perfume. I’ll recognize the cologne from my high-school boyfriend. If I’m walking down the street, and it takes me back to being in the time period. I just forgot his name, but, see, I always remember the smells.
Interview by Alexandre
Thanks to Aude Saucey for translation