Flo Morrissey is a chanteuse who sits somewhere between a Lana Del Rey penchant for romantic nostalgia, the bohemian power of Florence & the Machine, the whispered and mystical vocals of early Björk, and the effortless charm of Jane Birkin or Stevie Nicks.
At only 20, her sound and lyrics are incredibly well-honed, born of influences her contemporaries haven’t heard of and a detachment from pop culture that has made her incredibly unique both to listen to, and to look at.
Having just released her debut single ‘Pages of Gold‘, and just finished her first tour in the UK supporting The Staves, we sat down with Flo to talk cinematic sounds, the world around the artist, and the power of not always saying yes…
How are you finding the tour so far?
I’m loving it – it’s my first one so it was quite daunting to start with, doing something new every night for people who haven’t necessarily come to see you! But it’s great to be playing with The Staves because the audience is there to really listen.
In terms of your biggest performances so far – SXSW, Green Man, etc. – it seems like you are really selective when it comes where to play. Is that the case?
Yeah, it’s just the way my path has gone. I think it’s down to the Internet- I started putting up my demos at 14 and never really did shows in pubs or clubs like other acts. I was just lucky that my manager found me online. I think people say yes to too many things nowadays, and it takes away the special nature of actually doing a show.
Is the live aspect something you enjoy, or is it something you find daunting?
I enjoy it more and more because I’m still new to it – but you never know how you’re going to feel after a show. One thing could change and you wish you had done it differently. But I want to perform more and I’m excited to do more shows. It’s just hard in the beginning! When I go on the road, I’ll hopefully have a multi-instrumentalist to play with me so it will be a little less daunting and lonely.
Beyond the live show, is sharing the actual music something that makes you feel vulnerable?
I don’t really think about it until after, when I realise how weird it can be to speak about the songs. I’d rather people had their own interpretation of it. It’s nice to think that someone else might get something from it as well.
The individualism of your music and vision is clearly close to your heart. As you grow as an artist- being signed and managed and touring in the UK and beyond- is it harder to retain that sense of self?
I picked my label because they completely let me do what I want to, and I don’t have to compromise. People have this idea of the music industry as this place where you always have to say yes, but you really don’t. I still do my own Facebook and Instagram, and I wouldn’t want that to ever change.
How did you start writing music?
I started putting stuff on Myspace when I was about 14. I used to sing more classical music at school, but I started playing guitar and it was just more fun! So I made my own recordings, and my own videos, and put covers online. I was this 15 year-old girl acting as my own manager, sending my music out to blogs and it just felt really natural.
In that vein of being your own manager, it seems that your vision is really all-encompassing? Is it important to you that all the elements are cohesive in that way?
I think it is really important to have a kind of world around the artist, but then you can’t think about it in that way. I just try to be natural about it.
How do you see yourself going forward? Pages of Gold, (the upcoming single), marks a shift towards a much bigger sound.
I am really open to experimentation and a lot of the songs on the album have big string sections. I’d love to bring a live band on tour because a lot of the songs are quite cinematic and I’m glad it went that way. It could have been a real folk record but I always wanted to have this more cinematic sound.
How was the process of recording your album in LA over the summer?
It was quite lonely at time because LA is just such a huge place. It was the longest I’ve ever been away from home but my manager lives there which was great, and I get along so well with Noah, the producer.
You are quite a quintessentially British artist- what do you see as the differences between making music in the US and the UK?
It was quite inspiring to be there because they won’t say no- they had this kind of “you go girl!” mentality (laughs) and it was actually really good for me! They strive for a lot and it’s so easy, and English, to be self-deprecating but it helped in music terms to have that empowerment on hand.
Do you feel the music industry has been really supportive so far?
I’ve been so lucky but I try not to think about it too much! I sometimes feel like my music is maybe not that accessible, especially with just me and a guitar because it’s so vulnerable and raw. It won’t appeal to everyone but I strangely like that. Usually the best things are the ones that have flaws.
On that note, what is your FAULT?
I worry too much!
All photographs by Kurtiss Lloyd