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20 Questions With Morchella

The London artist talks tying togas, constipated goldfish & putting time on pause.

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Morchella first showed us her true colours when she unveiled her Coat of Arms HERE in the autumn. Today the London indie singer-songwriter rides into battle with my ridiculous questions. Let’s see if she emerges victorious or vanquished:

 


 

Introduce yourself: Name, age (feel free to lie), home base, other details you’d like to share (height, weight, identifying marks, astrology sign, your choice).
I’m Jenny aka Morchella. I’m an indie artist based in London (U.K.), I’m a Libra and my surname (and artist name) means ‘mushroom’ in Russian.

What is your musical origin story?
I’m originally from the Ukraine and attended a Ukrainian music and arts school from the age of six where I soon discovered a natural flair for music. My (children’s) party trick was to take song requests on the recorder. Soon after that I got given an electric keyboard and taught myself to play and there began my first writing attempts. Later I picked up the guitar and I started messing around with recording software and toying with music production. Fast-forward a few years/instruments/orchestras/bands later and I have started a new project called Morchella. My previous project went under the name of Threepwood. It was all home-recorded / self-produced and resides on the World Wide Web. I was very interested in combining organic instruments with electronic elements at the time, so expect to hear the odd flute, clarinet or string instrument floating about.

What do we need to know about your latest project?
Morchella was a long time in the making and I worked with some great musicians in the process. My four-track EP Woman of Now was recorded in Hackney Road Studios in London, with the talented engineer Shuta Shinoda (Hot Chip, Jehnny Beth, Ghostpoet, Daughter). For me the act of writing is to try to get a sound / feeling / energy that is in my head ‘out on paper’ and I hope the EP reflects that. Genre-wise I’d say it’s a mixture of indie-rock and indie-pop tracks, with some dreamy / psychedelic and electronic elements. I worked with a brilliant band on this and everything was studio recorded.

What truly sets you apart from other artists?
To me, some of the best work comes when an artist allows creativity to flow through them without trying to control it too much and lets it draw from their natural experiences. Some of my favourite compositions to date have been ones that sort of wrote themselves. So in that respect, I think any artist who stays true to themselves is unique In some way.

What will I learn or how will my life improve by listening to your music?
I guarantee that listening to my music will make you a millionaire (have I sold it?!).

Tell us about the first song you wrote and / or the first gig you played and what you got paid.
The first song I remember writing was a masterpiece called Spy 2 Spy. I believe I was around 10 or so at the time and watching a lot of bond films (is that bad parenting?!) and I guess this was my sort of ode to Mr. Bond. It was rather catchy — if I may say so myself.

What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you’ve seen another artist give?
Radiohead shows never fail to blow my mind. They have a raw musical energy on stage that draws you in and every experience seeing them has been a memorable one for me. Neil Young was incredible live (both times) — I’m just trying to think of some of my all-time favourite live shows now! Chemical Brothers are also amazing — such an energy! But the most recent memorable performance I saw would have to be Ennio Morricone in 2018. I’m so thankful that I got a chance to see him and that show genuinely brought a tear to my eye (and I’m not a big crier!). Ah, gigs. Remember them?

What living or dead artists would you collaborate with if you could?
Following on from my previous answer, certainly all of the above. Though Thom Yorke would probably be top of my list. He has an ability to get feelings / ideas / emotion into his music in such a hypnotic way, (which is definitely something I aspire to in my own compositions) and I am very drawn to it like a moth to a flame.

What artist or style of music do you love that would surprise people?
I secretly love a bit of UK Garage. Think early Craig David.

How about some other favourites: Authors, movies, painters, you name it.
The recent 20-year anniversary of Almost Famous reminded me how much I love that film. I remember being mesmerised by it when I first saw it. Such a fascinating time in history that I wish I had lived through. A very influential book in my life has to be The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. She is a genius. I couldn’t recommend it more to anyone who wants to live more creatively. It became an almost bible for me for a while. I can’t even say that I love all of his films, but I definitely have an admiration for Wes Anderson. His projects have such a uniqueness to them.

Who would you be starstruck to meet?
I’d be pretty lost for words if I ever met Beck. That man is a creative mastermind. I would love get inside his head for a day.

What’s your favourite joke?
I just found out I’m colour-blind. The diagnosis came completely out of the purple!

What superpower do you want and how would you use it?
Ideally I would say time travel — but there always seem to be far too many complications involved, so I’d have to go for the next best thing: the ability to pause time. It would be great — you could go round and fix a bunch of problems (hopefully with minimal disruption to the space-time continuum) and then return to more or less the same world you left behind, but just a slightly better one!

What skills — useful or useless — do you have outside of music?
I used to be a toga-tying professional (during a brief summer stint at a youth hostel in Greece). I’ve yet to apply this skill in everyday life, but you never know what’s around the corner…

If I had a potluck, what would you bring?
That’s where you bring your own dish to a dinner party, right? Hmm … I’d probably have to play the Ukrainian card at this point and bring borscht. I’ve finally got to the stage where I don’t need to ring my mum for assistance every time I make it, and am very keen to show this off!

Tell us about your current and/or former pets.
My pet history is fairly uneventful. No cats or dogs to my name, sadly. But I did have some fish growing up. Notably: Pickles, Perkins and Gherkins. I was a terrible fish keeper. I never cleaned the tank and they all ended up dying from constipation (it’s a real ailment in the goldfish world!).

What do you collect?
I recently started keeping a journal and have since acquired a rather large collection of aesthetically pleasing notepads. Museum gift shops feed my addiction.

What’s the best advice and/or worst advice you were ever given?
Probably that you need to be prepared to fail before you can succeed. That’s a pretty scary pill to swallow, but actually quite liberating once you come to terms with it.

If you could have any other job besides music, what would it be and why?
In a dream world, I would love to be a film director. I think it’s such an incredible talent and there must be so many elements involved and I have a lot of admiration for those that can do this well.

What’s the silliest thing you believed as a child?
I had a lot of exposure to classical music as a kid, and I used to think that when an orchestra played, the music itself came from the conductor’s baton (I’m not sure what I thought the rest of the musicians were doing?!?). I remember spending hours trying to recreate this with knitting needles, and being sorely disappointed when no sound came out.

Watch her videos above, hear Woman of Now below, and keep up with Morchella via her website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.