[INTERVIEW] MORGAN MUNROE IS SHINING A LIGHT ON UK R&B

Morgan Munroe is one of the leading lights in a UK R&B scene that often goes under appreciated. Previously working with the likes of Kamakaze, Trillary Banks, and Vibbar, Morgan has just dropped her latest project, ‘Elvira’. Viper sat down with her to discuss her latest project, her musical influences, and what is next in an emerging career for the artist.

You’ve just done your first festival performance at The Great Escape, how was that for you?

It was so lit. I’ve never been to Brighton before so I was having a great time as well. It was a great crowd and great turnout, there was a lot of music industry people there as well so it was good to network and just have a good time. Performing live is one of my favourite things to do and I’ve been doing it since I was a kid so it’s always nice to perform in front of a crowd.

You come from Leicester where there seems to be a growing musical hub with the likes of yourself, Mahalia, Sainté and others. What do you make of Leicester’s music scene?

I just think it’s really sick that so many people are coming up from Leicester. When I was younger everyone used to say that you need to be from London if you want to make it in music, but nowadays I don’t think that’s the case at all. You can see how well people are doing in smaller cities outside of London, so I think it’s great.

What do you think that’s down to? Do you think it’s more due to the internet making things more accessible or is it just that there’s more talent coming through?

I think it’s because of the internet and different platforms shining a light on different areas, because I feel like anywhere has got a hub of music, whether it’s small or big or whatever. I feel as if it’s the more social media side of stuff that allows people to elevate artists outside of London a bit more, rather than just focussing on the big city.

How long have you been making music for?

I’ve been singing literally since I’ve had a voice, but I’d say I’ve been taking music seriously only for the past few years.

I first heard you a few years ago as a featured artist on ‘Last Night’ with Kamakaze. Has there been anyone you’ve featured on a song with who you’ve been really impressed by?

That’s a tough one. I really enjoyed my sessions with Vibbar, that was one of the best sessions I’ve had to date. I think it will go down in history as one of the best sessions I’ve ever had. I enjoyed working with Ruby Francis as well. She’s an artist and producer herself so it was really good vibes and it was nice to work with a female in the studio as well. I normally only work with male producers, so it was really refreshing to have a different perspective in the studio.

There seems to be a lot of female talent coming through at the minute. Who have you been listening to?

I listen to a lot of different things but at the moment I’m loving Syd’s new album so I’m listening a lot to her. I also really love Ruby Francis’ album ‘Archives’, and I’ve recently been introduced to Amber Mark and I really like her stuff as well. 

You’ve just dropped your new single ‘Mutual’ and your new project ‘Elvira’. What’s the reception been like for you?

Oh, it’s been sick. You know, it’s actually been so good. It’s been doing really well on radio. And every time I see someone they’re like, Oh, I’ve seen the music video. I’ve heard the songs. I love it, so the reaction has been amazing.

And the project has been inspired by Michelle Pfeiffer’s character in ‘Scarface’?

I feel like the love story between the characters and not necessarily being a mob wife and all that type of stuff, but the actual love story of the two resonates a lot with the story of my project, because it’s kind of like my project from start to finish is sort of the Odyssey of a toxic relationship.  Their story in the film really does emulate my story that I’m talking about, so it just made sense, conceptualizing it and putting it together.

Lyrically you are always open and honest, how easy is it for you to open up on a track?

I honestly open up more in my songs than I do in real life. My songs are literally my diary, my therapy, that’s where I get my thoughts out. So yeah, I am very real and very honest in my songs and quite talkative as well, like I literally write songs in the same tone that I speak in.

What would you say your musical influences were working on the project?

When I was growing up was like Jazmine Sullivan, Whitney Houston, like big powerhouse voices. I think that’s where I got most of my influence in terms of singing. Then when I was getting old and starting to like, find my sound with the music, it was more like Frank Ocean, Solange Knowles, James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, even like those types of artists have influenced more of the musical side of it

And you’ve been working with TJ2Percent a lot in terms of production. What’s that process been like?

I love it. So me and TJ started working together about three years ago actually, just before we started working on this project together. He’s my exec[utive] producer, so he’s produced most of the songs on the EP, but not all of them, and then he’s done post production on all of them. It’s been really good. We’re at a point now where we clicked very well like as people but it took us a while to sort of fit into each other’s musical world and understand how we work and what we want out of the music. But now we’re at a point where we literally just know each other so well. I know what he’s gonna do, he knows what I want to do, so it just works. It doesn’t happen for me, to be honest, with many producers, I just don’t have that click with the person you know. So yeah, it’s really, really good to have him.

Do you think as a culture we need to shed more light on the UK R&B scene?

I don’t think we’ve ever shed enough light on it to be honest. I feel like sometimes certain songs do really well but as a whole, the R&B scene in the UK and the share of coverage it gets is not good enough I don’t think. There’s so much good UK R&B coming out and then again, it’s just not really getting the recognition that it deserves in my eyes.

What do you think needs to change?

We need one UK platform that is just dedicated purely to Soul and R&B. Because we’ve got GRM, LinkUp, all these ones that cater to grime and rap and all the the main popping music today, but we don’t have one that’s just solely for R&B where everyone can go and tap in to new artists.

What have you got coming up for the rest of the year?

‘Elvira’ is out now and I’m planning on doing a headline show at the end of the Summer, maybe September but nothing is set in stone yet. It will be happening though. And then I might be bringing out another short experience project at the end of the year.

You can stream Morgan Munroe’s latest project, ‘Elvira’, here:

Words by Joe Simpson

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