We interviewed psychedelic rock guitarist, vocalist and composer Jonathan Morgan to discuss his latest EP, psychedelic rock and mysticism.
Interview by Jane Howkins.
You’ve been releasing your own music since 2013, and last year you signed a record deal with Kundry Music – a sub of Duo Box Records. How did that come about? It must be rewarding to get some recognition for your work.
It was easy! I just received a message from them one day. They said they really appreciate my work and they asked me if I’d be interested in being signed by them so, of course, I agreed. They’d surely been checking me out at my SoundCloud address.
Duo Box Records are known more for their work with dance artists. Was it a surprise that one of their subs decided to sign you, and were you into any of the acts associated with the label at the time?
Yeah, I noticed this. It seems that I may be the only rock and/or metal artist on the label. It was fairly surprising, yes, after I looked at their website and links. They must really like my sounds. And no, I’d never heard of their label before. I’d like to check out some of their electronic releases but they just put out a phenomenal amount of music every month so I wouldn’t know where to start.
You released an EP with Kundry Records in September 2016 called Soul Fire Burning. How different was it to release that on a label, and what changed about the writing and recording process?
The songs had already been written and recorded long before Kundry Music contacted me. I had plenty of musical material, but choosing the right tracks for the EP took some time. Two tracks on the EP are from my self-released EP entitled Protégé, by the way. I messed around with different tracks and then different track orders for quite a while until I settled on the ones on the E.P. The songs Great Architect, and Ineffable Woman are exclusive to the Soul Fire Burning EP.
You’ve just released an EP called The Bells Of Divinity, which we will be reviewing shortly. What can you tell us about that, and where would be the best place for our readers to find your music?
The Bells of Divinity is one of my very best works to date. The sessions for it were really enjoyable, fun, and focused, and it produced much contentment and joy. I personally think that the second track, Persian Astral is one of the very best songs I’ve ever produced, and the final track, To Swim in the Ocean of Becoming just made me so happy and I love it dearly. I even bought some finger cymbals to add to the EP, which can be heard on Persian Astral, and Perseverance. I’d wanted to go in a more exotic sounding direction for quite a while.
Currently, SoundCloud is the best place for people to listen to The Bells of Divinity because it’s not yet been added to my Bandcamp profile discography. Soon it will be, with brand new artwork from regular collaborator 20 Twenty Vizion who did the artwork for The Clearing Mist and a few other releases of mine.
The music you play would best be described as psychedelic rock, and you refer to yourself online as a psychedelic rock guitarist. When recording, do you play the rest of the instruments, or do you have others help you?
It’s all me. I play all the electric and acoustic guitars, the bass, and do the vocals. The synthesizers and other similar sounds, I sometimes sketch out on a keyboard and then program the melodies and chords in my software, because I’m not a good keys player yet – far from it. The drums are programmed using a software plugin from scratch, bit by bit. Each hit is reviewed and edited to my preference if need be. I don’t use “humanize” functions, I prefer to do that manually.
Who would you say you are most influenced by, and what are you listening to at the moment? We would assume you have some psychedelic rock influences, among others?
I was most influenced by Smashing Pumpkins for many, many years. Lately, it’s been more of a Tool influence. A lot of my influences don’t really come from music, though. And I’ve been listening to a lot of Tool lately, and The Doors. Also more obscure stuff like from the 1970s German band Dzyan. I always come back to Black Sabbath a lot too, who are one of my favourite bands of all time – especially the early albums.
We see you recently uploaded a live session onto your SoundCloud, which was recorded in Stourbridge. What can you tell us about that?
The Live Session was in the planning stages for a long time, but I was ready to do it by the time it happened. I’d say I wasn’t ready for it when I started planning it. I just wanted to play live again in a band setting since I hadn’t done so in nearly three years. I met Kyle (who played bass at the session) the previous time I had the chance to play in a band arrangement. I got on well with him, and he played some interesting things on the bass so he was, to me, the obvious right choice for my first live recording since I started with my first album Midnight Luminous. I’ve known Chris Allan (on drums) for over two years now over the net. He’s a professional session drummer. The live session were the first time we met, though, but he’s on quite a few of my recordings, including my 2015 album Ashen Light, and Temple from my Protégé EP, which is one of my best songs. The Live Session was almost completely improvised, so it’s quite different to my home recordings. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I’ve listened to it a bunch of times since we recorded, and one thing about it was that it really enabled me to appreciate my wah wah pedal a lot more.
There seems to be a lot of mysticism at play within your songs. Is that something you are interested in, and if so, would you like to elaborate on that?
Well spotted. Yes, I am a mystic.
Do you have any plans in the near future to bring your music to the stage and perform any gigs? What are you working on at that moment?
I’d like to form a regular band with permanent members, yes. At least I think I want to. I kind of have mixed feelings about that right now, though. To be honest, especially after trying to get the right people together for quite a while now. It’s not an easy thing to do and arrange.
And I’m not working on anything right now. I’m having a bit of a break from writing music at the moment after completing The Bells of Divinity and doing the Live Session, but I did upload tracks of my old acoustic project to my SoundCloud profile yesterday from my archives so there are still “new” sounds to be heard, until I run out of archival recordings, haha! Then I will have to start writing again.
Any last words for the fans?
Thanks a lot for listening, and following my musical journey over these years. There’s more to come, even in the near future, and it will keep getting better and better, and of course, more psychedelic! Cheers.