Flo Morrissey: Beneath Sadness Is Truth
The term “old soul” comes up a lot when describing Flo Morrissey.
The 20-year-old Londoner’s timeless, melancholic folk songs suggest a maturity beyond her years.
One of nine children, and born on Christmas Day 1994, the rising singer-songwriter is inspired by the likes of Billie Holiday, Jeff Buckley, Françoise Hardy and Lee Hazlewood, and recently wrote about unsung ’60s folk hero Karen Dalton for The Talkhouse.
After dropping in Europe last June, Flo Morrissey’s critically-acclaimed debut, Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful, was released in North America last week.
Produced by Noah Georgeson (Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Cate Le Bon), the album is a culminating reflection of the feelings and experiences of her transition from youth to young adulthood. Opener “Show Me,” for example, came to life when she was just 15.
Listening to her record, and reading the results of our interview, you’ll see that she is indeed very wise for her age. But that’s only one side of Flo Morrissey, and it seems that she might be just discovering another one.
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Hi Flo. Are you happy to finally set your music free, or are you a little scared?
I’m very happy! The songs have been with me for a long time so it feels so nice to share them now.
How was it to actually start working on all of the songs with someone else?
So amazing! Noah [Georgeson] was the first person I truly collaborated with, so it was an exciting journey together. And I had been a fan of his since I was ten. He brought a certain warmth to the record and helped me find the right mix of my youth and transition to adulthood.
In contrast to its title, your album has a very bittersweet and melancholic sound.
On the surface the songs may seem sad, but that’s not the message I am trying to give the listener. I think although I kind of felt such things at the time, it was like the album was advice to myself. The message is that underneath everything, there is always truth, and even the sadness can be beautiful. But the next album will be more nuanced, I promise!
Have you ever felt treated differently than other artists because you’re so damn young?
At first, yes. I was 17 when I was meeting with managers and trying to chose one of them. I put my music online from a very young age, and they didn’t get this. I am so lucky to have found the best manager and my record label, Glassnote. They allow me to be me, as it should be in this industry. Sadly that isn’t always the case.
I feel like you’re kind of skipped the “making mistakes” part of your youth. Is this partly caused by growing up with so many younger siblings?
I’m not sure, but I like that analogy. I guess it’s just the way I was made – I never felt compelled to rebel or test things too much. I’m quite serious, sometimes too much, but I feel I’m starting to balance youthfulness and maturity as I grow. That may seem strange, but makes sense to me.
You say you’re very close to your parents. If you felt the need to rebel in a year from now, would you to turn into a goth, a rapper or a synth pop starlet?
[laughs] I don’t think they would be angry if I did that! More like confused! I am lucky that they trust me, and anything I do, they try to let me see it through.
Who are your musical heroes?
To name a few: Bob Dylan, Billie Holiday, Jeff Buckley, Antony and the Johnsons, John Lennon, Neil Young and Francoise Hardy.
Would you have preferred to spend your youth in the ’60s?
No, although it’d be nice to time travel back there for a few nights, I think we have so much in this age. And there were troubles back then, too, despite the whole new age scene and free spirits. But that time definitely inspires me and I feel I can use it to compliment my time now.
How do you react if someone wants to take you to a techno club?
Ha! It’s never really happened. I’d have probably found an excuse to say no. But now I’m tempted, so I’ll be waiting for that knock on my door.
They say you have all your life to write your first album, but only about 2-3 years for your second one. How do you feel about this?
I’m looking forward to it. I feel that by letting go of the first album, part of me will have been set free, so there will be room for new things to come.
Are you looking forward to touring and showing your music to the world?
Yes! I just got off a tour with Tobias Jesso Jr. and had a terrific time. I’m seeing the songs in a new light when I share them with others and they hear them for the first time. It can be moving, and I think connecting with people is what I’m enjoying more than anything.
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