PJ Morton Talks "Following My First Mind", New Maroon 5 Music, and More
Mon, 09 Apr 2012 09:52:50
"There's no better movie than real life," muses PJ Morton.
Life's certainly had a begin impact on the stories at the heart of Morton's solo debut for Young Money Entertainment, Following My First Mind.
What a sweet inspiration it's been…the album is a soulful and sunny affair complete high profiled guest appearances from his Maroon 5 cohort Adam Levine and label boss and rap legend Lil Wayne. Morton builds undeniably catchy songs with a ton of heart. You'll be singing along from the first word to the last, not to mention, his instrumentation is utterly spellbinding. It's a new classic, and you're going to be following Morton for a long time after just one listen…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, PJ Morton talks Following My First Mind, the new Maroon 5 album, and so much more…
Did you approach Following My First Mind with one vision in mind?
Absolutely! Musically, I always strive to capture the listener from the top to the bottom, but not necessarily content-wise even though it does tell a complete story. I want listeners to play the entire EP from start to finish because everything flows so easily. That definitely was deliberate. It was the goal to give something complete. Today in music, I think the fans have become less trusting because artists put one or two good songs on an album and the rest of them are filler. That's why people started to buy one song at a time. That was the start of it. As an artist, I'm trying to represent something that regains that trust in full records and musicians.
Would you say there's a boundless mentality to the music?
That is me. I've really come to peace with the fact that I've been influenced by a lot of different things. It was gospel music initially. I was a preacher's kid growing up, and that was the lowest hanging fruit. My mother introduced me to The Beatles' music, and that changed my life. Then, I got into Stevie Wonder heavily and James Taylor. It was really coming from everywhere. Now, I'm playing with Maroon 5 and I'm signed with Lil Wayne. They're worlds apart, but I'm that bridge who allows fans of all types of music to listen to this and feel at home with it.
Is it important for you to tell stories with the songs?
I'm definitely a visual songwriter. I plan to shoot a video for every one of the songs on the EP just because I feel like the visuals and the music go hand-in-hand.
What's the story behind "Saying Hello"?
I've been an independent musician for a long time. Joining Maroon 5, we were on the road longer than I had ever been. The band travels really heavily, and I wrote "Saying Hello" on the tour bus. I was writing about going through a relationship and understanding it was hard for me to leave family and loved ones. As long as I'm coming home, we know I'm out on the road for a reason. It's a very true expression for me.
Does "Lover" really bring together two different worlds for you and Lil Wayne?
The natural tie for us is New Orleans. We both come from there. Although our music styles are different, that is the thread. Jazz from hip hop have always been the two main things coming from there. It's like my musical stuff with him. I knew it would work because he gets it. He, Mack Maine, and Baby are real music fans. They do rap, but they're true music fans. They got me from the beginning.
If you were to compare Following My First Mind to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Great question…I guess I'd say Purple Rain. I think the story is definitely about a musician's life and love life and how those things play off of each other. Purple Rain is focused on a musician, but there are a lot of other issues going on with his father and his love life. That's my quick answer [Laughs]. I love movies, and I watch a lot of movies and television. I'm always interested in telling stories. I'm really inspired by life and people. I watch life happen, and that's the most common way for me to write songs.
Can you delve into "Heavy"?
Adam and I did that song together on tour. I did the whole thing on the bus. Adam recorded there, and I cut bass in the hotel room. It was one-hundred percent on the road. There were no studios involved at all. As far as lyrically, I've been doing the independent thing for a long time and grinding it out. I'm proud of that story and I'm happy I did that because it makes this better. At the point where I wanted to give it up for a second, it was getting heavy when you talk about success and just wanting to be acknowledged as well as financial troubles because things aren't going how they should be. I was just there. I like that it's a simple song. It's new age blues for me.
Is this a different mindset than Maroon 5?
There's a common thing in it. I'm happy when I'm playing music. I don't care if it's to a thousand people or ten-thousand people, but the audiences do vary. I'm singing music I didn't necessarily create that Maroon 5 has written and we're playing to these fans who have fallen in love with that. Now, they're getting to know me as well. I'm becoming a part of that process and working on the new record. I'm even part of the album. It's becoming that. As a solo artist, my fans have been with me for years. It's definitely a different experience to hear people singing songs you wrote years ago and feeling something based on what you did. It's a different thing. It's amazing to be playing in front of all these people and traveling all over the world with Maroon 5. Those guys have become my brothers over these past couple years. I love them both differently. It's like your kids. You can't say you have a favorite.
Where is the new Maroon 5 album headed?
I came in right after Hands All Over . The new record is amazing. It's different. I was a fan of Maroon 5 even before I was in the band. This is definitely the poppiest record on the heels of "Moves Like Jagger". It stays in that vein and is fun. There are some really cool sounds on this record. I'm excited for people to hear it.
Did you instantly click with the Maroon 5 guys?
I feel like I do soulful pop music myself, and that sums up Maroon 5 for me. It's pop music, but it's got soul. Adam and Jessie were into Stevie Wonder as well as The Beatles. In the same way, that I'm a gumbo and a mixture of different things they are. As soon as I got there, it was a natural fit.
Have you heard PJ Morton yet?