CMW Preview: Morgan Cameron Ross (Interview)

I had the chance to chat with Morgan Cameron Ross last year before he played his release party at The Rivoli. When we got together to chat, we were sitting at Christie Pits and Morgan suggested, “Maybe I should stretch first.” The chat, I assure you, wasn’t strenuous.

Morgan Cameron Ross is originally from Vancouver, but now resides in Toronto. He left Vancouver and says, “I’ve never been overly impressed with Vancouver’s music scene.” He specifically refers to the scene being “cliquey,” and says that he loves the support that’s in Toronto, with bands “always sharing gear, always asking to play shows together.” He calls Toronto “this ambitious cool city” because of the arts and culture scene here where he’s able to go to art shows, exhibits and concerts and give back to the community by supporting those who support him.

Having been around the block as the frontman of Birds of Wales, Morgan released his first solo effort last year. He says, “I would say that I feel a lot more comfortable with my solo album. Birds of Wales got away from me a little bit and this solo record is me trying to find the love I had for music when I was starting out. This one just feels really good. No one influenced it. I went and recorded it the way I wanted to. I didn’t listen to fancy management, labels, agents – I just didn’t it the way I wanted to. I’m proud of all the tunes and it’s been a long time since I could say that.”

While he claims that Birds of Wales isn’t done, just that it’s on hold right now, Morgan refers to the solo project as “like starting a new relationship, where you learned a lot from the past one.”

Interestingly, Morgan says that he’s collaborated more on the solo record than he did with Birds of Wales, where he wrote all the songs. He says, “I choose to write with people I respect and people that I work well with and that collaborative attitude has resulted in some of my favourite songs that I have ever been a part of.”

As far as songwriting goes, relationships are often a focus. “I write about relationships more that I want to. That said, we all find our inspiration at certain times and, for me, when I pick up a guitar, more often than not, I’m going through a rough patch in a relationship or something, so that’s when I tend to write more.”

Knowing tendencies has led to a few songs in a different direction. “With this album, I’m happy with because I made a point to write a few songs that weren’t about girls. I’m not someone that thinks about girls all the time, so writing about relationships all the time didn’t seem right. I’m happy to say that I got to write about other things that I also think about.”

While Morgan has had a lot of fun live shows, both with Birds of Wales, part of what has gotten Morgan plenty of attention is his activity on social media, namely Twitter. While Morgan isn’t afraid to express his opinions on various things, he’s learned that there are limits. “I’m always cautious of what I talk about. I’m okay expressing my opinions on things, but I have learned that I have to be careful talking about where I am, what I’m doing. I think social media is a fascinating thing and I love it, but you have to know your limits. What I post online, there’s repercussions to the people that I’m with, that I’m talking about and that’s not fair.”

I happened to receive a question for Morgan via Twitter, which was “Do you ever catch criticism for being a ‘pop’ singer who is very much more informed and opinionated politically than your peers?”

Morgan responds, “I think pop music can be just as intelligent as folk music or any other type of music. And pop is such a broad term. I think I have my opinions on the world and I’m not shy to articulate them.”

He also adds, “You can have an intelligent song in any style of music.”

For some reason, we left the topic of intelligence and went onto talking about drinking. When I ask about a drunken story, he replied with, “I’ve got so many drunken stories.”

He followed with a story from before his solo days. “I remember playing Call the Office in London, Ontario and one of my friends from university came and I hadn’t seen him in quite a while, so he took me up to bar before my set and he went to the bartender and said, “I’ll have 40 jagerbombs.” And that was just between us. I ended up having 14 jagerbombs before I went on stage… bad idea. We played actually fairly well, but halfway through the set, that same friend did what I would call a reverse superman dive. I saw him starting out at the very back of the venue by the pool tables, running at the stage and then doing a superman dive, taking out my mic stand and taking out the drum kit. I thought it was great. My whole band thought it was great. But he was kicked out, rightfully so. But that’s the moral of the story: don’t order 40 jagerbomb shots. Ever. Especially for two people.”

If you’re ever looking to buy shots for Morgan Cameron Ross, tequila is the way to go.

And, if you want, you may have a chance to buy him shots at CMW. He’s plays at 9pm on Friday, March 23rd at the Sennheiser Lounge Library Bar at the Royal York Hotel.

In the meantime, you can check out his video for “Storybook Romance” below. It’s the 4th video for his self-titled debut.

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Categories: Canadian Music Week 2012, Interviews


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