Monday 30 December 2013

Angeline Morrison: “She’s Ready, Cat!” [Interview]

Written by Imran Mirza

Angeline Morrison initially became known to fans via her scene-stealing vocal duties on projects by now-label mates, Lack of Afro (‘Fool’) and Frootful (‘Baby It’s a Fine Line’).  Thankfully, realising just what a find Angeline Morrison actually is, she was since snapped up by the purveyors of fine music that are Freestyle Records, and in 2013, our formal introduction came in the form of Morrison’s debut solo album, ‘Are You Ready Cat?’.

Freestyle Records’ catalogue of contemporary funk and soul is amongst the best that any label in this day and age can boast, and ‘Are You Ready Cat?’ glistens like a rare jewel – unique to all others – in an already packed treasure chest.

With a style reminiscent of 60s soul, jazz and bossa nova – the music of Astrud Gilberto comes to mind – Morrison presents herself with a befitting elegance and class throughout and marries herself to her music in the perfect nature that Dionne Warwick and Dusty Springfield would engage with classic compositions as constructed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.  Standout numbers from this release are almost too many to list, but special mention should go to ‘What Has This Become?’, ‘The Music for The Spheres’, ‘Slowtime’ (produced by Nick Radford of Frootful) and the almost unrecognisable production from Lack of Afro on ‘Fool’s Gold’ and ‘A Word for The Words’.  Credited with writing, arranging and producing, Morrison throws herself into the deep end but tackles the responsibility seemingly with ease.  Even the effervescent title-track, ‘Are You Ready Cat?’, demonstrates how Morrison, more than anything, enjoys her music.

The album is a fully-realised vision composed with an effortless comfort and confidence that’s incredibly rare, making this an extraordinary jewel not only amongst the Freestyle catalogue, but amongst any treasure trove in can be placed in.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s our great pleasure to introduce, exclusive to TheBlueInGreenBlog, Angeline Morrison…

Who were some of your earliest musical influences growing up?

I was quite a bizarre child, very macabre, and I spent a lot of time on my own looking for sounds. The sounds in nature remain a massive influence (raindrops on earth, or glass, or pools of water, the percussive sound of birds wings as they take flight). My parents' record collection was an important source for me; they brought a lush collection of 45s with them from Jamaica. I loved the look and feel of the records as well as the sound, Roland Alphonso's 'Look Away Ska' is a massive influence, as well as Justin Hinds and the Dominoes' 'Carry Go Bring Come'. I'm listening to that at the moment actually...  I also loved early 60s UK responses to American music as a child, I'd spend ages finding oldies radio stations and listening to early 60s beat pop under the covers after bedtime. The traditional English folk music I love so much came a bit later...

When did you realise you wanted to explore a career in music? 
It wasn't ever a decision I made consciously, it just never really occurred to me to not make music...

How did you come to the attention of Freestyle Records?
My friend Nick Radford, whom you'll know as Frootful, asked me to collaborate with him on a couple of tracks on his first album for Freestyle Records. I'd also done some co-writing and vocals for Lack of Afro, another Freestyle artist, and that's really how I came to their attention. I'm very happy they liked what they heard, Freestyle are a fabulous label. They have a deep love for music and a care and respect for the way it comes into being.

Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted 'Are You Ready Cat?' to sound like? 
Yes, I always work with tracks fully produced and finished inside my head. By the time I share a track with others, it's always fully resolved for me, even down to the all-important emotional 'feel' of the track. It was the same for the album as a whole. It isn't always straightforward to translate the inside of my head to other musicians, but we get there in the end!

What was the process of putting the album together? 
It was fast and furious! There were a few constraints at play – if I had all the time in the world, and all the money in the world, maybe things would have been different. But I was inspired by some of my most beloved albums that were put together in a matter of days. Billy Fury's seminal, 'The Sound of Fury' was recorded in a day in 1960! I love that. So we were all working with time constraints, and hopefully some of the immediacy and freshness that brings has come across. I was super-lucky with the amazing bunch of musicians I've been able to work with. Cornwall is very rich in musical and artistic talent, I think something about the nearness of the sea encourages this...

You've worked a few times with Adam Gibbons [Lack of Afro] - how would you describe the way the two of you collaborate? 
Yes, I've been lucky enough to work with Adam a few times, from writing lyrics and melodies for him, to having him mix two of my albums. He mixed the second album for my band The Ambassadors of Sorrow, and did a very fine job. I was impressed with the way he just 'got it' straight away, he understood the sound I wanted to create. He also did a super-fine job on 'Are You Ready Cat?'. He collects a lot of analogue equipment and knows his way around all of that, so his ability to create an authentic vintage feel on tracks is superb. He produced two of the tracks on this album.

You're credited with having a lot of your creative input with the album, from writing, producing and arranging - was that a lot of pressure for a debut? 
I wouldn't have had it any other way! :-)

What was the concept behind the video for 'The Feeling Sublime'? 
One of my favourite films of all time is 'The Girl Can't Help It' (1956). It's often cited as inspiring the British rock n' roll stars, with its lush imagery... the video is based on the Julie London 'Cry Me A River' scene. Julie plays a ghost of herself, in the imagination of the man who has never been able to get over her. Those scenes have a massive effect on me, and my version is a spooky homage to this. The ghost I play is different though, she's thoroughly enjoying her power over the men, and is quite mischievous and twisted...

Before the album's release, songs where you collaborated with Lack of Afro and Frootful were floating around - are there other collaborations in the pipeline, and who would be a dream collaborator? 
Yes, there's another project with Nick Radford that's already begun. The pair of us are about to record an album as 'The Mighty Sceptres' on Ubiquity Records. The first single, 'Siren Call', is coming out at the end of January.  My dream collaborations are mostly with deceased geniuses. I wish I could have something produced by Joe Meek, or do some co-writing during a seance with Geoff Goddard...

Have you given any thought to how a follow-up album would sound?
Oh yes, lots and lots... it's almost written in fact, but I don't want to spoil the surprise ;-)

What's been a notable musical highlight for you so far? 
Wow, there's so many I don't know where to start... I think when what I call the 'box of glory' from Freestyle Records arrived, with all the finished copies of the album inside, that was a very special moment.

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