Australian native Morgan Evans has already experienced success down under, where he released three EP’s, a self-titled debut album and won multiple CMC Awards. Residing in Nashville, Evans is working to get his music heard worldwide and having recently signed a US deal with Warner Nashville he is well on his way to achieving that.
Before the last show of his UK tour this Summer, we were lucky enough to catch up with Morgan Evans in London and got to know a little more about him, what we can expect from his music and how he creates his brilliant mash up videos.
CC: Firstly, congratulations on signing your record deal in the US with Warner Music Nashville, that’s exciting and you’re in great company on that roster. What can we expect from your album and are there any ideas of a release time yet?
M.E: Very exciting! It means I get to put out music all over the world now, so yeah I’m excited. The first single is coming out on the 21st July so here it comes. I’m on my first trip to the UK basically to introduce myself rather than put out music and for people to have no idea who you are so we came over to say hello. We’ll be releasing more music this year and then a full album next year.
CC: You mentioned that you can now release music worldwide but for those who don’t know your music yet, if there was one song that you’ve already got and you could say listen to that, that’s me. What would it be?
M.E: I don’t think I have it. I think that’s the point, I mean I put out three EP’s and an album in Australia and spent a lot of time touring down there but two and a half years ago I moved to Nashville and rediscovered myself as a songwriter and I think I learnt to write songs. I think before I was just putting words and music together and now I feel like I’m learning to write and to know what a great song is. The first single that is coming out, “Kiss Somebody” will be the first song I can go hey, go check that out. In the meantime, I’ve been doing these mashups online, have you seen them?
M.E: So when I moved to America I left my band at home and that was a big deal for me because it was my brother and two of my best friends and we toured together for eight years almost. When I moved to Nashville I had a couple of weekends of shows, and put together bands with great Nashville musicians and it just didn’t feel right. So I just went ok I can’t play with them, I need my old band and until I can get my old band I’ll get this loop pedal. I got one of those and started playing around with that a lot at home, writing a lot on it and that’s where a lot of the inspiration for the record came from.
CC: How do you come up with the mashups? I love music but I could never listen to different songs and think they’d work together, and some of the ones you’ve done I would never have thought they’d work but they do. I can’t get my brain around how it works!
M.E: Thank you. Well I guess the story that I just told was the reason I got this pedal and the reason I started doing the mashups was because I was going out and playing and much like what I’m doing here, I’m going to play to people and people coming to the shows might be aware of who I am but they don’t necessarily know the music because there’s nothing out here yet. I thought I need to play some songs they know but I want to do it more creatively than just get out and play a cover.
I started putting them together and one of my friends said that’s pretty cool, you should record that and put it on YouTube or Facebook, so we did. We put one up and people really responded to it and were messaging me saying they liked it and were sharing it with their friends so we recorded another one and another we recorded the other day which should be coming out next week or the week after. It’s just a cool way of saying I’m back, this is what I’m doing, I’ve got my own stuff coming but in the meantime, check it out.
CC: I like that you do that though. I saw your tweet about the Bobby Cast and Bobby Bones seems to have said many times that there are some artists that just won’t do covers and are very much like no I am only doing my music. I think it’s good that you’re introducing yourself that way, and you could even gain fans from those artists’ fan bases.
CC: What can you tell us about your journey so far?
M.E: It’s been long. I don’t know, it’s funny because I feel like I’m at the start now. I’m ready to start and it’s taken a long time to get to a point where I feel like this is who I am, this is what I want to do and how I want it to sound and this is what I want to say. I think people come to that at different times in their life, it took years playing in Australia, years of back and forth between playing in Australia and Nashville to finally biting the bullet and getting the paperwork done which is no mean feat. When you get to Nashville as a musician, there is a very high standard.
CC: Everyone wants what you’re going for.
M.E: Yeah, which can either be very inspiring or intimidating and I think the combination of those two things either destroys you or make you want to be better every day. I’ve had more days where I want to be better than I’ve had wanting to destroy myself so through that process I think it’s been the biggest learning curve. Landing there and just being forced to be better.
CC: Sink or swim?
M.E: Yeah! Pretty much, and sink wasn’t the worst thing ever. I mean sink was go back to Australia and be reunited with my family and friends and all of that, which is an awesome life but to be able to do what you love with people in the world that are doing it at the highest level? That’s a pretty cool thing.
CC: You have already had success in Australia and it’s probably fair to say you’re starting over in a sense here in the UK and in the states where you’re performing to new fans and getting your music heard. What’s that like when you’ve already been on the scene in Australia for a few years?
M.E: Oh yeah, absolutely! I see how it could be difficult for some people that have success in a country, then go to another and have to start all over again but for me while any success I was having in Australia was happening, I was always going to Nashville to write and to be creative. It was actually good for me to escape and go somewhere else to be totally immersed in creativity, so I guess I always understood that feeling. I never got the whole ah yes! I’ve made it feeling that people talk about or might say.
I always had an understanding that I’d leave Australia and have to start all over again so I guess because I was always aware of it, it’s not a shock to me. There’s something really awesome about it as well, in Australia we played CMC Rocks Festival in front of fifteen thousand people then we went over to New Zealand and played with the Dixie Chicks which was twenty-six thousand people. Huge shows but then we played in Glasgow the other night, there might’ve been one hundred and fifty people there in this little club underneath a church called Oran Mor. It’s a cool old place and there’s something about this feeling, it’s like you’re meeting them and they’re discovering you and you’re meeting them at the same time. You can stay behind afterwards and meet everybody, I feel there the nights you’ll remember forever and look back on as the good ole days.
CC: It’d be good to hear your take on this, as it’s a bit of an interesting debate among UK fans. We have a UK Country scene here; some people love it and some people just aren’t on board and say it’s not real country because they’re not American. Obviously, you’re not American so what are your thoughts on that?
M.E: I don’t think you have to be American to sing country music at all. That’s like saying in the fifties and sixties you had to be from England to play Rock N Roll, it doesn’t make sense. I get that it’s certain kinds of country just like there’s certain kinds of rock n roll or certain kinds of pop music and maybe if someone from the UK was singing about driving their truck and drinking Jack Daniels that could be seen as not real. When I hear music from The Shires and Ward Thomas I get that it’s country but I love that is has that different edge to it. I think that’s cool and probably why people here are responding to that, I mean they’re doing really well aren’t they?
CC: Yes, Ward Thomas were the first country act to have a Number One album and are opening for Miranda Lambert on her UK tour then The Shires have been signed to an American label and have had their own success here in the UK.
M.E: That’s huge! To answer your question, no I don’t think you have to be from America to play country music but I think it’s important to still be yourself and be authentic because that’s the main part of country music. Both those bands are doing really well.
CC: You’ve toured with Taylor Swift, Alan Jackson, Dixie Chicks and more recently Kelsea Ballerini. Have you taken anything from these tours that have influenced the way you perform in your own shows?
M.E: I think the best thing those artists do is to be themselves, particularly Taylor, Kelsea and Dixie Chicks. I’d put them all in the category of just being themselves. Maybe on stage they’re a bigger version of themselves but watching people like that makes you go that’s why people love them so much. The people that love those artists love them more than they love their songs, they connect personally because their songs are real. I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned.
It’s not just about playing live either, it’s about all of it. It’s about the songs they write, how they sing the song, how they look and how they present themselves and their authenticity. That’s just so important! If I’ve learnt anything, it’s that.
CC: Another congratulation is in order, as you and Kelsea got engaged back in December. Obviously in the states she’s one of the biggest stars at the moment and the ‘it thing’ right now, is that an added pressure for you with releasing your own music there?
M.E: She’s doing well, yeah! In terms of the music thing, as an Australian in Nashville you already have to prove yourself so much because you’re not from there. It’s like why should we take a chance on someone who’s not from here when we could have someone who is from here who is doing the same thing? I feel like being with Kelsea and meeting people through her, it’s a similar kind of thing.
It’s like well you’re just here because of her so you almost have to prove yourself again but because I was already doing that it’s kind of the same feeling. I’m like whatever…let me have a go, let me play for you and that’s all I can do. I could look at it as extra pressure but at the end of the day all I can do is be as good as I can possibly be and be who I am.
M.E: Yeah! Everyone loves her too, she’s such an awesome chick. It’s not like she’s someone that’s controversial or that certain people don’t like, she’s a genuine good person and people almost like you better for being a part of her life.
CC: Does living in Nashville change the way you make music or any of the creative process at all compared to how you did things in Australia?
M.E: Yeah, definitely. I used to write all of my songs by myself because I didn’t know you wrote with other people. Then I went to Nashville and it was like oh hey they all write songs together, what a great idea. That’s mostly what I do now, often I’ll start a song by myself but I’ll usually take it in to a couple of friends and we’ll finish it together. So collaboration is probably the main thing for sure.
CC: As we mentioned earlier it’s the first time you’ve toured here, what has the experience been like for you?
M.E: It’s been amazing! We played this festival in Manchester called Buckle and Boots, it’s a real grass roots kind of festival. It’s around 1500 people there and was again like that pub in Scotland where I got to play to a bunch of people that probably had no idea who I was and by the of the set everyone was singing along with their hands in the air. It was like this shared experience of discovery, I was discovering them as the UK Country core fan group and I was like the new kid in town I guess.
So that was great, and as I said Scotland was great, Bristol was really cool and the last show in London, again I don’t know what to expect. London feels like a worldly city, Manchester was very England, Glasgow was very Scotland, Bristol was very Bristol/England but in London I feel like I could be in Sydney or New York so who knows what the crowd will be like.
CC: Who do you consider to be your musical heroes and if you could sit and co-write with one person, past or present who would it be?
M.E: Paul McCartney, though I probably wouldn’t want to write with him. I’d probably sit down and be like let’s get drunk and you tell me stories. Keith Urban is someone I look up to, he’s doing it now and has been for a long time and is at the highest level. Keith seems a good person, I’ve got to know him a little bit and every part of his career and life is just good and classy. I’m a big Ed Sheeran fan too, I think he’s doing great. I love the way he is, he’s just himself all of the time and John Mayer too. Musically he has always made really, really great music that everyone loves which I think is the hardest thing to do.