In celebration of the launch of his superb new video and single Grey, we were blessed with the chance to interview creative composer and artist Mauricio Morales, to find out more about the release, the journey that led to it, and what lies ahead. Here’s the conversation in full.
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Hi Mauricio – a real pleasure to talk, thanks for the opportunity. For those new to your work, where did your journey begin, and how would you define the sound of your latest upcoming release Grey?
The pleasure is all mine. My journey as an artist started fairly recently. I released my first record Luna in 2021, in which I wrote music for a 10-piece band. What I’ve been trying to do since then is to be as genuine as possible and allow myself to explore all the things that I love within my music. You can hear very strong influences from movie and video game scores, for example, as well as a very good amount of improvisation, which comes from my background in jazz.
In the case of my new releases, Grey being one of them, I am attempting to connect with my non musician self. When I look back to the days I fell in love with music at first I realize that I wasn’t listening to instrumental music at all, so I thought it would be exciting to see where my ear led me if I tried add another layer my writing, this being lyrics and the human voice. However, it was important to me that when I did this I didn’t disregard all the other things that make feel excited about music.
Now, going back to the question regarding how I would define the sound of Grey, I have to admit that I have had a hard time labeling it. The reason is precisely because I want to let go of any creative limitations. Like a kid in a playground I want to be able to allow myself to be curious and see where that leads me. The result is exactly that. A mixture between modern jazz and singer songwriter of sorts.
The track features an increasingly big-band arrangement, with unique vocals and melodies paving the way towards a sort of chaos after the calm. What’s the single about conceptually, and how do you, as a composer, connect the instrumental aspect to the feelings or stories that inspired it?
For me, as a composer, the music always comes first. It has a lot to do with how I experienced music growing up. Back then I would mostly listen to music that was written in English and yet, growing up in Mexico, I did not speak the language. That forced me to focus on melody, harmony and rhythm before lyrics. At this point this is just how my brain is wired.
So all the music, including the arrangement, was written first. After that I met up with Mark Pelli and suggested a collaboration. All the melodies, with the exception for the one in the chorus were already written so we mostly had to add lyrics to them.
We started working on a verse for a little bit and then I had to go. The next time I met him, which was probably no longer than a couple of days after, he had already written all the lyrics himself, recorded a good amount of vocals and was in the process of coming up with a chorus. Honestly I just sat down and let him do what he does best.
In what ways did studying Music at Berklee College influence or impact your approach to and/or enjoyment of music?
It had a big impact on me because it introduced me to a much larger community. Being around people from all over the world and so many different cultures has significantly enriched my artistry, as well as my overall perception of the world.
In regards to my enjoyment of music. You see, music is my greatest love, but it is also my job. That has a huge impact in regards to how I experience it. It’s not a negative thing, it’s just different. I am unconsciously more analytical. Also, because of how close I am to music on a regular basis it’s easy for things to feel a bit repetitive at times.
So, as an artist, as well as a listener, I wan’t more. I want to create and to listen to the things that make me feel like a child again, that are so exciting and new that make feel those goosebumps.
How important has collaboration been in getting you to this point?
It’s essential. I think that in order for us to truly grow as artists we need to be open to our surroundings, different opinions and ideas. That will pave the way towards uncovered ground.
In my case I usually like to work with people who are truly passionate about what they do and who continue to develop their craftsmanship in order to have a higher level of expression.
I’ve been lucky enough that so far I’ve only worked with people whose vision has aligned with mine. So, like I did with Mark, I let them do what they do best. The combination of different perspectives will lead to new beautiful things.
LA is often a popular choice for people relocating to find a scene that can help elevate them as musicians. What has your experience been like, and what would your advice be to new artists in terms of making the most of this creative hub?
When I first moved to LA I felt like a total outcast. I was overwhelmed by how shallow it could be to be honest. For a while I truly wondered if it was the place for me. Thankfully I allowed myself to take the time to dig a little deeper.
Truthfully, there’s a massive concentration of people who dream of being a part of the entertainment industry, so of course a lot of them will be on a different journey than mine. In my case it was a matter of finding my crowd, who understand me but who also challenge me and push me to grow. I honestly couldn’t think of a better place for me at this exact moment in time.
If you could only either perform live shows and jam for the rest of your career, or create original music in the studio, which would you choose, and why?
I need them both. On the one hand I need live music because I get to directly experience my music with an audience. Their response will highly impact the performance, they are a part of it as much as I am really. On the other hand, when I am in the studio I get to carefully craft a piece of work at whatever pace I want. I get to be as picky and as experimental as I allow myself to be. There is just so much growth in both… Thankfully I’ll never have to choose between one or the other.
What’s next for you?
For starters I will be putting out an album following up these single releases. After that I will continue to play live shows and put as much music out as I possibly can.
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