A Chat with Morrison Reed (04.10.2021)

With his latest album Spirit Haus, Morrison Reed takes listeners on an adventure into the intergalactic space western. With a spooky mix of disco, rock and hip-hop, he draws you out of the atmosphere and into the engaging journey of the tracks. With layered music that packs a satirical punch, Reed has you grooving to his sound while enthralled by the story of his vocals. We had the opportunity to talk with Morrison Reed about his album, coming up with different concepts, lyrical poetry and much more!

OSR: Was there a moment when you first realised that you wanted to make music?

Reed: I knew I wanted to start making music when I was first introduced to records from historical eras when my father introduced me to artists like Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield, The Police, Led Zeppelin. Yes, it was an acquired taste as a teenager who was used to listening to horrible radio music. It was like the most addictive drug you could ever taste. My parents were divorcing and I had a stereo CD player set up in my bedroom with a speaker on either side of my bed and I would have a rotation of 8 CD’s and play them: Dark Side Of The Moon, Led Zeppelin III, Fragile, Tubular Bells etc.

I would listen to whole albums, I wasn’t really interested in just one song here and there, and as a teenager especially in the mid-2000s, not a lot of teenagers were listening to albums as a whole, none of my friends anyway. Then I realised that it was probably one of the most meaningful/important things you could ever do or be a part of in this life to create imaginary universes in sounds.

OSR: Your musical sound is a melting pot of rock, hip-hop, psychedelia and disco. Was this something that evolved over time or did you have an idea of what you wanted when you started?

Reed: Yes, it definitely evolved as I listen to all genres, so naturally I like to make all sorts of different songs in different styles, and I would make one thing and it would be like a folk song and then something elsewhere is this spaced-out ambient electronic thing. So, I decided that I would just not limit myself to genres and make an album or albums where they can incorporate whatever is palatable in the moment and try to make it texturally/sonically possible sound-wise. I like the idea of taking from different eras and the whole hauntology thing, but instead of taking influences from like only 70s & 80s music, how about incorporating like 90s hip hop, 2000s electronica or indie rock and also other things and putting it together like one big canvas and seeing what happens.

OSR: Your latest album Spirit Haus is a spooky record about a group of friends, how did you come up with the concept of the album?

Reed: It was the beginning of 2020 just before lockdown in Sydney, Australia and I was partying a lot. I was in quite a wild state at the time and experimenting with different things and hanging out with lots of different people. I wanted to make an album that we could drink and party to, but still be quirky and not like a “house” or “EDM” record, and I started sampling drumbeats and riffing bass lines. Then I guess it evolved through painting it with guitars, synthesizers and obscure sounds I could get through my pedals and amplifier using echos and bit-crushers and fuzz and all that stuff.

The concept really happened after I made the album, to be honest. I individually made these songs and developed them over a year or so. They were all in the moment type things where I was starting with the rhythm section and then bass and guitars or electronic keyboards and then afterwards while drinking some red wine, I would smoke a joint and stand in my studio with the lights off besides this crescent moon lamp, and record improvised takes of vocals over these songs. That’s where it really started to unravel and I began getting consumed in the mini-universe which is now to be known as ‘Spirit Haus’. The name came about because all the lyrics and vocals were improvised, and I actually wrote the lyrics after the takes of the vocals were done. So a spirit was speaking through and using my soul as the soapbox medium to express these narrations and story-telling. The record is also naturally haunting, a sound I am known to incorporate due to a subconscious influence from horror, thriller and slasher films and soundtracks.

OSR: Each track on the album is like another chapter of the story, but what was your creative process? Did you start with the concept or a single track?

Reed: I started with single tracks as I said before and slowly over time pieced the puzzle together and created ‘Spirit Haus’.

OSR: The lyrics of the tracks are an interesting mixture of poetry, storytelling and satire. Did you find it difficult to get the right blend of each?

Reed: I guess I had been so determined in the past to make serious music, with this almost self-absorbed notion that I got sick of doing the same thing and naturally I have a dry sense of humour and I thought: why don’t I just be completely carefree with this record and make it fun instead of just a piece of art. That is how the blend came about, which is style and fun, very easy ingredients.

OSR: What would you say is the biggest influence on your sound?

Reed: Nothing specific. 70s progressive rock, 90s hip hop, indie rock, electronic music and the process of painting. Mostly films and cinematic experiences too, I can really visualize a movie scene with each track and that inspires me to create more.

Morrison Reed
Photo Credit: Morrison Reed

OSR: While you incorporate a lot of different styles and genres into your music, what do you like listening to?

Reed: Anything that is new and weird, anything where the artist is thinking outside the box. I am really a big fan of artists trying to take a risk in art or specifically music, and most of the time it can be thought of as obscure and strange but in some cases, absolutely genius. Then everyone starts copying them and then there’s space for the next barrier to be broken.

OSR: If people could listen to only one track from the album, which do you feel captures the essence of the whole the best?

Reed: ‘Pool Party’ is probably the best track on the album to get a taste of everything that there is to offer. But make sure you listen to the whole thing and listen to it a few times, it’s an acquired taste like a new alcoholic beverage. At first, it might be a little tangy but then the aftertaste is just ‘oh yeh mama’.

OSR: The album rolls through the story concept before ending on instrumental tracks. How did you decide on this arrangement?

Reed: I like the idea of an opening track that sets the mood, coming up into a crescendo and maybe a plateau and coming down then spiking again and then phasing out with something that really gives that smoky finish after you finish that icy tumbler, if you know what I mean.

OSR: What is the one thing you would like people to feel as they listen to your music?

Reed: Just let yourself go, there are different moments. Everyone is different and I like hearing opinions from different angles. Go with the flow, it’s like a film let it roll.

OSR: How do you feel this album compares to your previous releases?

Reed: This is my debut album with Morrison Reed, I am working on the next album and I am excited about the process it is really fun music to make. I would say that it’s my best work yet.

OSR: What else can we expect from you in the next 12 months?

Reed: A new track ‘Old Shady Motel’ comes out November 5th and I am working on another single or two after that then another album within the next 12 months. Stay tuned, it’s going to have a whole new vibe.

Thanks to Morrison Reed for chatting with us! You can find more about him on his Facebook, Instagram and Spotify.

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