Morgan Saint is The Pop Dream We've Been Waiting For
Every new moon shines a direct light on the enlightenment or needs we desire or strive for most in this world. In the music world, Morgan Saint is the beaming Aries pop dream we have been waiting for. Her incredibly striking, vulnerable songwriting combined with the pop-electronic ecstasy of her music is the equation that creates her astonishing debut 17 Hero, a collection of five tracks that can make one dance, cry or even make out to.
We chatted with Morgan about her creative process, unique style and how music has revealed itself to her throughout her young life. Peep the interview below for a glimpse into one of music’s brightest voices and talents, Morgan Saint.
How old are you and where did you grow up?
I’m twenty-three-years-old and I grew up on the eastern end of Long Island, the North Fork specifically. I’ve lived in the city (New York) since I went to school so for the past six years.
Do you come from a musical family?
My mom’s side of the family is actually very musical and my dad’s side is not particularly musical but my dad is a big music lover and so music was very prevalent in my growing up.
Did you find yourself attracted to writing when you were young?
Oh yeah, for sure. I think the way I have always seen the world has been… I’m a very sensitive person and very observant. My mom will tell me that when I was little, I hardly spoke unless I had something really important to say. I think seeing things in a visual way is also something I can recall having started at a very young age. I started writing more in middle school and high school and then especially through college. More so, expressive creative writing and what I enjoy most in writing and the type of writing I do comes out of how I’m feeling.
At what point did you start writing music?
I started taking piano lessons when I was in the second grade. My parents presented it to me as an option and I was into it. Actually, I was a really horrible piano student, like I wasn’t very good at reading music and comprehending the piano in a technical way but I remember always being in front of the piano and instead of practicing what I was supposed to, I would be making up my own songs. Honestly, my lack of enthusiasm towards practicing my assignments led me down this path of creating my own sort of thing. I wasn’t writing sheet music by any means but I think that’s really where my interest in songwriting began, so as I got older I began pairing the words of how I was feeling with what I was coming up with musically and I felt like I was communicating all of my ideas more clearly. In high school, I continued to write but I was very private about it and would write in my bedroom on my keyboard and I would be too shy to ever share it with anybody. Like when you’re a teenager, it’s especially hard to share anything that you feel or consider being vulnerable. Obviously my mindset and outlook has grown and changed a lot. My junior year of high school I got a guitar and took a couple lessons from a family friend and then from there I dabbled and began teaching myself the guitar. I’m not an incredible guitar player but I use it as a tool to write my music and it’s become the root of where a lot of my songs have started.
Where did you land after high school?
I enrolled at the New School at Parsons for visual art and I had to do a thesis project at the end of time there and I created a six chapter book with each chapter having a photo series paired with a piece of poetry and then I did a painting that correlated with each chapter as well. And Parsons is all about the artistic process; the process of reaching and getting to your ultimate goal. I’m like a typical Aries so once I get an idea in my head, I just want to get to work and get it done so engaging in a lot of research and process drove me a bit nuts but I trusted it. I began writing a poem every day to build my voice and start working towards the poetry I wanted to shape in this book and it truly opened my mind. It help clarify my songwriting and not in way like I hadn’t taken it seriously before but working that muscle in my brain allowed me to express my feelings into my work and that’s when I wrote a song that became part of my thesis.
So I wrote a song and sent it to a friend of mine who is producer just to see what he thought of it and maybe get it recorded so it would be something I could hang onto tangibly and keep for myself. He ended up digging it and helped me record it. It was very minimal with me on my acoustic guitar, some cello and violin, and then bits of production here and there but still very stripped down. After we finished I was truly hooked by that process and so I wrote some more songs and the first song never went anywhere but the second song I wrote and recorded was actually ‘YOU’. Working on ‘YOU’ really helped me find the sound that I wanted in my music and I was very focused on making sure that the sonic beats in my music reflected exactly the way I felt while writing my music; like translating how I’m feeling in those specific moments perfectly into a beat. Also, I can feel and see colors and textures sometimes when I write and listen to what I’ve recorded which adds different layers at different times in my music.
And so music became more a clear path for you?
Yes. I have thought a lot about what I would do if I wasn’t doing music and one thing I think I’d be good at is branding. So I’m working on flexing all of my skills and passions as well as my visual art to bring my music to life as well. Whether it’s directing music videos or helping curate photos or even by creating my instagram aesthetic and yes engaging with people but being really honest in what I’m posting because I’m not really one to post selfies.
I’ve also noticed how meticulously and fashion forward you are in both visuals you’ve released. Can you talk a little bit about how clothing and makeup influence you as an artist and as an individual?
I tackle and take on the world and my experience in, again, a very visual and observant manner. So when it came to styling the videos for ‘YOU’ and ‘Glass House’, I did it myself. I love fashion. I don’t think it’s in the typical sense of what’s trending because I’m definitely aware of that but when I’m getting dressed every day it’s very much a way for me to express myself. I don’t think about any other people or their opinions and instead ask myself ‘is this something I love?’ I very much dress for myself and same for the way I cut my hair and the way I carry myself. It’s all expressive and coming out of a place of me being my most genuine self.
Now your EP ‘17 Hero’ was just released. Does the title have any special meaning or translation?
17 is my lucky number for different reasons. Firstly, it pops up everywhere in my life and it’s actually become a joke between my band members and I because both of their lucky numbers are seventeen which we didn’t know right away and I also connect with a few other good friends of mine who’s lucky numbers are 17 as well so it’s definitely been some sort of sign in my connection to people. It originally holds a significant meaning to me because the only two people really that I have actually lost in my life and were super influential and important to me both passed away on the 17th day of different months. So that’s where the 17 comes from.
The Hero part comes from the people I write about in my music. Whether it’s someone in my life going through heartbreak or happy times or whatever, I consider all of the people I write about my heroes. Not in your typical superhero sense but a personal living connection I share with individuals in my life. So I combined those two together to create the title ‘17 Hero’.
The first listen I had of ‘17 Hero’ I was so taken by the track ‘For God’s Sake’ and the synth-pop layered into the song. And to speak on what you had said before about translating exactly what you are feeling into a beat or sound, you do just that. There is a release that happens and vulnerable dance that follows that’s so captivating and connecting. So is there an overarching narrative that compiles each track together OR are each based on separate experiences?
I think it’s a combination of both and there is definitely an overarching theme. I’m still very young and right now, I’m the happiest I have ever been in my life and it’s taken a lot to get here. You know people have those moments in their lives whether it’s months or even years where it’s their difficult time. For me, high school was definitely a difficult chunk of time for me and I was very reclusive and that forced me to be very reflective. And when I started writing this EP I was writing it without the intention of anyone actually hearing it so the vulnerability was very present in my head. In the end I think writing this EP, no matter how cliche it sounds, helped me find myself. This last year in my life has been the biggest year of change and growth for me and I feel so lucky that music has revealed itself to be so prominent in my life. So in working on putting these songs together I am definitely sharing specific stories that have happened to me and the people I love, but in the end the album is the image of my own personal change.
Do you have a favorite track off this EP?
You know, I have written so much since these songs. The industry is weird in the way it works where I wrote these songs awhile ago and I’m actively working forward and towards more music to create my album. I’m always loving what I’ve most recently made the most because it’s probably what I’m feeling most as an artist.
Favorite track? That’s a difficult question because I definitely have different relationships to each of these songs and I strategically chose this group of songs from a much larger body of work because I feel that they strongly and chronologically represent me and my journey and also that each can stand on it’s own yet still work together as a family of songs. I don’t think I can answer or know how to answer this question.
What has life been like since the release and what is next for you Morgan?
Things have been great but I’m kind of like ‘oh my god, now what?’ You know? It’s felt like this big anticipation type of feeling so when it finally happened after all is said and done it kind felt like this sort of depression in not a sad way but in a release way. What I’m most excited about it is I’m going on a mini tour starting in November and I’m ready to just get to know these songs and perform them even more. I’m also very interested in experiencing connections with the people who listen to my music and come to see my shows. My ultimate goal is to give people my words to help them not feel alone and to encourage the voice or feeling that’s part of them to be stronger and more confident. And then personally, maybe even in a selfish way, this process has enlightened me so, so much and I’m excited to continue to peel back the layers I didn’t know I could or even knew were there. Ultimately, in this moment, everything just feels really right for me right now.
Images from Morgan Saint collaboration with Sofia Colvin
Stay tuned for more on Morgan Saint.