INTERVIEW: P. Morris’ Instrumental Album “Debut” Makes Life Feel Like a Movie


When we first heard P. Morris’ album “Debut,” we kept it on repeat for a day.  Then for another day.  With the temperature damn near the single digits at the Karmaloop headquarters in Boston, P. Morris’ music did something incredible:  it took us away from the cold.  It’s certainly an album of hip hop instrumentals at it’s core, but it’s whats on top of the 808 backbone that takes you to another world.  Lush, cinematic orchestrations, pitched and whispered R n’ B samples, the sounds of crickets chirping on a summer night… P. Morris is far more than a producer- he’s a composer, a composer of rich melodies and most importantly a composer of the soundtrack to the movies inside your mind.  Where does “Debut” take you?  @LILINTERNET talked to P. Morris about this beautiful project…

@LILINTERNET:  This album is an unbelievable piece of art… The orchestrations, the atmospherics…  Did you write everything yourself?  Was there a singular focus when making this album?

P. Morris:  There wasn’t a singular focus truly when I wrote the majority of the material. The mix tape itself is a collection of songs I wrote over roughly a 3 year span. I was writing a lot particularly in 2012, just throwing the ideas into the vault. The connection between all of the songs didn’t really become apparent to me until I started to whittle down the original number of songs, then quickly my objective became creating some sort of cohesion for material written over a large span of time. The latter process is what ultimately delayed the release for so long, it really knew I had to make it all work together even though it was a wide scattering of material.  I wrote about 98 percent of this record solo, with the remaining 2 percent owing directly to my friend Mocky who helped arrange the string and horn sections on Breakfast at Richmans.

@LILINTERNET: The best word to describe your album in my opinion is “Cinematic.”  If this album was a film, what do you think it would be about?  What kind of imagery would be in it?

P. Morris: I think if this album was a film, I’d have a hard time nailing down a discernible plot. But much like the films of the French new wave, it would be about time, places, and people while sort of disregarding the traditional notions of narrative. Speaking on imagery, I think it would probably borrow a lot from the woodland nature surrounding the areas of Kansas I grew up in. I wrote a majority of the music on this record while living in Kansas, so from the creeping call of the cicadas in the first song Mood Swing, I’m immediately thrust into that environment. I think theres also a veneer of luxury I try to evoke through some of my instrumentation choices, which is not really borrowed from Kansas but would definitely be imagery in the film.

@LILINTERNET:  Do you have any collaborations with vocalists coming in the near future?  I feel like it’s only a matter of time before you are producing moody tracks for Drake haha…  Who would you see as being the best fit over your tracks?

P. Morris:  I’m constantly working with vocalists. I really appreciate what having a live voice does to my compositional head, it forces me to restrain and build the pedestal for the artist to exist on. While I appreciate a lot of artists and listen to a bunch of stuff, my number one artist I’d like to work with is Frank Ocean. His sense of melody and narrative might compliment some of what I do. Aside from him, I’d love to work with Beyonce and Drake as well.

@LILINTERNET:  There’s one track on the album with some drum n bass influence… Is this a genre you’d want to explore more?  Any favorites of yours from this genre?  I’m feeling that you might be into late 90s Metalheadz type stuff if I were to guess…

P. Morris:  My love for drum and bass & jungle comes completely from my father, who was so into Metalheadz, Grooverider, London Electricity, etc. when that whole scene was still popping off. I definitely recall hearing LTJ Bukem and stuff like that from him while driving around in the late 90s, so the influence has definitely crept into my work. I’ve been learning to really embrace the stuff that I was listening to in the period between 1996 and roughly 2002. I was really sensitive to music during this period, from trip hop/downtempo to shibuya kei and video game music, I find myself learning that the influence of that work is kind of integral to what I’m doing now.

@LILINTERNET:  Obviously we are a fashion site, so if you could tell me a few brands / trends that are exciting you… Maybe a little something about your fashion taste…

P. Morris:  Since moving to Los Angeles, fashion has become more of preoccupation of mine. I’m really feeling basic unbranded stuff these days, classics like the white tee but mixing some more contemporary stuff like athletic wear and some high end pieces like Alexander Wang, Phillip Lim and Daniel Palillo. My closet is also stocked with always staples like the Timberland, the Air Force One, and J. Crew.

@LILINTERNET:  This album is incredibly well produced… For the production nerds, what did you use?

P. Morris: This record was definitely a hybrid of working inside and outside of the box. I wrote a lot of the basic ideas with Ableton and developed the rhythm parts in the computer. Meanwhile for some of the orchestral stuff, I tracked strings and horns with Mocky in Hollywood. Theres a good mixture of both though and the point for me was to maintain a very blurry line as to what is real and what is synthetic.

Check out the gorgeous interactive site for “Debut” here, created by the always on point OK FOCUS.  You can download the album from the Bear Club Music Group Bandcamp page here.

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