2016 Artist Survey: Greta Morgan of Springtime Carnivore
Morgan on Trump, Rock 'n' Roll Clichés, Spotify Earnings, First Kisses, and Scary Movies
Feb 27, 2017
Issue # 59 - 15th Anniversary
Find It At: AMAZON
For Under the Radar's 14th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2016. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2016 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Greta Morgan, who records as Springtime Carnivore.
Springtime Carnivore's sophomore album, Midnight Room, came out in 2016 via Autumn Tone. In 2016 Morgan also teamed up with La Sera's Katy Goodman for a new album of post-punk covers entitled Take It, It's Yours, which came out via Polyvinyl.
For our annual Artist Surveys we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about Trump and the election, 2016's deaths, self-driving cars, Stranger Things, first kisses, scary movies they shouldn't have seen as a child, which Friends character they are most like, and much more.
Pick up or download Under the Radar's Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue for Artist Survey interviews with Amber Arcades, Austra, Faris Badwan of Cat's Eyes and The Horrors, Boxed In, Caveman, The Charlatans, Cursive, Lucy Dacus, The Dears, C Duncan, Sadie Dupuis of Sad13 and Speedy Ortiz, Dutch Uncles, Ezra Furman, Robyn Hitchcock, The Invisible, Justin Lockey of Editors and Minor Victories, Lost Under Heaven (LUH), Lush, Midlake, Phantogram, The Range, Springtime Carnivore, Sunflower Bean, Surfer Blood, TEEN, The Thermals, Nick Valensi of CRX and The Strokes, Jenn Wasner of Flock of Dimes and Wye Oak, and Yuck.
A shorter version of Morgan's survey appeared in the print version of Under the Radar's Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue, this is the full unedited version.
Top 10 Albums of 2016
1. Kevin Morby: Singing Saw—I was a fan of Kevin's music before we became friends and I love slipping back into fan mode whenever he releases a new record. "I Have Been to the Mountain" and "Dorothy" are modern classics. My friend Katy Goodman and I flew to Chicago to sing with Kevin at [the] Pitchfork [festival] this year, calling ourselves "The Morbettes." I'm a Morbette for life.
2. Nice As Fuck: Nice As Fuck—The spontaneity and simplicity of the NAF project was very inspiring to me: I watched them play brand new songs at Jenny [Lewis'] house earlier this year and then the record was recorded and released a mere few weeks later. It's obvious that this is a record made by powerful women whose friendship and love for each other runs deep. The record has a punky effervescence with an empowering message. Listen to "Door" and "Guns."
3. Jim James: Eternally Even—Eternally Even feels like a cosmic reflection of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On and is a reminder that the best way to impart a positive message to a person is to put it in a beautiful melody. I listened to this record while reeling after Trump's election and the ensuing madness of that week. My favorite song is "Here in Spirit."
4. ANOHNI: Hopelessness—These are the most striking and haunting lyrics I've heard and I had intense chills hearing "Drone Bomb Me" for the first time. This record feels chilling to me in the way that Billie Holiday doing "Strange Fruit" does.
5. Mitski: Puberty 2—The song "Thursday Girl" drew me into this record and I was quickly convinced that Mitski is one of the most badass powerhouses in music right now. After the election, she asked Trump voters to leave her shows and offered guest spots to as many POC + LGBTQ folks as possible in solidarity after the election. Can she get any cooler?
6. Broncho: Double Vanity—"Fantasy Boys" and "I Know You" are total hits. When I saw Broncho opening for Guided By Voices and I felt like I was in a movie scene where the fans are blown away by how great the band sounds live.
7. Porches: Pool—Aaron's voice and melodic sensibility are top notch. This record was a bold sonic departure into an electronic landscape and they completely succeeded in the new territory.
8. Cass McCombs: Mangy Love—Cass McCombs' records feel like fixtures in my home. I've lived with his songs so deeply that they feel like the wallpaper. His voice is more expressive than ever on this record. In "Medusa's Outhouse," it feels like he's whispering in your ear.
9. Karl Blau: Introducing Karl Blau—Since Katy Goodman and I made our covers record Take It, It's Yours, I've been fascinated by what makes a cover successful. Karl Blau nails it on this record, interpreting these (often lesser known) classics through his immaculate arrangements and performances. Listen to "That's How I Got to Memphis" and "Six White Horses."
10. Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam: I Had a Dream That You Were Mine—The opening track on this record feels like the best Rod Stewart song that Rod Stewart never wrote. I've listened to it dozens of times. I love Rostam's production on this record. Perfect collaboration.
2016 was regarded by many as a fairly tough and negative year. Was it also a hard year for you personally? If so, how? And also what were the high points for you?
The first few months of 2016 were rough personally, but spring softened that sadness and brought adventure and some new friendships. Highlights of the year were: Going to Paris in March and walking through The Louvre for the first time. Playing some shows accompanying friends Jessica Pratt and Kevin Morby and doing a reunion tour with my old band The Hush Sound before my own album cycle began in the fall. Releasing Take It, It's Yours (a covers album I made with Katy Goodman) and the new Springtime Carnivore record Midnight Room. Directing music videos for the first time ("Sex Beat" and "Ever Fallen in Love" off Take It, It's Yours record).
What are your thoughts on how the U.S. presidential election played out?
It was heartbreaking. I was in a state of mourning and confusion that hasn't totally faded yet. Half our country voted for a xenophobic, homophobic, sexist bigot who has zero governmental experience. I travel the country extensively, but this election made me aware of how much I don't see when we are traveling and initially made feel disconnected. My work since then has been developing re-connection to the people I love and issues I care most about.
Let's discuss Donald Trump. What does the rise of Trump tell you about America in 2016? What concerns you most about a Trump presidency? How do you think his presidency might personally change your life? What message do you have for those who voted for Trump? What actions will you take over the course of the next four years to either protest a Trump presidency or support it?
The majority of people who voted for Trump seemed to be motivated by fear and anger. By voting for Trump, people acquiesced to his views about women, people of color, homosexuality, etc., which is scary to me because it seems to hint at a regression of the integrity and values that have made our country great. The positive element of this is that, for the first time in my adult life, it seems that people in my age range are talking about politics and issues constantly. So far, it's awakened in me an interest in politics that was dormant before. I'm more aware than ever of the most vulnerable people in our society and feel a deeper empathy and desire to help than ever before. I have been donating to the SPLC and reading about all their cases for the last four years. I also will do whatever I can to benefit Planned Parenthood, which is a truly valuable and necessary resource to women in this country. It's easy to feel lost when there are so many causes that need our attention and support, but I feel like the best path is to choose the issues that speak to you most and then keep blinders on as you stay on path to improve those.
What reality TV star would you have rather been elected president?
I'm realizing now that I know absolutely nothing about reality TV. Are there dog TV shows? A dog might run the U.S. better than Trump if only because dogs unconditionally love most people, regardless of gender, color, and sexual preference.
If you were president, what would you try to accomplish in your first 100 days in office?
WWBD—"What would Bernie do?" Those things.
What are your thoughts on Brexit and the future of the European Union? To what extent do you think the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump were motivated by the same factors?
Both decisions seem to be motivated by fear and scape-goat-ism.
We lost three highly influential music icons in 2016. What are your thoughts on the passing of David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen? And what are your favorite albums by each artist?
All three are incredible artists and lived highly prolific lives. David Bowie's last album, which preceded his death by a mere few days, was a lesson in grace and creativity for all of us. Leonard Cohen's collections of poems have always felt like bibles in my house—they are touchstones that I revisit again and again since I discovered his work as a late teenager.
What do you think Prince and Bowie's afterlife project sounds like?
Transcendent-Dance-Soul. Add that to the top of my list of best records of 2016.
Which Friends character are you most like?
Phoebe with hints of Ross.
What scary movie did you see way too young as a child, how'd you end up seeing it, and does it still scare you now?
Interview with a Vampire terrified me as a kid. I saw it on TV recently when a friend was flipping through channels and remember thinking all the blood looked very fake.
Are you ready for self-driving cars and a more automated future?
I'll be very grateful when self-driving cars are safe because my #1 favorite thing is being driven around while I can space out and daydream.
Tell us about the most memorable fan encounter you had this year.
A fan made me a lyric painting from one of my songs and it's in the shape of a spiral that looks like The Twilight Zone. I have it up on my wall.
Tell us about your first kiss.
I was in a truth or dare game and my friend dared this boy and me to "kiss so much that you switch gum." Teenage grossness at its finest!
Under the Radar has been around for 15 years now, since December 2001. How do you feel the music industry has most changed in that time, both for the better and the worst?
For the better: the power is in the hands of artists more than ever. I love that bands can be discovered on Bandcamp or blogs and can become widely recognized overnight. The business gatekeepers have less power. I love that artists have a direct connection to their fans through social media and their email lists. I love the idea of creating box sets and artwork with the fans in mind. On the downside, streaming services have obviously decreased the amount of record sales and so artists are struggling financially. Financial support systems are less available than ever, so many musicians who would've been flush 15 years ago at their current level of success may struggle between records or tours to keep their financial lives afloat.
After Donald Trump won the election which band (or song or album) did you first turn to for solace and motivation?
"Give Peace a Chance" by John Lennon.
What deli menu item could you buy with your 2016 Spotify earnings?
I often joke that I "can't wait to reach another million Spotify plays so that I can afford that splash of almond milk in my coffee." I'm teasing with that, obviously, but you do get the point. I would probably add that extra $1 of avocado to my sandwich!
What would be the worst punishment the devil could devise for you in hell, if he exists?
He would stick me in a shopping mall while midi versions of jazz standards are blasting and have me re-do my taxes for the last 10 years.
What rock 'n' roll lifestyle cliché is truest?
At least for me, the cliché of never knowing what city I'm in or what day it is, is relevant.
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