“I think it was January the 23rd of… 2013? That was the first time I recorded any music.”
That’s Morgan Phillips, a junior studying computer animation, as he tried to recall when he first started making music. Phillips started his college experience in Sam’s Art Department, and thanks to a combination of friends and accessibility he soon began work on his very own compositions.
Now, three years later, he has released over 5 albums with a catalogue of more than 50 songs. “The Houstonian” sat down with Phillips to find out more about his process, how he got started, and his advice to any new or aspiring artists.
“I’m the singer, I’m the guitarist, but that’s about it,” Phillips said. “I use audition (an adobe program used to create music without any physical instruments), but garage band is what I used at the beginning. Using echoes, I thought I was really fancy. Since my sister is a singer, she had a microphone that she recorded from. She didn’t really know how to use it, so I just sort of took it.”
Different factors influenced the sound of Phillips, rhythmic blues and classic storytelling artists chief among them.
“I’m inspired a lot by Neil Young and Johnny Cash,” Phillips said. “I like the story, and I like poetry a lot. I use improvisation to give the lyrics a poetic feel. Some songs turn out really good, others are terrible.”
When Phillips first started there weren’t a lot of different options to spread his music, but opportunities on campus helped get him started.
“The first open mic night I went to was a Student Activities event,” Phillips said. “There was like no one in the room, so I thought, ‘I’m going to go for it’. I did two songs I had done before and then I did an improv song. It felt great to get out of my comfort zone.”
The early opportunities fueled Phillips desire to play in public spaces; they helped combat the nervousness and anxiety associated with playing.
“The hardest part was trying to put myself out there,” Phillips said. “Before I got here I was extremely shy. Its really not the best place to be throwing yourself out there, getting on stage and displaying yourself.”
Phillips recognizes how his experience is similar to others who get started in college, and offered some advice.
“You have to realize that 90% of people aren’t that bad,” Phillips said. “They are going to be clapping at the end for you and its going to feel good.”
After Phillips got started he couldn’t stop. After three years of song writing, preforming and making albums Phillips keeps looking towards the future.
“The most important part for me was that making the albums helped me focus on keeping myself moving,” Phillips said. “You see people get stuck in the pre-production after writing songs. I just keep churning them out, and they get better. If you listen to the very first song I wrote to the last one, you hear a difference.”
The number of albums began to increase as Phillips became more confident and his fan base began to grow.
“[The process] just got quicker, it was nice to just put stuff out there,” Phillips said. “Getting emails that say ‘I like your stuff’ is really cool, knowing at least some people like it.”
Phillips offered one last piece of advice to any creative out there, but to musicians specifically.
“Think about the journey, not about getting somewhere,” Phillips said. “I always wanted to be a singer but you have to realize in the moment that stuffs happening and it’s the baby steps that are the fun part.”
All of Morgan’s music is available for free on morganlee.bandcamp.com, and you can find links at the full article on houstonianonline.com.
The Houstonian and SHSU Creates is on the lookout for more students like Morgan Phillips who spend their free time creating; people doing something artistic in need of recognition. If that sounds like you or someone you know please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.