Morgana Osaki, By Ryan Williams / by Ryan Williams

Morgana Osaki

Back in February I saw Morgana play for the first time at the Cambridge for her part in the last Banshee Collective event (which was very good by the way). I hadn’t seen anything like it before. A two-piece harpist + Ableton touch pad and turntable setup mixing samples with live instruments. I was completely blown away. And not just because my girlfriend put on the gig (which was very good).

Since then, there has also been a period of reinvention for Morgana. After hearing the show in February would be the last for a while, two short months later the artist posted photos to Facebook of her with new five-piece lineup (inc. sax master David Fulham). I needed answers. I couldn’t help but chase up Morgana for these answers.

How do you describe the music you play?

This question is always super hard for me to answer as I’m so close to it, but I am super influenced by genres like hip-hop, alternative, RnB as well as experimental pop. So I’d say my sound is kind of an amalgamation of all of the above. If I was to really try to describe it (personally), I think of my music as a pendulum between ultra-femme, androgynous and ambient hip hop.

How big a part is fashion in what you do?

Fashion is actually such a huge part of my music performance-wise, but it is also super crucial to me when writing and recording songs in the privacy of my own home. I think this is because of what fashion represents to me, both physically and emotionally. One aspect of that is how it's just an extension of who I am. Much like music, it’s a form of expressing how I feel and how I choose to represent myself and to be seen by others, in a world where queer women of colour especially do not get much of a say in how people choose to perceive us.

The other would be that I can be super introverted and quiet, which is usually a disservice to myself and my creativity. Wearing a super boss outfit and creating a sort of caricature of those assertive elements of my being really allows me to step into that more, and feel confident enough to put my ideas forth and live them out on stage, but also in life.

How are you enjoying the new lineup?

Well, so far I've only played a couple of gigs performing my new music. That said, however, it has been super informative. I think before I was possibly a bit too young and under-confident to really know and believe in the sort of direction I wanted to take musically. Whereas now, I think by following my gut and what I am drawn to, I have landed some really lovely gigs that are a little more within my realm of taste.

There is a gig coming up, for example, with RAAVE TAPES that I'm really excited about, as it'll be all these really cool young go-getters, creating their own platforms. I'm not sure I would have been approached to play these sorts of gigs previously, as I wouldn't have even put myself in that box prior to my new stuff.

 

Has it been different playing live?

Yes, so live sets are really different now. Huw and I have plans to work together in the future, but right now I'm just focusing on myself and taking more of a solo direction. My new stuff is very layered, and it wouldn't be possible for me to perform everything at the same time on my own, so rather than just having the whole set sampled and played through my laptop, I have six amazing musicians/friends helping me perform my songs live!

This is really exciting to me on a couple of levels: one, because I have always craved having a big band to orchestrate and translate my ideas on stage in a really organic way. Two, another aspect that really excites me is that most of us are women, and three of us are people of colour, and I think that music in general is missing a lot of that representation, so I am really proud of that aspect as well.

And you’re working on new music?

My new music is really different to the stuff Huw and I used to play together.

Last year I went to Japan on a journey of self-discovery, and it was super powerful. I'd say that the new EP I'm working on is strongly inspired by that trip, and it's kind of all about creating my own pathways and not following a certain set of rules. For example, in music, there's a sort of unspoken rule of three minutes being the sweet spot for a song, and the structure should be 'verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge’. And I guess I'm now stepping away from all of that and just creating exactly what I want, without compromising in order to cater for a wide audience. To some, I guess there are elements that are super basic or a bit unorthodox, but I just don't believe that my being uninformed on the ‘right’ way to play an instrument I've never touched before or the popular way to write a song should limit me, and that has been amazingly liberating and fulfilling.

Is there a new EP?

Yes! All the songs are written and are in the making, they’re just being tweaked and polished now. As well as a couple of possible music videos that are in the process of being conceptualised. So more info on that will be formalised very soon!

Where can we see you play next?

At the moment I have one confirmed gig on the 7th of July supporting RAAVE TAPES, but besides that, I couldn't confirm anything else right now. For more info and updates I will do Ru Paul proud and shamelessly promote by saying: follow me on Instagram and/or Facebook @morganaosaki.

You heard the lady. ‘Follow me on Instagram and/or Facebook @morganaosaki’ is what she said. Or catch her at the RAAVE TAPES Shut Down the Cambridge gig in July.